James was the youngest of five children. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at Rose Bank on Brinnington Road, Stockport. His mother, Mary, was 50 and his father, Robert, was 49 and worked as a commercial traveller selling tea. His older brothers and sisters were Eliza (then 28), John (20), Robert (22) and Rose (17).
James was educated at the Wesleyan School in Portwood and then went to work on the railways for the Cheshire Lines Committee. He didn't stay there long and got a job with a Mr Heal, who owned a bicycle shop on Bridge Street.
In October 1908, James joined the army as a regular soldier and went to India with the Battalion, where they were stationed at Lebong. In January 1911, he was awarded the Army Certificate of Education (3rd Class). After the outbreak of war in August 1914, the Battalion had to wait until it was replaced by other troops before it could go on active service to France, but they returned to the UK on 22 December 1914. No doubt, James will have had time to visit his family in Stockport before they went overseas again a few days after Christmas.
James was killed at the Battle of Frezenberg described here.
His father had died by 1915 and his mother had probably died by the early 1920s, as his next of kin was then recorded as being his sister, Eliza. She had married and was now Eliza Rimmer and was living at 60 Brinnington Rise, Stockport.