James was born in Newcastle in early 1878 and grew up in its Byker area with his parents and five brothers.
His father Joseph was a carpet fitter, but had previously been a soldier, like James’ two older brothers JJ Hedley and Michael. His mother Alice had been a domestic servant before her marriage. James had three younger brothers, William, Thomas and Albert.
James was working as an office boy by the time he was 13. By the time he was 21 in 1899 he was working as a clerk.
He married Ellen Howell in St John’s Parish Church, Leeds that year; she was the daughter of the late James Edward Harvey Howell, a cab proprietor (see newspaper story). The 1891 census intriguingly stated her occupation at the age of 16 as a school teacher, but her wedding certificate did not enter a profession against her name. James’ older brother Michael was a witness, as was Ellen’s younger sister Ada and a Henry Howell.
James and Ellen had their first daughter Alice in 1900, a Victorian; Hedley Harvey born in September 1901 and Dorothy, who arrived in 1905, were born in King Edward VII’s reign. In 1901 and 1911 James was working as a woollen manufacturer’s clerk; Dorothy’s baptism record in 1905 describes him as a cashier.
During the war James served as a Lance Corporal in the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
In 1931 he was the witness at his daughter Dorothy’s marriage to Cyril Short in St Stephen’s Church, Leeds. Dorothy was working as a typist when she married, I always like it when I find out women’s occupations outside the home. His son Hedley married Constance Pickard in 1936; I don’t know the end of their sister Alice’s story.
James died on 1 March 1964 at the grand old age of 86. I suspect Ellen died before him as she wasn’t named in his will.
© Lynne Black, 29 November 2014