Mr James Kirkham was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 2 August 1868. He was the illegitimate son of Ellen Kirkham (b. 1852).
Ellen Kirkham, a native of Liverpool, was the daughter of William Kirkham (b. 1829), a dock gateman, and his wife Margaret (1831-1879). She died in early 1871 when James was just two years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents who had children of similar age to him. When his grandmother died in 1879 his grandfather swiftly remarried to an Irish lady named Margaret Mallan and had at least one more child. James perhaps never knew he was illegitimate and believed his grandparents to be his actual parents. When he married, he gave his father's name as William Kirkham.
James appears on both the 1871 and 1881 censuses living at 20 Stephen Street in Liverpool. He later went to work at sea and served for a number of years aboard the Majestic as a fireman .
He was married on 6 December 1891 in Liverpool to Jane Coomer (b. May 7, 1860 in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, but would give birthplace as Liverpool--where she grew up-on the 1911 census). Together they would have one child, a daughter named Margaret who was born 14 October 1893 in Wallasey, Cheshire.
On the 1911 census James is absent but his wife and daughter are listed as lodgers at 40 Hawthornedale Road, Seacombe, Cheshire. His wife is listed as a charwoman and his daughter as a servant.
When James Kirkham signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, he gave his birthplace as Liverpool and his address as 4 Chapel Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a greaser he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6 10s.
James Kirkham was lost in the Titanic disaster, His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His daughter Margaret was married later in the year to Frederick Deakin (1890-1966) and they had nine children. Margaret died in Wallasey, Cheshire on 13 January 1982.
James' widow Jane never remarried and died in Birkenhead in 1931.
Gavin Bell, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA