James Augustus Ransom was born in Woolston, Southampton, Hampshire, England in 1862 and his birth was registered in the last quarter of that year; he was baptised in St James' Church on December 30, 1864. James was the son of James Ransom (1837-1905) and Mary White (1837-?), both Hampshire natives who had married in early 1862.
James had eleven known siblings: Henry (b. 1864), Mary Ann (b. 1865), Louisa (b. 1867), George (b. 1869), Elizabeth (b. 1874), Ellen (b. 1876), Rosa (b. 1880), Walter (b. 1881), Florence (b. 1882), Emily (b. 1887) and Edith (b. 1890).
On the 1871 census the family are living at Portswood Road, Southampton and his father is described as a gardener. By the time of the 1881 census the family are living at 7 Park Terrace, South Stoneham; James is absent but is listed as a deck boy aboard SS Cherbourg docked at that time in Southampton.
James was married in late 1885 in Southampton to Martha Ann Wilkinson (b. 1865 in Southampton) and they had a total of eight children, with five living past infancy: Francis Henry (b. 1889), Martha Mabel Dorothea (b. 1890), Ernest Arthur (b. 1898); and twins Alma Rosalind and Violet Audrey (b. January 9, 1903).
By the time of the 1891 census James, his wife and family are living at 4 Havelock Terrace, All Saints, Southampton and James is listed as a marine steward. On both the 1901 and 1911 census reports James is absent, but his family are resident at 71 Livingstone Road, Portswood on the 1901 census. Sometime after this the whole family relocated to Bristol and appear as such on the 1911 census living at 72 Harrowdene Road, Knowle.
James was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as Knowle, Bristol. As a first class saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s. He gave his last ship as the Oceanic and his age as 33.
Ransom died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in the Southampton Times, April 18th:
RANSOM--April 15, on s.s. Titanic, James Ransom, of Knowle, Bristol, late of Southampton and Poole, aged 49 years. A dear husband and father. Deeply mourned. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels." RIP. Canadian Papers please copy.
James' widow Martha was not remarried following the disaster, remaining in Bristol for the rest of her life where she died on 26 May 1958 aged 93. What became of his daughter Martha Mabel is unknown.
His son Francis, who had married Annie Peart in 1909, died in 1947 in Chichester. His son Ernest was married in 1921 to Gladys Hills and they had two sons. He continued to live in Bristol and died in 1954. His daughter Alma was married in Bristol in 1931 to Harold Wakefield; they settled in Ontario, Canada in 1935 and she appears to have died there. His daughter Violet was married in 1932 to Alfred Mounty and they had one daughter. She died in Bristol in 1987.
1. Sometimes listed as "Ranson".
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)