Mr James McIlroy was born at 8 Short Street in Belfast, Ireland on 10 November 1866. Coming from a Presbyterian family, he was the son of Reid McIlroy, a warehouseman, and Sarah Hilton. He had three known younger siblings: Thomas, David and Sarah.
Giving his address as 26 Rowan Street and age as 22 (he was in fact 19), McIlroy was married in St Anne’s Church in Belfast on 25 December 1885 to Annie Bingham (b. circa 1864), a smoother in a linen factory. They had five children: Robert David (b. 1887), Annie Elizabeth (b. 1890), Maggie (b. 1892), James (b. 1894) and Sarah (b. 1906). The family appears on the 1911 census living at 25 Rowan Street in north Belfast and James was then described as a sailor.
McIlroy’s ship prior to Titanic had been the Olympic. He joined Titanic at Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton where he then disembarked.
In September 1912 James McIlroy was a signatory of the Ulster Covenant, a petition signed by nearly 500,000 citizens opposing Irish Home Rule.
James McIlroy continued working in the merchant fleet and his records describe him as standing at 5’ 5” and with dark hair and a dark complexion. What became of him in later years is uncertain.