James Norris was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England around 1890 1. He was the son of William Henry Norris (b. 1860) and Kate Sillence (1856-1935), both Hampshire natives who had married in 1880. William and Kate would go on to have five children: Frederick Henry (b. 1891), Alfred (b. 1883), George (b. 1886), Elizabeth Ellen (b. 1887) and James.
James and his family appear on the 1891 census living at 16 St Mary's Buildings, Southampton. His father is described as a carman. They have moved to 6 Marine Street in Southampton by the time of the 1901 census. His father, now a ship's stoker, is absent.
James was married in the second half of 1910 to Southampton-native Nellie Laura Woodhouse (born November 27, 1890). They would have a daughter, Edna May, on February 24, 1911. James is absent from the 1911 census, apparently at sea, and his wife and daughter are listed at 28 Manchester Street, Southampton where Nellie was described as a domestic.
When James Norris signed on to the Titanic he gave his address as 5 Spa Road, Southampton and his previous ship as the Edinburgh Castle. As a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6. Also present on the ship was his cousin Henry Dennis Witt, daughter of his mother's sister Ellen Jane May Witt, née Sillence.
James Norris and his cousin Henry were both lost in the Titanic disaster. James' body, if recovered, was never identified.
His widow Nellie was remarried in 1917 to Alfred Hatcher but had no children before she was again widowed in 1939. She died in Southampton in 1980. His daughter Edna was married in 1935 to Luigi Rappolo and had two children, Annette and Keith. She died in 2000 in Southampton.