James William Ward was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in early 1885 and he was baptised in St James' Church, Southampton on 21 August that same year.
He was the son of James Allen John Ward (b. 1861), a cab driver and later proprietor of his own cab business, and Mary Ann Newman (b. 1855). Both his parents originated in Hampshire and they had married in 1882. James had three siblings: May (b. 1883), Ellen Elizabeth (b. 1887) and William Aaron (b. 1889).
James first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were living at 16 Blackberry Terrace, South Stoneham, Hampshire. He was not present on the 1901 census, perhaps at sea, when his family were listed as living at 17 James Street, St Mary, Southampton. His mother passed away in 1909 and his father never remarried, continuing to operate his cab business. James was again absent from the 1911 census; his father and brother William were listed as living at 22 James Street, Southampton.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, James gave his address as 22 James Street, Southampton and his previous ship as the Oruba. His wages as a leading fireman were £6 10s per month.
James Ward died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His father died in Southampton in 1939.