James Edward Cooper was born in mid-1886 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. He was the son of Henry Cooper and Maria Lock. His parents, both natives of Hampshire, had married in Southampton in 1883.
On the 1891 census James and his parents are resident at 89 Mount Crescent (?) Road, Southampton. Listed besides him and his parents are his siblings: Henry (b. 1884), Ellen (b. 1885), Frederick (b. 1888), Fanny (b. 1889) and Annie (b. 1890). By the time of the 1901 census the family have shifted to Gladstone House, Portswood, Hampshire. A further five children have been welcomed by this point; Emily, Edward, Sydney, Frank and Alfred.
When James signed on to the Titanic as a trimmer, he gave his address as 27 Pound Street, Southampton. As a trimmer he could expect to receive wage of £5 10s per month. His previous ship had been the Olympic. James died in the disaster and his body, if ever recovered, was never identified.
He is believed to have been the brother of Fireman H. Cooper.