James Hawkesworth was born in Shirley, Southampton, Hampshire, England in 1860 and his birth was registered in the March quarter of that year. He was the son of James Hawkesworth (1833-1899) and Elizabeth Brixey, née Brown (1835-1914).
His father was from Hythe and his mother from West Wellow, both in Hampshire, who had married in 1857 in Southampton. His mother Elizabeth had first been married in 1852 to Thomas Brixey and had a daughter Elizabeth the following year. What became of her first husband isn't clear.
James first appears on the 1861 census with his mother and father at 18 Pound Street, Millbrook, Hampshire. His father is described as a night-watchman. On the 1871 census he is living at 250 Oxford Street, Millbrook, Hampshire with his parents, step-sister Elizabeth and siblings: Samuel Francis (b. 1858), James (b. 1860), Ellen Mathilda (b. 1862), Rosa (b. 1866) and Arthur Charles (b. 1871). His father was described as a mariner. They have relocated to 50 Pound Street, Millbrook by the time of the 1881 census, his father now described as a dock labourer. The family have also welcomed to new children: Robert Bertie (b. 1875) and Annie (b. 1872). James is absent for both the 1881 and 1891 census returns - perhaps already at sea - but his family are living at 50 Pound Street, Millbrook and 12 Wilton Road, Shirley respectively at these times. He is subsequently absent from the 1901 census.
By the time of the 1911 census James his still living with his widowed mother (his father died in 1899) and a married sister at 18 Wilton Road, Shirley, Southampton. He is listed as unmarried and his profession as a ship's steward.
When James signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 18 Wilton Road, Shirley. His last ship had been the Adriatic. As second class saloon steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s. Also engaged aboard the Titanic was his younger brother Walter Hawkesworth.
Hawkesworth and his brother both died in the sinking. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.
His mother continued to live in Southampton but passed away in 1914.