James Kelly was born on John Street in Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 6 July 1892.
He was the son of William Kelly (b. 1856), a journeyman tailor, and Robina Barr Reid (b. 1861), both Carluke natives who had married on 20 March 1884.
One of fourteen children, James' siblings were: Daniel Reid (1882-1934), Mary Pillans (1884-1970), Margaret Graham (1886-1971), Euphemia "Effie" Reid (1888-1961), Robina Reid (1890-1971), Jane Reid (1894-1984), William (1895-1911), Janet (1897-1992), Alexander Reid (1898-1908), Betsy Reid (b. 1901), Sarah Reid (1902-1998), Christina Pillans (1905-1981) and Helen Thomson (1907-1993).
James first appears on the 1901 census when living with his family on Kirk Street in Carluke and it appears he lived at the same address for the remainder of his life. By the time of the 1911 census he was aged 18 and still at home with his parents; a house-painter by profession, he was unmarried.
Mr Kelly boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 363592 which cost £8, 1s) and was headed for Canada, possibly British Columbia.
It has now been established beyond doubt that a young man belonging to Carluke district was among those lost in the Titanic disaster. The young man was James Kelly, 19 years of age, son of Mr and Mrs Wm. Kelly, Kirk Street, Carluke. The youth, who was a house-painter to trade, was going out to Canada. In some letters received by friends and companions of the deceased, he told of the many wonders to be seen on the great ship on which he was bound, the letters being posted from Queenstown. Ever since the disaster his parents and friends have been making diligent enquiries at the White Star Line Offices for particulars, and this week the youth’s name appears among the list of bodies recovered on the scene of the disaster by the vessel Mackay-Bennett. Much sympathy has been expressed for the parents in their sorrowful loss. — Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 27 April 1912
James Kelly was lost in the sinking and, contrary to statements made in the press his body, if recovered, was never identified (the body of fellow-third class passenger also named James Kelly was recovered).
KELLY--Drowned in the wreck of the "Titanic," on 15th inst., James Kelly, aged 19 years, son of William and Robina Kelly, Kirk Street, Carluke. — Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 27 April 1912
Several of his siblings later emigrated and settled in British Columbia and he still has family there. Both his parents remained his Carluke; his father passed away in 1930 and his mother in 1934.