Mr James Lester was born in Sedgley, Staffordshire, England during the summer of 1871.
He was the son of Joseph Lester (b. 1838), an iron forge man, and Julia Burden Guest (b. 1840), both natives of Sedgley who had married in 1866.
His known siblings were: Rose (b. 1860), Joseph (b. 1864), William (b. 1869), Mary (b. 1875), John Thomas (b. 1878) and Samuel (b. 1881).
He first appears on the 1881 census living at 9 Johnsons Row in Sedgley. His mother later passed away in 1884 aged 44 and by the time of the 1891 census the family are living at 15 Johnsons Row, Sedgley and he has already left school and was working in the iron works as a galvanizer.
James was married in 1900 to Alice Cox (b. 1874), also a native of Sedgley and the freshly married couple appeared on the 1901 census living with this wife's parents William and Betsy Cox at 35 Woodcross Street in Sedgley and he was by then described as an iron sheet packer. The couple had only one child, a son named James Dennis on 18 September 1902. The family appeared on the 1911 census living at 82 Bath Street, Bath Road, Cinder Hill, Sedgley and James was still described as an iron sheet packer and he worked in Ettingshall, Wolverhampton at the ironworks of Messrs Adams.
Joseph's nephew William Davies, son of his wife's sister Mary Ann Davies, had settled in the USA around 1905 followed by another nephew at the end of 1911. Both men were earning a good living in their new home of Pontiac, Michigan and James Lester and his three nephews Alfred, Joseph and John Davies, also iron workers, decided to make the journey themselves with the intention of saving enough money to have the rest of the family join them in due course. James sold off his belongings and gave up his house, moving his wife and son into the Davies' home in West Bromwich.
The men left West Bromwich on 9 April to journey to Southampton by train. Getting the train times incorrect, the men had to make a hurried departure by tram to Birmingham to catch a different train there.
The four men boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (joint ticket number 48871 which cost £24, 3s). They wrote home from Southampton and Queenstown saying they were "comfortable" and having an "enjoyable passage".
All four men lost their lives in the disaster.
His widow Alice, who was later assisted financially by the Mansion House Relief Fund1, is not believed to have remarried and possibly died in the late 1930s. His son James remained in Staffordshire and died 21 December 1972.
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