James William Kieran was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in early 1877. He was the son of Michael George Kieran (1842-?) and Matilda Greig Reid Sim (1840-1909).
His father was from Wellinghall, Staffordshire and his mother from Glasgow, Scotland and they had married in Liverpool in early 1871, going on to have at least seven children: Matilda Winifred (b. 1871), George (b. 1873), William Francis (b. 1875), Agnes Maud (b. 1879), Elizabeth Gertrude (b. 1883), Edward Michael (b. 1887) and James.
James first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family are living at 148 Olivia Street, Bootle; his father - a ship's steward - is absent, perhaps at sea. On the 1891 census a 14 year-old James has already left school and is working as a shop boy and living with his family at 21 Dorset (?) Street, West Derby. James is still at home by the time of the 1901 census, now residing at 107 Adelaide Road, West Derby and described as a ship's steward.
James was married in Southampton in late-1908 to Amelia Pownall, née Gittins (b. 1880 in Manchester). Amelia had previously been married, in 1899, to Thomas Birch Pownall and had and had three daughters, Maggie (b.1900), Edith Amelia (b. 1902) and Florence Annie (b. October 17, 1904).
Thomas Pownall, also a merchant seaman died in port in New York, USA in 1908.
Following James Kieran's and Amelia's marriage they had one daughter, Millicent Reid born 14 July 1909.
On the 1911 census James, his wife, daughter, step-daughter and brother-in-law Arthur Gittins are listed as living at Inglewood, Bellemoor Road, Shirley, Southampton.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as Inglewood, Bellemoor Rd, (Southampton). He was transferred from the Olympic. As Chief Steward he received monthly wages of £8.
Kieran died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
Kieran's widow Amelia did not remarry following the loss of her husband. She continued to live in Southampton and went to work for White Star as a Stewardess. She died in 1966 aged 86.
His step-daughters Maggie and Edith both died in early adulthood but Florence was married twice. Firstly, in Southampton, in 1923 to Alexander Hall, also a merchant seaman. They had four children and nine grandchildren. Secondly, in Hampstead, to John Westcott Edwards in 1959. She died in 1980.
His daughter Millicent was married twice, firstly in 1931 to Henry Calvé Spivakowsky and secondly to Thomas Williams in 1940. Her daughter, Andrea Williams is the mother of Darcey Bussell, retired Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet. Millicent died in Bournemouth, Hampshire in 1988.