Mr John Henry Chorley was born in Brompton near Chatham, Kent, England around January 1887.1
He was the son of Charles Chorley (b. 1864), a timber carter from Bridgewater, Somerset, and Ellen Margaret Blow (b. 1867) who had been born in Bangalore, India2 to Irish parents. They were married on 9 November 1884.
He had five known siblings: Albert Charles (b. 1885), Daisy Winifred (1888-1972, later Mrs Norman Robert Nicholson), Clara Sabina (1892-1962, later Mrs Richard Harrop), Lucy Elizabeth (1898-1973, later Mrs Philip Pearce) and May Louisa (b. 1900).
John and his family seemingly moved to Hampshire not long after his birth and they appeared on the 1891 census residing at 6 Kingsfield Road, All Saints, Southampton. His father, then a coal porter, and sisters Clara and Lucy appear on the 1901 census lodging at 28 Lower Back of Walls, Southampton but the whereabouts of Charles, his mother and other siblings at this time are unclear. His father died in 1902 and by the time of the 1911 census, the family were scattered around different addresses. His mother began cohabiting with a Dorset-born ship's stoker, Wallace James Thompson (b. 1868) and they appeared on the 1911 census at 2A Wharf Street, Southampton.
Initially working as a dock labourer, Chorley joined the Army Service Corps as a Private on 7 July 1905 and at the time was described as standing at 5' 3½" with light brown hair and light blue eyes, of fair complexion and weighing 129 lbs. He had one tattoo on his left arm and it was shown that he was from a Church of England religious background. He saw a short spell as a driver and to tending the horses and in March 1907 was treated for a minor injury to his hand whilst stationed at Aldershot. He was also treated for phimosis and was circumcised in late July 1906, following which he spent near a month in the infirmary. His conduct ranged from good to bad and his record shows a number of spells of cell detention for a host of incidences, including: insolence, untidy kit at time of inspection, obscene language, drunken disturbance and the assault of another private. Transferred to the Army Reserve in 1907, by October 1910 it seems Chorley had deserted the Army Corps with records describing him as absent. A letter dated 11 April 1911 stated:
Reserve Forces Act, 1882
FORM OF CERTIFICATE OF FAILURE OF A MAN OF THE ARMY RESERVE TO COMPLY WITH REGULATIONS
I, the undersigned, being appointed to pay the men belonging to the Army Reserve of the Army Service Corps do hereby certify that 23255 P. J. H. Chorley being a man in the Army Reserve of that Corps has failed on two consecutive occasions, viz: in the months of December 1910 and March 1911 to comply with the Orders or Regulations in force under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, with respect to the payment of the Army Reserve, in that he .... failed to tender a life certificate.....
When he signed on to the Titanic Chorley gave his address as 2 Regent Street, Southampton and his previous ship as the Highland Glen. As a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6.
John Chorley, who was unmarried, was lost in the Titanic disaster and his body, if recovered, was never identified:
CHORLEY--John, aged 25, 18 Cable St., Northam, dearly loved son of the late Charles and Ellen Chorley. Mourned by his sorrowful mother, brother and sisters. - Southern Daily Echo, 6 May 1912.
Even in death, Chorley's absence from the Army was still being debated and his absence from Aldershot for mobilisation on 6 August 1914 was noted.
His mother was eventually married in 1913 to Wallace Thompson. She remained in Southampton where she died in 1937.