James was born in Ashton under Lyne in 1881, the son of Samuel – a tinplate worker from Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire – and Elizabeth, from Sheffield, Yorkshire.
In 1891 James, then aged 9, was living at 31 Mill Lane, Ashton under Lyne, with his parents and his siblings – Sarah Ann, Joseph, Maggie and Ernest, aged 11, 5, 2 and 6 months. All the children were born in Ashton under Lyne.
In 1901 the family were living at 11 Durham Street, Oldham, Lancs. James’ mother had died by this time, leaving Samuel a widower – this census states that he had an adopted daughter, Theodosia Wray, aged 14, aswell as his sons – James and Joseph – living with him. They also had a housekeeper and a boarder. James was working as a Coachman.
On 30 September 1902, James married Margaret Ellen Jones – aged 20, from Llanarmon, Denbighshire – in Oldham, Lancs.
In 1911 James and Margaret were living at 51 Maes y Dre, Mold, Flintshire. James was working as a brick burner at Rhydymwyn Brick Works. They had four children – Enoch Jones Knowles, Elizabeth, Ernest and Joseph Peter, aged 7, 6, 1 and 2 months. Elizabeth was born in Oldham, Lancs, and the three other children were all born in Flint, Mold.
James enlisted with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was killed in action at France & Flanders on 10 September 1916, aged 36. The additional information shown on his casualty details on CWGC.org states that he was the ‘Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Knowles, of Ashton-under-Lyne; husband of Margaret Ellen Knowles, of Ty Bricks, Rhydymwyn, Mold, Flintshire’. CWGC had him listed as a Sergeant, however ‘UK Soldiers who died in the Great War, 1914-1919′ had him listed as a Private. (Family history research has found that he was a Tunneller. Thanks to Sandra Knowles).
After his death, James’ widow, Margaret was left with two further children, James Eric and Edna. Margaret lived until she was 81 and was buried at Rhydymwyn on 21 May 1961 – the parish record notes her residence at the time as 9 Leete Avenue, Rhydymwyn. James is prominently featured on the family grave at Rhydymwyn churchyard.
–1891: Class: RG12; Piece: 3276; Folio: 22; Page: 37
–1901: Class: RG13; Piece: 3810; Folio: 50; Page: 43.
–1911: Class: RG14; Piece: 33961; Schedule Number: 80
-Flintshire WW1 records: Ref: D/DM/181 RHYDYMWYN F3, available from Flintshire.gov.uk
-Casualty details available from cwgc.org
-MIC and SDGW available from Ancestry.co.uk or Findmypast.co.uk
-Parish marriage, baptism and burial records available at Flintshire Records Office, Hawarden, or original images are available to view at Findmypast.co.uk
-Many record indexes can be found for free at freebmd.org.uk or familysearch.org