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John was born in Wolverhampton in 1876, the son of John and Elizabeth Annan. By 1901, he was living with his widowed mother at 22 Haden Hill, Wolverhampton, along with his uncle John E. Brotherton, and brother Alexander. John married Emma Brunt in 1903. On 9 November 1907, John was initiated in the Freemasons, in the Victoria Lodge, Wolverhampton. By 1911, he was living with his wife at 191 Lea Road, Wolverhampton, together with their daughter Margaret Elizabeth, son John Alexander, and a servant, Clara Ethel May Garbett. John was an Incorporated Insurance Broker, Estate Agent and Company Secretary.

Presumably because of his age (he was 38 in 1914 when war broke out), and the fact that he was married, he did not enlist for military service. However, he served at home as a Special Constable, and his name is listed in the illumated book we hold at Wolverhampton Archives.

John died on 2 October 1931 when his address was Corner House, Tettenhall. The value of his effects were £28147 5s. 7d.