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James was born in Wolverhampton in 1890, the son of George and Annie Elizabeth Bould. In 1901, they were living on 22 Coleman Street, Wolverhampton, along with James’s siblings Mary A., Susan, Eliza J., John G., Roshannah G., Lillian, and Ada L. They were at 137 North Street, Wolverhampton, by 1911, with an additional child, Frederick. James was working as a grocery manager. In 1913, James married a Miss Walters.

James does not appear to have enlisted with the armed forces during the First World War, but did serve as a special constable in Wolverhampton. James died in Wolverhampton in 1961.