People on board
James Sheldon was born on the 2nd of June 1878 in Leek, Staffordshire to Samuel Sheldon and Cecilia Larkin, the third of their five children. He was baptised in St Mary’s Catholic Church in Leek on the 30th of June. In the 1881 census Samuel Sheldon gave his occupation as a ‘Potter’s Handler’, but in the 1891 census he was a General Labourer, while Cecelia was a Laundress. James, then aged twelve, was a ‘Potter’s Presser’ and his older seventeen year old sister Emma was a ‘China Paintress’, all part of the Stoke-on-Trent pottery industry. The family were then living in Oak Hill, one of the villages that made up the emerging city of Stoke.
Samuel died in 1906 and the family moved to Boothen where in the 1901 census James was a ‘Potter’s Turner’. In 1910 he married Jane Shenton, a ‘Thrower’s Assistant’, and they settled in Fenton, another part of Stoke. They had two children, James in 1913 and Ida in 1915. James enlisted in the Yorkshire Hussars, probably quite late in 1918, as the Soldier’s Effects record shows that he was not eligible for the War Gratuity, which was based on length of service.
In October 1918 he was with the 2/1st Regiment which had moved to Ireland in April of that year. Whether returning on leave or for redeployment, James Sheldon travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. He did not survive the sinking nor was his body recovered. His name is recorded on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton, on the memorial in St Gregory’s RC Church in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and possibly he is the J. Sheldon on the memorial in Derby Street, Leek.