James was born in 1838 to another James who had fairly recently arrived in London from Huntingdonshire. He was the second born. James married Mary Ann in 1863 in Newington, Surrey. He was 25 and she was 19. This photo has come down through the family to my cousin who generously gave it to me a few months ago. I've worked out that it was probably taken on the occasion of his daughter's marriage in 1889. This would make him 51. Or when his son married in 1897 when he was 59. I'm not too good at dating people in the past. The clue to my theory is the surname Compton, as these sibling children married another brother and sister (Comptons).
One of my biggest finds in recent times has been the discovery of an extremely scholarly book written by a cousin (who unfortunately died just before I found the book). "Only For Life-A Labouring family from Civil war to Second World War" by Peter Mimms (Brewin Books 1995. ISBN: 1 85858 065X.
James gets a whole chapter on his own! I also learned that he wasn't the bespoke carpenter/cabinet maker as I had been led to believe. In fact his job description varied between unskilled carpenter and packing case maker. James and Mary Ann had nine children, of whom seven survived to adulthood. My great grandmother Helena was their second born. Sadly when the 1911 census was released last year, I found James in St Olave's Union Workhouse(albeit hidden by the address, Ladywell Rd, Lewisham). Incidentally Mary Ann still hasn't turned up in 1911. Mary Ann died in 1913 and James in 1914.