Ernest Angel James was born on 8 September 1875 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire, England as the first child of John Mitchell James and Sarah Ann Hooper.
He had eight siblings, namely: Beatrice, Ross, Oliver, Ethel, Eva, Thomas Wilfred Mitchell, Augus William, and Thomas.
When he was 26, he married Caroline Madeline Bucknell on 6 August 1902 in All Saints, Kings Heath, Birmingham. They went on to have at least three children. His father was a boot maker and seller and Ernest went from being a boot maker's assistant to a boot shop manager. He lived at 375 Ladypool Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham from at least 1901 to at least 1939.