James Slack was baptised on 3rd October 1880 at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, the son of Elizabeth (nee Bancroft) and Isaac Slack, a silk winder of Macclesfield. In 1881 eleven-month-old James was living with his parents at House 1 Court 6, King Edward Street; in 1891 the family was at the same address and included another child, seven-year-old Fred.
By 1901, the family had moved to 50 King Edward Street and both boys were working in the textile industry. However, when James married Sarah Ellen Thorley at the Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on 4 March 1907, he stated that he worked as a fish dealer. One of the marriage witnesses was his brother, Frederick Slack.
The 1911 census shows the couple settled into married life at 8 Pinfold Street, Macclesfield with two daughters, Gladys Lilian (3) and Phyllis (6 months); James was in business as a fish hawker. He was known as Jim. The couple later had two sons: Frederick, born in 1913, and John, born in November 1918.
James enlisted with the local 7th Cheshire (Territorial) Regiment at Macclesfield on 2 October 1914 for Home Service, perhaps because he was already 35 years of age. He served in the UK for about 14 months but was discharged on 1 February 1916 due to ill-health. At a hearing before a medical board in June 1916, James was stated to have pulmonary tuberculosis and possibly neurasthenia. Although he had previously been employed as a fish dealer, at that time he was employed as a dyer for Peter Davenport & Co, earning £1 per week.
His death was announced in the Macclesfield Courier on 14 December 1918:
SLACK - On December 3rd, at 8 Pinfold Street, Jim Slack, aged 36 years.
Private James Slack is buried in plot number Z.19064, a family grave in Macclesfield Cemetery, Cheshire. James Slack is commemorated in Macclesfield on the Town Hall war memorial, and he may also be the James Slack named on the St John's Church Roll of Honour and Ancient Order of Foresters war memorials.
Note there were two men named James Slack in the Macclesfield area at the time of the Great War; the other James Slack was born in Bosley in 1892, served with the Yorkshire Regiment and was killed in action 25th August 1917.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield
Cheshire Non-Conformist & Catholic Marriage Registers (FindMyPast): Trinity Wesleyan Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 WO364 (Ancestry): Piece 3744
Family History Society of Cheshire (FHSC) Macclesfield Area Monumental Inscriptions
Macclesfield Courier:14 December 1918
Research by Rosie Rowley, Congleton