James was born around 1892 in Sutton and would eventually be one of twelve children of Isaac and Elizabeth Antrobus. His father worked for the railway as a signalman at Sutton Weaver.
By 1911 the family were living in Boundary Farm on Aston Lane opposite the tannery run by W. E. Earp & Company; there ten people living in a seven roomed house. James was nineteen and working as an apprentice brass moulder in the Timmins Iron Foundry in Runcorn. His father, elder brother, William, and younger brother, Benjamin, were all working on the farm. Later, James went to work at the Widnes Iron Foundry.
In the1909-10 season James had played for Aston Hall Reserve AFC along with several other lads from the village.
James served in the Manchester Regiment as a cook and also played as a trumpeter in the regimental band. Whilst on leave in 1917, James was seconded from the Manchester Regiment and sent to a brass foundry in Stockton-on-Tees which was making brass propellers for torpedoes.
After the war the government passed The Land Settlement (Facilities) Act in 1919. This act allowed local authorities to provide small holdings and allotments to ex-servicemen; they could be allocated between 1 acre and 50 acres of farmland per person and be given priority over other applicants even if they had no previous agricultural experience. James, his younger brother Ben and Jim Ryder went into partnership and were allocated 150 acres on Union Farm, Northwich Road, Dutton. After the partnership dissolved James worked collecting milk from the local farms and taking it to a depot.
James’s sister, Helen, married Jim Ryder. James’s son, Bill was born in 1929 at Boundary Farm and now lives in Higher Lane, Dutton.