John was born on 17 February 1891 in Preston Brook. He was one of three children born to Samuel and Sophie Johnson. Samuel was born c1845 in Moore and Sophie c1847 in Hatton. John’s older brother was born c1878 in Runcorn and his sister, Lavinia c1889 in Preston Brook. John was baptised at the Methodist Chapel by Charles Finch on 26 April 1891.
In 1901, the family was living at Cotton’s Bridge, Preston Brook, where Samuel (his father) was working as a canal porter and the younger Samuel was a general labourer. John Bunn was lodging with the family. By 1911, John was also working as a canal porter in one of the canal warehouses.
Sometime after 1915, John’s father died.
In 1918, John was still away from home on active service and his mother was still living at Cotton’s Bridge.