John was one of the earlier deaths from influenza in Wellington, passing away on 7/11/1918, age 50, master mariner of the SS Monowai. Four other members of that vessel passed away the following week.

John was born on 31/1/1868 at Blyswood Glasgow Scotland, father James, a reporter born in England, mother Mary Harriet (nee Parr) also born in England. In the 1881 Scottish census John had three brothers and two sisters and was resident in Erskine on the banks of the Clyde in Renfrewshire, but he cannot be traced in the 1891 census.  He may have commenced his maritime career by then.

He married Georgina Manson on 11/11/1896 in Dunedin NZ, he aged 28 her 22. She was born in Stromness Orkney on 22/2/1874, her father also a seaman.  John is noted as a Master Mariner.

Union Steamship Company (USS) records indicate he joined the company in November 1896. Passenger lists of each vessel he sailed on note his comings and goings on various vessels from 1897, often on the Wellington-Sydney route, at first as Third Officer, then as Second Officer in 1899, as Chief Officer in 1901, and as Master by 1913.