John James Burns was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1867, the son of John and Margaret Burns. He was married to Janet Burns (née Dickson) and they lived at 7 Shakespeare Street, Mash Lane, Bootle, Lancashire.
He served as a leading fireman on board the Lusitania but for reasons best known to himself, under the assumed name of John James Brown. He was killed when the ship was sunk. He was aged 48 years.
His body was not recovered and identified afterwards and as a consequence his name is embossed on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He is also commemorated on a white marble plaque in St James' Roman Catholic Church in Chestnut Grove, Bootle, and Lancashire.
There is also a memorial to a John J Byrnes in St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church, in Great Mersey Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool, and it is likely that this also commemorates John James Burns, but with an incorrect spelling of his surname.
The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Janet Burns to compensate her for the loss of her husband which amounted to £45-16s-10d (£45.84) payable at the rate of £3-16s-5d (£3.82) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv. PR 13/24.