James McAleer was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1879, the son of James and Bridget McAleer.
He married to Margaret Powell in Liverpool in 1900, and by 1915, they lived at 198 Arlington Street, Liverpool. By 1911, the couple had had five children, although three had died in infancy.
James engaged as a trimmer in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania on 12th April 1915 at Liverpool at a monthly wage of £6-0s-0d., and he was killed when she was sunk.
His body was not recovered and identified afterwards and consequently he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 36 years.
In August 1915, Margaret McAleer was paid the balance of wages owing to her husband in respect of his service from 17th April 1915 until 8th May; 24 hours after the liner had gone down. The records of The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited state that the case for paying her a pension was a special one, but it is not known what, if any pension was granted to her.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1911 English Census, 1901 English Census, 1891 English Census, Commonwealth War Grave Commission, Cunard Records, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.