John William Ainscough was born in Wigan in 1866 and was the son of James Ainscough (1836) and Mary. In 1871 he was living at 48 Ashmoor Street in Preston. In 1881 he was living with his widowed mother at 65 Ashmoor Street and was working as a pattern maker's apprentice in a foundry. He married Mary Dixon, a widow with two children, in Preston in 1890. In 1911 he was working as a pattern maker and living at 199 Rawlinson Street in Barrow-in-Furness.