He is believed to have been born circa 1792, based on his reported age at death. The 1851 Census records his birthplace as "Buxton" or "Burton" in Yorkshire, which may mean Buxton in Derbyshire or possibly West Burton in North Yorkshire.
His age varies in the records which can be confidently attributed to him. The 1851 Census appears to give his age as 55, whilst local newspaper articles about the flood consistently gave his age at 60.
The 1841 Census records him aged 45 and residing at Hinchliffe Mill as a labourer, along with George Booth (aged 10) who was presumably a son by his first marriage. This may be the George Booth who was born 20 July 1830, the son of Holmfirth labourer James Booth and his wife Sarah, and baptised 17 October 1830 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.
He may be the widower farmer James Booth (aged 48) of Burnlee, son of clothier Jonas Booth, who married spinster Nancy Taylor, daughter of farmer John Taylor, on 1 January 1845 at All Hallows, Almondbury. This Nancy Taylor was likely the one born 28 December 1807 and baptised on 10 January 1808 at All Hallows, Almondbury.
By the time of the 1851 Census, he was a labourer with his wife at Fold Gate, Hinchliffe Mill. Also residing in their house was lodger William Healey.
On the night of the flood he was killed together his wife and their lodger Healey.
His body was recovered and identified by Jonathan Roberts, and taken to the New Inn, Hinchliffe Mill, where the inquest was held.
He was buried with his wife at Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, on Monday 9 February 1852.