George was born in Wilburton, near Haddenham in Cambridgeshire in 1878, the youngest child and only son of James, an agricultural labourer, and Sarah Ann Kirby.
He was brought up in Haddenham but in 1901 was living in Hatch End, Middlesex, working as a gardener and lodging with another gardener and his family. Whilst living there he met Kate Rickett who was a servant at Woodridings in Pinner, but originally from Bucks Hill, Hertfordshire. They married at All Souls, Harlesden and had a son, George, born about 1904. Later they moved to The Stables, Ladywalk, Heronsgate, where George was employed as a domestic coachman to George Carey Foster, the retired eminent professor of physics of University College, London. Another son, Dennis Arthur, was born in 1912.