James was born in Great Britain to Lawrence and Mariah Norrington. He came from a long line of military men and it was expected for him to follow with the family plan. James was an only child therefore all his parents attention was deflected on him. Lawrence was a task driven and very rigid, conservative man. Mariah was a very strong willed proper woman of society with a sharp tongue. His father raised him as his father before him in a very strict and harsh manner to live up to the family name and his full potential. At an early age James displayed vast leadership skills and excellence in academics. He didn't make many friends as a child. It was typical of children in his situation. His family would travel as his father's assignments called for it.
James was left to his own devices when it came to occupying and entertaining himself. He matured quickly being around elder company most of his life. His parents also didn't favor childish behavior in most contexts. When it came to matters of the heart neither one left James the impression that he was liked or cherished by them, especially his father. James couldn't disappoint the man. Whenever he had it was like being stabbed through his heart. A pain he'd learned to carry but never fully healed. He loved and admired the man who raised him, as he did his mother. His deepest desire growing up was to become the man they could love without condition and still be proud of him.
As he grew he became much like his father in his career. He joined the Navy and worked his way up the ranks. He left a lasting impression on his superior officers. After his father's death, which was shortly followed by his mother's, he was asked to escort Govenor Swann to Port Royal in the Caribbean. It was then he first met Elizabeth Swann. She was a friendly and spirited little girl, ten years his junior. The years passed and he developed a strong relationship with the Govenor. The man became somewhat of a surrogate father to him.
James in that time did as his father had always insisted, which was to not marry until he had reached level of commodore. He had an occasional courtship but nothing that lasted very long. It was when he was coming closer to his promotion that he noticed Elizabeth had really come into her own. She wasn't a child anymore. He realized more and more that she had all the qualities that were important to him with a companion. She was intelligent, out-spoken, kind, had an appreciation for the ocean. The months past and he fell in love with her. He would not come right out and say it, but he also desired to have a family he never knew of in his youth.
He decided to propose when he received his commission. He was given full permission from the Governor and intended to ask that evening. He took her aside and as he was trying to express himself Elizabeth had fainted. The tightness of the corset cut off her air supply and she dropped into the sea below. In a panic he was going to jump after her....