John Durham was born at Whitby, Yorkshire, England on 15 December 1790 to John Durham (b. 1738) and Ann Hineson (1739-1794).
John earned a living as a cord weaver and later as a skilled shoemaker.
Isabella Thompson was also born at Whitby. She was born 20 January 1800 to Thomas Thompson (1762-1816) and Isabella Frank or Franck (b. 1766).
John and Isabella were married on 18 February 1824. They made their home in Oldham, Lancaster, England where all of their six children were born. One of their children was Sarah Durham, grandmother of Cora May Morris.
They were a fairly typical middle-class family. They worked hard, were fairly well educated, and kept a nice home. One record says that Isabella was a "boot and shoe binder." The family was known for their musical talents and their devotion to their faith.
When their oldest two children, Thomas and Sarah, became interested in the Mormon church, the couple was devastated, but they did not cut ties with them.
John and Isabella staying in Oldham with most of their children near them (Thomas and Sarah went to America in 1862).
John died on 10 January 1863 in Whitby at the age of 72.
Isabella died on 31 March 1883 at the age of 83 and was buried in Stalybridge, Lancashire, England.