Our story starts in about 1780 when a young man named Joseph Hall left his home in the West Riding of Yorkshire and with his wife, came down to London. Joseph's family were Quakers and had lived for generations near Settle as weavers and clothiers. On arriving in London he set up in trade and from his home in New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, ran a weaving business in nearby Spittalfields.

We know very little about Joseph except that he and his wife had a twin son and daughter born in 1783 and a son that they called James who was born a year later. Our story of the King-Hall family begins with the second son, James Hall. For note on family surname see [PAGE1011].

Unlike the sons of most weavers James did not follow his father into the same trade. Instead of being set to work as a child apprentice at an early age, he received a basic education at a Quaker school. At the age of ten, under circumstances that are not known, he attracted the attention of a physician, called Daniel Williams, who took a liking to him and gave him his chance in life by starting him in the medical profession. His benefactor made himself responsible for the expenses of James's training at Saint Thomas's Hospital.

In the early 1800s James made two important decisions which vitally influence our story. Having finished his training he went to sea, and at the age of 21 he started to keep a diary. By going to sea and subsequently becoming a Naval Surgeon, he set a pattern for the next four generations of his family which did not finally end its connection with the Royal Navy until 1995 [PAGE1012].