We don't know anything about John's early life or family.
John joined the 63rd Regiment of Foot in late November 1866 and was given the service number 1151. At the time they were based in Glasgow.
We don't know anything about the details of John's career, but the 63rd Regiment served in Ireland before sailing to India in October 1870. They served in several different areas of India including Hazaribagh and Jhansi, and they were in Umballa by 1880. This is now called Ambala and it is on the edge of the Indian Punjab.
The 63rd Regiment played a small part in the Second Afghan War of 1878-80. John was with them in August 1880 when they marched from Sibi in modern Pakistan to try to relieve British forces under siege in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Another force marching south from the Afghan capital Kabul got there first so John will have seen very little fighting. After the end of the war the 63rd Regiment stayed in Kandahar until the British withdrew in April 1881.
On the 1st July 1881 the 63rd Regiment was renamed the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. They were based in Quetta in what is now Pakistan, at the time.
The Anglo-Egyptian War broke out in June 1882 after the pro-British Khedive was deposed. Britain wanted to protect its commercial investments in Egypt, as well as the Suez Canal, which gave access to India. The 1st Battalion was sent to Egypt on the 6th September to join a larger force that had already landed. For this reason they did not see very much fighting. The war ended later that month with the British restoring the Khedive to power, but having much more control over the country.
John's time overseas ended on the 3rd November 1882. He returned to the UK and was stationed at Warley in Essex, and then at the Tower of London for a time. He held the rank of Private during his service in Afghanistan and Egypt.
At some point after March 1883 John left the Army and the UK behind. He travelled to the United States of America, and was heading West through the Dakota Territory in around 1885. One day John was walking across the frozen Sheyenne River when the ice broke and he fell into the freezing water. The grandfather of Clinton E. Morgan saw what had happened and rescued John. After the two were dry and warm John was so grateful that he gave his rescuer what he described as his most valuable possession; this Egypt Medal.
Clinton's grandfather felt it was 'more than coincidence' that he had been able to find John, because the area they were travelling through was extremely remote. This occurred in what is now Cass County, North Dakota. It is still very sparsely populated.
The rest of John's life remains a mystery. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1981. As well as his Egypt Medal, John was also awarded the Afghanistan Medal and the Khedive's Star for his Army service.