Joseph James Moore McKinney was born in County Derry in around 1897, the son of Joseph Cowan McKinney, a grocer, and his wife Martha. He worked for Ulster Bank.
In December 1915 McKinney left the bank to join the army, and by 1918 he was a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles. He was killed in action in France on 27 March 1918. He was 21 years old.