Cannan was born in Funchal, Madeira in February of 1861, and died in Bournemouth on 8 April 1935. He was the son of David Cannan, a Scot who had worked in Australia during the Victoria gold rush, and his wife Jane, who died a few days after Cannan's birth. The scholar and publisher Charles Cannan was his elder brother. Cannan himself suffered from severe ill-health as a Child, but in later life he was physically robust. He was an avid cyclist: once, being told that a book was not available in Oxford, where he lived, he responded that he would then cycle to London, fifty miles away, to fetch it.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.