Rev Dr James was born in September 1820 in Inverness. He graduated MA from King's College Aberdeen in 1840 and took Holy Orders in 1845. He then moved to Hartford Connecticut where he graduated from Trinity College. He was a minister in Connecticut and living there with his first wife Lucretia Livingston Reed and his children.
James visited Inverness about 1848 on holiday and as there was a vacancy in that town's St Johnís Episcopal Chapel,he was one of two ministers invited to apply for the Charge. He was successful, returned to Connecticut for his wife and family and and became the parson of St John's. During this time he was also Episcopalian chaplain at Fort George.
In 1851, he applied for the vacant position of Bishop of Moray and Ross but was unsuccessful. He left Inverness in 1856 for India where he joined the East India Company and became the chaplain of Ghazepore in 1857. He served through the Indian Mutiny as chaplain to the Commander-in-Chief and was awarded the medal and clasp for Lucknow and Cawnpore. In 1858 he was joint chaplain in Allahabad; chaplain in Penang in 1859, of Meerut in 1868, of Simla 1873 and senior cathedral chaplain in Calcutta in 1875.
He returned to Europe and in the 1880s he was minister at the English Church in Paris, France.
He married firstly, in 1843, Lucretia Livingston Reed with issue: James Livingston, George Robert, Charles Frederick Everest and Lillias Grant. He married, secondly, Margaret Fowler who died without issue.
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