James was born Halifax, Yorkshire England. He arrived in NSW aboard the Royal Admiral in 1792 as a corporal. He arrived on Norfolk Island aboard HM Supply in April 1796. By 1798 he held the rank of private with Captain Townson’s Company.
He returned to NSW aboard the Union in March 1805, and then stationed at South Head and Parramatta, returning to England aboard the Hindostan in May 1810. when the NSW Corps was withdrawn. James was discharged in 1811, aged 57 years, after 35 years 8 months of service in the 10th Foot Regiment and 102nd Foot Regiment.
 TNA, WO 121/115/86