James was a sailor in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Held captive by the French for nearly 7 years (1808-1814?). Married in 1815 and employed by a Squire Bridgers on Horton Farm, Beeding, Sussex. Around 1824 moved to Hastings then 1828 hired as overseer to Van Dieman's Land Establishment in Tasmania. Sailed on "Orelia" in December 1828 to Cressy, Tasmania. Had 11 children and in 1854 took in four youngest children of their eldest daughter Mary who died earlier that year. He retired to his son's (Jabez) property "Shepherd's Folly" in Branxholme, Victoria.
According to one document he also adoped Richard Ward, a grand son born Longford, Tasmania 10th May 1835, died Branxholm 1920, He married Mary McInerney about 1865. She was born London, England 1844, died 1875 in Victoria. Second wife Agnes Morris married about 1877 in Victoria, died about 1920.