James Surname Genealogy

The surname James comes from the
personal name which has the same origin as Jacob (the Latin
Jacobus). Jacobus and James appeared interchangeable in 13th
century records.
However, James developed as a separate name in its own right, largely
because in the authorized version of the Bible the form James was used
in the New Testament as the name of two of Christ’s apostles (James the
brother of John and James the brother of Andrew), whereas in the Old
Testament the brother of Esau was called Jacob.

James Resources on

Wales. The
James surname has cropped up mainly in south

There were James in Pembrokeshire by the 17th century, including early
emigrants to America. William James,
born there in 1720, ran away to sea as a young man and made his name
with the
British navy in India. He returned to
England wealthy and a Baronet. John
James, a farmer at Trenewydd in the same county, kept a diary of his
year in
1846 which has been preserved.

Christopher James was a provision
merchant in Swansea in the early 19th century and Mayor of the town in
1849. His son William became a Judge on
the High
Court. In 1856 Evan James, the son of a
woollen manufacturer in Caerphilly, composed Land of My Fathers,
was to become the Welsh national anthem.

The James family
of Grosmont
Monmouthshire, near the English border, dates back to the 17th century. They owned the Town Farm there until the
retirement of John James in 1845.
Another old Monmouthshire family stemmed from Lewis James,
curate of
Bedwellty from 1633 to 1667.

England. The
name William James was documented in Wiltshire as early as 1300. And James was to be found in English counties
to Wales, such as Cornwall. John and
Mary James were married there at St. Hilary in 1679.
Another family history began with the
marriage of William James and Elizabeth Harvey in Breage in 1762.

The name also
existed elsewhere:

  • James
    at Newport
    the Isle of Wight dated back to the late 15th century.
    Thomas James and his nephew Richard were
    notable scholars in the early 17th century.
  • Christopher
    and Ellen James lived at Gnosall in Staffordshire in the
    late 1500’s.
  • while one family history in the northeast began with the
    of Thomas
    James in 1638 in Hebron, Northumberland.
    He was the first James of a line of Parish Clerks which
    continued until

Ireland. The
James name is in
Ireland, mainly because of English or Welsh arrivals there. A James from Worcestershire who fought at the
Battle of the Boyne later moved south to Wicklow and Carlow. There was a James line at Carnew in Wicklow by
the 1730’s. Some later emigrated to

America. Early James in America were
mainly Welsh.

The first James to arrive was probably John James,
a Welshman from Carnarvon who came to Virginia
1650. His descendants became Baptists and settled in
Later descendants were the outlaws Jesse James and his brother
Frank James. They
made their money
robbing banks. Their uncle Drury W.
James had come to California during the Gold Rush and made his fortune
as a
cattle rancher.

James family of Welsh Baptists
from Pembrokeshire came to
in 1711
and settled in Montgomery county, where they helped to organize a

Scots Irish. William James
in New York in 1789 from a farming family in Baillieborough in county
Cavan. He made his fortune in real
estate. His son Henry was a prominent
theologian of his day; and Henry’s offspring included the philosopher
William James
and the writer Henry James.

Richard James from Wales was an officer in the expedition to Jamaica in
1655 who stayed. His son Richard, born
in 1656, was a colonel in the local militia who lived to be 103. In his latter years he was said to have lived
almost entirely on cocoa. These James
made their home in Hanover parish.
Jonathan James was a plantation owner in St. Elizabeth parish in

Canada. In 1869 newly
widowed Agnes James left her home in St. Gorran, Cornwall for Liverpool
she departed with her seven children on the Austrian for
Canada. Arriving in Quebec, the family made their way
to Mara township in south central Ontario.
The James numbers grew in Canada and they held a family reunion
in 1937.

William James arrived in Toronto from the
English Midlands with his family in 1906.
He was a photographer by trade and many of his photographs of
have survived.

“One of the last major events he covered was the
1939 Royal Tour. This netted one of his
favorite photographs: a shot of George VI and Queen Elizabeth standing
on the
steps of Toronto’s City Hall

James Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select James Names

Jesse James was a
legendary outlaw of the old West.
Henry James was an
American-born writer in England during Victorian times of novels such
as The Portrait of a Lady.
His brother was the philosopher William James.
Alex James was a Scottish
footballer, one of the Wembley wizards who thrashed England in 1928.
Elmore James was a blues
guitarist from Mississippi, known as “the king of the slide guitar.”
C.L.R James was the
Trinidad-born writer and journalist, best known for his cricketing
book, Beyond A Boundary.
P.D James is a popular English
crime writer.

Select James Today

  • 152,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 80,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 54,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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