Born 6 January 1803 at Manordivy, Pembrokeshire, the son of Abraham and Ann James. Educated at Cardigan grammar school and Ystrad Meurig, he was ordained deacon 19 November 1826, with a title to Grandston, Pembrokeshire, and priest 2 September 1827. He was licensed to Jordanston, Pembrokeshire, 31 July 1828, and served as curate of Almondbury, Yorkshire, 1829-36. Whilst at Almondbury he married twice. His first wife was Margaret Batty, of Fenay Hall, and the second Emma Armitage of Milnsbridge House. There were two children of the first marriage and three of the second. In 1836 he obtained the living of Kirkdale, Liverpool. The degree of M.A. was conferred on him by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1849, and that of Ph.D. by the University of Heidelberg in 1853. In February 1853 he was appointed warden of Llandovery College, but in 1854 he accepted the living of Marsden, Yorkshire. He was instituted to Pantêg, Monmouth, 11 November 1856, and remained there until his death on 2 August 1871.
He was an ardent Welshman, and became a well-known figure on the eisteddfod platform. He was bitterly opposed to the appointment of non-Welsh-speaking bishops and incumbents to sees and livings in Wales. Whilst in England he became an active member of the ' Association of Welsh Clergy in the West Riding of the County of York,' a society which was greatly concerned with the question of non- Welsh -speaking incumbents. The 1856 meeting of the Association was held at Marsden Vicarage, where David James was incumbent.
Amongst his published works are The Patriarchal Religion of Britain; or a Complete Manual of Ancient British Druidism, 1836; a lecture on The Doctrine of the Trinity, 1839; a pamphlet on The Pope's Supremacy Disproved and the Apostolic Origin and National Independence of the British Church Demonstrated, 1849; a lecture on Purgatory, 1851; a sermon Peter without a Primacy and the Pope a Usurper, 1851; a lecture The Siege of Derry, 1851; The Apostolic Origin and Scriptural Character of the Rite of Confirmation (2nd ed. 1851). Thomas James (Llallawg) was a brother, and H. A. James was his son.
Published date: 1959
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