James was born on 7 August 1847 at Todmorden, Yorkshire, to parents William Holden, a railway labourer (1851), and Susie Shackleton.
Before entering the ministry James worked as a cotton weaver.
He was President of the Australian Conference in 1901.
He married Elizabeth (Betty) Needham (1849-1888) in the spring of 1871 at Todmorden, Yorkshire. Census returns identify three children.
- Sarah Ann (b1872)
- James Edgar (1876-1900)
- Emma (b1878)
He married Sarah Richmond (1855-1938) in 1889 at Victoria, Australia. Records identify two children.
- Winifred Richmond (b1892) – married Edwin N Clapham in 1924
- Arthur Walton (b1896)
James died on 7 November 1924 at Chatswood, New South Wales.
- 1876 Braintree
- 1877 Maldon
- 1879 Colnbrook
- 1880 Kingston
- 1882 Ryde & Ventnor
- 1886 Sydney I – Australia
- 1892 Goulburn
- 1897 Sydney I
- 1902 Grafton
- 1905 Bowral
- 1909 Armidale
- 1912 Newtown
- 1915 Randwick
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers