James was born on 5 July 1853 at Hovingham, Yorkshire, to parents Richard Swann, a carrier and former of 10 acres (1861), and Ellen Lumley.
Census returns identify the following occupations for James.
- 1861 scholar
- 1871 apprentice tailor
- 1881 PM minister
- 1891 clerk in Holy Orders – curate at Somerby, Grantham
- 1901 clergyman of the Church of England at Quadring, Spalding
- 1911 clergyman – Established church
He married Fanny Matilda Kendall (1857-1933) in the summer of 1881 in the Spilsby Registration District, Lincolnshire. Fanny was a daughter of Rev. Dennis Kendall. Census returns identify four children.
- Madeline Elizabeth (1882-1892)
- Mabel Annie (1883-1971) – married George Herbert Clark, a clerk in Holy Orders (1911), in 1910
- Claude W (1885-1969) – a clerk in Holy Orders (1911)
- Evelyn Muriel (1887-1974) – married Bernard Watson, a farmer (1939), in 1922
James died on 12 February 1926 at Welby, South Kesteven, Lincolnshire.
- 1875 Retford
- 1877 Pocklington
- 1878 Alford
- 1880 Selby
- 1882 Driffield
- 1885 Scarborough
- 1887 disappears
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers