James, John Thomas (DNB00)

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JAMES, JOHN THOMAS, D.D. (1786–1828), bishop of Calcutta, born 23 Jan. 1786 at Rugby, was eldest son of Dr. Thomas James [q. v.], head-master of Rugby School, by his second wife. He was educated at Rugby until he was twelve years old, when, by the interest of the Earl of Dartmouth, he was placed on the foundation of the Charterhouse. In 1803 he gained the first prize medal given by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Sciences. He left the Charterhouse in May 1804, when he was chosen to deliver the annual oration, and entered Christ Church, Oxford, as a commoner. After the death of his father, 23 Sept. 1804, he was nominated dean's student by Dr. Cyril Jackson. He graduated B.A. 9 March 1808, and M.A. 24 Oct. 1810, and continued to reside at Oxford, first as a private tutor and afterwards as student and tutor of Christ Church, till 1813, when he went abroad. During this tour he visited the courts of Berlin, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg. He visited Moscow, which had just then been burned, and thence through Poland to Vienna. After his return he published, in 1816, a ‘Journal of a Tour in Germany, Sweden, Russia, and Poland, during 1813 and 1814,’ 4to (1 vol.) Subsequent editions, in 2 vols. 8vo, appeared in 1817 and 1819.

In 1816 James visited Italy, and studied painting at Rome and Naples. On his return to England he took holy orders, and resigned his studentship on being presented by the dean and chapter of Christ Church to the vicarage of Flitton-cum-Silsoe in Bedfordshire. While there he published two works on art—‘The Italian Schools of Painting,’ in 1820, and ‘The Flemish, Dutch, and German Schools of Painting,’ in 1822—and a theological work entitled ‘The Semi-Sceptic, or the Common Sense of Religion considered,’ in 1825. His intention was to have completed his writings on art by treatises on the English, French, and Spanish schools. In 1826 he began the publication of a series of ‘Views in Russia, Sweden, Poland, and Germany.’ These were engraved on stone by himself, and coloured so as to represent originals. Five numbers appeared during 1826 and 1827, when the publication was interrupted by his appointment to the bishopric of Calcutta, in succession to Heber, at the end of 1826. James resigned his vicarage in April 1827. The university of Oxford gave him the degree of D.D. by diploma on 10 May, and on Whitsunday, 3 June, he was consecrated at Lambeth. He landed at Calcutta 18 Jan. 1828, and was installed in the cathedral on the following Sunday, the 20th.

For purposes of organisation James divided the city of Calcutta into three parochial districts, the fort itself constituting a fourth. On 20 June 1828 he set out on a visitation to the western provinces of his diocese, but, being seized with illness, he returned to Calcutta and was ordered to take a sea voyage. He sailed for China on 9 Aug., but died during the voyage on 22 Aug. A ‘Charge’ by him was published in 1829. In 1823 James married Marianne Jane, fourth daughter of Frederick Reeves, esq., of East Sheen, Surrey, and formerly of Mangalore, in the Bombay presidency.

[Brit. Mus. Cat.; Brief Memoir by E. James; Kaye's Christianity in India.]

E. J. R.