James was born before 1586. He was the son of William Cayley and Joan Gouldthorp. He lived in Thormanby, Yorkshire, England. In 1645 he was cited as a 'delinquent' by the Parliamentary authorities for his activities in support of the cause of King Charles I. The following year he made a composition with the Parliamentary administration, paying a fine of £36, after declaring in a petition that he had been drawn against his will into His Majesty's Quarters, had been extremely assessed by the Earl of Newcastle's officers, and forced to leave home for fear of imprisonment. It seems likely he suffered at the hands of both sides in the Civil War, but his sympathies, like those of others in the Cayley family, were royalist and all four of his sons are said to have died in the service of Charles I. He passed away after 1646.
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