James was born in 1812, third son of John Wilson, who was a Scottish shipowner., and Barbara, LNAB Gray. He emigrated to Tasmania in 1829, studied engineering and then became an officer of a ship before joinng a brewery of which he became manager.
On 15 December 1847, at Hobart, Tasmania, he married Deborah Hope Degraves, who was 26, daughter of Peter Degraves.
In October 1859 he became a member of the legislative council of Tasmania, representing Hobart. In 1863 he was appointed a minister without portfolio. In 1868 he was mayor of Hobart. From August 1869 to November 1872 he was premier and colonial secretary of Tasmania. From 1872 to his death he was president of the legislative council of Tasmania. He was knighted in 1873.
He passed away in 1880.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.