James was educated at Armagh Royal School, and at Queen's College, Belfast, where he was a Dispensary Doctor and qualified M.D., B.O., M.Ch in 1888. He was the dispensary medical officer and registrar of births, deaths, and marriages at Derrylin in the union of Lisnaskea, Country Fermanagh, prior to entering the Army on 17th January 1916, when he gained a temporary commission in the R.A.M.C., at the rank of lieutenant. He first served on a hospital ship from July 1916, and was promoted to Captain in January 1917, after one year’s service. He then became attached to the hospital in connection with Thetford Aerodrome, co Norfolk, and met his death at the aerodrome whilst flying in a biplane with 2nd Lieutenant Charles L. Beaumont, R.F.C. *An inquest was held by the Norfolk Coroner:- It was established that James had asked if there would be any objection to him going up as a passenger, as so many flying men suffered from nerves and it was very difficult for him to judge the effects of flying on the nerves until he had had personal experience - permission was granted. An air mechanic gave evidenced that he saw the machine pass over the road at a height of about 400 feet. The machine later did a right bank, which developed into a spinning nose dive. The witness went to the wreckage, and found James had been thrown clear out, but the pilot was underneath the machine. Major Orton said he thought the machine stalled and developed into a spiral nose dive through losing flying speed. A verdict of accidental death was returned.* James was the second son of Rev. Canon James Blair Annesley [Canon of Clogher Cathedral and Rector of Drumkeeran, near Kesh, co Fermanagh] and Eliza [daughter of James Ferguson]; and was the husband of Geraldine Clara [daughter of the Rev. Canon James Anderson Car, L.L.D., Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin - married at Whitechurch, Rathfarnham, co Dublin on 4th January 1898. They had four children.
[* - * taken from ‘The Impartial Reporter and Farmers’ Journal’ and date of birth taken from James’s birth certificate - both kindly provided by G R Ferguson]