James Williams, son of Daniel and Ursula Williams- the father a native of Wales - was born near the old Fork Church, Hanover County, Virginia, in November, 1740. His education was very limited, and his parents dying, he early migrated to Granville County, North Carolina, where his brother, Colonel John Williams was a distinguished jurist, as was also his cousin, Colonel Richard Henderson. Colonel Joseph Williams, of Surry County, in that Province, was also his cousin. Marrying a Miss Clarke, about 1762, he ten years later removed to Little River, in now Laurens County, South Carolina, where he engaged in the combined avocations of farmer, miller and merchant.
Taking a decided part against the mother country, he was chosen one of the representatives, in January, 1775, of the broad river and Saluda district, to the South Carolina Congress; and soon after one of the local Committee of Safety, and served as a Captain on the Snow campaign in suppressing the Tories. In 1776 he was made Lieutenant Colonel of Militia, and served on Williamsons's expedition against the Cherokees. In 1778 he was defeated for State Senator by the strong Tory influence in his section; and that year led his regiment on the abortive Florida campaign. In 1779, he shared in the affairs at Brier Creek, Stono Ferry, and Savannah, receiving in the later a spent ball on his forehead. The same year he served on an expedition against the Cherokees, and was engaged a while in guarding prisoners at Ninety Six. Her served under Sumter, in 1780, as Commissary, on his expedition against Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock; then at Musgrove's Mill, and closing his useful life at King's Mountain, where he received a mortal wound, dying the next day, in his fortieth year, leaving eight children, five sons and three daughters.