He was born about 1811 and described, at the time of his marriage, as a flax dresser.
The best grades of flax were used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades were used for the manufacturing of twine, rope, canvas and webbing equipment.
On the 1851 census, James and Ann, shown as aged 40 and 38 respectively, are shown as living at 65 King Street, Dundee with their three children :
- John (born about 1842 aged 9)
- James (born about 1844 aged 7)
- Elizabeth (born about 1850 aged 1)
- Cecilia (born about 1851) - she was working as a millworker aged just 10.
- Thomas (born about 1858 aged 3)
- James (38) - a tailor
- Cecilia (28) - a spinner
- Thomas (22) - a baker
Their sons, John and James, were born before their parents married. The marriage certificate for John Anderson says he was was 19 in 1861 and therefore born in 1842, before his parents marriage at the end of 1845.