James arrived in St Kitts, aged 18, in 1755 and worked along with his brother Alexander. They then bought plantation Hermitage in Grenada, which was managed by James while Alexander remained in St Kitts.
The trading house of Alexander, James and Evan Baillie operated in St Kitts from 1770. In 1772 James wrote that 'our house (exclusive of the business in the other islands of which St Kitts is the capital place) sold Negroes here to the amount of £120,000 sterling'.
In 1775 he moved to London.
From the time we parted in the 1755 to the year 1771 I was employed in the line of Planting and commerce in the islands of St Christopher and Grenada . . . in the beginning of Seventy-Five I entered into business here [London], where you may depend . . . my best services will always be very much at you command. [London, 4 Jan 1779]
Letter, James Baillie to Baillie of Dunain [HCA D456/A/13 ]
James Baillie married Colina Campbell in Edinburgh in 1772 and bought the mansion house of Ealing Grove in Middlesex. He became MP for Horsham, Surrey, in 1792; and died in 1793.
The Granada plantation, Hermitage, was later manged by Alexander Fraser (Inchcoulter).
His Demerara plantation, Northbrook, was offered for sale the following year. Prospective purchasers could obtain details from James Fraser, George Inglis, Lachlan Cuming or Spencer Mackay in the colony.
The artist Thomas Gainsborough painted a group portrait [right] of James Baillie's family in 1784, which is held by the Tate Gallery, London.
The children are son Alexander (aged about 7), daughters Janet and Amelia, and baby daughter Colin-Campbell (b1782).
Gainsborough conveys the sense of an affectionate family. Here Mrs Baillie is seated roughly in the centre of the composition. Standing her youngest child on her knee, she appears to be the fulcrum of family life. [Tate Gallery]