century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

D. Willis James

Mining (Copper)/Philanthropist

Centurion, 1889–1907

Full Name Daniel Willis James

Born 15 April 1832 in Liverpool, England

Died 13 September 1907 in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by Henry Codman Potter, Charles Loring Brace, Morris K. Jesup, John E. Parsons, and Edward Cooper

Elected 4 May 1889 at age fifty-seven

Century Memorial

Daniel Willis James, born seventy-five years ago in England of American parents and educated in Edinburgh, was a member of this company for eighteen years, as a signal instance of the noble merchant and the eminent citizen. The metropolis of his country was an environment where he literally revelled in usefulness. His great fortune, acquired in the development of industry and agriculture throughout a whole section of this broad land, a kingdom, as such historic units have been reckoned, was but the residuum of the wealth he created for tens of thousands, and he poured his share into the lap of this community with the wisest discrimination, accompanied by a shrinking modesty. Two universities, and two divinity schools, one each of which may be reckoned chiefest ornaments to the spiritual and intellectual life of New York City, and likewise the rising walls of the majestic St. John’s cathedral, all share in the memorials of his moral grandeur. Elsewhere, far and near, libraries, colleges, hospitals, and all agencies for ameliorating and uplifting human life attest his generosity. He was a philanthropist, not by profession, but rather without observation. Moreover, he sat here by right of his sympathy with both letters and art. Our museums are richer for his support, and belles-lettres were his avocation. One great and successful astronomical expedition to Japan was the unassisted undertaking of himself and his son: the enterprises of sovereigns elsewhere were the pleasure of a citizen here. For this he was above all else; a single-minded friend, a genial companion, a devoted servant of his neighbors, pure in motive and conduct; with the money which he gave he always gave a more precious commodity, himself.

William Milligan Sloane
1908 Century Association Yearbook