Chaloner was born in the parish of St Olave Silver Street, London, the fourth son of the courtier Sir Thomas Chaloner of Guisborough, Yorkshire, and Elizabeth Fleetwood of London, and grandson of Sir Thomas Chaloner, poet and ambassador of Queen Elizabeth. On 10 April 1648 he became one of the Members of Parliament for Aldborough, Yorkshire. He was not excluded from Parliament during Pride's Purge on 20 December 1648 and declared his opposition to the earlier Commons vote accepting Charles I's answers in the Treaty of Newport as grounds for continuing negotiations. In January 1649 he was appointed to sit as a commissioner at the trial of Charles I and sat for a total of six sessions. Unlike his elder brother Thomas Chaloner, he did not sign the royal death warrant.
During the Interregnum he was active in the Commonwealth and enjoyed the patronage of Thomas Fairfax, but under the Protectorate he played no active part in national politics. In 1655 he fell under suspicion of encouraging Fairfax to join the Sealed Knot uprising in Yorkshire, so to remove him from scrutiny Fairfax found him an appointment as governor of the Isle of Man. He was still the governor in 1659 when he declared for General George Monck during the second Commonwealth. The London faction of the New Model Army arrested him, but on 7 December that year, as the London faction's star fell and Monck's rose, the Rump ordered Chaloner's release, and in January 1660 confirmed his governorship of the Isle of Man.
He died in July 1660 of a sickness he had contracted during his imprisonment. Before his death he professed his support for the Royalist cause and explained away his part in the Regicide as an attempt on his part "to keep things from falling into a worse condition". He was most likely buried on the Isle of Man. His explanation was disregarded and he was among those whose property was sequestrated by the state under the "forfeitures not extending to Life" terms of the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion.
- Chaloner, James (1653). Cumming, Joseph George, ed. A Short Treatise of the Isle of Man. Douglas: The Manx Society (published 1844).
- In some contemporary records, like House of Commons Journal Volume 8 9 June 1660, his name is also spelt James Challoner
- Scott 2004
- Chaloner 1863, p. 63 editor's note 2: "James Chaloner (our author), was fourth son of Thomas Chaloner, of Guisborough, in Yorkshire (Knighted in 1591, and died 1615), by his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Fleetwood, Esq., Recorder of London"
- BL, Add. MS 71448, fol. 67.
- Clerics & connoisseurs: the Rev. Matthew Pilkington, the Cobbe family.. Alastair Laing, Nicholas Turner, English Heritage - 2001 "Thomas, through his marriage to Veriana Chaloner (fig.45), acquired a thoroughly Cromwellian family circle."
- Chaloner, James (1863). Cumming, Joseph George, ed. A Short Treatise of the Isle of Man: Digested Into Six Chapters. The Manx Society. p. 63 (note 2).
- Scott, David (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5038. (subscription required) Endnotes
- HoP, Commons, 1690–1715 [draft]
- JHC, 2–7 (1640–59)
- MSS relating to James Chaloner, BL, Add. MS 71448
- G. W. Johnson, ed., The Fairfax correspondence: memoirs of the reign of Charles the First, 2 vols. (1848)
- R. Bell, ed., Memorials of the civil war … forming the concluding volumes of the Fairfax correspondence, 2 vols. (1849)
- J. Chaloner, A short treatise of the Isle of Man, ed. J. G. Cumming, Manx Society, 10 (1864)
- CSP dom., 1636–61 · Seventh report, HMC, 6 (1879), 147
- J. G. Muddiman, The trial of King Charles the First (1928)
- N. Yorks. CRO, ZFM/alum mines, 1.3, 5
- Wood, Ath. Oxon., new edn, 3.50–53
- [W. Prynne], A full declaration of the true state of the secluded members case (1660) [Thomason tract E 1013(22)]
- Mercurius Pragmaticus (12–19 Dec 1648) [Thomason tract E 476(35)]
- Heads of a Diarie, collected out of the Journalls of both Houses of Parliament (26 Dec 1648) [TT E 536 (34)] ·
- Parliamentary Intelligencer (26 Dec 1659–2 Jan 1660) [Thomason tract E 182(16)]
- Archives: BL, Add. MS 71448 · N. Yorks. CRO, MSS, Mic. 2050 · N. Yorks. CRO, MSS relating to alum mines, ZFM | BL, Add. MSS 18979, fol. 207; 36792, fols. 13, 57v, 62v, 69, 79v · Bodl. Oxf., Fairfax MS 32, fol. 179 · Bodl. Oxf., Nalson MS IV, fols. 90, 213, 244v, 317 · TNA: PRO, C181/6; E115/104/120; LR2/266, fol. 1; PSO 2/180