He was the brother of Arthur Finlay and Ninian Finlay who were also capped for Scotland. They all appeared together once in 1875, in the 0-0 draw against England at Raeburn Place: James winning the last of his four caps, while Arthur and Ninian gained their first caps.
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1-905326-24-6)
- Bath, p136
- Bath, p4
- Bath, p52
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