Born in the parish of Kilraughts, County Antrim, in 1847. Robert Kerr, his father, was an Ulster farmer. He attended the Academical Institution, Belfast, and then attended Queen's College for three years. There he completed a course of studies that prepared him for the Theological Hall. He became proficient in mathematics, natural philosophy, Latin, Greek, German, French, English literature, logic and moral philosophy. To this, he added Hebrew and related theological studies at the Theological Hall. Mr. Kerr was licensed by the Northern Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, March 18, 1868, and was ordained minister in the Greenock congregation, Scotland, February 3, 1869. In 1881, he was installed as pastor of the Glasgow congregation. Here he laboured until the end of his life which was October 8, 1905. James Kerr was one of the last of the Reformed Presbyterians to exhibit with some consistency those principles of the Second Reformation upon which the Reformed Presbyterian Church was maintained in separate existence.