James William Shaw was born near Ardstraw, County Tyrone, Ireland, November 6, 1812. His early studies were conducted in that area. In 1824, he was removed to America, and his family settled in West Hebron, New York. In 1837, he entered the Coldenham Academy and from there went on to Lafayette College. He studied theology in both the Coldenham and Allegheny seminaries of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and was licensed to preach in April 11, 1843. He was ordained and installed as pastor of the Coldenham congregation, May 29, 1844, a charge he kept until he resigned for reasons of health in 1881. He was a man more devoted to the principles of the Covenanter church living in a time when many made full departure. Only a few of his sermons have been printed but they all demonstrate a concern for reformation attainments. He died at his home, in Coldenham, New York, November 27, 1886.