WM local preacher and benefactor, he was a third-generation Methodist on both sides of his family. His great-grandfather James Botteley, was married in Madeley parish church during John Fletcher's incumbency (although Fletcher's curate performed the ceremony). His grandfather brought WM to West Bromwich when he started preaching in a barn, which quickly became a flourishing centre of the work.
James Botteley was born at Hill Top, West Bromwich and educated at the Wesleyan Collegiate Institute (later Queen's College), Taunton. He was articled as a mining engineer to the L&NW Railway Co. and later went into partnership with an engineering firm which he sold and became a ship-owner in South Wales. In 1868 he married Elizabeth Gould Thomas of Milford Haven. They had six children and eventually settled at West Court, Moseley, Birmingham. There he gave much of his time to public and connexional work. He was a District Councillor, serving as both Vice-Chairman and then Chairman of the General Purposes Committee, and a member of the Kings Norton School Board and chairman of its Finance Committee. He was on the Severn Conservancy Board and the Board of Guardians.
The WM Connexion valued his wise guidance and appointed him to the committees of the General Chapel Fund,Home Missions, Army and Navy Board, Seaman's Mission, Theological Institution, Cliff College andNational Children's Home and Orphanage. Before World War I he served on a number of Special Conference Commissions' set up to look at the work in many parts of the country, including East Anglia, South Wales, South Yorkshire and Stoke on Trent. He served the Moseley Road (Birmingham) Circuit as a local preacher and held most offices in the Circuit and his local church. He gifted land to build the Shirley and Hall Green churches. He put a 'considerable sum of money at the disposal of the Connexional General Chapel Committee for the sole purpose of making encouraging grants towards the erection of village chapels'. He presented at least two 'Gospel Cars' to the Birmingham and Shrewsbury District.He was the first President of the Birmingham Philatelic Society and gave his valuable collection of stamps to be sold for the benefit of the National Children's Home. He is now especially remembered for his outstanding gift in 1913 to the Methodist Conference of what was then the largest collection of John Wesley mementoes and pottery busts. This collection is now part of the collection of Wesleyana in the Museum of Methodism at Wesley's Chapel, London.