James Clay was formerly a boot and shoe dealer and later he became an Estate Agent. He was also a dedicated member of the Baptist church.
He was born in Pendlebury on 23rd March 1816. In 1844 he married Ann Crawshaw at St. Mary's Church, Manchester. She was born on 20th April 1807, the daughter of Jonathan and Betty Crawshaw of Accrington. They had two children James (junior) born in 1845 in Middleton and Betsy born in 1847 at Pendleton. Ann was to die on 15th January 1876 and James married three years later to Mary Smith at St. Paul's Church, Kersal. The 1881 census reveals that James (aged 65, Agent) and Mary (aged 56 and born in Higher Broughton) were living at Ivy Cottage in Worsely. Mary's 14-year-old niece Ada Smith was also in the house on census night. Also on the 1881 census, James jnr (aged 36, Estate Agent) was living at 6, Lower Seedley Road, Pendleton with his wife Mary (aged 28 and born in Derby). James junior was to die two years later on 2nd February 1883 and James senior was to die on 22nd May 1890.
The Salford Reporter of 24th May 1890 records, "The friends of Mr James Clay will receive with profound regret the news of his death which occurred at his residence Clifford Bank, Swinton on Thursday last in his 75th year. The deceased gentleman was for many years a boot and shoe dealer in Broad Street, Pendleton, which business he disposed of some 16 years ago and started business as an estate agent. About that time, Mr Wallwork collector and manure salesman to the Pendleton Committee passed away, and Mr Clay was made the agent for the disposal of night-soil. Mr Clay has discharged his duties as a corporation official with great satisfaction. He was much respected by the members of the committee, fellow officers and by those whose business brought him into contact.
Some years ago James Clay removed to Swinton and he took an interest in matters concerning the welfare of that district. For a great number of years, he was connected with the Great George Street Baptist Chapel, Salford and the Nursery Street Baptist Chapel, Pendleton. He was a founder member of the latter chapel and was a deacon for many years. In politics he was a Liberal, but he could not reconcile himself to Mr Gladstone's Home Rule Act, so on its introduction in 1885 he joined the Liberal Unionist Party."
Three weeks before he died, James Clay travelled to Warrington on business and suddenly became ill. He had to be escorted home by a friend and was confined to bed, but did not recover. The funeral was held on Saturday 24th May. A short service was held at James's home in Clifford Place by Rev J.G. Skemp, minister of the Baptist Church, Nursery Street, Pendleton. The cortege went directly to the graveside in plot 32 of the Dissenters portion of Weaste Cemetery. The mourners included James's widow Mary, daughter Betsy, four brothers (John George, Joseph and Abraham), three nephews, a brother-in-law and colleagues at Pendleton Town Hall.