James, younger son of King Charles I of England, held the title of Duke of York. He was born on October 14, 1633 and, during the English civil war, was captured by forces opposed to the monarchy. James escaped to continental Europe where he distinguished himself as a soldier and, when his elder brother Charles II was restored to the throne, he returned to England and was appointed commander of the Royal Navy. Against the backdrop of the Anglo-Dutch wars, Charles asserted England's claim to New Netherland by granting James a patent to the colony. James sent a fleet under the command of Richard Nicolls, the Dutch surrendered, English rule was established and the colony was renamed New York.
Charles died in 1685, and James ascended the English throne. A Roman Catholic, James advocated for toleration of Catholics and Protestant dissenters. Faced with opposition from the Anglican establishment, James prorogued parliament and ruled alone. He appointed Catholics to military, political and academic positions, and promulgated the Declaration of Indulgence. Incensed, the Anglican establishment invited William of Orange, the Protestant husband of James’s daughter Mary, to seize the English throne and when James found that he did not have the support of either the English army or navy, he fled abroad.
William and Mary were crowned joint monarchs of England in February 1689. With the support of France, James traveled to Ireland, raised an army and in July 1690, fought William's forces at the Battle of the Boyne. James was defeated, fled to France and died in exile at Saint-Germain in 1701.