James Emott arrived from England in 1682 and settled in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is said to have been a lawyer and a witness to the will of Governor Phillip Carteret in December of that year. Emott was appointed Essex County Clerk in 1683, and moved to Perth Amboy, the new capital of the Province in 1685. In 1686, Governor Carteret appointed him to the office of Provincial Secretary. 19th century historian Edwin Hatfield observed that "none who has occasion to consult the original Records pertaining to this period will soon forget his peculiar chirography, so difficult to decipher."
On August 15, 1688, Governor Andros ordered that James Emott be admitted to practice law throughout the Dominion of New England, and Emott set up practice in New York City. Emott opposed Jacob Leisler's take-over of New York City, and moved to New Jersey until William Slaughter, the Governor appointed by William and Mary, arrived in New York. Emott, George Farewell, and William Nicholl were appointed prosecuting attorneys in the Jacob Leisler Treason Trial.
From then on, James Emott's law practice thrived — he frequently advised the Governor’s Council and represented the interests of the City of New York. Emott also had an extensive criminal practice and represented the notorious buccaneers, William Kid and Giles Shelley. In 1702, James Emott and William Nicholl defended Bayard in the Colonel Nicholas Bayard Treason Trial.
James Emott died in New York City in April 1713.
Paul Hamlin and Charles Baker. The Supreme Court of the Province of New York, 1691-1704 (1959).
Edwin Francis Hatfield. History of Elizabeth, New Jersey (1868).