James Stirling's father was Archibald Stirling and his mother, Archibald Stirling's second wife, was Anna Hamilton. James was their third son and he was born on the family estate at Garden, about 20 km west of the Scottish town of Stirling. The family were strong supporters of the Jacobite cause and this was to have a significant influence on James Stirling's life.
The Jacobite cause was that of the Stuart king, James II (of Britain -- James VII of Scotland: Jacobus in Latin), exiled after the Revolution of 1688, and his descendants. Scotland was united to England and Wales in 1707. The Stuarts were Scottish but Roman Catholics and therefore they had only limited support. They did, however, offer an alternative to the British crown with an exiled court in France which had strong support from many such as the Stirling family. When James Stirling was about 17 his father was arrested, imprisoned and accused of high treason because of his Jacobite sympathies. However he was acquitted of the charges.
Nothing is known of Stirling's childhood or indeed about his undergraduate years in Scotland. The first definite information that we know is that he travelled to Oxford in the autumn of 1710 in order to matriculate there. Indeed Stirling matriculated at Balliol College Oxford on 18 January 1711 as a Snell Exhibitioner.
He died on the 5th of december 1770 at the age of 82.