James Alexander (c.1690–1756) was a lawyer and statesman in colonial New York. He served in the Colonial Assembly and as Attorney General of the colony in 1721-1723. His son William was later a Major General in the Continental Army during the American revolution.
James was born in Scotland about 1690 to Lord Sterling. He entered the army and served as an Engineering officer. But, in 1714-1715 he joined the uprising in support of the Jacobite Pretender, and fled to America in 1715 when it failed. He settled in New York, and became the surveyor for Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1718. Shortly afterward he was appointed surveyor for New York and New Jersey.
He read law in New York and was admitted to the bar. Alexander served as Attorney General for the colony of New York from 1721 to 1723. He practiced law, engaged in mercantile pursuits, and built a considerable fortune. He also served many terms in the Colonial Assembly.
In 1735, Alexander attempted to defend publisher Peter Zenger on sedition charges and was disbarred. But when Lord De La Warr was appointed governor in 1737 he was reinstated.
Alexander became an vocal proponent of the emerging Whig political views, and engaged in various civic efforts as well. In 1743 he joined Franklin and others in founding to American Philosophical Society. In early 1756, he traveled to Albany to confer with other Whig leaders, and came home ill as a result. He died in New York City on April 2, 1756.