James George McKay was born in Launceston on 19 Nov 1859 to Robert McKay (1830-1893), an overseer for William Barnes of Trevallyn, and his wife Ann Wright (1833-1893). The McKays came from Ross, Scotland, on the Ben Nevis in Oct 1855. James had at least five sisters and two brothers, Robert and Hugh. James entered the office of Irvine and McEachern as a junior in 1873. Thirteen years later he became a partner in the firm. He was very popular in commercial circles and was looked upon as a shrewd businessman. He was interested in all aspects of the progress and welfare of the Launceston community, being a member and chairman of the Trevallyn Town Board. He was also a member of the Loyal Cornwall Lodge.
According to his obituary, his brain became affected from overwork and he contracted influenza and congestion of the lungs which developed into consumption which proved fatal. He died on 29 Jun 1892 at the young age of 32, leaving his wife Annie, nee Warner, whom he had married in Hobart on 10 Mar 1885, and two young children. Sadly, his daughter Beatrice died on 13 Sep 1894 aged six years and his wife died on 19 Dec 1900 aged 41. They were all buried in the family plot at the Scotch Cemetery, High Street. Annie is also pictured in the Family Album.