James comes from a family of hardworking, honest, proud, civic-minded individuals, who would now be considered lower middle class. The one thing they disliked about their village was the rampant crime (mostly controlled by the Cosa Nostra). James's parents often talked about moving to another village, if they could ever afford to do so. However, it wasn't something they really took seriously, because they'd heard that all the villages on The Land had their own gangs, so they saw little point in moving. (It would have been a moot point anyway, since they couldn't afford to move.) However, that changed in 884 (when James was 12), when an expedition from Ship discovered Rain Isle, and subsequently founded a new village there, called Port. James's parents believed it might be possible to prevent gangs from forming in a brand new village, which is why they decided to join a group of settlers from Shipsister who decided to join those from Ship. An additional incentive was the fact that they wouldn't need to pay transportation fees, as the emigration was funded by Shipsister's public fund.
In 891, at age 19, James joined the crew of the Victory, a dreadnought-class merchant ship which at the time was captained by Reginald. In 900, Reginald was replaced as captain by his son, Althis, who had been on the ship's crew for the better part of a decade prior to James joining. By the time Althis became captain, James had risen to second mate. He had long respected both Althis and Reginald, and the feeling was mutual. They said he was an exemplary example of what the lower classes should strive to be, if they ever hoped to raise their station in life. And so, James was fiercely loyal to both captains under whom he served. However, in 901, LandOrder opened a branch in Port, the first ever gang to operate in the village. This led James to make the difficult decision to quit the crew of the Victory, and join the police.
It wasn't long after that, that The Order began raising armies in the villages of the Northern Alliance. James strongly believed in the ideals of The Plan, and so he almost immediately joined Port's army (as did many police). In 903, when the war known as the Coming of the Order began, Althis joined the navy, and was given a new ship to command. However, there was an incident which led General Poss to draft Althis into the army, as one of the three majors under his command. It was then that James, now a captain, once again came to serve under Althis. (They sometimes joked about the fact that James's former captain was now calling him "captain.") While the three armies spent part of the war apart from each other, there were times they were all together. James, as Althis's most trusted captain, also spent a great deal of time with the most trusted captains of the other two majors- Captain Stavros (under Major Alec of Kimrin) and Captain Charles (under Major Tovan of Near Port). The three captains also got to know the majors to some degree, and James reportedly told Major Althis on more than one occasion that he suspected Majors Alec and Tovan of sympathizing with their enemies, the Protestants.
At the end of the war, Althis rejoined the navy, being promoted to rear admiral of the Port fleet. The next year, when Admiral Drake was killed, Althis became the new Admiral of the Navy. Meanwhile, James was hoping to transfer to the navy, to remain under Althis's command. He wanted to become commodore, but that position went to Scott Botanical. So, he considered rejoining the police department, but Althis convinced him to remain in the army. He said he wanted an ally there whom he could trust, and convinced Poss to appoint James as commander of the Port regiment of the army, as well as promoting him to the newly created rank of colonel.
In 904, when the surname law was passed, James chose for himself the name 'Major,' partly in tribute to the rank Althis had held during the war, and partly in memory of James himself having briefly held that rank, between the time spent as captain and then colonel. His family also took the name, as James was now by far the most prominent member of the family.
In 912, James fought on the side of King Demos Royal and The Cabal during the Chaos War. (Though he hadn't known of the Cabal's existence until shortly before the war started, he believed the organization was in the best interests of the Second Order. He also believed that Poss had become a traitor to the Second Order.) When General Tovan eventually ordered the Army to stand down, James's old suspicions about him resurfaced, and he refused to follow the order. However, much to his surprise, Admiral Althis ordered Commodore Botanical to arrest James and anyone else who defied the order to stand down. While James was never convicted of any crime, and released soon after the war's end, Poss fired him from the Army. He subsequently moved back to his home village of Shipsister, where he became a deputy police chief. He said he would dedicate the rest of his life to fighting crime. This included (some say ironically, given Demos's one-time position regarding the group) embracing the new alliance between the police and The Syndicate, instituted by new king Quinn Darkstrider. In 915, he was elected Chief of Police when the former chief retired.