James Imray was a chartmaker and publisher, operating a shop selling books, maps, charts and instruments.
Born on 16 May 1803 in Spitalfields, London, the third child and eldest son of the six children of James Imray (1761/2–1830), a Scottish dyer, and his wife, Elizabeth Cooper (1779/80–1842). In 1818, shortly before his fifteenth birthday, Imray was apprenticed to William Lukyn, a stationer, of George Street, Mansion House. Six years later, on 16 May 1824, he married Elizabeth Cutbill (1805–1836), the daughter of another Spitalfields silk family
By the 1860s Imray had become the leading British commercial chart publisher and was operating from three premises: 89 Minories housed chart publication, 102 Minories chart and books sales and the nautical academy, and 1 Postern Row the instrument shop.
In his later years Imray and his second wife, Ann Hilton (1809–1892), whom he married on 4 January 1838, lived in Manor Park, Streatham, where his granddaughter remembered him in old age as a red-haired, very stockily built, florid faced man who was fond of children. He died there on 15 November 1870 at the age of sixty-seven after a long illness; the cause of death was given as cardiac dropsy.