James Bland was born the son of a husbandman at Sedbergh and educated at the school there, going on to study at St John’s College, Cambridge. He was ordained at Carlisle in 1688 and was appointed curate at the parish church in Preston in 1689.  He was there from then until 1691, for he signs sacrament certificates between those dates  and appears on Kenyon’s list of ‘conformable clergy’ of 1689. By 1692 he was in Ireland as chaplain to Lord Deputy Sidney. 
He is mentioned frequently in the diaries of Lawrence Rawstorne and Thomas Bellingham. They record that he was a Yorkshireman who arrived in Preston as a probationer for the curacy (3 February 1689) and appears to have been in place by 10 February. His preaching was heartily approved of by Bellingham: ‘Mr. Bland preach’d a sharp sermon against ye Papists’ (3 March 1689); ‘Mr. Bland preach’d twice very well’ (24 March 1689); and by the end of the month was having him to dinner (30 March 1689).
It is not surprising that Bland’s anti-papist views found favour with Bellingham, himself being no friend of papists as the owner of a large estate in Ireland granted to his father by Cromwell.
Bland’s later career shows him to have prospered in his adopted home, serving as archdeacon of Limerick from 1693 to 1705 and of Aghadoe in County Kerry from 1705 until his death in 1728, at which time he was vicar of Killarney.