James Stanley (1664-1736) was the third surviving son of the eighth Earl of Derby, the brother of the ninth earl who he succeeded in 1702. He was elected MP for Clitheroe in 1685 at the age of 20, at the instigation of his brother, the Earl of Derby, his selection being facilitated by Roger Kenyon. His brother could probably have secured a seat for him in Preston or Liverpool, but the earl wanted to extend his influence in Clitheroe.
Stanley’s election did not prevent him from pursuing a military career, serving as captain in the Earl of Pembroke’s Foot, one of the English regiments stationed in the United Provinces, the country of his mother’s birth. One suggestion is that he took part in William of Orange’s invasion of England in 1688; what is certain is that by the following year William had appointed him as an officer in a regiment of foot guards.
His political career continued with his election as Preston MP in 1689, a seat he held for only a year before being elected for the county in 1690. He held that seat until his elevation to the peerage in 1702. In both houses he voted as a Whig.