Sir James Steuart Denham (1712-1780), born in Edinburgh to Sir James Steuart, solicitor-general of Scotland, and Ann Dalrymple, was an important British economist. He studied law at The University of Edinburgh and was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1735. In the following years, he toured Europe and became acquainted with many Jacobites, including the exiled Charles Stuart. As a believer in the Jacobite cause, he returned to Scotland in 1740. During the uprising of 1745, Steuart was an active supporter of the Pretender, and when the revolt failed, he was forced into an 18-year exile on the continent. While in Europe, he studied political economics and published numerous essays in the field. Through the intercession of his friends, Lord Barrington and Lady Mary Whortley Montagu, Steuart was allowed to return to his home in 1763. He retired to Coltness, Scotland, where he wrote his great mercantile treatise, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy (1767). Steuart was formally pardoned in 1771 and assumed the name Denham in 1773 upon inheriting the estate of Sir Archibald Denham.
Steuart married Lady Frances Wemyss, daughter of the earl of Wemyss, on October 25, 1743. They had two children, a daughter who died in infancy, and a son, Sir James Steuart Denham of Coltness and Westshield (1744-1839). Denham died in Edinburgh on November 26, 1780.