James Boyd was born in Inchyra village on the River Tay on December 27, 1827. His parents were James Boyd, a weaver and fisherman and Mary Brown. James had six full siblings, Mary, John, Janet, Ann, Catherine and Alexander and one older half-brother David. Tragically his father and two older sisters, Mary and Janet died in a six week period. Mary was buried on 25 December 1840, aged 22, Janet was buried on 1 January 1841 and his father James on 7 February 1841. They were all buried in Kinfauns cemetery which overlooks their village of Inchyra and the Tay.