James McGillivray arrived in Hobart as a cabin passenger on the Deveron in June 1822. He brought with him recommendations and was granted land in Van Diemen's Land however applied to have his grant transferred to New South Wales.
He took his passage to Sydney with Alexander Shand in February 1823 and after seeking permission to proceed to Newcastle sailed up the coast on the Mariner to view land. Other settlers travelling to Newcastle on this day included John Cheers, John Hickey, George Brown and Alexander Dickson. He sailed to Newcastle twice more in 1823.
James McGillivray received a grant of 900 acres in November 1823 in the Parish of Gosforth and 1100 acres in June 1825 in the Parish of Heddon. His name is also included on a list of individuals who received an Allotment of Land in Newcastle in 1824.
Map of the River Hunter, and its branches : shewing the Lands reserved thereon for Church purposes, the Locations made to Settlers. Location of James McGillivray's grant on the right in blue
Assigned convict servants included William Edmonds, Robert Newnham and James Lane. By 1825 he was producing enough maize to sell and was awarded a government contract.
In 1828 he was employed as a clerk at the Office of the Superintendent of Convicts.
He married Jane Bradley in Sydney in July 1830 and acquired some land in Cumberland county in the 1830's. In 1833 he was appointed clerk at the Female Factory at Parramatta.