Born in Melbourne, Derbyshire on 4 January 1890, James Horsley was a fast-medium right-arm bowler, right-hand batsman and slip field. He first came to prominence with Forest Wanderers CC and whilst with that club made his First-Class debut for Notts under residential qualification. The match was versus Yorkshire at Trent Bridge in June 1913 and Horsley still holds the dubious club record of the most runs conceded in an innings by a Notts bowler on debut – opening the bowling his first innings figures were 33-1-176-2. He played another two matches for Notts in the same month and in these three first-class games he scored 18 runs @6.00 and took three wickets @118.00.
In 1914, Horsley left Notts for Derbyshire, making his debut for his native county versus Northants at Derby. His success was immediate and he remained in the side for the rest of the season, finishing at the top of the averages with 56 wickets @16.33. He was second to Bestwick in the Derbyshire averages for 1919 taking 36 wickets @18.58, having match figures of 12-117 against the Australian Imperial Forces XI, and also performing a hat-trick in the same fixture. An offer from Burnley CC induced Horsley to leave county cricket in 1920 staying at Turf Moor for three seasons. He returned to Derbyshire in 1923 and he took a career best 7-48 versus Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Horsley’s highest score was 66 for Derbyshire versus Essex at Leyton in 1924. His final First-Class match was also v Essex, at Derby in July 1925. His overall First-Class record was 87 matches, 1,367 runs @13.67 and 267 wickets @20.26 with 19 occurrences of five wickets in an innings.
In 1926 he joined the Central Lancashire League club Milnrow CC where he played for four seasons. He was for some years a publican in Derby. He died aged 86 years on 13 February 1976 in Derby.