James Mill, father of John Stuart Mill, was born in 1773 to a shoemaker in England. He was ordained in 1798 but left the church in 1802 to take up journalism. He moved to London where he began writing and where he became a friend and disciple of Jeremy Bentham. He supported Bentham's ideas on utilitarianism and became a member, with Bentham, of the Philosophical Radicals.

He completed his major treatise, History of British India in 1817, after which he was offered, and accepted, a position with the East India Company. He continued to write and publish and in 1824 established the Westminster Review with Bentham. Mill wrote several important books, including Elements of Political Economy (1821) and Analysis of the Phenomenon of the Human Mind (1829), in which he tried to elucidate the psychological basis for utilitarianism. He died in 1836.