James Robson was born in Gorham, NY on January 1, 1851. He attended public schools and the Canandaigua Academy. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1873, and subsequently received a law degree from Columbia University. He was admitted to the bar in 1876, and commenced private practice in Canandaigua.
Robson was appointed to the Supreme Court on October 19, 1903 to succeed the late William Adams. He was elected to a full term the following year. He was elevated to the Appellate Division for the Fourth Department in 1907 and remained there until his death on February 1, 1916 in Gorham.