Andrews, Sir James (1877–1951), lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, was born 3 January 1877 in Comber, Co. Down, third among five sons of Thomas Andrews of Comber, industrialist, and his wife Elizabeth, only daughter of James Alexander Pirrie of Clandeboye, Co. Down, and sister of the first and last Viscount Pirrie (qv), KP, PC, of Belfast. He was educated at the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast, and Stephen's Green School, Dublin, and entered TCD in 1895, from where he graduated with a first-class in logic, ethics, and modern literature (1899), having gained honours in mathematics as a senior exhibitioner. In 1900 he was called to the Irish bar, with the award of prizeman in law. He built up such a lucrative practice at this time that he was offered more work than he could cope with, and for some years was standing counsel to the Great Northern, Belfast & County Down, and South-Eastern railway companies, the Down county council, and the Belfast harbour commissioners. He was called to the inner bar in 1918 and was made a bencher of King's Inns (1920), but after partition he became one of two lords justice of appeal for Northern Ireland (1921), before being appointed an NI privy councillor (1924). In 1926 he became a bencher of the NI Inn of Court, and was appointed DL for Co. Down in 1928. He succeeded Sir William Moore (qv) as lord chief justice of NI in 1937, retaining this position till his death, and serving in this capacity as acting senior lord justice of NI during the governor's absence. His interest in savings led him to become chairman of the Ulster Savings Committee in 1939–45 and he was appointed president of that movement in 1946.
He was a talented legal practitioner whose painstaking methods to elicit the truth, alongside his noted politeness, patience, and thoroughness, helped him gain a reputation as an excellent judge. Despite this reputation, his appointment as lord chief justice was shrouded in controversy as it appears that it was made because of the intervention of his brother John Miller Andrews (qv), the second most powerful member of cabinet at that time and later NI prime minister (1940–43). It has been claimed that the then premier, Lord Craigavon (qv), had promised the position to the attorney general, Sir Anthony Babington (qv), but that J. M. Andrews threatened to resign from the government if his brother was not appointed, and that the appointment was only announced following an all-night meeting attended by Lady Craigavon and a representative or representatives of the Andrews family. James Andrews's principal residences were in Dublin, where he lived for a considerable time with his uncle William Drennan Andrews, a high court judge, and at Eusemere, Comber, Co. Down.
He was appointed senior pro-chancellor of QUB in 1929 and received an honorary LLD from TCD in 1938. He became an honorary member of the Chartered Surveyors' Institution in 1940 and was made a baronet on 6 July 1942. For a time he was also president of the Trinity College Dublin Northern Ireland Association, the Blind Welfare Association in Northern Ireland, and the Northern Cricket Union. While he played rugby for Trinity, it is hardly surprising that cricket was his favourite sport as the Andrews family had established the North Down Cricket Club in 1857, the second oldest in Ireland. He married (17 May 1922) Jane Lawson, widow of Capt. Cyril Gerald Haseleden, Royal Engineers, of Spettisbury, Dorset, and daughter of Joseph Ormrod, of Moorlands, Heaton, Lancashire, whose sister, Jessie Ormrod, married James's eldest brother, J. M. Andrews. He had no children, and after feeling unwell for some months, died at home on 18 February 1951.