Campbell, James (1758–1818), weaver poet, was born in Cairncastle, near Larne, Co. Antrim; nothing is known of his parents. He received some schooling locally, and became a linen weaver. He worked as a journeyman weaver round Ballynure, Co. Antrim, till he married; his wife was probably a Miss Stewart from Carrickfergus. They set up house in Ballynure, and later lived in the townland of Ballybracken. He wrote down his verses as he sat at the loom; his work, often expressing dislike of the upper classes and of the established church, and mostly composed in vigorous Ulster-Scots, was locally very popular. He supported the United Irish rebellion, was arrested, and had his papers, with all his verses, confiscated in 1798. He died in 1818, and was given a masonic funeral in Ballynure. After his death Alexander McDowell, a local schoolmaster, suppressed the least genteel and probably more radical poems, but published others for the benefit of Campbell's widow and three sons and four daughters. The book appeared in 1820; it remained a favourite locally, and was republished in 1870 by Samuel Corry of Ballyclare.
John Fullerton,‘ Memoir’, The poems and songs of James Campbell of Ballynure. . . (1870); John Hewitt, Rhyming weavers and other country poets of Antrim and Down (1974), 58–9; Rosalind I. Connolly, ‘An analysis of some linguistic information obtained from eighteenth and nineteenth century Ulster poetry’ (Ph.D. dissertation, QUB, 1981)