James Fordyce was born in Aberdeen, the fourth son of George Fordyce, a farmer and merchant; he was educated at the High School and at Marischal College (M.A. 1753; D.D. Glasgow). After ordination in 1745 he was minister at Brechin, Alloa (1753), and to the Presbyterian congregation at Monkwell Street in London (1760). Fordyce was a popular preacher and writer, admired by Samuel Johnson. His congregation declined in the 1770s, and in 1782 he retired to Hampshire. He is remembered as the author of an oft-reprinted conduct book, Sermons to Young Women (1765).
The eloquence of the pulpit, an ordination sermon. 1752.
Theodorus: a dialogue concerning the art of preaching. 1752.
An essay on the action proper for the pulpit. 1753.
The folly, infamy, and misery of unlawful pleasure. A sermon. 1760.
A sermon, occasioned by the death of the Revd Dr Samuel Lawrence. 1760.
Sermons to young women. 2 vols, 1766.
Letters between the Rev. Dr. James Fordyce, and the Rev. Mr. Thomas Toller. 1775.
The character and conduct of the female sex, and the advantages to be derived by young men from the society of virtuous women. A discourse. 1776.
Address to young men. 1777.
The delusive and persecuting spirit of popery: a sermon. 1779.
Addresses to the Deity. 1785.
A collection of hymns and sacred poems. 1787.