James Glass lived on the farm Coldsprings, just west of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. From 1891 to 1893 he annually donated plants to the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. He specialised in orchids and, with B. South*, found several species new to the Grahamstown area. Other specimens were sent to the Government Botanist in Cape Town, P. MacOwan*, who reported in 1894 that Glass had already sent him some 600 species, all numbered and in the finest condition. More specimens followed in 1895. These plants ended up in the herbaria of the South African Museum and at Kew Gardens. The species Neodregea glassii was named after him by C.H. Wright in 1911.
One James W. Glass of Coldsprings, near Grahamstown, presumably the same person, wrote a letter to The Curator, Kew Gardens, on 10 April 1893 sending a specimen of Aloe myriacantha and a white Sparaxis pendula.