James was the Grandson of William Hall and Grace Macalister, Grocers on Quay St, Campbeltown.
His Uncle was James Macalister Hall senior, the man that Hall Street in Campbeltown was named after. James senior went to India around 1849 and established the firm Mackenzie hall & Co with his school friend, William Mackenzie. The firm conducted a trade in goods between India and Britain. In 1893, James Macalister Hall senior became Chairman of the British Steam Navigation Co.
James senior becomes a very wealthy man and sometime around 1868, he buys Eagle Cottage in Campbeltown and in 1875 buys the Estates of Killean and Tangy. He provides the funding for the Library in Hall Street, Campbeltown to be built (known as the Burnett Building). In 1899, James Macalister Hall senior was awarded the Freedom of the town, only the third person to do so.
James Macalister Hall junior inherited the Killean Estate in 1912 on the death of his Uncle, Stuart Macalister hall.