James Barbour was born in Barboursville, Virginia, a town that was named after his liking.
James Barbour was elected to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Orange County, from 1809 to 1812. Two weeks after the death of Governor George William Smith, he was elected to become Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. After the War of 1812 began, Governor James Barbour would go on the field, along Hampton Roads and the Northern Neck, to take charge of the militia as the British military made advancements.
In 1814, former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson helped design the mansion that James Barbour and his family would live in. On June 7th, 1842, James Barbour passed away and was buried in the family cemetery near the mansion.
In 1930, a plague honoring James Barbour and his wife, was placed on the brick wall surrounding the family cemetery by sixth generation decendants of the former governor.
On December 25th, 1884, the Barbour Mansion was destroyed by a fire and the residence was never restored to its original condition. In 1976, the grounds within the Barbour Ruins were converted into a vineyard.