James’ father Pierre D’Egville was ballet master at Drury Lane and Sadler’s Wells Theatres. His other son George D’Egville was also a dancer.
James D’Egville performed at the Paris Opera from 1784 to 1785.
Back in England, in June 1786, he danced in The Nosegay at the Haymarket Theatre with Maria Theresa Kemble in the presence of the Royal Family. On 7 July he appeared in a ballet entitled Jamie’s Return with Kemble and his brother George. It was well received, which inspired an artist named Miller to do a painting depicting the three of them.
Between 1799 and 1809 he was choreographer at the King’s Theatre, now Her Majesty’s Theatre where he had danced as a child in 1783.
One of his pupils was Mary Ann Dyke who became tragedienne Mary Ann Duff, an Anglo-American tragedienne, who in her time was regarded as the greatest upon the American stage.
In 1827, the London Magazine published an article decrying the fact that D’Egville had won a libel suit against The Spirit of the Age newspaper for writing about his alleged association with the assassin of Princess Lambelle while he was in France in 1792. It annoyed the magazine immensely that simply writing that someone had said something libellous was grounds to win damages against a periodical.
Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy-Carignan (Marie Thérèse) (8 September 1749 – 3 September 1792) was a member of a cadet branch of the House of Savoy. She was married at the age of 17 to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon-Penthièvre, Prince de Lamballe, the heir to the greatest fortune in France. After her marriage, which lasted a year, she went to court and became the confidante of Queen Marie Antoinette. Her death in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution initiated the implementation of the Reign of Terror.
The magazine also had snide things to say about D’Egville’s ballets. They wrote of him, “The gentleman who deserves the thanks of all the saints on earth, for having cured the young men of the present day of the sinful taste for ballets.