James Smith-Stanley, Lord Strange (1716–1771) was commonly known by that title, though neither he nor his father had any claim to it. He was the eldest son of Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby, whose predecessor's heirs had used that courtesy title, but the right to two successive baronies Lord Strange (being baronies by writ) had descended to daughters, when the earldom had passed to the heir male.
James Stanley married Lucy daughter and coheir of Hugh Smith of Weald Hall, Essex, and took the additional surname Smith on his marriage. This marriage produced Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby and several other children, including Thomas Stanley (1753–1779). He died before his father, so that the earldom passed straight to his son.
He attended Westminster School where he was friends with the future soldier and politician John Burgoyne who later married his sister.
Lord Strange was a Member of Parliament for Lancashire from 1741 until his death. He was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the ministry of Lord North from 1762 and became a Privy Councillor at the same time.
He is mentioned by Parkman as plenipotentiary to Paris and Choiseul, and advisor to Pitt, during the 1760s turbulence that attended the Treaty of Paris (1763).