James Townsend (December 17, 1729 – May 24, 1790 in Jericho, then in Queens, now in Nassau County, New York) was an American politician from New York.
He was the son of Jacob Townsend (1692–1742) and Phebe (Seaman) Townsend (1699–1774). On April 2, 1757, he married Mary Hicks (1730–1796), and they had seven children.
Townsend was a deputy to the 3rd and 4th New York Provincial Congresses in 1776. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1784, 1784-85, 1786 and 1787.
Townsend was elected as a Federalist to the 2nd United States Congress in April 1790, but died a month later, before his term began.