Archbishop of St Andrews.”a knave, pur sang”

Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae,
H Scott (1915) rev 1917, 1920
vol 7 p 326 Abp St Andrews 1666

JAMES SHARP, born Banff
Castle, 4th May1618 [not 1613 as in Dict. Nat. Biog.], son of William S.,
provost and sheriff-clerk of Banffshire, and Isobel, daugh. of John Leslie
of Kininvie, and grandson of David S., merchant, Aberdeen, by a daughter
of Haliburton of Pitcur; educated at King’s College, Aberdeen; M.A.
(1637); studied divinity under Drs John Forbes of Corse and Robert Baron;
proceeded to Oxford where he was an intimate of Jeremy Taylor; became
Professor of Philosophy, Univ. of St Andrews, 1643; ord. to Crail 27th
Jan. 1648; elected one of the mins. of Edinburgh in 1650, the General
Assembly sustaining his call against the refusal of the Presb., but the
invasion under Cromwell intervened and prevented his acceptance. In 1651
lie became leader of the Resolutioners; on 28th Aug. that year he was made
prisoner by Cromwell’s forces at Alyth, and taken to London, where he lay
in the Tower until 10th April 1652 when he was released on giving his bond
not to remove from the city; on 17th June he was allowed to return to
Scotland, and later he was given full liberty. In 1657 he went to London
to interview Cromwell on behalf of the Resolutioners, but did not succeed.
In 1659 he identified himself with the programme of General Monk, and
penned the Declaration which, in Monk’s name, was widely circulated, and
led to the Restoration. In 1660 he was one of the deputation of six
ministers sent to London to represent the views of the Resolutioners, and
in May he had an interview with Charles II. at Breda; app. a royal
chaplain, and had the Chair of Divinity at St Andrews, 12th Jan. 1661;
nominated Archbishop of St Andrews and consecrated (at London) 15th Dec.
following; app. a Privy Councillor in 1664. On9th July 1668 he narrowly
escaped a pistol shot in the High Street of Edinburgh by James Mitchell
[Bishop Honymanof Orkney (q.v.), his companion, was wounded, and never
fully recovered; the assailant was executed in 1678].

On 3rd May 1679, at Magus
Moor, near St Andrews, he met his death at the hands of John Balfour of
Burleigh, and others, whose intention was the capturing or slaying of the
sheriff-substitute of the shire, the chief offender in the persecution of
the local Covenanters. He was buried in the parish church of St Andrews,
where an ornate marble monument was erected by his son. His portrait, by
Lely, is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. By the Presbyterians,
Sharp was execrated as a traitor, bent on his own aggrandisement and
advancement, sharing and abetting the King’s duplicity. Episcopalian
opinion has regarded him as the victim of circumstance, who yielded only
when he found that Presbyterianism could no longer be maintained. Recent
research has not altered the first of these judgments. The editor of the
Lauderdale Papers(Osmund Airy) [vol. i., p. x.] declares that ” a careful
perusal of the whole series will save any future biographer from the
temptation of endeavouring to palliate a life of petty meanness such as
has seldom been exceeded in history. In the most comprehensive sense of
the word Sharp was a knave, pur sang, and one who, to retain the price of
his knavery, eagerly submitted to be cajoled, threatened, bullied, or
ignored, by bolder men as served their turn.” He marr. 6th April 1653,
Helen, daugh. of William Moncrieff of Randerston, and had issue Sir
William of Scotscraig, created a Baronet 1683, died Jan. 1712 John, bapt.
Feb. 1665; Isabella (marr.,cont. 18th Dec. 1679, John Cunningham of Barns;
Catherine; Margaret, born 8th Dec. 1664 (marr. 11th Oct. 1683, William,
Lord Saltoun), died 1734; Penelope (marr. John Dubh Mackinnon of that
Ilk); Agnes, buried March 1666; Robert, sheriff-clerk of Banff.