Archbishop James Sharp

1613 - 1679

Archbishop James Sharp
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Archbishop James Sharp

Prelate, who began as a moderate but became an ardent supporter of the Episcopal system. Born at Banff Castle, the son of the Sheriff Clerk of the county of Banffshire, Sharp read divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. He signed the National Covenant in 1638. Appointed the Minister at Crail in 1647, he became leader of the moderate wing of the Church of Scotland known as the Resolutioners in 1650. In 1651, he was taken prisoner by Oliver Cromwell's forces and held for a year. Following Cromwell's death, Sharp conspired with General George Monk (1608-70) to bring about the restoration of King Charles II, while outwardly appearing apprehensive about Charles' policies, he secretly intended to restore the Episcopalian system in Scotland and to benefit from a senior position for himself. In 1661, he accepted the post of Archbishop of St. Andrews and head of the Church in Scotland. Opposed by Samuel Rutherford (1600-61) and Robert Blair (1583 - 1666), Sharp became an effective oppressor of those he had betrayed.

He quickly became the focus of popular hatred and on the 3rd May, 1679 he was hauled from his coach and murdered on Magus Moor (west of St. Andrews) by a group of Covenanters led by James Balfour of Kinloch and David Hackston.

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