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James Sharp

1613-1679. Archbishop of St. Andrews. Born in Banff, he graduated from King's College, Aberdeen, was appointed professor of philosophy at St. Andrews in 1643, and in 1649 became minister of nearby Crail. His ambition, Episcopal sympathies, and persistent reports of a scandalous private life made him an object of suspicion in more thoroughgoing Covenanting circles, but prior to the Restoration of Charles II he was sent to London as the representative of the Resolutioners,* to ensure that the Kirk's lawful privileges were maintained. Cromwell had labeled Sharp an atheist, and Charles II regarded him as “one of the worst of men.” Nevertheless the king was to use him for his own ends.

Sharp betrayed the moderate Presbyterians whose emissary he was, and when Episcopacy was restored in Scotland he was Charles's choice as archbishop of St. Andrews. As primate his ruthless persecution of the Covenanters* involved deceit and treachery deplored even by Sir Thomas Dalziel, the king's Scottish military commander whom the Scots called “the Muscovy Brute.” An unsuccessful attempt was made on Sharp's life in 1668, but a second was more successful when in 1679 his coach was ambushed on Magus Moor, near St. Andrews, by a group of nine zealots. His murder was swiftly repudiated by the Covenanting leaders, but it precipitated the second major rebellion of Charles's reign. An astonishing inscription in Latin is still decipherable in Holy Trinity Church, St. Andrews, referring to Sharp as a “most holy martyr” and “an example of piety.”