Rev. James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews. His mausoleum.

James Sharp has been the subject of much criticism and indeed venom, for his part in the persecution of the Covenanters. A more humane man doing his duty is painted by his supporters as evidenced in the memorial his brother erected.

James King Hewison  wrote in The Covenanters  ( vol 2 p 123) of Sharp

Sharp appears in his true colours, verily the `base, clattering claw-back, of his contemporaries; to the Church a knave `pur sang`; to his friends, a spy; to his foes, a persecutor; to his peers a caitiff, whom they used but despised: in fine, one of the meanest Scots that ever wore a holy robe.

 James Mitchell, the would be assassin of Sharp in 1668, wrote in a letter of February 1674 shortly before his execution:

Sharp was doubtless one of the chief instigators of the tyranny, bloodshed and oppression in that dismal period. I, by his instigation, being excluded from all grace and favour, thought it my duty to pursue him on all occasions.

These two short quotes only touch the edges of the complex and frankly evil man that Sharp turned out to be.

His funeral was splendid both in style and the ceremony attending it. The order of procession  is described in The Scotichronicon

Sharp was buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity in St Andrews where a large and richly ornamented  monument with a life size figure of Sharp at prayer kneels to receive the crown of martyrdom. Erected by Sharp`s brother in 1679, and allowing for brotherly love, the inscription records at sickening and sycophantic length the alleged contributions to mankind and Scotland of James Sharp. History and the public recorded their opinion in 1725 when the tomb was raided, the body taken and has never been found. It is perhaps fitting that the now empty tomb really does equate with the good he is claimed to have done. The inscription (translated from the Latin in Standing Witnesses by Thorbjorn Campbell) reads:

DOM - Deo Optimo Maximo, to God, the best and the greatest.

This lofty mausoleum protects

The most precious ashes of  a most holy Prelate, a

Most sagacious Senator, a most sacred Martyr;

For here lies

All that remains under the sun of James Sharp

Doctor of Divinity, most Reverend Father in Christ,

Archbishop of St Andrews, Primate of all Scotland, etc


was seen, recognised and admired

As a professor of Philosophy and Theology by the University

As a priest, a doctor and a Chief Priest by the Church

As a Prime Minister in Ecclesiastical as in Civil affairs by Scotland

As an advocate of the restoration of the monarchical

Rule of the most serene Charles the Second by Britain,

As a renewer of the order of Bishops in Scotland by the Christian world,

As an example of piety, an Angel of Peace, an Oracle

Of wisdom, and an image of Graveity by Good

And faithful subjects and as a most keen enemy of

Impiety, of treachery and Schism by the

Enemies of God, the King and the Flock;

and yet who

For all that he was of such a kind and so great

Was slaughtered in a horrid manner,

Having fallen on his knees that he might yet pray

For his own people;

He was pierced through by very many wounds of

Pistols, swords and daggers,

By nine forsworn parricides excited by fanatical

Rage in the full sunlight of midday in the vicinity

Of his own metropolitan city

In spite of the tears and protests of his most dear

First born daughter,

And of his domestic servants, who had been

Wounded; on the third day of May,1679, 61 years of age.

This epitaph just does not gel with the historical facts and the reams of  documentation about events involving Sharp.  As for falling on his knees that he might pray it was the exclamation by William Guilline about the murder and Sharp not being given time to pray, that gave him away when appearing before the Privy Council. Inevitably episcopalian writers state otherwise.

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