SHARPE, James, Archbishop of St. Andrews, was born in 1618, and was descended from a respectable family in the county of Banff. Being intended for the church, he was educated at the university of Aber deen. In 1638, when the solemn league and covenant was formed, lie united with several of the learned men of the university in opposing it, and from the unpopularity which this cast upon him he retired to England.
The commencement of the civil wars induced him to return to his native county, where through the in fluence of Lord Oxenford and Lord Kelly, who was delighted with his conversation, he obtained a profes sorship in the university of St. Andrews. The Earl of Crawford soon afterwards gave him the church of Crail, where he performed the functions of the minis try in an exemplary manner.
Attached to the name of royalty, Mr. Sharpe had for some time maintained a correspondence with the king, and on the death of the pretender, he had fre quent communication with General Monk. Previous to the restoration, the presbyterians sent Mr. Sharpe to London, in order to support their cause, and at the request of General Monk and the principal Scottish presbyterians, he was sent over to the king at Breda, in order to prevail upon him to establish presbyterian ism in Scotland. Upon his return from this mission he declared to his constituents that"he had found the king very affectionate to Scotland, and resolved not to wrong the settled government of the church: but he apprehended they were mistaken who were about to establish the presbyterian government." After the unconditional restoration of Charles. both he and his ministers resolved upon the re-establish meut of prelacy, and Mr. Sharpe was prevailed upon to abandon the cause of his constituents, by the bribe of the Archbishoprick of St. Andrews..
Thus convicted of perfidy by his own acts, the name of the archbishop became odious throughout Scot land. Many of the wanton cruelties which were af terwards perpetrated, were ascribed to his influence; and it is at least certain, that after the battle of Pent land, when he had received an order from the king to stop the execution, he kept it in his possession for some time before he gave it to the criminal.
The object of such general detestation as the arch bishop had now become was not likely to escape from popular vengeance, One Mitchell, a preacher, and ito ardent zealot, resolved to assassinate him. He
fired a pistol at him while sitting in his coach in Edin burgh, but the bishop of Orkney raising his hand at the instant interrupted the ball. The assassin walked leisurely home, and, throwing off his disguise, again mixed with the crowd.
Some years afterwards the archbishop observed a person looking at him with unusual sternness, and suspecting his design, ordered him into custody. Two loaded pistols were found upon him, and, upon ex amination, it proved to be Mitchell. A pardon was offered to him by the primate if lie would confess his crime. Mitchell complied with the request, but heedless of his promise, the archbishop carried him before the council. A promise of pardon was again offered him by the council if he would discover his ac complices. This he also did, but it appeared that only one man, who had died since, was acquainted with his intentions.
The culprit was next brought before a court of jus tice and being commanded to make a third confession he declined. After suffering imprisonment for se veral years he was again tried, and convicted by his own confession. He urged in his defence the illegal ity of the evidence, and the promise of pardon which had been twice made to him; but the council having taken an oath that they had given no such promise Mitchell was condemned and executed.
This unprincipled transaction, which was carried through by the influence of the primate, was destined to meet with speedy punishment. In the year 1779, one Carmichael, a servant of the archbishop, having made himself odious to the presbyterians, nine men entered into a plan of waylaying him in Magus muir, about three miles from St. Andrews. While they were laying in ambush for the servant, the primate himself appeared with very few attendants. This was considered as a declaration of heaven in their fa vour, and calling out "The Lord has delivered him into our hands," they ran up to the carriage, and fired at him without effect. They then tore him from his carriage, and despatched him with their swords, re gardless of the tears and supplications of his daughter by whom he was attended. Although this murder, for which no apology can be made, was entirely un premeditated, yet the whole body of the presbyterians was accused of being parties to the crime, and several individuals who were entirely innocent, suffered death, as the perpetrators of the deed.