Household book of James Sharp, 1663-1666.

Scope and Content

Household account book of James Sharp, archbishop of St Andrews, kept by his secretaryGeorge Martin of Claremont, including details of journeys to Edinburgh and London with lodgings, meals and entertainments, coach and horse costs, books obtained for the archbishop, gifts to servants at time of Parliament, donations to the poor, expenses for pastoral duties, doctors’ bills, payments to servants, accounts for clothes, food, stationery, and other household items.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Sharp was a Scottish prelate whose political realism saw him shift from moderate Presbyterianism to became a supporter and agent of episcopacy in Scotland. Born at Banff Castle, the son William Sharp, Sheriff Clerk of the county of Banffshire, Sharp studied divinity at King's College, Aberdeen. In 1638, after the signing of the national covenant, he travelled to England in search of preferment there but was back in Scotland by 1642 as a regent at St Andrews University. Appointed minister at Crail in 1648, he became leader of the moderate wing of the Church of Scotland known as the Resolutioners in 1650 and led the search for reconciliation in the divided church for the next decade. In 1651, he was taken prisoner by Oliver Cromwell's forces and held for a year. Following Cromwell's death, Sharp was sent to London to represent the interests of the moderate Resolutioners, but appeared to his former associates to have conspired with General George Monk (1608-70) to bring about the restoration of King Charles II, and to restore the Episcopalian system in Scotland. Although he claimed to believe in a Presbyterian future for Scotland when in 1661, he moved back to St Andrews as principal of St Mary’s College and professor of divinity, he was also king’s chaplain in Scotland and tainted by Royalist connections. When the Scottish parliament passed the Act Concerning Religion and Church Government on which imposed royal supremacy on decision-making in the governance of the church, re-establishment of episcopacy in Scotland became inevitable and Sharp chose to try to influence it from the inside rather than oppose it as a Presbyterian, leaving him vulnerable to accusations of treachery. He accepted the post of Archbishop of St. Andrews and head of the Church in Scotland, though opposed by Samuel Rutherford (1600-61) and Robert Blair (1583 - 1666). Sharp began to repress the nonconformists and while his ability to act depended on the political ascendancy of his allies or enemies, he was a marked man. The Scottish parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1669 and again Sharp was seen to be to blame, although he had in fact opposed it. His vision for an independent church governed by a moderate episcopacy was in ruins. He became the focus of popular hatred and on the 3rd May, 1679 he was hauled from his coach on Magus Muir (west of St. Andrews) by a group of Covenanters and murdered.

George Martin of Claremont was secretary and companion to James Sharp, and also author of Reliquiae Divi Andreae (1685).


Single item

Access Information

By appointment with the Keeper of Manscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Presented by the Rev John Stirton on 7 December 1943.

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Alternative Form Available

Typed transcript at ms36315.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Remnants of original parchment binding incorporated into modern binding. Housed in modern protective brown box embossed "Household Book of Archbishop Sharp 1663-1666".Paper: 14.2x18.7cm

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

Given by David Martin, descendent of George Martin, to Mr Cleghorn of Wakefield, near St Andrews, whose son gave it to the Literary Society of Cupar.




Printed in full in J Stirton Leaves from my manuscript portfolio, Forfar, 1929 with a full account of its provenance and history. Excerpts published in Maitland Club Miscellany, Vol.2 Pt.2 by A Macdonald, 1840.