Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sharp, Patrick
SHARP, PATRICK (d. 1615), Scottish theologian, was made master of Glasgow grammar school in 1574. While in this position he was brought much into contact with Andrew Melville (1545–1622) [q. v.], to whom he acknowledged many obligations (James Melville, Diary, ed. Pitcairn, p 60). Soon after 1575 he was appointed one of a commission of classical scholars to draw up a new Latin grammar for use in the Scottish schools (Reg. of Scottish Privy Council, ed. Masson, ii. 475, v. 110, xxv). In 1585 James VI appointed him principal of the university of Glasgow. From this time he took an important part in the government and controversies of the Scottish church, He seems to have wished to preserve a position of neutrality between the two parties which divided the kirk, but he gradually inclined to the king's party. In 1586 he was placed on a commission charged by the general assembly to control the proceedings of the bishops (Calderwood, History of the Kirk, ed. Thomson, iv. 570). In 1596 the general assembly appointed him and fifteen others to organise the church in opposition to the government. In consequence he was ordered by the privy council to return to Glasgow (Reg. of Scottish Privy Council, v. 333). But in the same year he took part in the reactionary general assembly at Perth, and in 1597 he formed part of the commission to whom were delegated the powers of the general assembly when that body was not in session, and whose appointment paved the way for the re-establishment of episcopacy (ib. p. 385; Calderwood, v. 420, 609, 645, 701). In 1606 Sharp was summoned to Hampton Court; with seven other divines, to support the king's side in a debate with Andrew Melville and seven
ultra-presbyteultra-presbyterians on the general questions at issue between king and kirk (Melville, Diary, pp. 659, 684, 724, 754, 760). In the same year he was appointed constant moderator to the Glasgow presbytery in the absence of the bishop, and encountered such opposition that the privy council were obliged to order the presbytery to receive him under pain of rebellion. Yet in the following year he was rebuked for endeavouring to extend the judicial powers of the presbytery to the decision of criminal cases (Reg. of Privy Council, vii. 379). In 1609 Sharp took part in the Falkland conference, which was intended to render matters easy for the bishops at the general assembly (Melville, Diary, p. 770). On 15 May 1610 he was appointed to the Scottish court of high commission, and held the office till 11 Aug. 1614 (ib. pp. 788, 797; Reg. of Privy Council, viii. 481). He died in May 1615, having been twice married: first, to Mary Fowlls, widow of John Houlden of Balwill, on 1 Sept. 1593, by whom he had two sons, David and Christian, and two daughters; and, secondly, to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Gale of Eastwood, by whom he had a son James.
Sharp was a distinguished scholar and the teacher of John Cameron (1579?-1625) [q. v.] But only one of his works survives, viz. 'Doctrinae Christianae brevis explicatio,' printed by Robert Waldegrave in Edinburgh in 1599.
[Scott's Fasti Ecclesise Scot. n. i. 66; Baillie's Letters, iii. 577; M'Ure's Glasgow, p. 224; M'Crie's Life of Andrew Melville, i. 77, 136, ii. 311; Munimenta Universitatis Glasguensis (Maitland Soc.), index.]