SHARP, John (1645-1714)

SHARP, John (1645–1714)

cons. 5 July 1691 abp. of YORK

First sat 5 Oct. 1691; last sat 9 May 1713

b. 16 Feb. 1645, 1st s. of Thomas Sharp (d.1671), salter, of Bradford and Dorothy, da. of John Weddal, rect. of Widdington, Yorks. educ. Bradford g.s.; Christ’s, Camb. matric. 1660, BA 1663, MA 1667, DD 1679; ord. deacon and priest 1667; incorp. Oxf. 1669. m. April 1676, Elizabeth, da. of William Palmer of Winthorp, Lincs., 7s. (5 d.v.p.) 7da. (5 d.v.p.).1 d. 2 Feb. 1714; will 9 Dec. 1713, pr. 30 Mar.-25 June 1714.2

PC 1703-d.;3 chap. to James II, 1686-8, to William III and Mary II, 1689-91.

Chap. to Heneage Finch, Bar. Finch (later earl of Nottingham) 1667-76; adn. Berks. 1673-89; preb. Norwich 1675-81; rect. St Bartholomew Exchange 1675, St Giles-in-the-Fields 1675-91; lecturer St Lawrence Jewry, London 1679; dean Norwich 1681-9, Canterbury 1689-91.

Commr. reform of liturgy 1689,4 hospitals 1691,5 rebuilding St Paul’s 1692,6 1702,7 ecclesiastical preferments 1695,8 1699,9 Union 1702,10 Union 1706,11 50 new churches 1711-d.,12 promoting trade and improving plantations 1713.13

Also associated with: Ivegate, Bradford, Yorks.; Kensington House, London 1667-76; Chancery Lane, London 1676-80; Great Russell Street, London 1680-91; Little Chelsea, London 1691; York St., Petty France, London; St James’s Place, London c.1713.

Likenesses: tomb effigy by F. Bird, 1714, York Minster; line engraving by R. White, NPG D21351.

The son of devoutly Protestant parents, if Sharp was more heavily swayed by his mother’s Anglican royalism than by his father’s support for Parliament during the Civil Wars, he was also said to have imbued from the latter some of his puritan tendencies.14 At Cambridge, where he studied natural philosophy before seeking ordination, he came to the notice of Platonist Henry More, who later recommended Sharp as domestic chaplain to the future lord chancellor, Heneage Finch, ‘to which removal he owed his future success and advancement in the world’. Sharp forged an enduring personal and political relationship with successive earls of Nottingham and the clergymen with whom he was linked. He also formed a significant and useful friendship with John Tillotson, later archbishop of Canterbury, whose acquaintance he made via Tillotson’s brother (Joshua) who was in the same trade as Sharp’s father.15 Like Tillotson, Sharp was intellectually grounded in philosophical ‘reasonableness’; unlike his friend, he had more ceremonial liturgical instincts (but not to the extent that he approved of sung liturgies, nor of being one of the ‘high churchmen’).16 Sharp’s belief in Anglican uniformity was grounded less in erastianism and more in pastoral, social and political necessity. Deeply conservative, he became a political (but not a high-flying) Tory. Nevertheless, he maintained close lifelong friendships with those of his acquaintance who gravitated into whiggery. Like another close friend, John Moore, the future bishop of Ely, he was pragmatic and had no qualms about deserting the Tory ranks if he thought that the issue at hand was dictated merely by ‘intrigues, cabals, and party schemes’.17

An examination of his political and parliamentary life challenges the view that he always shied away from partisan politics, but also confirms that he relished the role of mediator. During the reign of Anne he struggled to maintain his political independence, both from the queen and also from his close personal friends Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, and Heneage Finch, Baron Guernsey (later earl of Aylesford).18

Sharp enjoyed financial security having inherited from his father property in and around Bradford.19 He also benefitted financially from his relationship with the Finches, the 1st earl of Nottingham proving a generous benefactor and useful patron. His position was further bolstered by his marriage to a Lincolnshire heiress. Despite his protestations that the Exchequer frequently failed to provide him with his requirements as almoner (particularly Maundy money), in the winter of 1710 alone he was personally reimbursed by the queen over £1,200 from her privy purse to cover his expenses.20 When Southwell Minster was damaged by fire on the night of 5 Nov. 1711 (costing more than £3,000 to repair), Sharp gave £200 of his own income and raised nearly a third of the remainder.21 At the time of his death he was able to bequeath at least £5,000 in addition to property in Yorkshire, including Marton Priory and Doncaster.22

Sharp’s first parliamentary sermon before the Commons, preached on 11 Apr. 1679, was in circulation the following month and augmented the high profile sermons that he delivered from his prestigious London pulpit at St Giles.23 In 1681, Nottingham, who had already been instrumental in securing Sharp the archdeaconry of Berkshire, supported by Sir John Hobart, determined to install Sharp in the vacant Norwich deanery, though Hobart was aware that Sharp had both ‘potent friends as well as opposers’. William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry Compton, bishop of London, were among the latter, Compton thinking it ‘well they were not all of the same opinion in that church’. With Sancroft and Compton outvoted by James Stuart, duke of York, and Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, Sharp was named dean of Norwich. He made it clear at his reception (where he was ‘courted by both parties’) that he did not intend to linger there.24 Active during the Tory reaction, Sharp published a volume of Protestant casuistry that attacked Dissenters as schismatics. He continued to impress hearers both in the capital and at court.25 His pastoral role generated close links with many of the London nobility. Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, was one of those who heard Sharp preach, and Sharp later attended Anglesey on his deathbed.26

The reign of James II and Revolution

Following the accession of James II, Sharp continued to preach his staunchly Protestant sermons.27 Such were Sharp’s Protestant credentials that in later life, when he and Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury, were on opposite sides of the political divide, Tenison would joke that he, not Sharp, had exhibited the ‘higher’ churchmanship in their early days, ‘to which the archbishop of York ... would never make ... any answer, but would shake me by the hand, and laugh very heartily’.28

In April 1686 Sharp was made a royal chaplain, but he nevertheless joined the campaign against Catholicism.29 On 6 June he preached the sermon at St Giles for which he and his diocesan, Henry Compton, would fall foul of the government. Preaching that Roman Catholics were ‘idolaters’, he gave ‘great offence’ to Sir Roger L’Estrange, who was observed in the congregation taking notes and who went straight to Windsor to inform the king. The lord chancellor, George Jeffreys, Baron Jeffreys, summoned Sharp and spoke to him ‘somewhat severely ... but it’s supposed did him what friendly offices he could’. A few days later, Sharp was again summoned but now found Jeffreys seething about one passage in particular in which Sharp had allegedly used ‘a very rude, indecent expression’.30 On 17 June Compton was instructed to suspend Sharp for having preached ‘unbecoming reflections and ... harsh expressions ... to beget in the minds of his hearers an evil opinion of us and our government … to dispose them to discontent and to lead them into disobedience and rebellion’. Sharp offered to make a general confession of his offence and to throw himself on the king’s mercy. He was advised by Compton to cease preaching; for his part Compton maintained that he must follow correct ecclesiastical protocols when punishing an offender. Sharp waited on the king with Compton’s letter and his own petition but was not admitted to his presence. Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland, and Charles Middleton, 2nd earl of Middleton [S], both declined to help him.31 Nottingham’s attempts to intervene on Sharp’s behalf were also rebuffed. It became clear that Sharp was merely the first of several clergymen who were to be silenced for their anti-Catholic activities.32 Early in July Sharp tried again, unsuccessfully, to gain a hearing with the king.33

The ecclesiastical commission eventually suspended Compton for his refusal to suspend Sharp. Meanwhile, Sharp ‘voluntarily’ abstained from preaching in Norwich whence he had returned on Jeffreys’ advice. He returned to London in December and petitioned successfully for reinstatement.34 By 25 Mar. 1687 Sharp was back at court.35 At the end of the year he was observed by Roger Morrice preaching at Gray’s Inn and defending the Church of England from all adversaries, both Dissenting and Catholic.36 His sermons were now more carefully crafted, though, and at Easter 1688 he preached at Whitehall without any repercussions.37

On 13 May 1688 Sharp was one of the London clergy to discuss their proposed defiance of the second Declaration of Indulgence.38 Following the trial of the Seven Bishops, he engaged in coded correspondence with other Anglican clerics including Tenison, Tillotson, Edward Stillingfleet, later bishop of Worcester, and Simon Patrick, later bishop of Chichester and of Ely.39 Following the invasion by William of Orange, Sharp lost little time in promoting the notion of James’s abdication. His haste to do so attracted the criticism that ‘it will look more like revenge in him than obedience to his diocesan, because he was unjustly persecuted by the king’.40

By the end of January 1689, when he preached before the Commons on the text ‘deliver me from blood guiltiness’, he was again embroiled in controversy. His sermon, in which he had (in spite of his earlier involvement in discussion of James’s abdication) prayed for James II as king, evoked strong reactions. A motion to thank him for the speech was rejected and ‘some declared he had highly affronted the proceedings of the House’.41 Yet on 1 Feb., following further debate, Sir Edward Seymour successfully moved that Sharp, ‘one of the first sufferers’ under the previous regime, should be thanked for his sermon.42

As one of the 2nd earl of Nottingham’s closest allies, Sharp was rewarded in September 1689 with the deanery of Canterbury which gave him de facto authority over those sees without a functioning bishop. He was involved in the earl’s initiatives to introduce legislation to the House on religious toleration and comprehension, and was one of those named to the new ecclesiastical commission.43 He backed Tillotson for the post of prolocutor of Convocation although Compton successfully promoted his own hard-line candidate, William Jane.44

Against the nonjurors, Sharp deployed de facto arguments in which he argued that ‘the laws of the land ... [are] the only rule of our conscience in this matter ... if William be king in the eye of the law, we must in conscience obey him as such’. Despite this, he refused elevation to any see vacated by the deprivation of a nonjuror, much to the king’s annoyance.45 Tillotson, who finally became archbishop of Canterbury in May 1691, was determined to secure the archbishopric of York for his friend, and liaised with Nottingham to secure Sharp’s agreement to replace the ageing Thomas Lamplugh, archbishop of York, on his expected death. Tillotson was said to have succeeded in his aim at a meeting on 24 Apr. 1691 (shortly before Lamplugh’s demise).46 At the time, Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, applauded Tillotson’s persistence; within five years, Burnet was damning Tillotson’s ‘great error’.47

Archbishop of York

In May 1691 Sharp was at Canterbury Cathedral in his capacity as dean to receive the congé d’élire for Tillotson’s election as archbishop. Rumours of his own elevation were already current.48 He was shortly after recommended to the dean and chapter of York as their new archbishop.49 His farewell sermon to his London parishioners elicited an acid response from the nonjurors.50 Sharp had no qualms about his claim to York, despite the exiled James II’s rival appointment of Denis Granville (former dean of Durham and brother of John Granville, earl of Bath).51 Sharp was confirmed in Bow church on 2 July and consecrated three days later.52 He refused all petitions from London clergy to join his household until he had first provided for his predecessor’s chaplains; finding that Lamplugh had made no such provision himself, Sharp absorbed them into his own household ‘as if they had been chaplains of his own nomination.53 Popular with the diocesan clergy, he was described in 1694 as ‘very free and open, and much more agreeable’ than Lamplugh had been. He was said to have become a model of pastoral and bureaucratic efficiency, conducting a formal visitation of his ecclesiastical courts.54 A stickler for moral reform, he was nevertheless unsympathetic to the reform societies if they included nonconformists.55

On 5 Oct. 1691, a prorogation day, Sharp received his writ of summons and, with Tillotson, took his seat in the House of Lords. His parliamentary career lasted more than 20 years and in the course of 23 sessions he attended all but three. Throughout his whole time on the episcopal bench, he was named to approximately 116 select committees though he reported back to the House from only three of those. He attended for the start of the new session on 22 Oct. 1691 and was present for 73 per cent of sittings. He was appointed to preach the sermon on 5 Nov. and was duly thanked the following day. He preached before the king and queen on Christmas Day.56 Two days later he signed the bishops’ petition to the king to suppress vice and order the implementation of the penal laws.57

Sharp spoke in the House on the Quaker bill on 12 Feb. 1692 (according to his diary, this was the first occasion on which he ‘took the boldness to speak in the House’); four days later he spoke again on the divorce bill for Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, when he restated doctrinal arguments on the lawfulness of divorce for adultery.58 Following the adjournment on 24 Feb., Sharp remained in London, preaching the Easter Sunday sermon before the queen.59 On 11 Apr. he attended an episcopal meeting at Lambeth. By July he was back in Yorkshire, where he spent a week ‘rambling’ ‘in the western parts of my diocese’ and carrying out confirmations in remote areas ‘where I do not hear any bishop has been since Toby Matthew’.60

Attending the House on 4 Nov. 1692 for the start of the next parliamentary session, Sharp attended thereafter for 36 per cent of sittings. On 12 Nov. he went to the House but, on a point of conscience, stayed out of debates on the commitment of the lords who had been imprisoned the previous summer. If he kept his counsel in the chamber, he made detailed notes on the issues raised in his private notes.61 On 22 Dec. Sharp was given leave of absence by the House to go into the country. Five days later he registered his proxy in favour of Moore and did not return to the House that session. Moore used the proxy on 3 Jan. 1693 in the division on the place bill. It may have been during this period that Sharp requested of Moore copies of any acts passed during this absence (though his letter lacks a year date and may have been written the following year).62 Following the prorogation on 14 Mar., Sharp travelled into his northern province. On 14 May he preached in Sheffield before returning to Bishopthorpe to devote himself to ecclesiastical matters.63 He claimed that his greatest pastoral problem was clandestine marriages.64 Back in London by 26 Oct. (when he attended the House for a prorogation), he returned to the House on 7 Nov. for the start of the new session. He attended 71 per cent of sittings. On the 12th he preached a special thanksgiving sermon at court for the safe return of the king from overseas.65 On 17 Feb. 1694, he voted to reverse the chancery dismission in the cause Montagu v. Bath and in April took charge of the small tithes bill (which would transfer the recovery of small tithes into the plenary jurisdiction of justices of the peace) for his friend Stillingfleet, with whom he had exchanged familiar correspondence for many years.66 Sharp’s diary reveals that he co-ordinated closely with Stillingfleet, visiting him at home three times in the first week of April to discuss amendments to the bill.67

Sharp’s most significant contribution to the session was his speech in opposition to the bill for frequent Parliaments, which had first been introduced during the previous session when he was absent in his diocese but vetoed by the king. Outlining his reasons for opposing the measure, he complained of the problems that would arise from frequent elections and stressed that he thought the potential impact of the bill ‘a little too hard upon the king’. It would, he claimed, effect a change to the constitution so that Parliament (or a committee of both Houses) could ultimately be in permanent session and compromise the balance between the liberty of the subject and the rights of the crown. Constant Parliaments would prove burdensome to the people who already found privilege of Parliament ‘grievous enough’, and leave little or no time in which to instigate or complete legal proceedings. Further, frequent elections and the inevitable polarization of opinion would divide the people ‘alienating people’s affections one from another, and their being engaged in factions, and piques, and quarrels’, increasing drunkenness, idleness and debauchery amongst the people and ‘feuds and animosities’ amongst the gentry.68 In spite of Sharp’s efforts (and the king’s continued disapproval) the measure was eventually carried as part of the price of securing the return to office of Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury.

Early in November 1694 – just under a year since Nottingham had been forced from office –Sharp was appealed to by Nottingham’s brother, Henry Finch, who had been offered the bishopric of Man but was anxious to decline it in the hopes of being promised the deanery of York instead. Conscious that he no longer had any claim to royal patronage, Nottingham joined his brother in hoping that Sharp would use his interest with the king and queen to secure it for him. Finch duly obtained a promise that he would be given the desired post.69 Despite his preference to remain in Yorkshire that winter, Sharp was informed by Tillotson at the beginning of the second week of November that he was ‘greatly’ needed in London and that his absence would not be taken well.70 Sharp, nevertheless, failed to attend the next session and on 10 Nov. registered his proxy in favour of Moore. Following the death of Queen Mary, Sharp was named to the ecclesiastical commission for Church preferments (comprised largely of Nottingham’s clerical allies), which was to have sweeping authority during the king’s absences abroad and significant powers to recommend when the king was on hand.71 Opposed in principle to political appointments in the Church, and subject to the king’s preferences, he was generally involved in dispensing livings to men deemed ‘moderate and unexceptional’.72 One such preferment, however, clearly reflected his personal interests: Sharp promoted Henry Finch to the well-endowed Yorkshire prebend of Wetwang. Finch was distrusted by the government and in March 1696 complained that he was suspected of being ‘a disaffected person’ and that his house had been searched for horses and arms. In an undated letter Sharp reported that despite the promise that had been obtained, ‘the king has positively refused the deanery to Mr Finch’. Finch did not become dean of York until the reign of Anne.73

On 25 July 1695 Sharp received word from Tenison (now his fellow primate, after Tillotson’s death in November 1694) that Parliament was to be prorogued to September. Tenison also enclosed a copy of his latest circular, inviting Sharp’s ‘animadversions on it that I may do better next time’.74 In spite of a request from Thomas Osborne, duke of Leeds, for Sharp to use his interest in York and Ripon in the elections of October 1695, Sharp refused to intervene in the former, on the grounds that it would ‘render me less capable of doing that service in the city hereafter, which otherwise in my station I might’. The result was the unopposed returns of Tobias Jenkins and Edward Thompson. He proved more willing to intervene in Ripon, where he exercised interest as lord of the manor. His nephew by marriage, John Aislabie, had acquired an interest in the borough, but required Sharp’s influence to underwrite his return to the Commons. There Sharp followed Leeds’s desires and backed Aislabie together with Jonathan Jennings.75 He was less successful in his attempt to employ his interest at Cambridge University on behalf of John Isham, a member of the Finch circle who enjoyed the bi-partisan support of both Nottingham and Charles Montagu, later earl of Halifax. In spite of such high-level support, Isham was squeezed into third place.76

Sharp attended the House on the first day of the new Parliament and thereafter attended the session for 77 per cent of sittings. In the spring of 1696 he signed the Association, but on 27 Feb. he moved the Lords to define more carefully the caveat entered by the episcopate. The following month (on 19 Mar.) he was noted as having introduced a bill to stop excommunication for those who failed to pay small tithes.77 On 6 Apr. he was nominated one of the managers of the conference on the privateers bill. Four days later he signed the ‘repugnance’ of the scaffold absolution by two nonjurors of Sir William Parkyns, and Sir John Friend.78

Sharp did not return to Westminster until early December 1696, six weeks after the start of the new session, almost certainly in time for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick. Having taken his place in the Lords, Sharp attended only 14 per cent of sittings. On 8 Dec. the king gave an audience to both Sharp and Moore, pressing them to support the Fenwick attainder.79 On 18 Dec. Sharp voted against the second reading of the bill, but was not among those who registered a protest. His opposition seems to have taken some commentators by surprise. On the 23rd he voted against the passage of the bill and this time did register his dissent.80 As a consequence, Sharp was involved far less frequently in government ecclesiastical decision-making.81

In February 1697, Sharp attempted to interpose with Sir George Treby on behalf of the widowed Lady Abdy (granddaughter of Sir Edward Nicholas). Treby was presiding over the trial of one of Lady Abdy’s servants, who had set fire to some outhouses on the Abdy estate. Realizing that the girl faced the death penalty if convicted, Lady Abdy had sought to drop the charges but been convinced by Sharp to persevere with the prosecution and then petition the judge for clemency once the trial had been concluded. He now sought Treby’s agreement to meet Lady Abdy to consider her appeal.82 Soon after the prorogation of April 1697, Sharp found himself embroiled in continuing efforts to secure the recently vacant deanery of York for Nottingham’s brother, Henry, in the face of opposition from the king. His exertions were rendered the more difficult by poor health, suffering ‘a severe fit of the stone’ as well as ‘a touch of gout’ in the arm. Later that summer he celebrated being able to void ‘my great stone’ as well as ‘half a dozen more’ with the aid of Scarborough waters. In better health by the end of July, he continued to deal with diocesan business. He sought advice from Moore whether it would constitute a breach of privilege to draw up a new lease concerning episcopal land and to order an entry to be made of the estates as one of the current tenants was a fellow member of the Lords, John Sheffield, marquess of Normanby (later duke of Buckingham), who was engaged in negotiation about extending the lease.83 Sharp was also increasingly concerned about the growth of the moral reform movement in his province, particularly where societies had mixed denominational allegiances.84

After 1697 Sharp found himself caught increasingly in the middle of the Convocation dispute between ‘low’ churchmen and high-fliers. Sharp was now at the heart of the Tory bishops. He took his seat at the opening of the new session on 3 Dec. 1697 after which he was present for just under 39 per cent of sittings. On 15 Mar. 1698 he voted with the minority against the bill to punish Sir Charles Duncombe.85 Sharp registered his proxy in favour of Moore on 27 Apr. (vacated at the end of the session), a witness to their friendship and shared connection with Nottingham if not their diverging ecclesiastical politics. He also remained willing to employ his interest, as indicated by a letter to Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron (later marquess of) Wharton, in which he pressed the claims of a Mr Fairfax (possibly Hon. Henry Fairfax, former member for Aldborough) for a place in the excise.86

Elections followed the dissolution of 7 July. The poll at York on 20 July resulted in a controverted election, but Sharp resolved not to interfere and ignored the requests for assistance made to him by the defeated Edward Thompson.87 He was prepared to exercise his influence in Ripon once again to secure the re-election of Jennings and Aislabie, in spite of Jennings’ provocative behaviour about which Sharp received several petitions.88

Sharp failed to take his seat in the first session of the new Parliament, choosing to concentrate instead on affairs within his province. He wrote from Bishopthorpe to John Somers, Baron Somers (with whom he maintained a mutually respectful relationship) for a writ of Convocation for the northern province as soon as Parliament opened.89 During his absence he was kept abreast of developments at Westminster and beyond, including the Norfolk county petition to Parliament against Quakers and heavy parliamentary lobbying.90

Sharp took his seat once more on 23 Nov. 1699, one week after the start of the new parliamentary session. He attended thereafter for just over 60 per cent of sittings. On 11 Jan. 1700 he was ordered by the House to preach the martyrdom sermon on the 30th and duly delivered a moralizing sermon in the Abbey.91 He was thanked formally on 1 Feb., the same day that he was forecast as being in favour of the bill to continue the East India Company as a corporation. On 23 Feb. he voted to adjourn during pleasure and allow the House to go into a committee of the whole House on the East India bill. Although Sharp continued to preach at court and was present in the House during February and March for most of the proceedings relating to the Norfolk divorce bill, he absented himself on 12 Mar. when the House divided on the passage of the measure.92 Sharp’s absence may have been tactical as he was involved with manoeuvres relating to the management of the Shrewsbury hospital in Sheffield, where the duke was lord of the manor. Sharp’s contact in Sheffield, Drake, had written two days before the vote hoping that the duke would prove more pliable in the matter of the hospital, ‘when the House of peers has put his Grace into so good humour’.93

Sharp did not attend the session after 28 March. Throughout the spring and summer he corresponded with Tenison on ecclesiastical preferments and agreed to support the latest activities of the SPCK. He also seems to have used his interest on behalf of Humphrey Prideaux, who was eager to secure Sharp’s former deanery of Norwich.94 Sharp was taken ill with suspected smallpox over the summer.95 By the end of the year he appears to have recovered and in the meantime he was kept informed of political developments by Charles Boyle, 2nd earl of Burlington.96

During the first round of parliamentary elections in 1701 Sharp again exercised his influence as lord of the manor at Ripon; perhaps surprisingly he did not accede to the request of Ripon corporation to sponsor the candidature of his own son John Sharp, but instead once again backed his ‘good friends’ Jennings and Aislabie.97 Arriving at Westminster nearly three weeks after the start of the new Parliament, he attended for approximately half of all sittings. Following his return to Bishopthorpe he was involved, among other things, with a prominent Country Tory backbencher, Sir Godfrey Copley, (Member for Thirsk) about his wine order.98

In the second election of that year Sharp now chose to support his son’s candidature at Ripon. After a fierce contest, the younger Sharp was returned with Aislabie. During the summer Sharp had been approached by Arthur Ingram, 3rd Viscount Irwin [S], who had resolved to stand for Yorkshire. Ingram was successful but it is not clear whether Sharp did give him his support.99 Sharp also found himself employed as mediator between Sir William Lowther and his son William Lowther about the latter’s marriage settlement. He advised the younger William not to ‘intermeddle’ in the Pontefract election after learning that he intended to stand in opposition to his father and his cousin Robert Lowther.100 Sharp, who had reason to back the older man as he relied on him for his supply of coal, was unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade the younger Lowther to step aside and the latter was duly elected for Pontefract.101

On 5 Jan. 1702 Sharp was noted as missing without excuse at a call of the House. It was not until 20 Apr., after the king’s death, that Sharp finally took his place, after which he was present for just six days in the session. During his absence he had been warned by Moore of the king’s illness.102 A disconcerted Sharp described his household as being ‘out of our wits’ with worry.103 At the close of March Sharp excused his continuing absence to Nottingham referring to his own ‘shattered condition of health’, and he professed himself surprised to learn that he was wanted in the House. He would, he claimed, have attended if he thought it necessary, complaining that attending Parliament harmed both his health and his pocket. Sharp responded to Nottingham’s apparent scruples over taking the oath of abjuration, counselling that anyone able to take the oath of allegiance to the new queen should have no problem with that of abjuration. He admitted that the part of the oath against the Pretender’s right to the throne would have troubled his own conscience if the monarchy rested upon principles of ‘the law of nature or the revealed law of God’. Since monarchs held their crowns ‘by the same legal right that your lordship holds your estate, and that they may forfeit their rights as well as you may do yours’, with Parliament as the judge, both he and Nottingham could safely take the oath.104 Nottingham conceded Sharp’s point.105

The reign of Anne to 1707

Anne’s accession improved Sharp’s standing. Nottingham urged that the archbishop attend court promptly since he was almost certainly the most favoured of the bishops. He concluded that Sharp should ‘judge whether something more than the ordinary respect of a subject is not due to her from you’. Sharp, indisposed once more with the stone, was given royal permission to stay away until the following winter, but the queen changed her mind and decided that she wanted Sharp to preach at the coronation. A newsletter of 2 Apr. reported as much, and at the start of April Sharp informed Tenison (who had clearly been snubbed by the new queen in these arrangements) that he had intended to come to London anyway rather than be thought to be guilty of ‘intolerable ill manners’. As far as the matter of the sermon went, he was willing to accede to the queen’s request, though he insisted ‘my health is so broken with colics in my stomach, and stone and strangury, that I am altogether unfit to go about any work, and least of all such a business as this.’ Notwithstanding his indisposition, he assured Tenison that he would set out for London on the 13th.106

On 23 Apr. Sharp duly preached the sermon. Subsequently, he had several audiences with the queen about ecclesiastical promotions.107 Succeeding ‘alone to the royal confidence and counsel in all affairs relating to the Church’, he (in alliance with Nottingham) now fulfilled the function of the previous ecclesiastical commission. One obvious example of their new-found influence was Henry Finch’s swift confirmation in post as dean of York. Sharp’s son, Thomas, claimed that the archbishop was both Anne’s chief confidant and plain-speaking pastor. The archbishop disapproved heartily of the queen’s ‘giving herself up to the conduct of any ministry or set of men whatsoever’ and advised her to hold herself above party politics and not be swayed by changing factions. Despite Sharp’s frequent assertions to the contrary, his disapproval of political partisanship was undoubtedly more active when she made political alliances with the Whigs. It is also quite apparent that a constant theme in the relations of queen and archbishop was the latter’s repeated insistence in the face of royal pressure on his right to pursue an independent course of action when voting in the House.108

Sharp continued to furnish the government with ecclesiastical recommendations and in June consecrated his old friend, William Nicolson, as bishop of Carlisle, at Lambeth.109 Parliament was dissolved on 2 July 1702 and he was again pressed to intervene in elections, this time by Lady Russell, who asked for his help to support William Cavendish, then styled marquess of Hartington (later 2nd duke of Devonshire), for one of the county seats in Yorkshire. Hartington was successful without Sharp’s support. The archbishop excused himself from the Cavendish request with his customary excuses against intervention: it was, he claimed,

very improper for me to meddle in Parliament elections, either for the city or county: that I foresaw great inconveniences would come upon it with respect to myself, and yet I should do no great good; and therefore I made it a rule to myself not to be concerned in these matters, unless there was an absolute necessity for it, as in the case of a notorious bad man that should offer himself ... I would promise them, that though I could not serve them by making any votes for them, yet I would never disserve them by espousing any interest against them.110

Preoccupied by the assizes and the elections, Sharp remained in contact with Nottingham, sending news of the likely outcome in constituencies throughout his diocese; with the exception of Hartington, the majority of Commons’ Members throughout his diocese were expected to remain unchanged. Required by Nottingham on a regular basis to explain his interventions and conversations with the queen, Sharp was nonetheless clearly devoted to the earl and his wife and ‘all the lovely, hopeful branches’ of the Finch family.111

The new Parliament assembled on 20 Oct. 1702, but Sharp failed to take his seat until 4 Nov. after which he attended approximately 53 per cent of all sittings. Sharp was now co-operating with Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, who had undertaken to act as mediator between the various Church factions. Working in concert, Sharp and Harley offered inducements in the form of preferments in an attempt to defuse hostilities.112 Sharp’s relations with Nicolson also remained close: Nicolson wrote to Sharp to discuss the complaint to the Commons by Sir John Pakington of misconduct at the parliamentary elections involving William Lloyd, bishop of Worcester.113 Sharp introduced Nicolson to the queen and ‘kindly cautioned’ him about the pronunciation of ‘Jesus’ on his first day of reading prayers in the House. They dined together on 24 Nov., Sharp convinced that the ‘Convocation broils’ would fall out happily.114

Sharp supported the occasional conformity bill that was introduced into the Commons in November 1702. He was also instrumental in gaining the queen’s approval for the measure.115 On 3 Dec. he voted against Somers’ successful wrecking amendment, on the 4th joined with Leeds in opposing a further amendment (that office-bearers receive communion four times a year) as ‘a further prostitution of the sacrament’ and on the 7th voted against rejecting the clause on financial penalties. He then quit the chamber before the debates were finished for the day, opting instead for supper with Nicolson. Two days later, when the bill was given its third reading, Sharp voted with the Tories against the order that tacking to supply bills was unparliamentary. On 17 Dec., following a conference with the Commons on the occasional conformity bill, the House again divided on an adjournment. Sharp was among the minority voting to adjourn.116

The new year found Sharp joining a number of his fellow prelates waiting on the queen and Prince George of Denmark, and duke of Cumberland. He also found time to discuss the prince’s bill with Nicolson, which they agreed ‘was a private one and so could have no-tacking clause’, as well as the affairs of Convocation. Sharp had his own concerns to attend to also, having been pressed by the queen (and by Sidney Godolphin, Baron (later earl of) Godolphin) to overcome his reluctance and accept the post of almoner (which had been rejected by Compton).117 Nottingham attempted, unsuccessfully, to have Sharp released from the office. It proved far more trouble than it was worth to the archbishop, not least in exposing him to petitions for preferment, which he found both tiresome and embarrassing. Despite this, the queen repeatedly refused to accept his resignation. It may have been Sharp to whom she referred when she commented that there was ‘but one of all our bishops that I have any opinion of’.118

Sharp was absent from the House between 8 and 24 Jan. 1703, ‘much disordered’, according to Nicolson, with pain from kidney stones. He registered his proxy in favour of Nicolson on the 11th and his vote was used on the 16th to oppose the amendment to the clause relating to the Corporation Act (the votes were even and the motion lost). He resumed his place on 25 Jan. and on 10 Feb. (Ash Wednesday) was sufficiently recovered to preach before the queen. Nicolson found the sermon ‘very moving’. The archbishop was visited by John Aislabie and Nicolson the following day, Aislabie keeping him informed of the day’s debates in the Commons.119 Parliament was prorogued on 27 Feb. and during March Sharp was sworn in at the Privy Council.120 Duties at court held him in London. He dealt with petitioners such as the actress who claimed to be the discarded wife of the recently deceased Aubrey de Vere, 20th earl of Oxford, and who sought Sharp’s assistance to pursue her claims.121

Sharp developed an important role as a mediator with the queen. On 31 Mar. he reassured Bishop William Lloyd about the latter’s continuing place in her favour, but refused to waste the queen’s time in discussing the vacancy at St Davids (previously held by the suspended Thomas Watson,); she would undoubtedly ‘do nothing in that affair without the advice of her cabinet counsel. And ... they will never advise her to put in a new bishop, till the case of the archbishop’s power to deprive a suffragan bishop be heard and agreed to by the House of Lords’.122 By 10 Apr. Sharp was back at Bishopsthorpe, from whence he wrote to Nottingham about ecclesiastical preferments.123 He also attempted to reassure the Junto that their followers need not be starved of places. In June he sought to assure Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, that he would gladly see Sunderland’s protégé, Charles Trimnell, later bishop of Norwich, promoted when a vacancy arose, though he could not satisfy their demands that he be given the deanery of Westminster, which had been promised to another man.124

In advance of the autumn session of 1703, Sharp convened a meeting of Harley, Francis Atterbury, later bishop of Rochester, and George Hooper, bishop of St Asaph, later bishop of Bath and Wells, the last two being his principal contacts in the Canterbury Convocation, in an abortive effort to persuade Atterbury to desist from lobbying for new legislation to counter occasional conformity.125 Sharp took his seat in the House on 11 Nov. 1703, the third day of the new Parliamentary session. He attended for approximately 59 per cent of sittings. In spite of Sharp’s efforts to dissuade Atterbury from pressing for such legislation, he was assessed by Sunderland as a supporter of the new bill against occasional conformity and the archbishop was present on 14 Dec. when the bill was reintroduced. The measure again split the episcopal bench with Sharp speaking ‘strenuously’ in favour of the bill. He was one of nine bishops to vote in its favour, but 14 prelates took the opposite view and the bill was again rejected.126

Early in the new year, Sharp was informed by Godolphin that the queen was considering Harley’s proposals for the crown’s surrender of ecclesiastical first fruits to provide a fund to augment poor livings (Queen Anne’s Bounty). The move was at least in part intended to assure the high church interest that their concerns had not been abandoned.127 Sharp was present on 6 Mar. 1704 when the bill came up from the Commons, having ‘turned solicitor’ to leading supporters in both the Lords and Commons. He spoke twice in lengthy debates on the bill in a committee of the whole and joined with the rest of the episopal bench in voting in its favour on 13 March.128 Prior to this, on 1 Mar. Sharp had seconded the motion proposed by Burnet in favour of Richard Boucher, who was accused of involvement in the ‘Scotch Plot’, the examination of which was purportedly keeping the Lords from dealing with the supply bill and thereby unnecessarily extending the session.129 On 25 Mar. Sharp dissented from the resolution that the failure to pass a censure of Robert Ferguson encouraged the enemies of the crown. His name was included in a list prepared by Nottingham in 1704 which perhaps indicates support over the plot.

Sharp’s increasing association with high Tory ecclesiastical politics steadily undermined his friendship with Nicolson. Commenting on the appointment of Atterbury to the deanery of Carlisle, Nicolson confessed that he was ‘extremely troubled’ that Sharp should have had ‘so great a share’ in securing Atterbury the post, not least as Atterbury had been instrumental in snubbing Nicolson at Oxford.130 Sharp, nevertheless, seems to have been eager to maintain his political independence and extended friendship to those of whom the queen disapproved. Thomas Watson, for one, recounted the extent of Sharp’s ‘charity and kindness’; the queen was dismayed by the connection and could not believe that Sharp ‘would countenance such a man’.131 Sharp also continued to mediate on behalf of William Lloyd, assuring the latter that Anne would consider Lloyd’s son for a prebend of Worcester when his turn arose.132 It may have been through Sharp’s intervention that Lloyd had a long audience with the queen at Windsor on 12 Sept., followed by dinner.133

By the end of August 1704, Nicolson and Atterbury were mired in a jurisdictional dispute over the latter’s institution to the Carlisle chapter. Sharp attempted, without success, to get Nicolson to climb down, aware that the queen was offended at Nicolson’s tacit challenge to her prerogative. Harley hoped that Sharp would bring his authority, ‘sweetness and candour of ... temper’ to the situation and Sharp offered to defuse the dispute by proposing that he institute Atterbury himself.134 In a letter of 18 Sept. to Harley he revealed the extent of his frustration:

I can truly say I have done all that was possible for me to do, both towards removing the objections which the Bishop of Carlisle had started … and if that could not be done, then towards persuading his lordship to grant me his authority to admit the Doctor myself.135

By mid October Sharp had to report that the Carlisle affair had delayed his return to court, but that he would make amends to the queen by preaching for her on 5 November.136 He did not allow the ongoing dispute to distract from his efforts to employ his interest elsewhere, and on 16 Oct. he wrote to Harley to recommend a successor for the living at Greenwich, his candidate enjoying the support of ‘some of the nobility and chief persons’ in the vicinity. The business of Carlisle, though, did predominate and in November he advised Nicolson against printing his ‘case’ against Atterbury. For all his attempted interventions, the affair rumbled on into the following year.137

Despite his stated preference to remain above party politics, Sharp was drawn along in Nottingham’s wake. Elizabeth Burnet, a correspondent of the duchess of Marlborough, described the archbishop as ‘a very good man ... most if not all of his notions were good and he was very far from being a bigot or to have narrow notions, but of late he hears too much of one side’. According to Burnet himself, Nottingham and Edward Villiers, earl of Jersey, were ‘indefatigable in some things with him, but of himself he would be much more reasonable’.138

Sharp finally returned to the House three weeks into the new session on 13 Nov. 1704. He continued to attend for just over half of all sitting days. Following a request from the queen, he set his interest behind opposition to the approaching tack of the occasional conformity measure to a supply bill. Despite his own support for the legislation, Sharp thought the tack unconstitutional and an ‘irregular way of forcing it upon the House of Lords and the ministry’; consequently he exerted pressure not only on his own son, John, but also on the Members for Boroughbridge and Yorkshire, Sir Bryan Stapylton, and Sir John Kaye. Sharp’s efforts failed to persuade Stapylton, who voted for the measure, but Kaye and Sharp’s son both voted against the tack on 28 November.139 Following the rejection of the tack, Sharp counselled moderation and tried to dissuade Harley from his subsequent purge of tackers from office.140 He also attempted, without success, to persuade Tenison to give Atterbury an audience. Throughout the session he continued with his social and ecclesiastical round, attending a dinner at Draper’s Hall on 30 Nov. after a sermon before the Sons of the Clergy at St Paul’s. On 14 Dec., with Tenison, he opened the royal commission for Queen Anne’s Bounty.141

Although unwilling to countenance the measure as a tack, Sharp continued to support the introduction of legislation against occasional conformity. On 15 Dec. he was among those arguing in favour of giving the latest occasional bill a second reading but the motion was rejected by 21 votes (once proxies had been added to the tally).142 Sharp then registered his dissent. He preached before the queen on Christmas Day and the next day attended the traditional St Stephen’s dinner at Lambeth. Both Sharp and Burnet prescribed remedies for Tenison’s gout (Sharp, like his friend Moore, was something of an amateur physician).143

Sharp returned to the House following the Christmas recess on 2 Jan. 1705. Two days later, he was called upon by Nicolson, who found him ‘gracious and humble’ in spite of their continuing disagreements over Carlisle. On 27 Feb. Sharp was named to the committee to prepare for a conference with the Commons regarding the Aylesbury men. The queen had clear political expectations of her episcopal appointees and of Sharp’s leadership: when George Bull, the theological scholar, was nominated to the see of St Davids in March 1705, Anne told Sharp that ‘the bishops she put in should vote on the side that they who call themselves the Church party do vote on’.144

Sharp claimed that he asked the queen repeatedly to release him from ‘meddling in any state matters’, hoping to retire from court to conduct his pastoral ministry. This did not stop him from continuing to press her for his own ecclesiastical nominees. Although Sharp did not think either Whigs or Tories meant any harm to the Church of England, his recommendations were overwhelmingly Tory. During the spring of 1705 he ‘struggled hard’, but unsuccessfully, for Sir William Dawes, his protégé, to be made bishop of Lincoln, grooming Dawes as his eventual successor at York on account of the latter’s ‘inviolable attachment to the interests of the Church of England’.145

On 5 Apr. 1705 Parliament was dissolved. Sharp heard from Nicolson of the ‘great confusion’ surrounding parliamentary elections elsewhere, but the borough of Ripon saw the uncontested return of Sharp’s son and his kinsman John Aislabie.146 At an audience with the queen in early October, Sharp, when asked if affairs were quiet at York, responded ‘pleasantly’: ‘yes, we were there most of us Whigs’. His answer failed to reflect the reality of affairs in York where Robert Benson, Baron Bingley, a moderate Tory, had been returned (probably on the interest of his uncle, Jenkins) in company with the sitting Member, Sir William Robinson.147

Sharp returned to his own ecclesiastical agenda. The previous year he had asked the lord chief justice, Sir John Holt, whether the Act of Toleration permitted Dissenting ministers only to preach and teach or if they were also permitted to conduct rites of passage, despite encroaching on the Church’s traditional function in these areas. Holt replied that nonconformist marriages could certainly be challenged in an ecclesiastical court as having been conducted without licence and the publication of banns, but that the other rites were less clear and required expert opinion from a specialist in canon law.148 By the end of 1705 Sharp prepared to introduce three bills: to explain the Act of Toleration (‘that ministers might not be insulted by the Dissenters baptizing children, and marrying and burying within their parishes’); to insist on some form of Sunday worship; and, thirdly, against Dissenting schools and academies. Only the third came before the House (as the schism bill) but not until late 1713 and it would not pass onto the statute book in Sharp’s lifetime.

Sharp returned to the House for the opening of Parliament on 25 Oct. 1705. He attended the session for just under a third of all sittings and was careful to distance himself from the proposal to invite Princess Sophia of Hanover to England. On 15 Nov. he joined the majority in opposing the motion put by John Thompson, Baron Haversham, to invite Sophia, though he was careful later to communicate to Hanover his respect and good intentions.149 As he reported, ‘They that moved it and were for it were those that they call the high churchmen’: an epithet with which he clearly did not identify.150 Sharp subsequently approved the regency bill (despite the opposition of leading Tories), but rejected the clause to make the lord mayor one of the lords justices. He also voted against the clause that the lords justices be restrained from altering the Test Acts.151

Sharp and Godolphin failed to agree over the Tory ‘Church in Danger’ crusade, though both seem to have been at pains to maintain friendly relations in spite of their differences.152 During the debate conducted in a committee of the whole on 6 Dec. Sharp was noted as having risen to his feet after Gilbert Burnet to lay any dangers threatening the Church at the feet of the dissenting academies; he then appealed to the opinion of the judges for their views on the lawfulness of such institutions. When Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron (later marquess of) Wharton, reflected on Sharp’s own sons’ education at the hands of a Jacobite, Sharp responded that his sons’ tutor, Mr Ellis, was ‘a sober, virtuous man, and a man of letters’; that he was not a Dissenter when his sons first went to him but that after Ellis had refused the abjuration oath, Sharp had withdrawn the boys from his tutelage. Sharp’s original motion, appealing to the judges, was seconded by John Moore, but when John Annesley, 4th earl of Anglesey, proposed that Sharp’s motion should be put to a vote, Godolphin objected that the main question had to be attended to first. Sharp was then one of only four bishops to vote against the successful motion that those who asserted the Church was in danger were enemies to the government, but he was not among those subscribing the subsequent protest. Another source claimed that Sharp and Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester, ‘protested after’.153 The following day Sharp was visited by Atterbury and Nicolson regarding their ongoing disagreements relating to Carlisle. Over the Christmas recess he hosted a large gathering. His continuing preoccupation with the question of nonconformist schools was reflected in his assurance to Nicolson and two others, after the majority of the guests had departed, of lord chief justice Holt’s approval of his comments in the House concerning the Dissenting academies.154

Sharp’s health took a turn for the worse in the new year. By 14 Jan. 1706 he was ‘dispirited’ with illness, suffering from the stone and ‘the spleen’. Poor health was not his only concern, and he proved unsuccessful in his efforts to secure the nomination of Tory divine John Wynne, the future bishop of St Asaph, for the vacancy at Llandaff.155 In the Lords’ debate of 31 Jan. on the repeal of the self-denying place clause in the Act of Succession, both Sharp and Compton withdrew before the question. By the beginning of March Sharp was still caught between Nicolson and Atterbury in their dispute. He was also, according to Nicolson, ‘in great wrath’ over the latest news of high-flying activism in the lower house of Convocation.156

On 25 Mar., during the recess, Sharp attended the Privy Council at Kensington and was asked by the queen to ‘endeavour, in all my conversation, to discourage’ the expected renewal of the motion to summon the Electress Sophia. Asked whether ‘I had not once expressed myself that I abhorred the thoughts of it’, Sharp obfuscated, claiming not to remember saying so, though allowing, ‘if her majesty said I did use those words, I could not doubt but I did’.157 In April he was named to the new commission for the Union, an issue on which he was in disagreement with the queen over his concerns for the security of the Church of England. His nomination as one of the commissioners was considered little more than a matter of form ‘out of respect to the dignity of the office he bore’. He was not expected to attend any of the meetings.158 Despite his distaste for the Whig-dominated ministry, he maintained his own friendships across the political spectrum, his family socializing with that of William Wake, bishop of Lincoln and later archbishop of Canterbury, entertaining Atterbury and exchanging regular visits with Nicolson.159

Sharp took his seat at the opening of the new session on 3 Dec. 1706, of which he attended 52 per cent of sittings. The day before he had exchanged visits with Wake, perhaps in anticipation of the first day’s business.160 Pressure from the queen left Sharp politically at odds with Nottingham.161 At an audience on 9 Dec., Anne asked that Sharp ‘would not be governed by ... friends (meaning my Lord Nottingham and that party) in my votes in Parliament’. Sharp and the queen resolved to act as each other’s confessor and discuss parliamentary divisions before Sharp promised his vote to any party. As usual, Sharp was eager to ensure that he was not tied to the queen’s apron-strings and it was agreed that in the event of her not being able to satisfy him, the queen would condescend to allow Sharp to ‘vote as I pleased’.162

On 31 Dec. Sharp took part in the thanksgiving service at St Paul’s for the victory at Ramillies. He made space for Nicolson in his coach for the procession to the cathedral. The House then adjourned until 7 Jan. 1707 but Sharpe remained away until 13 Jan., when the Lords prepared to debate the bill for union with Scotland.163 Sharp, Hooper, Compton and William Beveridge, bishop of St Asaph, were all opposed to the ‘Scotch Acts’, fearful that Scottish Presbyterianism would taint the Church of England.164 Sharp had expressed fears to the queen, first, that the union would not include toleration for the Scottish episcopal clergy, and second, that the Scots might insist that the queen and her successors took an oath that they would not consent to the alteration of Church government even if the new Parliament of Great Britain thought it ‘convenient’. The queen denied that any oaths were on the negotiating table and assured him that both the Scottish Kirk and the Church of England would be secured in law. Between the first and second readings of Tenison’s bill to secure the Church of England, the queen summoned Sharp and told him to support the bill; she had heard that Nottingham and Rochester intended to oppose it on principle. Sharp explained his own objection that the bill did not include the Test Act and that a Whig lord, Richard Lumley, earl of Scarbrough, had expressed similar concerns.165

On 16 Jan. Sharp entertained Nicolson, Nicholas Stratford, bishop of Chester, and George Smalridge, the future bishop of Bristol, possibly canvassing support for his amendment to Tenison’s bill to secure the Church. Certainly, on 3 Feb., in a committee of the whole House, Stratford voted in support of Sharp’s unsuccessful amendment that the Test should be an integral part of the Act of Union. Sharp’s amendment was rejected by 60 votes to 33, with 23 lords registering their dissent against its rejection.166 By 15 Feb. Sharp had shifted his position slightly and he was now prepared to accept a federal union between England and Scotland, notwithstanding Nottingham’s hostility; when the House debated the first article of union in a committee of the whole, Sharp, Sprat and Nathaniel Crew, bishop of Durham, ‘left their friends in this division’ and voted for a federal union. On 24 Feb. the House agreed the last seven articles, dividing on the 22nd article (providing for 16 Scottish representative peers and 45 Members of the Commons); Sharp voted with the majority in its favour.167 During February Sharp received appeals from the bishops of Scotland regarding the ‘poverty and maltreatment’ of the Scottish episcopal clergy.168

In the Commons proceedings of 28 Feb. Sharp’s son was reported to have ‘speeched it against the Union’ and it was understood that when the bill came before the Lords, Sharp himself intended to be ‘so indiscreet as to speak against it’ as well.169 On 4 Mar. Sharp voted as anticipated with the minority against the bill, but did not register his dissent.170 In spite of his fierce opposition to the bill, having lost the argument Sharp seems to have resolved to fall back on sangfroid. On 8 Mar. he, Tenison and Beveridge attended chapel. He then entertained Nicolson and Archdeacon Fleming at dinner, when he was described as being ‘very cheerful’.171 In the remaining days prior to the prorogation on 8 Apr., Sharp reported back from two select committees: on the private bills for Robert Hitch and the minor William Elson.172 He avoided the two-week-long session from 14 to 24 Apr. 1707 but within weeks was immersed in the bishoprics crisis.

From the bishoprics crisis of 1707 to the start of the Tory ministry in 1710

The crisis brought to the fore simmering resentments that were already well established over Church appointments. Sharp had himself come up against the queen’s opposition in February to his proposal that Smalridge should succeed the terminally ill William Jane as regius professor of Divinity at Oxford, the queen having learned that Smalridge was one of those who ‘flew in the face of the government’ by insisting that the Church was in danger.173 Sharp expected better success with his latest recommendations. During April the queen had promised to elevate Sharp’s protégé Sir William Dawes and Offspring Blackall, a prominent Tory, to the vacant bishoprics of Chester and Exeter, almost certainly in retaliation for the appointment of Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, to the office of secretary of state. Despite the efforts of both a furious Somers (who claimed that Sharp ‘never suffers her to rest’) and a far more diffident Tenison, the queen stuck doggedly to her choices.174 In early summer, John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, writing from the campaign on the continent, noted with concern reports that Sharp had returned to his archdiocese ‘in great delight, which I am very sorry for, for it is most certain that whatever pleases him can’t be for the service of [the queen]’. Even so, he blamed Harley rather than Sharp, suspecting the former of wanting to boost Tory votes in the Lords.175 Matters remained uncertain in late summer, and in August Sharp asked Dawes whether the appointment had been confirmed or if the delay implied Dawes’ rejection of Chester on financial grounds. If the latter, he sought to reassure him that the place was not so poverty-stricken as some believed. Dawes responded that no decision was expected until the queen returned to London in the winter, but if he were appointed he hoped that Sharp would also be in London and would perform the consecration.176 The queen held firm to her choices and Sharp was eventually joined on the episcopal bench the following spring by Blackall and Dawes.

On 23 Oct. 1707 Sharp took his seat in the new Parliament of Great Britain, attending thereafter for just over 30 per cent of sittings. In an audience with both the queen and the prince on 3 Nov. Sharp was asked by Anne, whom he supposed to be fearful of ‘ruffles’ in Parliament, to serve her interests during the session. In response, Sharp assured her of his continuing loyalty but craved leave ‘to vote in Parliament according to my sentiments’. Ten days later she asked for his vote in the imminent division on the Admiralty when she feared that George Churchill would come under attack; Sharp, still struggling to retain his political independence, promised to discuss the matter before engaging himself to any party.177 He visited Wake on 17 Nov. when he was informed of what had passed between Wake and the queen in relation to the business of the House for the following week.178 On the 21st he was again pressed by Anne into voting according to her directions and in the middle of the following month was offered advance notice of her intention of making changes to the administration at the expense of the Junto: ‘all the Tories, if they would, should come in … and all the Whigs likewise, that would show themselves to be in her interests, should have her favour’.179

In the midst of these manoeuvres, Sharp was approached by Archbishop King of Dublin for his assistance in the matter of the naturalization bill for the children of John King, 3rd Baron Kingston [I] when it came before the Lords.180 By the opening of 1708 the duumvirs had resolved on co-operation with the Whigs.181 Sharp also seemed to favour more whiggish appointees and the 6 Jan. 1708 was gratified to note Trimnell’s name on the queen’s list of preferments.182 Sharp claimed that the new bishop was ‘more obliged to him for this lift than to all the interest that was made by his other friends’.183 Regularly hosting an eclectic range of academics, clerics, politicians and lawyers, he continued to consult with lord chief justice Holt, now over a bill against libel, the meeting attended by both archbishops and Henry Compton.184

Early in February the queen asked for Sharp’s vote against the bill to dissolve the Scottish Privy Council. Sharp was clearly unwilling to lend his support, and asked once more to be allowed to vote according to his own judgment. According to Sharp’s own recollection, Anne permitted him the liberty to attend for the division and vote as he saw fit, even if it opposed her own wishes.185 On 5 Feb. the bill was committed to a committee of the whole House. Sharp voted in favour of suspending the council in May rather than October, joining most of the bishops, Nottingham, Rochester and the Whig lords against the reprieve.186

On 8 Feb. Sharp had the satisfaction of finally consecrating Dawes. Sharp’s friendship with Nicolson, by contrast, remained under strain on account of the ongoing disputes with Atterbury and by the introduction of the partisan cathedrals bill, instigated by Nicolson and Somers.187 Although Sharp had previously assured Nicolson that he would not ‘intermeddle’ in Nicolson’s ongoing dispute with Atterbury, he proved more determined to stand against the cathedrals bill. Atterbury, happy to provoke Nicolson, bragged that he had secured Sharp’s vote (and that of all the Tory bishops) against the bill. On 17 Feb. 1708 Sharp informed Nicolson ‘more frankly than kindly’, according to Nicolson, that he would oppose the bill in the Lords. Two days later Sharp launched his attack on the bill and ‘passionately insisted on the bill’s touching on the queen’s prerogative … [and was] … cool enough on the sharp replies’ from Somers, Halifax (as Charles Montagu had since become) and Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend.188 According to Joseph Addison, Sharp acted as Atterbury’s ‘chief advocate, and was joined by all the lords, spiritual and temporal, of that party’.189 In spite of Sharp’s efforts, the bill passed ‘by such an irresistible majority, that no Lord had the hardiness to call for a division’. Tenison expressed himself ‘much concerned at the odd behaviour of his brother of York’, surprised at Sharp’s departure from his usual studied moderation, though Sharp was considerably more moderate than his ‘spitfire’ son, who continued the fight when the bill was sent down to the Commons. Certainly, Sharp seemed eager to heal the rift with Nicolson. The following month he received Nicolson ‘very kindly, desiring that … [his] warmth in the House of Lords … might be mutually forgotten’. In April he was again ‘very frank in assurances of a steady friendship’ to Nicolson.190

On 14 Nov. 1708 Sharp waited on the queen, where they both gave vent to their grief for the death of Prince George.191 On 16 Nov. he took his seat in the House for the first day of the new Parliament, taking the oaths along with Wake, after which he was present for over 35 per cent of sittings. On 24 Nov. he was given notice that his attendance was required the next day at the Privy Council so that he could be sworn in.192 On 20 Dec. in a letter to William Bromley, a concerned Nottingham set out his concerns relating to the Junto’s aims to introduce bills to abrogate the sacramental test and to legislate for a general naturalization. Nottingham queried whether a direct application to the queen explaining how such measures would ‘tend to the destruction of the Church and even the whole Protestant religion’ might not be in order. Such an approach he thought might be made by Rochester, supported by (among others) Sharp.193 On 28 Dec. Sharp attended Lambeth where 13 members of the bishops’ bench dined together to debate ‘many things of moment’.194 Sharp was unwell in early January 1709, said to be ‘very much out of order’ suffering from ‘a great cold and dizziness in his head’.195 He appears to have rallied by the middle of the month and on 21 Jan. joined with Rochester and Godolphin in voting in favour of allowing Scots peers with post-Union British titles to vote in the elections for representative peers. In doing so he may have been influenced by the queen who seems to have made a direct request to him to ‘vote for her prerogative’ over the creation of the dukedom of Dover for James Douglas, duke of Queensberry [S]. As usual, though, Sharp insisted on his right to ‘act according to my judgment’. Despite this, the Junto were successful in voting the motion down assisted with support from the Jacobite Tories.196 Three days later Sharp found himself in company with Gilbert Burnet in supporting James Johnston over his appeal when it came before the Lords.197 On 3 Feb. Sharp, John Holles, duke of Newcastle, Sir George Saville, and William Pennington petitioned the House to bring in a private bill regarding property in Waterby, Nottinghamshire. Leave was granted on the 10th but there is no evidence that the bill was ever passed.

Sharp’s greater concern in the early months of 1709 was the question of the settlement of the crown and Protestant religion. This appears to have prompted a lengthy discourse with the queen early in February in which he was given assurances that both she and her ministry were completely supportive of the Hanoverian succession. Sharp seems to have welcomed the queen’s professions cautiously, while noting his continuing suspicions of some of the ministers and ‘the little care that was taken at the last invasion for the suppression of it’.198 The following day (6 Feb.), Nicolson reported him as being ‘kind and pleasant on the Junto and flying squadron’.199

Sharp’s concern for the security of the established Church was again reflected the following month over the general naturalization bill. This was the subject of discussion between Sharp, Wake and other bishops on 14 Mar. 1709, and when the bill was committed the following day Sharp voted for the amendment (proposed by Nicolson and Dawes) to insist on worship at a ‘parochial’ church and not merely at any Protestant gathering. The bill’s committal exposed party divisions on the episcopal bench with Sharp ranged alongside nine other Tory bishops against seven Whig prelates led by Tenison. On 23 Mar. he attended the House for the last time that session, ‘tortured’ with gout in the knee. He maintained his social round but remained indisposed for much of April. On Good Friday, the day after the prorogation, Sharp attended the queen and in the evening was called on by Nicolson, with whom he discussed William Whiston’s alleged Arianism.200 He returned to Bishopthorpe via Buckden, where he was entertained warmly by Wake. Back in his Yorkshire his health once again took a turn for the worse.201

Back at Westminster on 15 Nov. 1709 for the first day of the new parliamentary session, Sharp was thereafter present on 59 per cent of sittings. He attended the queen on 3 Feb. 1710 when he was ‘earnestly’ pressed to vote against the bill for limiting the number of officers in the Commons, and warned ‘that it would look strange that [he] should be the only bishop of the bench that voted for that bill, which was so much against her prerogative’. Sharp attempted in vain to persuade her that ‘it was a good bill’ and was once again thrown back on the recourse of insisting on his right to vote according to his conscience.202 A majority in the Lords subsequently threw the bill out on 9 February. If unsuccessful here, Sharp was more fortunate in his attempts, with Harley, to secure episcopal vacancies for more ‘moderate’ Tories rather than the high-fliers. On 7 Feb. Sunderland learned that Sharp had recommended Philip Bisse, a Harley client and husband of the widowed countess of Plymouth, for the bishopric of Bristol.203 In the event Bisse was given St Davids instead with Bristol going to John Robinson, the diplomat. Sharp and Robinson worked closely in the dispensation of offices and influence.204

Alongside his efforts on behalf of the English clergy, Sharp’s involvement in the cause of toleration for Scottish episcopal clergy also began to assume a higher profile as a result of the James Greenshields’ case. Sharp had been informed of the plight of the Scots episcopalian clergy in 1702 by the bishop of Edinburgh, Alexander Rose, and two years later received a plea for help from all the Scottish bishops.205 In August 1709 Elizabeth, countess of Lauderdale, had asked Sharp to represent to the queen the lack of facilities in Scotland to hear ‘the orderly and stated service of the Church’.206 The following month Greenshields appealed to Sharp, as ‘a zealous and sincere patron of the Church of England’, from his imprisonment in the Edinburgh Tolbooth, seeking ‘favour and protection’ in his mission to highlight the problem, and claiming that a legal toleration was the best way to clamp down on Scottish Jacobitism and to advance the Church of England. He wanted Sharp to secure the queen’s support for Scottish religious toleration (at least for episcopalians) and to permit ‘the same exercise of their religion here as the Scots Presbyterians have in England, which were very hard to deny us in a United Kingdom’.207

On 16 Feb. 1710 Sharp was one of 20 lords (including Nottingham and Rochester) who dissented from the House’s resolution not to summon Greenshields and the Edinburgh magistrates, before hearing Greenshields’ judicial appeal to the Lords. Greenshields’ case was temporarily overtaken by the impeachment of Henry Sacheverell. Sharp (who described the financial support of Sacheverell by John Radcliffe as a work of the ‘greatest charity’) was present when the trial opened in Westminster Hall.208 During the proceedings, Sharp’s own doctrine on non-resistance and passive obedience (in the form of a highly selective section from his sermon to the Lords of 30 Jan. 1700) was produced by the defence while other of his works were called for and appealed to by those prosecuting Sacheverell.209 Sharp played a major role in opposing the impeachment, dissenting three times on procedural matters on 14 March. On the 16th, along with the duke of Leeds, Sharp was one of those to speak in Sacheverell’s defence, though even the doctor’s supporters conceded that ‘they never read such a piece of madness and nonsense’ as his controversial sermon. After a twelve-hour debate, Sharp registered his protest against putting the question as to whether the Commons had made good the first article of impeachment.210 The following day he again protested on the second, third and fourth articles. On the 18th he dissented from the resolution limiting peers to a single verdict of guilty or not guilty on all articles of impeachment. On 20 Mar. Sharp voted against Sacheverell’s guilt, registering his dissent from the verdict and on the 21st again dissented from the terms of punishment.

In the wake of the trial, Sharp’s two sermons preached before the Commons in 1679 (on enemies to Church and state) and his speech to the Lords on the articles of impeachment all appeared in the press.211 Sharp himself appears to have been eager to avoid controversy when preaching and carefully omitted passages that could have been interpreted as showing sympathy to Sacheverell.212 Over the summer Sharp was occupied with the marriage of his son, John, to the wealthy heiress of a Northamptonshire gold wiredrawer, Charles Hosier. Despite legal difficulties attending the marriage settlement (some of the property in question being held by the archbishopric of York), Sharp eventually settled on his son estates valued at £6,000.213

Harley’s ministry 1710-1714

At the general election of 1710 Sharp’s son and Aislabie were again returned without contest.214 Otherwise, Sharp immersed himself in diocesan and ecclesiastical business. He was heavily involved in ecumenical discussions with the Prussian churches and strongly in favour of promoting the English liturgy at the Hanoverian court.215

He returned to London before the opening of Parliament to find the queen uneasy at the prospect of internecine quarrelling in the synod. She asked Sharp (despite the Canterbury Convocation being under Tenison’s authority) to chair a meeting comprising Harley, Rochester, Sprat and Hooper to limit the business of Convocation to blasphemous publications, excommunication, and relations with the Prussian Lutherans. The move provoked fury from Atterbury, whom Sharp then attempted to stifle by championing George Smalridge for the deanery of Christ Church but without success. He made no attempt to seek writs for his own provincial Convocation, but concentrated on the southern synod, chairing numerous debates involving both moderate and high-flying Tories.216

As well as his efforts with Convocation, Sharp worked closely with Harley, both of them being eager to secure as many ecclesiastical preferments as possible for moderate churchmen.217 At the start of October Harley was confident that he could rely on Sharp to support the new ministry. Nevertheless, Sharp was able to maintain at least some goodwill across the political spectrum. Francis Hare, the future bishop of St Asaph, chaplain to the forces and on the civilian staff of the duke of Marlborough, wrote to the duchess reflecting on Sharp’s inauguration sermon, in which he offered a backhanded compliment on Sharp’s reputation. The sermon, he observed, ‘only proves he is not so good an orator as he should be, but not that he is not a good man, for … he has had so universal and so established a reputation, ever since I can remember, that it is impossible for me to doubt of his goodness’. He then continued: ‘I only say this as to his being a good man, which does not make one a wise man and ’tis so very rare to see much political wisdom, or abilities of that sort, in bishops, that I don’t wonder if he has not more of it’.218

Sharp took his seat in the House on 25 Nov. 1710 for the opening of Parliament after which he was present for just over 30 per cent of sittings. On 26 Dec. he visited Lambeth for a very well attended St Stephen’s dinner. He continued to attend meetings of the Queen Anne’s Bounty commissioners and to wait on the queen at court. He gave a lift to Nicolson for a new year gathering at court, which was marked by the return of Marlborough from Flanders. Apparently ‘hesitant’ about the Tory challenge to the previous ministry’s conduct of the war in Spain, he did not attend the House for the lengthy debate on 9 Jan. 1711.219 He did attend on the 11th and on the 12th (when the queen was also present) for the successful censure motions.

On 20 Jan. 1711, the House not sitting, he chaired a meeting on proposals to provide bishops for the plantations; the proposals, in which Jonathan Swift had aspirations for his own clerical advancement, were dropped.220 Sharp advised the queen against Swift’s promotion, thereby earning Swift’s undying enmity.221 Sharp was present in the Lords on 5 Feb. for the first reading of the bill to repeal the general naturalization act; after a long debate, he voted to commit the bill and subsequently dissented from the resolution to reject it. The following day Sharp received Compton’s proxy (vacated on 13 March).

Despite appeals to Harley made shortly before Christmas by John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar [S], that either the queen or Sharp should persuade Greenshields to delay his petition until the next parliamentary session, the appeal came before the House in February.222 Sharp informed Nicolson, who had campaigned tirelessly on behalf of Greenshields and the Scottish episcopal clergy, that he would support the appeal.223 On 1 Mar. he voted with the other bishops to reverse the judgment of the Edinburgh magistrates. Subsequently, he advised patience before pressing for further measures on behalf of the Scots clergy, suggesting that ‘he did not see any great hazard … in delaying till November next’ to see how matters worked themselves out in Scotland.224

Sharp missed the last seven weeks of the parliamentary session and by early June he was back at Bishopthorpe. From there he congratulated Harley on his elevation as earl of Oxford and also took the opportunity of recommending to his new colleague in the Lords the appointment of Henry Dawnay, 2nd Viscount Downe [I], as governor of Hull in place of Newcastle (who had died shortly before). It was a post Downe was eager to secure and was, according to Sharp, an appointment that would ‘be of great service for the breaking that interest in the East Riding which has always opposed your lordship’s measures’. Sharp also continued his efforts to develop closer relations with the church in Prussia through his negotiations with Jablonski, to which end he hoped that an agent might be sent ‘under some public character’.225 Oxford meanwhile strove to sustain their relationship with favours to the archbishop’s son, for which Sharp acknowledged himself ‘extremely obliged’. Even so, towards the end of November Sharp advised Oxford that it would be ‘almost impossible’ for him to attend the opening of the new session. He had, though, ‘taken care that no harm can happen through want of my vote’ and sent his proxy to Dawes who would ‘on all occasions vote honestly’. He undertook, if the queen insisted, to travel to London as fast as possible.226 The proxy was registered on 1 Dec. and vacated by Sharps’ attendance on 31 Jan. 1712. He was thus (conveniently) absent for the critical vote of 7 Dec. on the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion. Sharp’s name appeared on one of Oxford’s lists at the beginning of December, possibly indicating his expected support for the ministry, though elsewhere it was reported that he would follow his old ally Nottingham in voting against the ministry on the peace negotiations.227 Despite the concerns about Sharp’s allegiance, Dawes used Sharp’s proxy to support the ministry in the adjournment division of 2 January.228 Nottingham’s friendship with Sharp was the main topic of discussion at a meeting between Swift, Atterbury and James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond; Oxford had delegated to Swift the task of preventing Sharp ‘from being seduced by Lord Nottingham’ since ‘there is but a slender majority in the house of Lords; and we want more’.229 It is unclear, given the prickly history between Sharp and Swift, how far the latter could have influenced the archbishop.

Back in London by the close of January 1712, having returned to the chamber Sharp was present for 32 per cent of all sitting days in the session. He resumed his social round with bishops of all political views, including Wake and Compton, and on 20 Feb. he was visited by Nicolson and Greenshields, both anxious to secure the passage of the bill on Scottish episcopal communion.230 Six days later the House considered the Commons’ pro-episcopal amendments to the bill. The measure was passed as it had come from the Commons, with Sharp voting in its favour.231

Alongside of his involvement in the Lords, Sharp also continued to take a close interest in matters in Convocation. On 20 Apr., when the upper house of Convocation sent down a resolution on the validity of lay baptism, Sharp sought Oxford’s help in having the queen forbid contentious discussion.232 The Easter dinner at Lambeth two days later was marred by the rift between Tory and Whig bishops with Tenison determined that the bishops should issue a definitive pronouncement asserting the validity of lay baptism. Sharp ‘expressed himself heartily’ against and summoned Dawes, Blackall and George Bull to a strategy meeting. A week later Sharp received from Tenison minutes of their Easter meeting and a draft declaration to which he hoped Sharp would make amendments. Debate persisted late into the summer but Sharp remained immoveable.233

Despite his stance on this issue, at the start of June 1712, Sharp was thought by Oxford to be an uncertain supporter of the ministry. Impatient to leave London for Bishopthorpe, he hung on ‘in expectation of the Peace’, but on the 7th registered his proxy with William Dawes once more and left London.234 The proxy was vacated with the prorogation on 8 July. That month he conducted a visitation of the West Riding but returned ‘so spent’ that it was feared he would ‘hardly be able to go on with the remainder of his work’. The same month Sharp again acknowledged his debt to Oxford for the latter’s assistance to his son, who had been appointed to a place on the Irish revenue commission. Oxford presumably hoped thereby to secure Sharp’s support for the peace treaty.235 Sharp’s health remained poor into the early autumn, but he continued to be active in making recommendations for official postings and pensions.236

In the new year of 1713 Sharp obtained from Oxford another appointment for his son as a commissioner of trade at an annual salary of £1,000. The archbishop gave his word to Oxford that his son would ‘behave himself’. He also hoped ‘now that I have appointed so good a proxy as the bishop of Chester is’ to be excused parliamentary attendance in order to conduct a spring visitation.237 Sharp (who had, as Oxford feared, been converted with Dawes and Guernsey to Nottingham’s opinion on the peace) may have been eager to avoid the House while party feelings ran high over the terms of the treaty.238 Neither the queen nor Oxford would allow him to sit on the fence. Anne insisted that he ‘hasten … to town’; Oxford reminded Sharp that his previous proxy had been vacated by the prorogation and that ‘for fear of accidents’ he should send another undated to cover any period before he resumed his seat.239 Writing in response to Oxford on 14 Feb., Sharp conceded the necessity of coming to London and hoped to be in London within a fortnight. He also assured Oxford that the proxy he had sent Dawes had been undated. He was back by the first week of March, fully expected by Oxford and Swift to support the ministry.240 He attended the House for the start of the new parliamentary session on 9 Apr. but attended only seven sittings, distracted by the death of his favourite, youngest, daughter soon after the opening.241 A few days later he resumed his duties at court, trying to intervene with the queen about Bishop William Lloyd’s wayward son.242

Unwell and depressed, Sharp attended the House for the last time on 9 May 1713. The following day he had his final audience with the queen.243 By the 22nd he had returned to Yorkshire, fearful of losing another daughter to consumption.244 He found correspondence burdensome as he was ‘so weak and dispirited’, but maintained contact with Oxford on behalf of the Queen Anne’s Bounty commissioners as well as referring petitions, including one from the archbishop of Thebes, ‘who had lately come out of Egypt upon a good design’ but was now in such distressed circumstances that he was on the point of being turned out of his lodgings.245 He also continued to seek career advancement for his son John as commissioner of plantations in place of Heneage Finch, 5th earl of Winchilsea.246 In his absence Sharp was estimated by Oxford as a supporter of the bill confirming the 8th and 9th articles of the French commercial treaty.

In mid December it was reported that Sharp was en route either to Bath or Bristol ‘being in an ill state of health’ and ‘afflicted with diabetes’.247 By January 1714 he was ‘in a declining condition’ and refusing food; his physician thought he could not live much longer in that state.248 He lingered throughout January, frail, ‘his understanding entirely gone, and no hopes of his recovery.’ He died on 2 February.249 His son John rushed to Bath the following day to pay his last respects ‘to the best of parents’.250

Sharp’s death presented the ministry with a troublesome dilemma. Three days afterwards Oxford was assured that Dawes would ‘certainly vote against you if he has not York’, though it was by no means certain he would prove loyal even if he was promoted. The other bishop thought to be in the running was Bisse.251 News of Sharp’s demise was slower filtering through to Jacobite plotters overseas. At the beginning of March James FitzJames, duke of Berwick, continued to assure the Pretender that Sharp was ‘daily speaking’ to the queen of the matter of his restoration.252

Of Sharp’s 14 children, only four survived him: two sons, John and Thomas, and two daughters, Ann and Dorothy.253 Sharp’s theological works and sermons were collected and published posthumously as was his work on the coinage of England, a subject on which his colleagues had long considered him an authority. Sharp was buried in York Minster, his epitaph commissioned by Smalridge.254


  • 1 Add. 72496, f. 61; Bodl. Tanner 137, f. 184.
  • 2 Glos. Arch. D3549/23/2/4.
  • 3 TNA, PC 2/76.
  • 4 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. v. 175.
  • 5 CSP Dom. 1690-1, p. 240.
  • 6 Ibid. 1691-2, p. 266.
  • 7 Ibid. 1702-3, p. 313.
  • 8 Add. 46527, f. 62.
  • 9 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, pp. 276-7.
  • 10 HMC Laing, ii. 5.
  • 11 T. Sharp, Life of John Sharp, i. 316; Carpenter, Tenison, 392.
  • 12 Commissions for Building Fifty New Churches ed. M.H. Port (London Rec. Soc. xxiii), p. xxxiv.
  • 13 Jnls. of the Board of Trade and Plantations, ii. 469-72.
  • 14 Life of John Sharp, i. 4-6.
  • 15 Ibid. 12-13, 15, 28-9.
  • 16 HMC Laing, i. 483; Add. 4274, f. 295.
  • 17 Life of John Sharp, i. 304-5, 311, 319.
  • 18 Ibid. 311.
  • 19 A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 55.
  • 20 Life of John Sharp, i. 21-22, 27-28, 326.
  • 21 Ibid. 232.
  • 22 Glos. Archives, D3549/23/2/4.
  • 23 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 119, 127; J. Sharp, Sermon Preached on the Day of the Public Fast, April the 11th. 1679 (1679); Sermon Preached at the Second General Meeting of the Gentlemen … Who Were Born within the County of York (1680); Sermon Preached before … the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London (1680); Verney, ms mic. M636/32, J. Verney to Sir R. Verney, 26 May 1679.
  • 24 Tanner 36, ff. 35, 39, 52, Tanner 134, f. 57.
  • 25 Discourse Concerning Conscience (1684); Discourse of Conscience. The second part. (1685); Evelyn Diary, iv. 364, 370.
  • 26 Add. 18730, f. 108; HMC Montagu, 192-3.
  • 27 Sermon Preached at White-Hall, in Lent … By John Sharp (1685).
  • 28 Lansd. 1024, f. 372.
  • 29 Collection of Cases and Other Discourses lately Written to Recover Dissenters to the Communion of the Church of England (1685); Sermons against Popery.… And other Papers Wrote in the Popish Controversy (1735).
  • 30 HMC Downshire, i. 185-6; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 154.
  • 31 Add. 15551, ff. 43-44, 45-47; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 155, 246; HMC Downshire, i. 185-6, 207, 216; HMC Verulam, 87-94; Add. 72525, ff. 27-28; E. Carpenter, Protestant Bishop, 90-91.
  • 32 HMC Downshire, i. 188; Evelyn Diary, iv. 516.
  • 33 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 160, 166, 191; Add. 72516, ff. 36-37; Verney, ms mic. M636/41, C. Gardiner to Sir R. Verney, 1 July 1686.
  • 34 Morrice, iii. 211, 223, 342.
  • 35 Evelyn Diary, iv. 545.
  • 36 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 171.
  • 37 Evelyn Diary, iv. 573.
  • 38 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 260.
  • 39 Add. 34515, ff. 26-27.
  • 40 LPL, ms 930, no. 7.
  • 41 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fb 210, ff. 345-6; Evelyn Diary, iv. 630 and n.; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 502; CJ, xvi. 16; HMC Portland, iii. 426.
  • 42 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 512.
  • 43 Leics. RO, DG 7, box 4958 P.P. 84; Carpenter, Protestant Bishop, 157.
  • 44 Carpenter, Protestant Bishop, 164-5; Eighteenth Century Oxford, 28; Lathbury, Hist. Convocation, 271.
  • 45 Overton, Nonjurors, 39; T. Birch, Life of the Most Reverend Dr John Tillotson (1753), 253.
  • 46 Life of John Sharp, i. 109-10; Birch, 254; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 131-2; CSP Dom. 1690-1, p. 342.
  • 47 Burnet Supp. ed. Foxcroft, 359.
  • 48 Add. 70015, f. 70.
  • 49 Add. 72516, ff. 132-3; CSP Dom. 1690-1, p. 370.
  • 50 J. Sharp, Sermon Preached on the 28th of June,at St Giles in the Fields (1691); [G. Hickes] Apology for the New Separation, in a Letter to Dr J. Sharp (1691).
  • 51 Verney, ms mic. M636/45, J. Verney to Sir R. Verney, 22 Apr. 1692.
  • 52 Add. 70015, f. 118; Sermon Preached at St Mary le Bow, on Sunday, the 5th of July, 1691 (1691).
  • 53 Add. 72496, ff. 104-5.
  • 54 Bodl. Ballard 5, f. 16; G.V. Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 1688-1730, p. 21.
  • 55 J. Sharp, Great Advantages of Strictly Observing the Lord’s-Day (1725); Several Arguments Against Swearing and Cursing (1728).
  • 56 Sermon [on Heb. ix:26] Preach’d Before the King and Queen ... on Christmas-Day 1691, (1692).
  • 57 Add. 70015, f. 276.
  • 58 Life of John Sharp, i. 285.
  • 59 Sermon [on Phil. iii:10] Preach’d Before the Queen ... on Easter-Day (1692).
  • 60 Add. 4236, f. 253; Tanner 25, ff. 355-6.
  • 61 Life of John Sharp, i. 293-4.
  • 62 Tanner 137, f. 184.
  • 63 Pourtraiture of a Truly Religious Man ... May the 14th 1693 (1720).
  • 64 LPL, ms 3152, f. 63.
  • 65 Sermon [on Ps. xcvii:1] Preach’d Before the King and Queen ... the 12th of November, 1693 (1693).
  • 66 Add. 4274, f. 229; LPL, ms 3152, f. 63.
  • 67 Life of John Sharp, i. 285.
  • 68 Ibid. 286-93.
  • 69 Glos. Archives, D3549, H. Finch to Sharp, 3 Nov. 1694; Nottingham to Sharp, 29 May 1695; Rev. Pols. 150.
  • 70 Add. 4274, f. 70.
  • 71 Essays in Modern Church History ed. G.V. Bennett and J. Walsh, 124; Add. 46527, f. 62.
  • 72 HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 457; Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 47.
  • 73 Glos. Archives D3549/6/1/N22, Nottingham to Sharp, 29 May 1695; D3549/6/1/F13, Henry Finch to Sharp, 18 Mar. 1696; Camb. RO, 17/C1.
  • 74 Add. 4274, f. 73.
  • 75 Life of John Sharp, i. 124-6; HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 745, 751; iii. 14.
  • 76 HMC Portland, iii. 571-2; HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 51-52.
  • 77 HEHL, HM 30659 (60); Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 31.
  • 78 Add. 70081, newsletter, 18 Apr. 1696; State Trials, xiii. 413.
  • 79 Essays in Mod. Church Hist. 126.
  • 80 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 133.
  • 81 Essays in Mod. Church Hist. 126.
  • 82 HMC Fitzherbert, 44.
  • 83 UNL, PwA 1150; Japikse, Correspondentie van Hans Willem Bentinck, pt. I. vol. ii. p. 69 (no. 74); Glos. Archives D3549/6/1/F13, H. Finch to J. Sharp, 22 May 1697; Add. 4274, f. 46; Tanner 23, ff. 13, 36-37, 78, Tanner 24, ff. 110-11; Cambs. RO, 17/C1, Sharp to Moore, 24 May [no year].
  • 84 Glos. Archives D3549, ?Smith to Sharp, 5 Feb. 1697, E. Elis to Sharp, 20 Nov. 1697, [?] to Sharp, 2 Feb. 1698.
  • 85 CSP Dom. 1698, p. 145; Beinecke Lib.OSB mss fc 37, box 1, no. 48.
  • 86 Bodl. Carte 233, f. 56.
  • 87 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 753.
  • 88 Life of John Sharp, i. 126; Glos. Archives D3549, C. Wyvill to Sharp, 7 June, 7 Sept. 1698, R. Norton to Sharp, 22 Aug. 1698, E. Hodgson to Sharp, n.d.
  • 89 Glos. Archives D3549, Somers to Sharp, 23 Sept. 1699; Surr. Hist. Cent. 371/14/D/4.
  • 90 Glos. Archives D3549, H. Prideaux to Sharp, 3 Mar. 1699.
  • 91 J. Sharp, Sermon Preached Before the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament (1700).
  • 92 Reasonableness of Believing without Seeing (1700).
  • 93 Glos. Archives D3549, N. Drake to Sharp, 10 Mar. 1700.
  • 94 LPL, ms 942, f. 161; Glos. Archives D3549, H. Prideaux to Sharp, 30 Aug. 1700, [Nelson] to Sharp, 31 Aug. 1700.
  • 95 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 686.
  • 96 Glos. Archives D3549, Burlington to Sharp, 1 Dec. 1700.
  • 97 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 746 , iv. 499, v. 457.
  • 98 Verney, ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 28 Aug. 1701; Glos. Archives D3549, Sir G. Copley to Sharp, 1 Sept. 1701.
  • 99 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 717-21, 746; iv. 467, 498; v. 457; Glos. Archives D3549,?Irwin to Sharp, ?5 September.
  • 100 Glos. Archives D3549, W. Lowther to Sharp, 3 Jan., 13, 17, 20 Nov., 15, 29 Dec. 1701, n.d., J. Stanhope to Sharp, 29 Dec. 1701 .
  • 101 Add. 4274, f. 282; HP Commons 1690-1715, iv. 706-7.
  • 102 Simon Patrick, Works, ix. 552; Glos. Arch. D3549, Moore to Sharp, 7 Mar. 1702.
  • 103 Add. 4274, f. 277.
  • 104 Leics RO, DG7, bdle. 22.
  • 105 Rev. Pols. 166; Pols. in Age of Anne, 88-89.
  • 106 Life of John Sharp, i. 312-14; Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 2 Apr. 1702.
  • 107 Sermon [on Isa. xlix:23] Preach’d at the Coronation of Queen Anne; Life of John Sharp, i. 315.
  • 108 EHR, l. 434-5; Rev. Pols. 182; Life of John Sharp, i. 319.
  • 109 CSP Dom. 1702-3, pp. 103, 680; Nicolson London Diaries, 4, 19, 24.
  • 110 Life of John Sharp, i. 122-3.
  • 111 Add. 29584, ff. 87-94, 99, 105.
  • 112 Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 69-70; EHR, lxxxii. 729.
  • 113 Glos. Arch. D3549, bishop of Carlisle to Sharp, 2 Nov. 1702.
  • 114 Nicolson London Diaries, 126, 129, 133.
  • 115 Rev. Pols. 186.
  • 116 Nicolson London Diaries, 137-8, 139, 140, 142, 146.
  • 117 Ibid. 156; Glos. Arch. D3549, ?Godolphin to Sharp, n.d.; Add. 70075, newsletter, 14 Jan. 1703.
  • 118 Life of John Sharp, i. 315-16, 329; Add. 61416, f. 34.
  • 119 Add. 4274, f. 284; Serious Exhortation to Repentance and a Holy Life (1703); Nicolson London Diaries, 164, 167, 174-6, 201, 202.
  • 120 Add. 70075, newsletter, 23 Mar. 1703.
  • 121 Glos. Arch. D3549/6/1/04.
  • 122 Ibid. D3549/2/1/42, p. 79; EHR, v. 120-4.
  • 123 CSP Dom. 1702-3, p. 680.
  • 124 Add. 61612, ff. 47-48; Life of John Sharp, i. 337.
  • 125 Marshall, George Hooper, 88; Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 71; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 254.
  • 126 Add. 70075, newsletter, 16 Dec. 1703; Symon Patrick, ix. 555.
  • 127 A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 249; HLQ, xxx. (1967), 256.
  • 128 Life of John Sharp, i. 340-1.
  • 129 Add. 70075, newsletter, 11 Mar. 1704.
  • 130 Glos. Archives D3549, bishop of Carlisle to Sharp, 16 Apr. 1704; Nicolson London Diaries, 208.
  • 131 Add. 4274, f. 128; Add. 61416, f. 190.
  • 132 Glos. Archives D3549/2/1/42, pp. 79-85.
  • 133 Diary of Francis Evans ed. Robertson, 106.
  • 134 Add. 70021, ff. 246, 265; Bennett, Tory Crisis in church and State,76-78; Glos. Archives D3549, Harley to Sharp, 14, 21 Sept. 1704.
  • 135 HMC Portland, iv. 131.
  • 136 Add. 70021, f. 300.
  • 137 HMC Portland, iv. 141; Nicolson London Diaries, 225, 306-7.
  • 138 Add. 61458, ff. 33-34.
  • 139 Life of John Sharp, i. 304-6; HP Commons 1690-1715, iv. 535, v. 457, 556.
  • 140 Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 80.
  • 141 Nicolson London Diaries, 241, 242, 252.
  • 142 Ibid. 253-4; EHR, l. 450.
  • 143 Design of Christianity (1705); Nicolson London Diaries, 260.
  • 144 Nicolson London Diaries, 267; Life of John Sharp, i. 322-3.
  • 145 Christ Church Lib. Oxf. Wake 17, ff. 87-88; Life of John Sharp, i. 133-4, 332-3; EHR, l. 439.
  • 146 Glos. Archives D3549, bishop of Carlisle to Sharp, 19 May 1705; HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 747.
  • 147 Life of John Sharp, i. 332; HP Commons 1690-1715, i. 754-5.
  • 148 Life of John Sharp, i. 360-3.
  • 149 Pols. in Age of Anne, 327; Life of John Sharp, i. 269-72, 309-10.
  • 150 Add. 4274, f. 295.
  • 151 Life of John Sharp, i. 310.
  • 152 Ibid. i. 365-6.
  • 153 Add. 75379, ff. 14-23; Timberland, ii. 158; Life of John Sharp, i. 364-5; Nicolson London Diaries, 90, 322-3; Verney ms mic. M636/53, R. Palmer to Fermanagh, 19 Dec. 1705; Peers, Politics and Power: the House of Lords, 1603-1911 ed. Jones, 766-8.
  • 154 Nicolson London Diaries, 325, 336, 339.
  • 155 Ibid. 352, 365-6; Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 84.
  • 156 Nicolson London Diaries, 368, 379, 387.
  • 157 Life of John Sharp, i. 310-11.
  • 158 CSP Dom. 1705-6, p. 110; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 163, box 1, Biscoe to Maunsell, 6 Apr. 1706; Lockhart Pprs. i. 141-2.
  • 159 Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 88; LPL, ms 1770, (Wake’s diary) ff. 30r, 32r; Nicolson, London Diaries, 400.
  • 160 LPL, ms 1770, f. 30.
  • 161 Life of John Sharp, i. 300-1.
  • 162 Ibid.
  • 163 Nicolson, London Diaries, 406.
  • 164 TCD, King mss, item 1246, Annesley to King, 8 Mar. 1707.
  • 165 Life of John Sharp, i. 389-91.
  • 166 Nicolson, London Diaries, 392-3, 409, 414-15; Timberland, ii. 167; Life of John Sharp, i. 390-2; LPL, ms 1770, f. 35; NLW, Plas yn Cefn 2779, 2788.
  • 167 Nicolson, London Diaries, 394, 420.
  • 168 TNA, SP54/3/42.
  • 169 Ballard 7, f. 7.
  • 170 Nicolson, London Diaries, 422.
  • 171 Ibid. 423.
  • 172 LJ xviii. 308-9, 309-11.
  • 173 HMC Portland, iv. 388.
  • 174 Christ Church Lib. Oxf. Wake mss 7, ff. 346-7; Surr. Hist. Cent. Somers 371/14/D11, D12; EHR, lxxxii. 738; Surr. Hist. Cent. Somers 371/14/D11, D12.
  • 175 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. ii. 829; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 241.
  • 176 A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 242-3.
  • 177 Life of John Sharp, i. 301-2; HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 542-52.
  • 178 LPL, ms 1770, f. 51v.
  • 179 Life of John Sharp, i. 302, 323; Nicolson, London Diaries, 437.
  • 180 TCD, 750 (3), p. 172; HMC Lords, n.s. vii, 341.
  • 181 HLQ, xxx. 267.
  • 182 EHR, lxxxii. 736, 746.
  • 183 EHR, l. 445.
  • 184 Nicolson, London Diaries, 439, 441.
  • 185 Life of John Sharp, i. 302-3.
  • 186 Pols. in Age of Anne, 399; Nicolson, London Diaries, 448.
  • 187 Ibid. 448, 449.
  • 188 Ibid. 432, 438, 453, 454; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries pt. iv’, Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. iv. 23.
  • 189 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss fc 37, vol. 13, no. xxvii; Nicolson, London Diaries, 48.
  • 190 Nicolson, London Diaries, 455, 456, 465, 468; HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 458.
  • 191 LPL, ms 1770, f. 69r; Life of John Sharp, i. 332.
  • 192 LPL, ms 1770 (Wake diary), f. 69; Add. 61652, f. 102.
  • 193 Leics RO, Finch mss D7, Box 4950, bdle. 23, f. 77; Rev. Pols. 216-17.
  • 194 LPL, ms 1770, f. 72.
  • 195 Add. 72509, ff. 172-3.
  • 196 Add. 72482, ff. 100-1, Add. 72488, ff. 47-48; Hayton, ‘Divisions in the Whig Junto in 1709’, 210; Life of John Sharp, i. 303.
  • 197 Add. 72488, ff. 47-48.
  • 198 Life of John Sharp, i. 324-5.
  • 199 Nicolson, London Diaries, 475.
  • 200 LPL, ms 1770 (Wake diary), f. 76; Nicolson, London Diaries, 485-6, 489, 496, 499, 501.
  • 201 Wake mss 4, ff. 59-61.
  • 202 Life of John Sharp, i. 304.
  • 203 Add. 61443, f. 42.
  • 204 Add. 70255, J. Robinson to R. Harley, 8 Dec. 1710; Add. 70208, H. Wood to Oxford, 22 May 1712; Add. 70214, J. Broughton to Oxford, 5 Sept. 1712.
  • 205 Glos. Archives D3549, Bishop of Edinburgh to Sharp, 21 June 1702; CSP Dom. 1704-5, p. 127.
  • 206 Glos. Archives D3549, countess of Lauderdale to Sharp, 15 Aug. 1709.
  • 207 Ibid. Greenshields to Sharp, 20 Sept. 1709.
  • 208 HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 249.
  • 209 G. Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, 191; State Trial of Henry Sacheverell ed. Cowan, 59-60, 64.
  • 210 State Trial of Sacheverell, 247; Add. 72494, ff. 169-70.
  • 211 Wicked People, of All Perswasions, the Most Dangerous Enemies to Both Church and State … By John Sharpand William Jane (1710); The Bishop of York’s Speech to the House of Lords, relating to Dr Sacheverel’s Articles of Impeachment (1710).
  • 212 Life of John Sharp, i. 328.
  • 213 Add. 72499, f. 189; VCH Northants, v. 142-76; HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 457.
  • 214 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 747.
  • 215 Leics. RO, DG7 Box 4950, bdle. 23, letter E36; Life of John Sharp, ii. 153, 156, 167, 171, 176, 180, 181, 183, 196, 208, 212, 214; Church Hist. xlvii. 386, 388, 389, 394, 395; Carpenter, Tenison, 343; N. Sykes, Sheldon to Secker, 136-7; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 270-1, 273.
  • 216 Nicolson, London Diaries, 509-10; Bennett, 128; N. Sykes, William Wake, i. 124; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 255.
  • 217 Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 141.
  • 218 Add. 61464, ff. 60-61.
  • 219 Nicolson, London Diaries, 525, 526, 527, 531; ‘Bishop Nicolson’s Diaries pt. iv’. 47; Rev. Pols. 224.
  • 220 WMQ, ser. 3, xi. 431.
  • 221 Swift, Works ed. J. Nichols (1819), xxii. 232; KSRL, Moore ms 143 Cd.
  • 222 HMC Portland, x. 352; LJ xix. 228-9.
  • 223 Nicolson, London Diaries, 554.
  • 224 NAS, GD 124/15/1020/14.
  • 225 Add. 70257, Sharp to Oxford, 2, 9 June 1711; HMC Portland, v. 58; Add. 70028, f. 88.
  • 226 Add. 70257, J. Sharp to Oxford, 28 Nov. 1711.
  • 227 Rev. Pols. 234 n.3.
  • 228 Pols. in Age of Anne, 399-400, 517.
  • 229 Jnl. to Stella ed. Williams, 474.
  • 230 LPL, ms 1770, f. 117; Add. 72495, ff. 138-9, 141-2, 153-4; Nicolson, London Diaries, 588.
  • 231 Ballard 36, f. 122; Nicolson, London Diaries, 574, 590.
  • 232 Bennett, Tory Crisis in Church and State, 155.
  • 233 Wake mss 17, ff. 322-3; LPL, ms 941, nos. 32, 33; ms 953, ff. 32, 96; Carpenter, Tenison, 318.
  • 234 Add. 72495, ff. 149-50, 152.
  • 235 Wake mss 17, f. 330; Add. 70257, Sharp to Oxford, 12 July 1712.
  • 236 Wake mss 17, ff. 340-1; Add. 70250, Carmarthen to Oxford, 1 Nov. 1712; Add. 70197, T. Edwards to ‘Sir’, 17 Nov. 1712; Add. 70216, J. Chamberlayne to Oxford, 20 Jan. 1713; Add. 70208, M. Wadding to Oxford, n.d.; Add. 70257, Sharp to Oxford, 5 Jan. 1713; Add. 70261, Thanet to Oxford, 21 June 1712; Add. 70214, J. Broughton to Oxford, 5 Sept. 1712; Wake mss 5, ff. 206-7.
  • 237 Add. 70257, J. Sharp to Oxford, 26 Jan. 14 Feb. 1713; HP Commons 1690-1715, v. 457.
  • 238 Rev. Pols. 238.
  • 239 Glos. Archives D3549/6/1/03.
  • 240 Add. 70257, Sharp to Oxford, 14 Feb. 1713; Add. 72496, ff. 50-51.
  • 241 Add. 72496, f. 61; A. Tindal Hart, Life of Sharp, 295.
  • 242 Glos. Archives D3549/2/4/25.
  • 243 Life of John Sharp, i. 332.
  • 244 Add. 72496, ff. 70-71.
  • 245 Add. 70216, J. Chamberlayne to Oxford, 27 May 1713; Add. 70257, Sharp to Chamberlayne, 22 June 1713; HMC Portland, v. 304.
  • 246 Add. 70031, ff. 15-16.
  • 247 Add. 72501, ff. 73-74.
  • 248 Add. 70232, A. Harley to Oxford, 4 Jan. 1714.
  • 249 Add. 72501, f. 91; Ballard 36, f. 156.
  • 250 Add. 70206, J. Sharp to Oxford, 3 Feb. 1714.
  • 251 Add. 72501, f. 92; HMC Portland, vii. 178.
  • 252 HMC Stuart, i. 305.
  • 253 Glos. Archives D3549/23/2/4.
  • 254 B. Willis, Survey of Cathedrals, i. 60-63.