James Sharp, was made Archbishop of St Andrews and Chancellor of the University of St Andrews in 1661.

The painting depicts his assassination by a group of Presbyterian Fife Lairds in 1679, an event of key importance in the turbulent history of conflict between church and government in Scotland in the 17th century. Sharp was a former Presbyterian minister whose appointment as Archbishop was seen as a betrayal by most Presbyterians. It sparked the so-called 'Killing Time' of sectarian violence between Covenanters (extremist Presbyterians) and government troopers charged with enforcing Episcopalian rule.


Commissioned by Robert Bowyer, circa 1797; Peter Coxe, London, 1807; Christie's, 1984; private collection, New York.

Museum of the University of St Andrews, MUSA

7A The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AR
01334 461660

Opening times

From 1st of July to Spring 2020 MUSA will close for refurbishment.

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