Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hart, James (1663-1729)

HART, JAMES (1663–1729), minister of Edinburgh, born in 1663, studied at the university of Edinburgh, and graduated A.M. on 11 July 1687. He became minister of Ratho, near Edinburgh, in July 1692, and ten years afterwards (19 Aug. 1702) was translated to Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh, as successor to Gilbert Rule. During the early years of his pastorate he strongly opposed the Union. He denounced Principal William Carstares [q. v.] from the pulpit as an enemy to his country and a traitor to the church. He was speedily reconciled to the change in political affairs after the Union was effected, and in 1714 was deputed with others by the General Assembly to congratulate George I on his accession to the throne. George nominated him to the post of king's almoner in 1726, and he died pastor of Greyfriars' Church on 10 June 1729. Wodrow describes him as ‘a worthy, good man, and one whose sermons were much haunted. He was naturally a little warm and keen, but of considerable gravity and prudence with it.’ When Steele visited Scotland in 1718 he met Hart while endeavouring to bring about a union betwixt the presbyterian and episcopal churches, and was much impressed by his singular and original character. The contrast between Hart's affability and benevolence in private and his fierce diatribes in the pulpit against sin and the doom awaiting the sinner attracted Steele's notice, and he afterwards referred to him as ‘the hangman of the Gospel.’ Hart's published works were a sermon entitled ‘The Qualifications of Rulers and the Duty of Subjects described,’ Edinburgh, 1703, and ‘The Journal of Mr. James Hart in 1714’ (edited by Principal Lee, Edinburgh, 1832). He married, first, Margaret Livingston, and secondly, Mary Campbell, by whom he had thirteen children, nine of whom survived him.

[Hew Scott's Fasti, i. 42, 140, 399; Aitken's Life of Steele, ii. 154; Wodrow's Analecta, iv. 62; Stevenson's History; Cibber's Lives of the Poets, iv. 118; Chambers's Domestic Annals of Scotland.]

A. H. M.