Sharp, Isaac (DNB01)
SHARP, ISAAC (1806–1897), missionary, elder son of Isaac Sharp of Brighton by his first wife, Mary Likeman, was born there on 4 July 1806. His father had joined the Society of Friends upon his marriage, and at eleven the son was sent to a Friends' school at Earl's Colne, Essex. At twenty-four he went to Darlington as private secretary to Joseph Pease [see under Pease, Edward], succeeding afterwards to the management of the Peases' Middlesborough estate. About 1832 he first began to preach, and in 1843 was 'recorded' a minister by Darlington monthly meeting. From this body he afterwards received on forty-five separate occasions certificates or credentials for gospel travel at home and abroad. He commenced (in 1846) by visits to Norway, Orkney and Shetland, Iceland, Faroe, Denmark, Greenland, and Labrador. But it was not until he was past sixty that he embarked upon the wider range of sustained missionary activity, to which the remaining years of his life were devoted.
In 1877 he started for the southern hemisphere, being welcomed at Cape Town by members of all denominations, including Sir David Tennant and Lady Frere, in the absence of her husband, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere [q.v.]. then governor of Cape Colony. Sharp travelled in a Cape cart northward to Shoshong, visited King Khama, and was at Kuruman shortly before the outbreak of the Zulu war. Reaching Kimberley in September 1878 he was invited to take up his quarters at Government House. After visiting the French missions in Basutoland, he left for Madagascar, where an important station had been founded by the society of friends. He next proceeded by Sydney, Melbourne, and other Australian towns, to Stewart Island and New Zealand, San Francisco, and thence to the States and Mexico. Seeing the quaker poet, Whittier, as he passed eastward, Sharp arrived in England, after seven years' absence, in March 1884.
In 1891, when in his eighty-fifth year, and in spite of a complaint which at times rendered him dependent upon surgical aid and skilled nursing, his buoyant faith and spirits induced him to set out on another long voyage. In the face of much opposition, medical and otherwise, and a severe illness in Paris, he started for the East, and was able to carry out a long-cherished plan of visiting Constantinople, India, Japan, and the interior of China.
A fortnight, after his return to England he set out on his eighth visit to Norway. Some weeks spent in Syria during the autumn of 1895 proved to be his final evangelical tour. On nearly the last day of 1896 he lectured to a large audience at Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, upon his foreign experiences as a missionary, but on returning home took a chill. He died on 21 March 1897, aged ninety, at Ettington, Warwickshire, and was buried on 26 March in the Friends' burial-ground close by.
Isaac Sharp's short robust figure, twinkling eyes, and alert manner, to the last utterly belied his years. Possessed of a peculiarly musical voice, his preaching, like himself, exhaled love. He spoke no language but his own. A ready fund of anecdote and abundant humour endeared him to the inmates of lonely mission stations and isolated dwellings from the northern to the southern polar circle, no less than to all in England. An excellent correspondent, he expressed himself as readily in verse as in prose.
By his wife Hannah Procter, whom he married in February 1839, and who died four years later, he had two daughters, one of whom married and settled at San Jose, California.
[An Apostle of the Nineteenth Century, by F. A. Budge, London, 1898, 2nd edit. 1899; personal acquaintance.]