Sharpe, Gregory (DNB00)

SHARPE, GREGORY (1713–1771), theologian, a native of Yorkshire, born in 1713, was for some time educated at Hull grammar school, and then at Westminster school under Dr. Freind. At Westminster he committed some irregularity, and from the summer of 1731 he lived for four years at Aberdeen with Thomas Blackwell the younger. On 2 June 1735 he was admitted fellow commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating LL.B. in 1738. He was again entered at Trinity College on 8 June 1747, and then proceeded LL.D. On 4 July 1751 he was incorporated at Oxford.

Sharpe took orders in the English church, and was for some time minister of Broadway Chapel, Westminster. From 1743 to 1756 he was vicar of All Saints, Birling, near Maidstone. He was installed as prebendary of Yetminster secunda in Salisbury Cathedral on 18 March 1757, and held it until his death. He was chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and to George III. On the death of Dr. Samuel Nicolls in 1763, he was elected to the mastership of the Temple, where William Maxwell, D.D. (1732–1818) [q. v.], was his assistant. An account of his prayer for liberty and of Johnson's commentary on it is given in Boswell (ed. Hill), ii. 130. He died at the master's house in the Temple on 8 Jan. 1771. He was elected F.R.S. 9 May 1754, and at the time of his death was the director of the Society of Antiquaries (Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, vi. 271). A mezzotint portrait of him by Valentine Green, from a painting by R. Crosse, was published in 1777.

Sharpe was a good classical and oriental scholar. His library was sold on 8 April 1771 and ten following days, and a priced catalogue is at the British Museum. It included ‘a fine collection of oriental manuscripts,’ and many valuable prints and drawings; the whole fetched 577l. 14s. His publications comprised:

  1. ‘A Review of the Controversy on the meaning of Demoniacks in the New Testament, by a Lover of Truth,’ 1739; criticised in ‘A Short State of the Controversy on Demoniacks,’ 1739, and by Thomas Hutchinson in a volume of ‘Remarks.’
  2. ‘A Defence of Dr. Samuel Clarke against Lewis Philip Thummig in favour of Leibnitz’ (anon.), 1744.
  3. ‘A Short Dissertation on the Misgovernment called an Oligarchy’ (anon.), 1748.
  4. ‘A Dissertation on the Latin Tongue,’ 1751.
  5. ‘Two Dissertations: I. upon the Origin of Language; II, upon the original powers of Letters with second edition of a Hebrew Grammar and Lexicon, without Points,’ 1751; from this were derived the ‘greatest part of the Directions and the whole of the Dictionary’ in an anonymous ‘Manual for the Hebrew Psalter,’ Glasgow, 1781.
  6. ‘Introduction to Universal History, translated from the Latin of Baron Holberg,’ 1755; 2nd ed. 1758; 3rd ed. by William Radcliffe, B.A. of Oriel College, Oxford, 1787.
  7. ‘Argument in Defence of Christianity, from the Concessions of the most antient Adversaries,’ 1755. It was followed by
  8. ‘A second Argument, taken from the Ancient Prophesies,’ 1762.
  9. ‘A Short Review of Mr. Hooke's Observations on the Roman Senate and Dionysius of Halicarnassus,’ 1758.
  10. ‘Origin and Structure of the Greek Tongue,’ 1767; new ed. 1777.

Sharpe translated the ‘Frogs’ in the third volume of Father Brumoy's work on the ‘Greek Theatre,’ which was edited by Mrs. Charlotte Lennox in 1759. He published in 1766 John Locke's ‘Observations on Vines and Olives,’ from the original manuscript, with the fourth Earl of Shaftesbury, and about the same date revised Martyn's life of the first earl, which was edited by Kippis about 1790. In 1767 he collected and edited the dissertations of Thomas Hyde [q. v.]

A volume of Sharpe's ‘Sermons on various Subjects’ was published under the editorship of the Rev. Joseph Robertson in 1772. Letters by him are printed in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1773, pp. 545–6, Seward's ‘Supplement to the Anecdotes’ (1797), v. 177–82, and in Nichols's ‘Illustrations of Literature,’ iii. 692, and two volumes of his unpublished correspondence are mentioned by Chalmers in his ‘Biographical Dictionary.’ He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Monthly Review.’

[Gent. Mag. 1771 p. 47, 1796 i. 5; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 673–5; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iii. 501; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Fielding's Malling, p. 164; Halkett and Laing's Anon. Lit. pp. 590, 1418, 1472, 2198, 2365, 2373; information from Mr. W. Aldis Wright, Trinity College, Cambridge; Cooke's Benchers of the Inner Temple, p. 136.]

W. P. C.