James Sharp (1618-1679) was born in royalist Banffshire on 4 May 1618, son of William Sharp (d.1638) and his wife Isobel Lesley, daughter of the Laird of Kinninvy. In 1633, he entered King's College, Aberdeen, studying theology, learning to follow in the Aberdeen tradition of ecclesiastical moderation. After a failed trip to England where he hoped to work, Sharp returned to Scotland and became, by 1642, regent at St. Andrews University, a position that he was no doubt helped obtaining through the 7th Earl of Rothes, a relative on his mother's side of the family. Sharp married, in 1653, Helen Moncrieff, daughter of the laird of Randerston.
Following the English Civil War Sharp maintained his tradition of moderation, taking the side of the 'Covenanters' against the 'Protesters', who were determined to defend the Scottish church against changes imposed from London. Following the defeat of the Scottish army at Dunbar, Sharp was arrested by Oliver Cromwell. He spent nearly a year at the Tower of London, only gaining his freedom in April of 1652.
Following the restoration of Charles II, Sharp was allowed to return to St. Andrews and was appointed Archbishop. His decision to turn his back on the principles he had once stood for in opposing the supremacy of the King over the church made him many enemies among the Covenanters. It was a group of these who ambushed Sharp's carriage on Magus Muir, outside St. Andrews, as he was en route from Edinburgh to St. Andrews and fatally stabbed him in front of his daughter in 1679.
Sharp was known to have made several trips to London, including one in 1674-1675. It seems probable that he acquired the present teapot at that time, making this one of the earliest known English teapots, only slightly later than an example hallmarked for 1670 which was presented by George, 1st Earl of Berkeley (d.1698) to the East India company and is now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. That example, believed to be the earliest English silver teapot, is actually of a form which today would be more associated with the drinking of coffee but which is identified as a teapot by the engraved inscription 'This Siluer tea Pott'.