James Harkness (minister)

James Harkness KCVO CB OBE KStJ QHC FRSA[1] is a Church of Scotland minister.[2]

Harkness was born in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway on 20 October 1935 [3] and educated at the University of Edinburgh.[4] He was Assistant Minister at North Morningside. He joined the Royal Army Chaplains' Department (RAChD) in 1961 and served four years with the King's Own Scottish Borderers and four years with the Queen’s Own Highlanders. He was in Singapore between 1969 and 1970 and then Deputy Warden of the RAChD Centre until 1974. He was then Senior Chaplain in Northern Ireland (1974–75) and then the 4th Division (1975–78). He was Assistant Chaplain General in Scotland (1980–81), Senior Chaplain to the 1st British Corps (1981–82) and to the BAOR (1982–84). In 1985 he became Deputy Chaplain General to the British Armed Forces [5] after which he was Chaplain General from 1987 to 1995- the first non Anglican appointment. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1995 to 1996 when he became Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland- a post he held for a decade.[6] An Honorary Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland,[7] he has been Dean to the Venerable Order of St John since 2005. He was appointed Officer to the Venerable Order of St John[8] in December 1988 and Knight of the Venerable Order of St John in January 2012.[9]


  1. The Independent
  2. The Herald newspaper, 19 October 1994
  3. Who's Who 2008: London, A & C Black, 2008 ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
  4. Debrett's People of Today London, Debrett's, 2008 ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9
  5. "Court Circular". The Times (62081). 8 March 1985. p. 16, col D.
  6. The Royal Forums
  7. Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, Volume XI (page 408), T&T Clark Ltd, Edinburgh, 2000, ISBN 0-567-08750-6
  8. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/51568/page/14416/data.pdf
  9. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/L-60032-1513157
Religious titles
Preceded by
William Francis Johnston
Chaplain-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Victor Dobbin
Preceded by
James Alexander Simpson
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Succeeded by
John Hedley McIndoe
Preceded by
William James Morris
Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland
Succeeded by
John Ballantyne Cairns

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