A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Ussher, James

Ussher, James (1581-1656).—Divine and scholar, b. in Dublin, the s. of a lawyer there, and ed. at Trinity Coll., took orders, and became Chancellor of St. Patrick's, Dublin, 1605, and Prof. of Divinity, 1607-21. On the Irish clergy, in 1715, deciding to assert themselves as an independent church, U. had the main hand in drawing up the constitution, certain features of which led to the suspicion of his being in favour of Puritanism. To defend himself he went in 1619 to England, and had a conference with the King (James I.), in which he so completely succeeded that he was in 1621 made Bishop of Meath, and four years later Archbishop of Armagh. He constantly used his influence in favour of reform, and endeavoured to introduce such modifications of Episcopacy as would conciliate and comprehend the Presbyterians. During the troubles which led to the Civil War U. maintained the unlawfulness of taking up arms against the King. The Rebellion in Ireland in 1641 drove him away, and he settled first at Oxf., but ultimately at the house of Lady Peterborough at Reigate, where he d. in 1656. His works dealt chiefly with ecclesiastical antiquities and chronology, his magnum opus being Annales, a chronology of the world from the creation to the dispersion of the Jews in the reign of Vespasian, a work which gained him great reputation on the Continent as well as at home. The date of the creation was fixed as 4004 B.C., which was long universally received. It has, of course, been altogether superseded, alike by the discovery of ancient records, and by geology.