Ussher, James

Ussher or Usher, James both: ŭshˈər [key], 1581–1656, Irish prelate and scholar. While a fellow (1599–1605) of Trinity College, Dublin, he was ordained (1601). By 1605 he was chancellor of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. In 1615 a convocation of clergy called upon him to draft the articles of doctrine and discipline of the Irish Protestant church. These showed a Calvinistic tendency. In 1620 or 1621 he became bishop of Meath and later (1625) archbishop of Armagh. He often went to England, where he enjoyed association with noted scholars and statesmen. He was there when the Irish rebellion of 1641 broke out, and he never returned to Ireland. Although he refused to sit (1643) in the Westminster Assembly and upheld the doctrine of the divine right of kings, he was in 1647 elected preacher of Lincoln's Inn; by Cromwell's order he was given a state funeral in Westminster Abbey. His learning, attested by his numerous works in Latin and English, awakened great admiration. In his chronological study, the Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti (2 vol., 1650–54), Ussher worked out a system of dates (setting the creation at 4004 b.c.) afterward long used in some editions of the King James Version of the Bible. His works were edited by C. R. Elrington and J. H. Todd (17 vol., 1847–64).

See W. B. Wright, The Ussher Memoirs (1889) and the biography by R. B. Knox (1967).

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