Biography of James Ussher

James Ussher (1581-1656) was an Anglo-Irish prelate of the Anglican church who is often remembered for his religious activities and his religious studies. He is known well for his works on chronology and his calculation that the creation of the world occurred on October 22nd, 4004 BC.

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1581 – He is born on the 4th of January in Dublin, Ireland.

1591 – He enters Dublin Free School.

1594 – He enters Trinity College in Dublin.

1598 – He receives his Bachelor of Arts degree.

1600 – He receives his MA (although some claim this was not until a year later).

1602 – He is ordained by his uncle in the Trinity College Chapel as a deacon.

1605 – He becomes Chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, he also becomes Prebend of Finglas.

1607 – He becomes Professor of Theological Controversies at Trinity College, he also becomes a Bachelor of Divinity.

1612 – He becomes a Doctor of Divinity.

1613 – He marries Phoebe (Challoner?).

1615 – He becomes Vice-Chancellor.

1616 – He becomes Vice-Provost.

1619 – He travels to England and remains there for two years. His only child is born.

1621 – James I nominates Ussher to Bishop of Meath.

1622 – His ‘Discource on the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish’ is first published. This work has allegedly been highly influential in shaping the modern view of Irish church history.

1623 – He becomes Privy Councillor.

1623-1626 – He stays in England and studies church history.

1625 – He becomes Primate of All Ireland, he also becomes Archbishop of Armagh.

1631 – A new edition of his ‘Discource on the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish’ is published.

1633 – Ussher supports Archbishop Laud as Chancellor of the University of Dublin.

1634 – He leaves Dublin for episcopal residence at Drogheda.

1639 – His ‘Britannicarum ecclesiarum antiquities’ (the antiquities of the British churches) is published. It contains many previously unpublished manuscript sources.

1640 – He leaves Ireland for the last time to go to England.

1641 – He develops a position in church government.

1642 – He moves to Oxford.

1646 – He returns to London and stays with his friend Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Peterborough.

1647 – He becomes a preacher at Lincoln’s Inn.

1648 – He publishes a treatise on the calendar.

1650 – His ‘Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti’ (Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world) is published.

1654 – His ‘Annalium pars posterior’ is published. In this, he calculates the date of Creation to have been nightfall on the 22nd of October in 4004 BC.

1655 – His ‘De Graeca Septuaginta Interpretum Versione’ is published. This is reportedly the first serious examination of the Septuagint.

1656 – He dies at age 75 on the 21st of March in England.

1656 – His proposals, ‘The Reduction of Episcopacy’, are published posthumously.

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[1] – Accessed 18 March 2019.

[2] – Accessed 18 March 2019.

[3] – Patrides, C. A. “Renaissance Estimates of the Year of Creation.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, 1963, pp. 315–322. JSTOR, Accessed 13 August 2020.

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