An Irishman, Ussher was born in Dublin on January 4, 1581, into a wealthy family descending from Norman influence. His father, Arland, clerked in the Irish court of chancery, and members of the family actively involved themselves in the founding of Trinity College in Dublin. Precocious, Ussher began at Trinity College when he was thirteen, not uncommon then, and earned his bachelor of arts degree, followed by being a fellow and receiving his MA by the time he was 19. Within a couple of years, Ussher also was ordained deacon of the Protestant Church of Ireland and made a priest.
This scholar went on to teach as the professor of Theological Controversies at Trinity College. Furthering his education he earned a bachelor of divinity degree and a doctorate degree as well. In 1613 he married and published his first book; moreover, he became instrumental in outlining the first confession of faith of the Church of Ireland. Traveling to England and seeing the birth of his only child, Elizabeth, Ussher met with King James I. Nominated by James I for Bishop of Meath, Ussher later became Primate of All Ireland and Anglican Archbishop of Armagh. Over the years, he spent considerable time studying church history and theology, thereby gaining recognition for his literary achievements.
An even-tempered, charitable man who avoided confrontation, Ussher enjoyed being a scholar more than being involved in political and religious issues. He penned a Discourse on the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish
, bringing to light information on the early Irish church. But, Ussher is best known for writing the two volumes which make up the work called Annals of the World
. Here he used the Bible, records from ancient history, and an expertise in biblical languages to determine the date of creation as the nightfall before October 23, 4004 BC. Some people today believe in the validity of Ussher's theory, while other scientists disagree based on modern geology and paleontology.
Having lost all his property in Ireland during the revolution, Ussher spent his remaining years in England. Continuing to preach, study, and write, he saw his wife precede him in death by two years, and then he passed away of pleurisy on March 21, 1656.
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