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He was in England when civil war broke out in 1642 and remained there the rest of his life, devoting most of his last years to study and writing.

By temperament he was far more inclined towards scholarship than ecclesiastical administration.

Attempts to establish a timeline of human history were a major scholarly pursuit in Ussher’s time, and his methods and conclusions were well supported by other researchers.

The Venerable Bede, writing in about AD 723, had reckoned the dawn of humanity at 3952 BC, and more contemporary scholars such as Scaliger (3949 BC),the astronomer Johannes Kepler (3992 BC) and the great Isaac Newton (c. As to the scholarly merits of Ussher’s efforts, the calculation of such dates required some serious research and historical reckoning.

As Stephen Jay Gould observed: “One can scarcely find a textbook in introductory geology that does not take a swipe at Ussher’s date as the opening comment in an obligatory page or two on older concepts of the earth’s age (before radioactive dating allowed us to get it right). Ussher was not, in fact, the first to pick that particular date as the beginning of the universe.Sir John Lightfoot, an official at Cambridge University, beat him to the punch by fourteen years.Other worthies are praised for good tries in a scientific spirit (even if their ages are way off), but Ussher is usually excoriated for biblical idolatry and just plain foolishness” As with the essay on Galileo, I will argue that this interpretation of the events is based largely on a failure to adequately appreciate the scientific and social context of the work.Inappropriately applying a modern interpretation to historical events distorts our perceptions and generally does more to highlight current biases than historical truths.

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