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He became Professor of Theological Controversies at Trinity College and a Bachelor of Divinity in 1607, Doctor of Divinity in 1612, and then Vice-Chancellor in 1615 and vice-provost in 1616.In 1613, he married Phoebe, daughter of a previous Vice-Provost, Luke Challoner, and published his first work.Ussher soon found himself at odds with the rise of Arminianism and Wentworth and Laud's desire for conformity between the Church of England and the more Calvinistic Church of Ireland.Ussher resisted this pressure at a convocation in 1634, ensuring that the English Articles of Religion were adopted as well as the Irish articles, not instead of them, and that the Irish canons had to be redrafted based on the English ones rather than replaced by them.Ussher's younger, and only surviving, brother, Ambrose, became a distinguished scholar of Arabic and Hebrew.According to his chaplain and biographer, Nicholas Bernard, the elder brother was taught to read by two blind, spinster aunts.Laud did that, rewriting the charter and statutes to limit the authority of the fellows, and ensure that the appointment of the provost was under royal control.
Ussher's father, Arnold Ussher, was a clerk in chancery who married James Stanihurst's daughter, Margaret, who was reportedly a Roman Catholic.
Theologically, he was a Calvinist although on the matter of the atonement he was (somewhat privately) a hypothetical universalist.
His most significant influence in this regard was John Davenant, later an English delegate to the Synod of Dort, who managed to significantly soften that Synod's teaching regarding limited atonement.
He was a prolific scholar and church leader, who today is most famous for his identification of the genuine letters of the church father, Ignatius, and for his chronology that sought to establish the time and date of the creation as "the entrance of the night preceding the 23rd day of October...
the year before Christ 4004"; that is, around 6 pm on 22 October 4004 Ussher was born in Dublin to a well-to-do family.
In 1615, he was closely involved with the drawing up of the first confession of faith of the Church of Ireland. He became a national figure in Ireland, becoming Privy Councillor in 1623 and an increasingly substantial scholar.