USSHER, James. Gravissimae Quaestionis, de Christianarum Ecclesiarum, in Occidentispraesertim paribs, Ab Apostolorum Temporibus, ad nostram … Historica Explicatio. Editio Secunda. Hanoviae: Typis Haeredum Aubrianorum, 1658. pp. [vxi], 456. Nineteenth century half calf over marbled boards, title in gilt on black morocco label on spine, with gilt decoration to compartments. Early signature of John Vesey on titlepage. All edges sprinkled. Old burn mark on Ee4 and Ee5, with minute loss of text. A very good copy. Very rare. €475 [L1 8C]
Sweeney 5318 lists the first London edition as extremely scarce. Walsh adds this Hanover second edition, of which very few copies are recorded of the author’s first book.
James Ussher was born in the parish of St. Nicholas, in the city of Dublin, on the 4th day of January, 1580-1. He was the second student admitted to Trinity College, when its doors opened in 1593. He had a great interest in religion and his loyalties were divided between the Reformed and Catholic Faiths. His uncle Richard Stanyhurst tried to attract him towards Catholicism which he had adopted, but Ussher’s leanings were towards Anglicanism which he followed.
After their victory at Kinsale in 1601, the English Army generously gave the enormous sum of £1,800.00 for the purchase of a library for Trinity College. Ussher had the delightful task of going to London to purchase the books.
In 1612 he took the degree of Doctor of Divinity and in the following year published his first work ‘Gravissimae Quaestiones de Christianorum’ which he dedicated to James I. This book prompted a published response from his uncle Richard Stanyhurst. In 1621 he was appointed Bishop of Meath, he was a regular visitor to London and favourite of the King, who before his death appointed him to the Archbishopric of Armagh.
His residence at that time was in a house at Termonfeckim or Drogheda, County Louth (where he kept his books including, the great masterpiece of celtic illuminative art ‘The Book of Kells’). He was strongly opposed to Bishop Bedell’s efforts in revivng the Irish language and to granting Catholics any toleration. He died at Ryegate in Surrey in 1656. He was a prolific writer both in Latin and the English language. His biographer Dr. Elrington states “The works which he had published sufficiently attest the stupendous extent of his information, and the skill with which he could make use of the treasures he possessed.” His name became celebrated throughout Europe, and his services to the cause of literature, more especially in the departments of history and chronology, have been acknowledged by all modern writers.