USSHER, James. Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates. Quips inserta est pestiferæ adversùs Dei gratiam à Pelagio Britanno in Ecclesiam inductæ Hæreseos Historia. Ad Britannicarum Antiquitatum Collectanea Appendix Gemina.


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London: Benj. Tooke, 1687. Second edition. Folio. pp. [16], 131, 140-141, 134-136, 145-548, [12], 191, [1]. Bound by Hering of London in 19th century full brown morocco. Covers framed by multiple gilt fillets, a Greek key and wide floral roll; enclosing in the centre the arms of John Lumley Saville, 8th Earl of Scarborough. Spine divided into six compartments by five thick gilt bands, title and author in gilt direct in the second and third; board edges and turn-ins tooled with a gilt Greek key roll. Marbled endpapers. The Rufford Abbey copy with bookplates and also bookplate of John Bradley. All edges gilt. Minor wear to spine. A fine copy. Scarce.
COPAC with 1 location only, Library of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Sweeney 5331 cites the first Dublin edition 1639. Text in Latin. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Ussher’s greatest work, Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates contains the most exact account of the Church, both in Britain and Ireland, from A.D. 20 to the end of the seventh century. It was commenced at the request of King James, twenty years previously. Ussher dedicated the work to Charles I. There is a chronological index in which the events of each century are described. Dr. Elrington stated that: “to panegyrize this extraordinary monument of human learning is unnecessary; to detail its contents impossible.”
James Ussher was born in the parish of St. Nicholas, in the city of Dublin, on the 4th of January, 1580-1, fifth among ten children of Arland Ussher, Clerk of Chancery, and his wife Margaret Stanihurst. He was the second student admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, 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 Stanyhurst tried to attract him towards Catholicism which he had adopted, but Ussher’s leanings were towards Anglicanism which he followed. His contacts with recusant scholars were extensive and reciprocal. They included his uncle Richard Stanihurst, whose Brevis praemunitio pro futura concertatione cum Jacobo Usserio (Douay, 1615) was directed against his nephew. He also exchanged information with Bishop David Rothe of Ossory, author of the Analecta Sacra Nova . . . in Hibernia, the Jesuit William Malone, and the Franciscans Thomas Strange, Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, and Luke Wadding. In this way the vigorously catholic Louvain school made use of Ussher’s private library, and in return he had indirect access to manuscript sources in the Vatican library. Through Conall Mageoghegan of Westmeath he was able to consult vital sources such as the Book of Lecan and of Book of Ballymote.
This world, in which the participants dealt with each other in terms of mutual respect, was a hidden one. It functioned through codenames and intermediaries and occasionally broke down under the strains created by politics and polemical print. So while Ussher’s dealings with learned Catholics extended over the three decades from the 1610s onwards, his first two publications as Bishop of Meath were detailed ripostes to Roman claims of superior antiquity 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. 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 Drogheda (where he kept his books including, the great masterpiece of Celtic illuminative art The Book of Kells) or in Termonfeckin in County Louth. He was strongly opposed to Bishop Bedell’s efforts in reviving 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.
Provenance: Rufford Abbey copy. John Lumley-Savile, 8th Earl of Scarbrough (1788-1856), styled Viscount Lumley between 1832 and 1835, was a British peer and politician., the son of John Lumley-Savile, 7th Earl of Scarborough, Prebend of York, younger son of Richard Lumley, 4th Earl of Scarborough and Barbara, sister and heiress of Sir George Savile, 8th Baronet. His mother was Anna Maria, daughter of Julines Hering. He was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. In 1836 he assumed by Royal license the additional and principal surname of Savile. Scarborough was returned to Parliament for Nottinghamshire in 1826, a seat he held until 1832, when the constituency was abolished. He then sat for Nottinghamshire North until 1835, when he succeeded his father in the earldom and entered the House of Lords. He also served as Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire from 1839 to 1856.
Lord Scarborough never married. However, he had five natural children, four sons and one daughter. He bequeathed his large property at Rufford, Nottinghamshire, to his second son Captain Henry Lumley (d. 1881), and on his death it passed to the fourth son, Augustus William Lumley (1829-1887). On the latter’s death the property was inherited by Lord Scarborough’s eldest natural son by a woman of French origin, John Lumley-Savile, who assumed the surname of Savile only. He was a prominent diplomat and was created Baron Savile in 1888. Lord Scarborough died in October 1856, aged 68, and was succeeded in the earldom by his first cousin once removed, Richard Lumley.
Charles Hering (c.1763-1815) Bookbinder, born in Göttingen, who emigrated to London where he was working by 1794. He established a successful binding business, patronized by many leading collectors, which was continued after his death by family members until 1845.


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