Ussher, Henry (1550–1613), founding fellow of TCD and Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh, was the second son of Thomas Ussher of Dublin and his wife Margaret Geydon, daughter of Henry, alderman of Dublin. After matriculating from Magdalene College, Cambridge, at Easter 1567, he graduated BA in 1570, before going on to graduate MA at Oxford in 1572, having also studied in Paris. He was regarded as being one of the few qualified preachers in Ireland and was fluent in Irish, a rare distinction for a protestant clergyman. Enjoying the favour of Adam Loftus (qv), archbishop of Dublin, he was made treasurer of Christ Church in 1573 and archdeacon of Dublin in 1580. In May 1591 he was sent to England to lobby for the erection of a college in Dublin, the warrant for the foundation of TCD being handed to him in January 1592. Seven years previously he had also been in England to protest (successfully) at plans to abolish St Patrick's College, Dublin. He subsequently became one of the first fellows of Trinity, was appointed vice-provost in 1594 and was credited with spending £300 on the east angle of the college.
On 24 May 1595 he was appointed as archbishop of Armagh (but continued to hold his archdeaconry for many years). Before long he was complaining about how his predecessors had plundered his archdiocese for personal gain. By May 1596 he was clashing with Sir Henry Bagenal (qv) and his supporters over leases they held of church lands. A far greater threat was the rebel Hugh O'Neill (qv), earl of Tyrone, who would occupy much of his lands until 1603. The diocese of Armagh had long been partitioned between the Gaelic north (roughly comprising Co. Armagh) and the Old English south (effectively Co. Louth). Ussher's authority was only effective in the south where he resided in the archiepiscopal palace at Termonfeckin just outside Drogheda; he held his ecclesiastical court in the town. Despite holding primacy over the Church of Ireland, the office of archbishop of Armagh had lost prestige due to its lack both of resources and of control over much of its territory including the diocesan capital at Armagh.
The defeat of Tyrone's rebellion in 1603 brought Ulster under the crown's control, re-unifying Armagh diocese in the process; Ussher's status rose accordingly. However, he also came under pressure to evangelise the Gaelic Irish regions of his diocese. In summer 1605, the lord deputy Sir Arthur Chichester (qv) visited Armagh and was shocked at the dilapidated state of the cathedral and by the fact that most of the clergy in the area had been appointed by the pope. Chichester rounded on Ussher (who was in his entourage) for tolerating this, ordering him to spend the summer months of every year preaching at Armagh and to direct his diocesan revenues towards the educating in TCD of aspirant ministers for church office in Armagh diocese. The situation was little better in the Old English portion of his diocese where he acquiesced in the appointment of crypto-catholic clergy to positions in the church. To an extent his hands were tied as many parochial positions were in the gift of powerful catholic landowners. For long he had been reluctant to provoke the ire of his Louth neighbours, most of whom were fervent catholics, but Chichester's decision in 1605 to commence a vigorous campaign of religious persecution within the Pale forced his hand. During the late 1600s, he fined catholics in Drogheda for not baptising their children or marrying within the Church of Ireland. He also led raids in search of catholic priests. Local catholics complained that he was motivated in this mainly by his desire to pocket these fines and to purloin valuables used as part of catholic worship.
After 1603 he was active in land disputes with the defeated earl of Tyrone, pursuing a number of law suits against him up to his flight in 1607. This tenacity bore fruit in 1610–11 when the king endowed his diocese with 33,000 acres of land. However, he leased all of this to his children and to influential figures in the Irish government, including Chichester, at a third of its true value. Such was the scale of this alienation that in October 1612 the king expressly commanded him not to lease or grant any more church lands without permission. Ussher came in for particular criticism because as the primate of the Church of Ireland he should be setting a better example. As archbishop he apparently wrote a refutation of the writings of the Jesuit theologian Bellarmine, but his wife destroyed the manuscript. He held land at Balsson on the Boyne and in Meath. He died 2 April 1613 at Termonfeckin and was buried in St Peter's, Drogheda. In 1573 he married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Elliot of Balriske, Meath. They had eight sons and two daughters. After Margaret's death he married a Mary Smith, who survived him; they had three daughters.