James Usher, Strange and Remarkable Prophecies and Predictions
James Usher’s Strange and Remarkable Prophecies and Predictions defies temporal categorization. The text purports to present prophecies delivered before their realization, such as the 1641 Irish Catholic rebellion against English rule, the 1649 execution of Charles I, and the English civil wars themselves. But it was only printed in 1678, thirty years after these events, when they were “now publisht earnestly to perswade us to that Repentance and Reformation which can only prevent our Ruin and Destruction,” the title-page declares. Usher “gave out several true Predictions and Prophesies of things a great while before they came to pass, whereof some we have seen fulfilled, and others remain yet to be accomplished,” the text asserts (2). This work, in other words, represents the future in the past delivered in the present to enact the future, a visionary and temporal mishmash that speaks to all people in all times.
James Usher may seem an odd seer. A native Irishman and committed Protstant, Usher was named the Archbishop of Armagh in 1625, and was an outspoken voice against the attempt to impose practices and doctrines of the Church of England on the Church of Ireland. Nonetheless, when war broke out in England, Usher’s scholarship made him admired by parliamentary as well as royalist factions. He remained a strong supporter of the monarchy, and essentially went into retirement in the 1650s. After his death, however, his works were published in the late 1670s and 1680s as a counter to the threat of Catholic rule. Strange and Remarkable Prophecies and Predictions is one such text, warning of the threats posed to England and the Church by the growing influence of Catholics.