Venning, Ralph (DNB00)

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VENNING, RALPH (1621?-1674), nonconformist divine, son of Francis and Joan Venning, was born in Devonshire, perhaps at King's Teignton, about 1621. He was the first convert of George Hughes [q. v.], the puritan vicar of Tavistock (dedication of Mysteries and Revelations, 2nd ed. 1649). He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was admitted as a sizar on 1 April 1643, graduated B.A. 1646, and proceeded M.A. 1650. He held a lectureship at St. Olave's, Southwark, where he had a great repute as a preacher of charity sermons. Ejected by the Uniformity Act (1662), he became a colleague to Robert Bragge (1627-1704), pastor of an independent congregation at Pewterers' Hall, Lime Street, Fenchurch Street, and held this charge till his death. He died on 10 March 1673-4, in his fifty-third year, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. He married Hannah, widow of John Cope of London, and left a son, and a daughter Hannah (d. 7 June 1691). His portrait was engraved by Hollar. Of his style, John Edwards (1637-1716) [q. v.] remarks in 'The Preacher ' (1705, i. 203): 'He turns sentences up and down, and delights in little cadences and chiming of words.' His works still retain popularity; cheap reprints of some of them were issued in 1891.

He published, besides single sermons preached at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1654 and 1656: 1. 'Orthodoxe Paradoxes,' 1647, 12mo; 7th ed. 1657, 16mo. 2. 'Mysteries and Revelations,' 1647, 16mo; 5th ed. 1657, 16mo. 3. 'The New Command Renew'd,' 1650, 16mo; 4th ed. 1657, 16mo. 4. 'Milke and Honey,' 1653, 16mo (added is a second part of No. 1); 3rd ed. 1656, 16mo. 5. 'Canaan's Flowings ' [1654], 16mo (a second part of No. 4); 3rd ed. 1658, 16mo. 6. 'Things worth thinking on,' 1665, 16mo. 7. 'The Beauty of Holiness,' 1665, 16mo. 8. 'Sin, the Plague of Plagues,' 1669. 8vo. Posthumous were 9. 'The Dead yet Speaking, or Mr. Venning's Living Sayings,' 1674, broadsheet. 10. 'Alarm to Unconverted Sinners,' 1675, broad sheet. 11. 'Venning's Remains,' 1675, 8vo (portrait). He was one of the editors of the 'English Greek Lexicon,' 1661 , 8vo (the first lexicon of New Testament Greek giving the meanings in English); his farewell sermon at St. Olave's is in 'A Compleat Collection of Farewell Sermons,' 1663, 8vo; his 'divine sentences' are included in 'Saints' Memorials,' 1674, 8vo (portrait). He prefaced books by William Strong [q. v.], Jonathan Hanmer [q. v.], Theophilus Polwhele [q. v.], and John Goodwin [q. v.] 'An Elegy' on his death was printed on a broadsheet in March 1674.

[Funeral Sermon, by Bragge, 1674; Funeral Sermon, by W. Beerman, 1674; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 982 sq.; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 22 sq.; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 18; Granger's Biographical Hist, of England, 1779, iii. 325; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, i. 210; Dredge's Few Sheaves of Devon Bibliography, 1889, pp. 8 sq. (gives a full bibliography); Alford's Abbots of Tavistock, 1891, p. 310; information from the records of Emmanuel College, per J. B. Peace, esq., from W. M. Venning, esq., D.C.L., and from the Rev. H. G. Le Neveu; there is no trace of his baptism in the parish register at Tavistock; that at King's Teignton does not begin till 1670.]

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