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Venables, Edmund (DNB00)

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VENABLES, EDMUND (1819–1895), antiquary and divine, born at 17 Queenhithe, London on 5 July 1819, was third son of William Venables (d. 1840), paper-maker and stationer at 17 Queenhithe, alderman of London, who was lord mayor in 1826, and M.P. for London 1831–2. His mother, Ann Ruth Fromow, was of Huguenot descent. Edmund was educated at Merchant Taylors' school from July 1830, and became the captain of the school. In 1838 he matriculated from Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was Stuart's exhibitioner and scholar (29 May 1839). In 1842 he graduated B.A., being third wrangler and fifth in the second class in the classical tripos. In 1845 he proceeded M.A., and he was admitted ad eundem at Oxford on 17 Dec. 1856.

Venables was ordained by the bishop of Chichester in 1844 as curate to Archdeacon Julius Hare, rector of Hurstmonceux in Sussex, and remained there until 1853. In 1846 he was ordained priest by the bishop of Norwich. From 1853 to 1855 he was curate at Bonchurch in the Isle of Wight, and for some years after 1855 he remained there, taking pupils. His love of antiquarian research induced him, when an undergraduate, to share in the foundation of the Cambridge Camden Society; in 1845 he became a member of the Royal Archæological Institute, and he contributed many papers to its journal (Archæol. Journ. lii. 198). While in the Isle of Wight he compiled, with the assistance of some ‘eminent local naturalists,’ a guide to the island, which was published in 1860. In 1867 he brought out, mainly from the contents of this volume, a smaller work entitled ‘A Guide to the Undercliff of the Isle of Wight.’

Venables was appointed by Bishop Jackson as his examining chaplain at Lincoln, and continued in that position when his diocesan was translated to London. In 1865 Jackson appointed him to the prebendal stall of Carlton with Thurlby in Lincoln Cathedral, and in 1867 precentor and canon-residentiary in the same cathedral body. Thenceforth Venables identified himself with Lincoln. He was full of love for the minster, was the ‘guardian angel’ of its library, and revelled in the antiquarian charm of the city, which inspired many occasional papers. Three ‘excellent little lectures on Lincoln’—one, ‘A Walk through the Minster,’ and two series of ‘Walks through the Streets of Lincoln’—are recommended to every tourist (Murray, Handbook to Lincolnshire, p. 26). An essay by him on Lincoln Cathedral was included in 1893 in a volume of ‘Our English Minsters,’ and printed separately in 1898. He edited in 1882 the fourth edition of Murray's ‘Handbook for Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire,’ and published in that year an ‘Historical Sketch of Bere Regis, Dorset.’

Venables died at the Precentory, Lincoln, on 5 March 1895. He married at St. Michael's Church, Highgate, on 8 Sept. 1847, Caroline Mary, daughter of Henry Tebbs, proctor of Doctors' Commons. She died the day after his own death, and both were buried on 9 March in the same grave in the cloisters of Lincoln minster. They had issue one son and six daughters.

Venables translated in 1864 Karl Wieseler's ‘Chronological Synopsis of the Four Gospels,’ which was included in 1877 in Bohn's ‘Theological Library,’ and he edited in 1869 a translation by his brother, G. H. Venables, of Bleek's ‘Introduction to the Old Testament,’ reproduced in 1875 in Bohn's ‘Ecclesiastical Library.’ For the Clarendon Press series he edited in 1879 Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress and Grace Abounding;’ his life of John Bunyan, admirable in tone, appeared in 1888 in the ‘Great Writers Series;’ and in 1883 he edited the ‘Private Devotions’ of Bishop Andrewes. He contributed an essay on the ‘Architecture of the Cathedrals of England considered Historically’ to Dean Howson's ‘Essays on Cathedrals;’ and he undertook, though he did not live to finish, a volume on the ‘Episcopal Palaces of England’ (it came out in 1895, the accounts of seven of the palaces being by Venables). Four addresses on ‘The Church of England’ delivered in Lincoln minster in September 1886 were published by him in that year, and he contributed largely to Smith's ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ Smith's ‘Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,’ Smith's ‘Dictionary of Christian Biography,’ the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ Kitto's ‘Biblical Encyclopædia,’ and to this ‘Dictionary.’ He was also a frequent writer in the ‘Saturday Review,’ ‘Athenæum,’ ‘Guardian,’ and ‘Good Words.’

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Robinson's Merchant Taylors' School, ii. 243; Athenæum, 9 March 1895, p. 319; Guardian, March 1895, pp. 401, 418, 451; Lincoln Gazette, 9 March; 1895; Hare's Memoirs of a Quiet Life, Suppl. pp. 247 sq.; information from Mr. E. E. Venables of 46 Onslow Square, S.W., and Rev. C. H. Prior of Pembroke College, Cambridge.]

W. P. C.