Rev. John Venn

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John Venn

Birthplace: Clapham, London, England
Death: July 01, 1813 (54)
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Venn and Eling/Etling ? Venn
Husband of Katherine Venn
Father of Jane Catherine Stephen; Henry Venn and Caroline Batten
Brother of Eling Elliott

Occupation: Rector of Clapham
Managed by: Susan Mary Rayner (Green) ( Ryan)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Rev. John Venn

One of the founders of the Church Missionary society

John Venn (1759–1813) was a priest of the Church of England and a central figure of the group of religious philanthropists known as the Clapham sect. He was born at Clapham, then south-west of central London, while his father Henry Venn was curate there, on 9 March 1759. He entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, graduated B.A. in 1781, and M.A. in 1784.[1][2]

Venn was rector of Little Dunham, Norfolk, from 1783 to 1792, and rector of Clapham from 1792 to his death. He was one of the original founders of the Church Missionary Society in 1797, and was a leading abolitionist and philanthropist. He died at Clapham on 1 July 1813. A volume of his sermons was published after his death

Venn married first, at Trinity Church, Hull, on 22 October 1789, Catherine, daughter of William King, merchant, of Kingston upon Hull. By her he had sons Henry Venn, and John, for many years vicar of St. Peter's, Hereford; also five daughters, of whom Jane, the second, married James Stephen, and was mother of James Fitzjames Stephen and Leslie Stephen. He married, secondly, on 25 August 1812, Frances, daughter of John Turton of Clapham



Real Christianity—John Venn (1759-1813)

BibleMesh | December 13, 2011


William Wilberforce is famous not only for his persistent efforts to see the slave trade abolished in England, but as the author of Real Christianity,1 in which he makes the radical distinction between nominal and real Christians.

Less well-known is the fact that Wilberforce regularly heard this distinction made in the sermons of his pastor and colleague, John Venn, rector of the Clapham Church and Chaplain of the so-called Clapham Sect.

In this excerpt from one of John Venn’s sermons, real Christianity is distinguished from nominal Christianity in vivid terms:

Religion is not merely an act of homage paid upon our bended knees to God; it is not confined to the closet and the church, nor is it restrained to the hours of the sabbath; it is a general principle extending to a man’s whole conduct in every transaction and in every place. I know no mistake which is more dangerous than that which lays down devotional feelings alone as the test of true religion . . . Let us be convinced that all prayer, all preaching, all knowledge, are but means to attain a superior end; and that end the sanctification of the heart and of all the principles on which we are daily acting. Till our Christianity appears in our conversation, in our business, in our pleasures, in the aims and objects of our life, we have not attained a conformity to the image of our Saviour, nor have we learned His Gospel aright.2 1 The full title is A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes of this Country Contrasted with Real Christianity. 2 John Venn, Sermons, vol. 2, 238-239, quoted in Michael Hennell, John Venn and the Clapham Sect (London: Lutterworth Press, 1958), 205.


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Rev. John Venn's Timeline

March 5, 1759
Clapham, London, England
May 16, 1793
Age 34
February 10, 1796
Age 36
London, Greater London, UK
Age 38
July 1, 1813
Age 54