Ralph Venning (1622-1674), 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.
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