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Henry Venn

1724-1797. Anglican clergyman. Descendant of a long line of clergymen, he was born at Barnes and educated at Cambridge, where he graduated in 1745. He became fellow of Queens' College in 1749, the year also of his ordination. He served various curacies until his appointment in 1759 as vicar of Huddersfield in Yorkshire. He found the town, says Bishop J.C. Ryle, “dark, ignorant, immoral,” but when he left for health reasons twelve years later it was “shaken in the centre by the lever of the gospel.” He then became vicar of Yelling in Huntingdonshire until just before his death. As a preacher he was esteemed highly by many, including the Countess of Huntingdon, William Cowper, and Charles Simeon. He was chosen to give the funeral orations for William Grimshaw and George Whitefield. Although the author of two volumes (The Complete Duty of Man and Mistakes in Religion), Venn is perhaps more highly regarded as a letter-writer. Living in a controversial age of Calvinism against Arminianism, he held a theological position evidently both scriptural and well-balanced in disputed points and also in pastoral counseling.