Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 03, 2020
Webpage updated: February 03, 2020

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John James Edgcombe Venning was not a native of Devonport but was born at Saint Catherine's Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, on December 3rd 1833, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs J Meybohm Venning.

He qualified as a solicitor and married Miss Mary Emily Goodall at Christchurch, Clifton, Gloucestershire, on April 21st 1863.  He joined the partnership of Messrs Little and Woollcombe at Devonport.  Mrs Mary Emily Venning died at Devonport at the end of 1865, following the birth of Alfred John Meybohm Venning, and was buried at the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Cemetery on January 2nd 1866.

Mr Venning was appointed the Clerk to the Devonport Local Board of Health in November 1867.  When Mr Thomas Woollcombe resigned as Town Clerk of Devonport on his 73rd birthday, March 6th 1873, Mr Venning was appointed in his place.  He was also the solicitor for the Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway Company and the Admiralty Law Agent for the Three Towns.  The partnership became Messrs Venning, Goldsmith and Peck after Messrs J P Goldsmith and Eyton Peck joined.

John James Edgcombe Venning then married Miss Loveday Marshall Grylls, of the Parsonage at Lanhydrock, Cornwall, in 1871. At number 5 Tamar Terrace, Stoke, she bore him three more sons, Charles Edgcombe Venning (1877), John Venning (1879), James Arthur Venning (1881) and one daughter, Miss Loveday Margaret Venning (1885).  Mrs Loveday Marshall Venning died 1885 at the very young age of 45 years.

On September 11th 1888 John James Edgcombe Venning married Miss Elizabeth Bayly, the daughter of fellow solicitor, Mr John Bayly (1804-1893), of Seven Trees, Plymouth, at Buckland Monachorum Parish Church.

While Mr Venning was away in London on official business, disaster struck the family in Stoke.  Their home was at number 4 Wingfield Villas, a group of six semi-detached properties in three blocks.  During the Great Blizzard of Monday March 9th 1891 the hurricane blew down a chimney stack, which crashed through the nursery and then on down into the drawing-room.  The fire in the nursery ignited and quickly took hold of the drawing-room and part of the adjoining property occupied by the widow of the late Admiral Lowe.  Mrs Elizabeth Venning, Miss Loveday Margaret Venning, a lady visitor, and the female servants all escaped unharmed.  Miss Venning and the servants were taken in by Colonel Goodeve, Royal Artillery, at Wingfield House, while Mrs Venning went to a relative, Mrs Goodall, in Godolphin Terrace.  Because of the weather the fire appliances were slow to arrive, that from the Devonport Fire Brigade, under Mr Dennis, the foreman, being first on the scene.

As a result of the fire the Vennings moved to Yelverton House, in the Parish of Buckland Monachorum, where they were on the night of the census, April 5th 1891.  Being so far outside of Devonport, Mr Venning had to have a coachman, Mr Herbert Pinch, to drive him in to work.   

Mr Venning resigned from the post of Town Clerk of Devonport in 1896 and was succeeded on January 1st 1897 by Mr A B Pilling.  The family also moved back into Devonpprt. number 4 Penlee Gardens, Stoke, to be precise.  Miss Loveday Margaret Venning passed away there in 1898, at the extremely young age of 13 years.

John James Edgcombe Venning, who was still the Admiralty's Law Agent at the time, died at 7 Nelson Gardens, Stoke, on Sunday August 19th 1906 at the age of 72 years.    It is believed that Mrs Elizabeth Venning passed away in 1903.  He was survived by all his sons, Alfred John Venning (1865-1946); Charles Edgcombe Venning (1877-1958); John Venning (1879-1964) and John James Venning (1881-1968).