The collection relates to the following generations of the Venn family:
First generation: Henry Venn (1725-1797): Son of Richard Venn (1691-1740); M.A. Jesus College, Cambridge, 1749; fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1749-1757; curate of Clapham, 1754; vicar of Huddersfield, 1759; rector of Yelling; published sermons and devotional works. He married Eling Bishop (d c 1767, daughter of Reverend Thomas Bishop, minister of St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich); his children included a son, John (1759-1813) and daughters, Catherine and Jane.
Second generation: John Venn (1759-1813): Only son of Henry Venn (1725-1797); B.A. Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1786, M.A. 1786; ordained deacon 1782 and priest, 1783; curate to his father at Yelling, later rector of Little Dunham, Norfolk, 1783-1792, then rector of Clapham, Surrey 1792-1813 and of Great Tey, Essex, 1804-1813. He was one of the founders of Church Missionary Society in 1797, the central figure of the Clapham 'Sect' and a friend of Charles Simeon (1759-1836), another founding member of the CMS. He married twice: Katherine King (daughter of William King, merchant of Hull) and Frances Turton (daughter of John Turton of Sugnal near Eccleshall, Staffs). Children from his first marriage included Emelia (1794-1881), Henry (1796-1873), John (1802-1890), Caroline (who married Reverend S. E. Batten) and Jane.
Third generation: Henry Venn (1796-1873): Eldest son of John Venn (1759-1813); B.A. Queens' College Cambridge, 1818, M.A. 1821, B.D. 1828; Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1819-1829; ordained deacon 1819 and priest, 1821; curate of St Dunstan-in-the-West; returned to Cambridge, 1824 as dean and college lecturer; vicar of Drypool, Hull, 1827 and rector of St John's Holloway, London, 1834-1847; prebendary of St Paul's, 1846; honorary secretary of the Church Missionary Society, 1841-1873. He published sermons, pamphlets and memoirs including Life and Letters of Henry Venn (his grandfather) and Missionary Life of Xavier. He was a leader of the Evangelical body of the Church of England and a member of the Royal Commissions on Clerical Subscriptions and Ritual Reform. He married Martha Sykes (d. 1840, daughter of Nicholas Sykes of Swanland near Hull); his children included Henrietta (1832-1902), John (1834-1923) and Henry (1838-1923).
John Venn (1802-1890): Second son of John Venn (1759-1813); East India College, Haileybury, 1818-1820 and went to India as a Cadet but invalided home; B.A. Queens' College, Cambridge 1827, M.A. 1830; Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1829-1834; ordained deacon, 1828 and priest, 1829; curate of St Mary-le -Strand, London, 1828-1829 and of Pinner, Middlesex, 1830-1833; vicar of St Peter's with St Owen's, Hereford, 1833-1870; prebendary of Hereford, 1843-1868. He provided a steam corn mill for the benefit of the poor and started an Industrious Aid Society. He was author of a number of theological works including St Paul's Three Chapters on Holiness and Commentary on St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. He was unmarried.
Fourth generation: John Venn (1834-1923) Son of Henry Venn (1796-1873); B.A. Caius College, Cambridge, 1857, M.A. 1860, DSc, 1884; Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge, 1857-1923; President, 1912-1923; ordained deacon in 1858 and priest, 1859; curate of Cheshunt, Herts, 1858-1859 and of Mortlake, Surrey, 1860-1862; lecturer in Moral Science at the University of Cambridge from 1862, Hulsean Lecturer in 1869 and one of those involved in the development of the Moral Sciences Tripos. His publications included Logic of Chance, 1866, 3rd edition 1888; Hulsean Lectures, 1869; Symbolic Logic, 1881, 2nd edition 1894; and Empirical Logic, 1889, 2nd edn 1907. In his later life he devoted himself to the publication of University and College records which included Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College, 3 volumes 1901. He also collaborated with his son on the preparation of Part 1 of Alumni Cantabrigienses and Matriculations and Degrees 1544-1659. He was also interested in the history and genealogy of the Venn family and published the Venn Family Annals, 1904. He married Susanna Carnegie Edmondstone (daughter of Reverend Charles Welland Edmondstone) and had one son, John Archibald Venn (1881-1958).
Fifth generation: John Archibald Venn (1881-1958): Son of John Venn (1834-1923); B.A. Trinity College, Cambridge, 1902; Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1927; Lecturer in the History and Economics of Agriculture, University of Cambridge, 1921-1949; President of Queens' College, Cambridge, from 1932 and Vice-Chancellor, 1941-1943; publications included The Book of Matriculations and Degrees, 1544-1659; Alumni Cantabrigienses; Foundations of Agricultural Economics (2nd edition 1933);and numerous contributions to the Economic Journal and other periodicals; married Lucy Marion Ridgeway (daughter of Professor Sir William Ridgeway).
Reference: Editions of Alumni Cantabrigiensis, Part II (Cambridge University Press, 1954). Who Was Who