John Venn's mother, Martha Sykes, came from Swanland near Hull, Yorkshire and died while John was still quite young. His father was the Rev Henry Venn who, at the time of John's birth, was the rector of the parish of Drypool near Hull. Henry Venn, himself a fellow of Queens', was from a family of distinction. His father, John's grandfather, was the Rev John Venn who had been the rector of Clapham in south London. He became the leader of the Clapham Sect, a group of evangelical Christians centred on his church who campaigned for prison reform and the abolition of slavery and cruel sports.
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