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VENNING, WALTER (1781–1821), philanthropist, younger brother of John Venning [q. v.], was born at Totnes, Devonshire, on 15 Nov. 1781. He began business life in London with an elder brother, William, but in 1799 he joined another brother, John, at St. Petersburg, remaining in this connection till 1807. In 1810 he came under strong religious impressions, which were deepened by his mother's death in 1811; on 6 Sept. 1811 he joined the congregational church. On the formation in 1815 of the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline he became an active member, and on returning to St. Petersburg in 1817 founded a similar society there in 1819. Through Prince Alexander Galitzin he obtained permission ‘to visit the Russian prisons at all times.’ In 1818 he visited those of Moscow. He proposed to visit Denmark on a similar errand in August 1820, but was beaten back by weather. He died at his brother's country house on 10 Jan. 1821 of typhus, caught while visiting a prison at St. Petersburg. He was buried at St. Petersburg, where a monument was erected to his memory by the St. Petersburg Society for the Improvement of Prisons.

[Knill's Memoir of Walter Venning, 1822, with portrait; Miss Henderson's Memorials of John Venning, 1862.]

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