Thomas Venner's Rising and his son Samuel Venner's Rebellion

Execution of Thomas Venner, Saturday Jan 19, 1661
in Coleman Street, from where the insurrection had set out.

Thomas Venner, from a print in the
collection of Alexander Sutherland Esq

Thomas Venner
On the right is an engraving by an unknown artist of Thomas Venner, obit. 1661, last leader of the Fifth Monarchy Men who tried unsuccessfully to overthrow Cromwell in 1657 then lead an unsuccessful coup against the newly restored government of King Charles II.

Fifth Monarchists believed that the world had seen four great monarchies (Assyria, Persia, Macedonia, and Rome), and that the fifth monarchy, that of Christ, was to begin in 1666 so any other government was an obstacle to the establishment of Christ's rule, and must be overthrown.

Venner had come to Salem in 1638 [?from where?], then he moved to Boston in 1644. In 1648, he established (with other coopers) a Coopers' guild, the earliest trade organization in Boston. His religious beliefs excluded him from the local church so in October 1651, he sailed to England and by 1657, he had become the leader of the "Fifth Monarchy Men." After four years' disturbances, in January, 1661, Venner proclaimed the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus and promoted the killing of those who resisted his plans. "With 500 followers he rushed through London's streets and killed innocent citizens. A force of volunteers and the city militia surrounded the remnant of Venner's forces and twenty leaders were tried and all but four sentenced to be drawn, hanged and quartered. ...[Venner's] head was set upon a pole on London bridge." [897]

Venner's sons Thomas Venner and Colonel Samuel Venner later participated in the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 [459] [460], when James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II attempted to overthrow his uncle King James II.

Col. Sam VENNER was one of the three gentlemen who landed at Seatown (5 miles east of Lyme) prior to the Duke of Monmouth's landing at Lyme. He returned with the news that the Duke of Albemarle was at Exeter [895]. Later Venner was reported as leading a company that should have won the day at Bridport on 13Jun1685 but for Lord Grey's cavalry lack of discipline. Venner was wounded in the stommach by a sniper (and in return shot & killed his assailant, Edward Coker [891] [895] [896]. He recovered and was present at "Philips Norton Fighty" [894], and later when Monmouth's situation became hopeless, advised the Duke flee to the Continent and his followers accept the King's Pardon offerred, but he was outvoted by the Council of war who resolved "to go on, all care was taken to hide the [offer of] pardon from the multitude". "Had this proposal been adopted, what extensive bloodshed and suffering would have been averted from the west of England !" [894]. Venner later was sent on a secrete mission to create a powerful diversion in London, and so was absent from the Battle of Sedgemoor [894].

After the defeat of Monmouth at Sedgemoor in 1685, Thomas was tried at the "Bloody Assizes" of Judge Jeffries and sentenced to be transported to Barbados but died en route. Col. Samuel Venner managed to escape to Holland where he joined Prince Wiliam of Orange's army [891] and so avoided the hangings, beheadings and transportings. However, as a leading officer of the Rebellion he was "excepted out of the general pardon published by King James the 2° on the 2nd Oct 1688" [891] and had also been excepted from the Pardon of 10th March 1686 [894] and so remained at risk until the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 when the Prince became King William III of England.


1  Thomas VENNER b.1608 (Littleham, Devon) 
  d.19Jan1661 (Executed)
  Father of Col. Sam Venner [404] [407]
 + Alice d.1692 
  2 Thomas VENNER b.1641; (Boston, MA.); Joined his father in the Rising 
    then takes part in the Monmouth Rebellion sentences in "Bloody Assizes
    to transportation to Barbados. d.16Dec1685 at sea, body thrown overboard. 
  2 Hannah VENNER b.1644 (Boston, MA.)
   + William MEDLEY, the scribe, accountant and treasurer of the 5th Monarchists.
  2 Colonel Samuel VENNER b.1641(7); bap.16May1641 [more likely 1651 as died in 
    his 63rd yr] (Boston, MA.);
    d.13Sep1712 [461] [464] (Barton Turf, Norfolk)
    Colonel in Monmouth's Army (cavalry)
   +(1)Mary [761]
    3 John VENNER [761]  
   + Elizabeth GARDINER b.Aug1672 [761]; m.16May1693 (at 19); 
     d.9May1723 (Cuddesden, Oxford) [761]
     dau of Dr Thomas GARDINER, Surgeon General in William of Orange's army (c.1648-1710)
     and Elizabeth BROOMER She came with a settlement of £3,000. [873]
    3 Elizabeth VENNER b.1693; bpt.7Sep1693 (Saint Mary Le Bow);  [761]; d.1744
     + Dr John POTTER DD; b.1674; d.10Oct1747 Lambeth, England.
       Archbishop of Canterbury 1737-1747.
       This was considered a rather "scandalous match". [461]
    3 Thomas VENNER b.1695
    3 William VENNER b.1697
    3 Sam(uel) VENNER b.1707

Thomas Venner; a helmet on his head, holding a halbert. In Pagit's "Heresiography" p.280 Published by Caulfield & Herbert (London, 1794)

Monmouth enters Lyme

Venner Coat of Arms on tomb

Col Sam Venner & Eliz tomb