The Right Reverend Addington Robert Peel Venables

Diocesan Bishop (1864 - 1876)

By the time Bishop Caulfeild’s successor arrived in Nassau, the question arose as to where the new Bishop should live. The choice for bishop had fallen on the Reverend Addington Robert Peel Venables, a member of a powerful and wealthy family. (Sir Robert Peel, who has twice served as Prime Minister of Great Britain, was the Bishop’s uncle and guardian). When the Venables arrived in Nassau early in 1864 they lived at first in rooms above a shop in Bay Street, but when the Chief Justice’s residence became available, Bishop Venables purchased it out of his own considerable resources.

In a memoir of Bishop Venables published shortly after his death by Canon W.F.H. King we read concerning this house,

Here five of his children were born, and here three of them died. Here also it was that the Bishop displayed, when at Nassau, a constant and unvarying hospitality. Indeed the house was seldom without guests of one kind or another. Missionaries and their families en route from England to some distant part of the Diocese, clergy on visit to Nassau on business, or at synod time, or some broken-down missionary on sick leave from his out island parish, made the house their home as long as they were pleased to stay; while the inhabitants of Nassau generally, with visitors from America, Officers of the Army and Navy, and others, found the Bishop’s hospitable doors always open to receive them with a cheery and courteous welcome from their kindly host. [Voice of the Church, April 1986, p.8]

Bishop and Mrs Venables lived in the house for the rest of their time in Nassau. Bishop Venables’ Episcopate was marked by the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England in the Colony and also by tension over the introduction of changes in the ritual and services of the Church. All this took its toll. In June 1876 the Bishop became ill and went to Hartford, Connecticut for medical treatment and died there later that year at the early age of forty-nine. The Bishop’s wife and young children inherited the house and agreed to sell it to the Diocese of Nassau for 800 pounds to become a permanent residence for the Bishop of the Diocese.