Battle in East Sussex Town Guide

Veness / Venis Family

It is a bit odd for messages on the Battle message board to not appreciate that to look for the origin of the Venis, Venus, Veness etc family name, all you need to do is look at the list of the “Compagnons” of William the Conqueror listed in the roll of compagnons held at Battle Abbey, just by the entrance?

The name listed in this document records the family name as Venois, (derived from the place Venoix, which today is a suburb of Caen).

If you visit the church at Dives-sur-Mer, where the Norman knights gathered before departing, you will see the names listed on the wall of the church including ‘Venois’.

The reason there are so many of the family name Veness in Sussex, Kent, Hampshire is that that is where the land originally granted to the family was. In the Domesday Book all the Veness family land was recorded under the family title at the Norman Court, Le Mareshal, The Marshall. People don’t move around very much over the centuries. When the Duchess of Cleveland visited Battle Abbey in the 1880s, she remarked on the fact that in the fields around Battle Abbey, there were Veness family members labouring in the fields! (Ie where once the family had owned the land). She wrote the definitive book on Norman surnames published in 1889 under the title ‘The Battle Abbey Roll’.

Robert de Hastings was appointed as the first Port Reeve of Hastings after the battle in 1066, and changed his name from Robert de Venoix in the process. But he had 3 brothers who carried on the de Venoix name.

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