The Veness Family History

The Veness Family Origins The Veness family has its origins in Normandy, that part of France fronting the Channel and settled in the 9th century by Vikings who, progressively, adopted French speech and customs. They take their name from Venoix, once a village 2 km southwest of Caen, William’s capital, but now a “quartier” of that town. Men from this village accompanied the Conqueror on his grand adventure in 1066. Some of them, after settling in parts of southern England (including Hampshire, Warwickshire, and especially Sussex), were known by their Norman origin “de Venoiz”. In English the stress was placed on the first syllable, so that the second syllable was slurred in speech and written in various ways (Venuiz, 1130; Venuz, 1197; Venoiz, 1205; Venus, 1230, 1611, 1857; Venice, 1578, 1701). The spelling, Veness, appears in 1745 (Burwash marriage register). In our family the pronunciation to rhyme with “dress” was not adopted until the 1880s. The Normans, led by William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the English near the Sussex town of Battle, and it was in that district that our Venesses eventually settled. The Norman Stone, Battle Abbey, SussexTheir new home differed little from the land they left behind in Normandy. The rolling chalk hills of Sussex were formed in the late Cretaceous (65 to 100 million years ago) by the action of Coccolithophores, single- celled golden brown algae (Chrysophyta), who lived in the warm, shallow (50-300m) seas that flooded much of Europe at that time. Right: The Norman Stone, Battle Abbey, Sussex. (Worldwide the Cretaceous had been a time of marine transgressions, due to the formation of extensive mid-ocean ridges and a surge in sea-floor spreading. Australia, too, was bisected by a shallow epicontinental sea.) These algae built minute plates of calcium carbonate into their cell walls. Dying, their tiny bodies accumulated over 30 million years to build up the massive chalk beds that form much of southern England and northern France. The light shallow soil of the chalk Downs (hills), and the absence of surface water, ruled out the dense oak woods of elsewhere in southern England. Instead a mixed open forest of oak, beech (especially on the clay-capped hill-tops), ash and juniper predominated, representing the climax stage of vegetation regrowth after the last ice age, a climax reached about 5000 BC. Grazing animals, such as deer, created and maintained open grassy areas here, which Neolithic man settled early, and easily cleared the remaining trees. Moreover, the light soil was easily worked 5 | P a g e