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starshadow
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2021 7:33 pm      Post subject: Ślepowron coat of arms.
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I've been corresponding with a cousin from Poland who has ancestry from the Ślepowron (coat of arms) families. He pointed out to me that some of the names in my tree can be found on Ślepowron's very long surname list. But as far as I can tell, all my direct ancestors from those families are listed in civil and parish records as farmers, laborers, peasants, etc.

My names in question, "Ciecierski" and "Święcki", lived in the Lomza area, and can indeed be found on the Ślepowron list. Is there any sure way to rule in or out a connection? Have any comprehensive trees of the Ślepowron familes been drawn up?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Alepowron_coat_of_arms
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mcdonald0517
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 10, 2021 12:23 am      Post subject:
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Hello,

I also have ancestors who have a noble surname listed under h. Lubicz and Brodicz, but their records from mid - late 1800s showed their occupations as farm laborers, blacksmiths, and servants. However, as I traced their lines back to the 1700s the records included the word “adel” which is an indicator of nobility. I then did some general research on Google for “Polish nobility”. Fortunately, Google books had some Polish publications from 1850s listing Prussian noble families and estates (my ancestors were from the former Prussian area of Poland). With a little help from Google translate, I found my ancestors’ villages listed in the estates for this noble surname. Finally, I requested a heraldic search for my ancestor’s surname from the Polish Nobility Association Foundation. They provided me with a more information.

I tell you my story to let you know that it is very likely your ancestors were descendants of nobility. From what I have learned, many Polish nobles were land owners and farmers. In other words, they were working nobles. I suggest the following:

1. Research your family lines as far back as possible to see if records in 1700s show any indication of noble appellations like adel or noblis. Keep track of the village names as you go. Also, Remember that the feudal system in Poland slowly dissolved in the mid 1800s. Noble families had to adapt by taking on occupations. They also migrated to other areas for work.

3. Do some internet research to learn more about the history of Polish nobility in general.

4. Do some internet research on the estates and land holdings for the Slepowron family. You may get lucky and find some old books online. Compare these locations to the locations of your family surnames around the same time.

5. Contact the Polish Nobility Association and Foundation and request a heraldic search for your family surnames. (there is a small fee for this).

That’s all for now. Perhaps other members can offer more information and suggestions.
It takes some work, but keep looking!

Best of luck,
Cynthia
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dnowicki
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Joined: 28 Dec 2011
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Location: Michigan City, Indiana

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Post Posted: Sun Dec 12, 2021 12:33 am      Post subject: Re: Ślepowron coat of arms.
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starshadow wrote:
I've been corresponding with a cousin from Poland who has ancestry from the Ślepowron (coat of arms) families. He pointed out to me that some of the names in my tree can be found on Ślepowron's very long surname list. But as far as I can tell, all my direct ancestors from those families are listed in civil and parish records as farmers, laborers, peasants, etc.

My names in question, "Ciecierski" and "Święcki", lived in the Lomza area, and can indeed be found on the Ślepowron list. Is there any sure way to rule in or out a connection? Have any comprehensive trees of the Ślepowron familes been drawn up?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Alepowron_coat_of_arms


Hi Starshadow & Cynthia,

I would add that it is important to keep in mind that not all szlachta were equal and there were various classes within the umbrella of nobility. The magnates were at the top level and often owned huge amounts of land. Down at entry level szlachta in terms of land were those who had the Latin title “nobilis”(noble) or szlachenty in Polish. If those of this class owned land it was only a parcel and often they only leased the land and did not own it. Thus it was tough for a noble of this class to support himself without actually working—even before the Partitions. Sometimes members of this group worked for szlachta who had more land. Sometimes they were employed as scribes or clerks or stewards on an estate of someone more affluent. Sometimes they supported themselves by farming the parcel of land which they either owned or leased. In that case they often were no better off economically than the peasants who were their neighbors and sometimes some peasants were higher on the economic scale than their szlachta neighbor. The noble had the title “Pan” but that did not necessarily translate into economic prosperity.

The next level were those who were in Latin generosus (well-born) and in Polish urodzony. To qualify for this level the person had to be an owner (or a partial owner together with other relatives) of at least one village. It was individuals from this group who during the second half of the 19th Century had to work in order to support themselves. This was often due to the fact that as more heirs to the village were produced the profit became smaller and smaller. Also, some from this group emigrated as part of the great (peasant) emigration from Poland from after the American Civil War until the outbreak of WWI.

My suggestion for a research strategy would be to trace back as far as possible the titles which indicated the grade of nobility and to try to determine when their economic situation began to go downhill. Keep in mind that even szlachta families had both well to do branches and poor cousins branches.

The list of grades of nobility is found in the latest attachments on the Latin translations thread.

Wishing you successful research,

Dave
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mcdonald0517
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 12, 2021 12:25 pm      Post subject:
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Thank you Dave! This is good to know. It gives me more context for better understanding how fortunes may have changed for my second great grandmother, Maria, who was the youngest daughter of a noble family. Both of her parents and all of her brothers died by the time she turned 17. Her older sister managed to make a very good marriage with a wealthy land owner, but Maria ended up bearing 4 children out of wedlock with no mention of a father recorded. Next to one of the birth entries, the pastor wrote the German word for “injustice”. She finally married in 1852 and it was noted in the record that she was a servant.

Do you know if nobility laws were different in each partition? Maria was from Prussia.

Do you know how inheritance laws worked for noble families? I am wondering what happened to their house, land, possessions, and surviving wives and daughters after all male family members died.

My working theory is that my ancestors were minor nobility, possibly stewards for the magnate (Graf. Fink Von Finkenstein) who owned the estate and village they lived in.

If you have any insights or suggestions, I would appreciate it.

All the best,
Cynthia
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dnowicki
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Location: Michigan City, Indiana

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Post Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 9:03 pm      Post subject:
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mcdonald0517 wrote:
Thank you Dave! This is good to know. It gives me more context for better understanding how fortunes may have changed for my second great grandmother, Maria, who was the youngest daughter of a noble family. Both of her parents and all of her brothers died by the time she turned 17. Her older sister managed to make a very good marriage with a wealthy land owner, but Maria ended up bearing 4 children out of wedlock with no mention of a father recorded. Next to one of the birth entries, the pastor wrote the German word for “injustice”. She finally married in 1852 and it was noted in the record that she was a servant.

Do you know if nobility laws were different in each partition? Maria was from Prussia.

Do you know how inheritance laws worked for noble families? I am wondering what happened to their house, land, possessions, and surviving wives and daughters after all male family members died.

My working theory is that my ancestors were minor nobility, possibly stewards for the magnate (Graf. Fink Von Finkenstein) who owned the estate and village they lived in.

If you have any insights or suggestions, I would appreciate it.

All the best,
Cynthia


Hi Cynthia,

I don’t know whether or how nobility laws varied in the three partitions nor do I know any details of inheritance laws concerning nobles. None of my ancestors were szlachta so I had no personal reason to investigate the matter. After I shared genealogy info with my cousins on my dad’s side my cousin Bob’s eldest son asked me to help him research his paternal grandfather’s and his mother’s ancestry. (My cousin Bob was my dad’s sister’s son.) In doing the research on Bob’s wife’s side I found that some of her ancestors were szlachta. They were part heirs (along with a slew of other minor szlachta families who were all related by blood or by marriage) of the village of Borzymin in the parish of Żale. During the partitions Borzymin was within powiat Rypinski of the Kingdom of Poland aka Russian Poland. By the mid 19th Century there were so many partial heirs of the village that the partial owners needed to farm of do other work to support themselves. The inheritance can only be divided so many times before the share becomes too small to be of practical value. The partial inheritance was divided among the sons. The daughters inherited through their husband’s portion. I don’t know what would have happened if in one partial owner had no sons and only unmarried daughters.

Since all my ancestors lived in what today is western Kujawsko-Pomorskie and eastern Wielkopolskie some lived in the German Partition (Province of Posen) and the rest lived in the Russian Partition (Królestwo Polskie). In researching the villages where my ancestors lived in the Province of Posen I’ve learned that szlachta ownership changed hands during the 19th Century. The greatest changes took place after the 1871 reunification of Germany and Otto von Bismark’s policy of Kulturkampf, which was anti-Catholic and anti-Polish. That policy facilitated the replacement of Polish and of Catholic land ownership with German Protestant settlers.

Your working hypothesis is most like a good one. However, I’m not sure how viable the of working as stewards for the more well-to-do Graf. Fink Von Finkenstein would pan out. I doubt that he would have been anywhere near the level of the magnates of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Those magnates owned vast estates, mostly in the less densely populated eastern regions of the Commonwealth (The Grand Duchy of Lithuania) although some families did own estates in the more densely populated western regions (The Crown Lands) of the Commonwealth. Here is a link to a map which shows the estates of the great magnates: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/IRPmagnates1.PNG

Sorry that I can’t provide you with more info.

Merry Christmas,

Dave
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mcdonald0517
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 18, 2021 1:13 pm      Post subject:
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Hi Dave,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I have discovered similar information in my research on szlachta in Prussia (my family is from the Neidenburg and Posen areas). However I was not aware of the 1871 shift after the reunification of Germany that you mention. Every piece helps!

Merry Christmas to you as well,
Cynthia
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