There were two forms
of nobility in the Russian Empire: hereditary and personal. Whereas Hereditary
nobility passed down to subsequent generations, personal nobility could
not be inherited from the person who was awarded the status of personal
nobleman. This article focuses on the specific registration of hereditary
nobility in the Russian Empire.
According to Russian
Nobility Law, every member of each generation of an inheredited noble,
had to be registered in one of the following six parts of the provincial
Noble Register (Noble Genealogical Book):
Part 1 - Granted or Real Nobility.
Part 2 - Military Nobility (acquired according to ranks for the military service).
Part 3 - Nobility acquired according to ranks of civil service or military
Part 4 - Foreign Noble Families.
Part 5 - Titled Families.
Part 6 - Ancient Noble Families.
In order to confirm
hereditary nobility, it was necessary to first prove the family relationship
with the previously reckoned hereditary noble family members. This procedure
was called "to be attached to the nobility" (or to be added
to the family nobility).
To be added to the
family nobility, a person had to provide various documents confirming
their origin and their right to be registered in the same section of the
Noble Register as their ancestors. Often the parents initiated the process
of adding their children to the family nobility and tried to do this for
all of them. They would submit documents which would confirm their children’s
origin from noble ancestors (marriage and birth certificates) as well
as other documents which were necessary to confirm their place in the
Different sets of
documents had to be provided for the inclusion in a specific Part. For
example, service lists and diplomas had to be provided to confirm the
right to be included in Parts 2 and 3.
Noblemen who were
reckoned according to foreign rules had to confirm their nobility in the
Russian Empire (to receive Russian nobility) to be included in the 4th
Part. Polish nobility (szlachta) was not an exception, but the procedure
of confirmation for Polish noblemen was easier than for noblemen from
other countries between the 18th century until the year 1830 (the time
of the Polish revolt). After this time, Poles had to confirm their nobility
not only in the Provincial Noble Assemblies but also in the Heraldry Department
of the Ruling Senate as did other pretenders. There were many documents
needed for this part. Many Polish noblemen lost their nobility because
The 6th Part of the
Noble Register listed only ancient noble families whose nobility was confirmed
a hundred years ago or earlier. This means that when a family pretended
to be included in the 6th part of the Noble Register it was necessary
to prove that nobility of this family had been confirmed a hundred years
ago (or earlier, but not later). Pursuant to regulations dated November
6, 1850 it was not necessary to count a hundred years, but to prove that
the family was noble prior to 1785.
The 1st Part listed
families, to whom nobility was granted by Russian or foreign crowned persons,
and their descendants. People who had enough proof to be reckoned among
nobility and whose ancestors were not noble hundred years ago (or in 1785),
were also listed here.
the origin from an ancient ancestor who received the hereditary nobility
had to be provided to confirm the right to be included in the Parts 1
and 6. It was necessary to confirm that the family owned estates (ancestral
lands) in the same province in which the first members of the family who
were reckoned among the nobility owned.
Sometimes the descendents
of a family did not succeed in being included in the same Part because
their proof was not considered sufficient. This would happen if the family
had lost their estates or lost some necessary documents. In addition,
requirements for nobility confirmation continually became more restrictive
and the authorities asked for more and more documents. In the case of
being refused inclusion in a particular part of the register, people tried
to provide the Noble Assemblies with proof which would be enough to be
included at least in another part of the same Noble Register or to apply
to the Noble Assembly of another province.
The provincial Noble
Assembly decided if the documents were sufficient for confirmation and
that there were enough documents. They then sent the documents to the
high institution of the Heraldry Department of the Ruling Senate. The
documents of this institution are kept in the Russian State Historic Archives
in Fond 1343. This Fond contains 197,487 files with the documents which
were provided for the purpose of confirming the right of nobility of the
people and families of the entire Russian Empire, official correspondence
as well as final decisions. A very rich genealogy source of information
is found in these files.
In addition, the provincial
Noble Registers and the lists of people who were attached to the nobility
of their families are available in the same Archival Fond. The Fond contains
775 registers for the years 1785-1917. They are listed in Inventory 51
of Fond 1343. Unfortunately, information concerning the members of specific
families is not gathered together in these files. Nor is there an alphabetic
index of names. It is necessary to look through each entry page by page
in order to find members of one and the same family. BLITZ fulfills such
research with the registers in cases when information from the files about
family nobility appears to be insufficient.
As an example, the
following is a surname list from a file containing names attached to the
nobility registered in the province of Volynia in the years 1836-1843
(Russian State Historic Archive - Fond 1343 inventory 51 file 65).
If you recognize your family name here or are interested in undertaking a search with Blitz, please contact Kristin Nute email@example.com or Elena Tsvetkova firstname.lastname@example.org.