A Concise Guide-book to the Family of Błaszczychas

Are Piotrowskis from Strachocina
Tartar knezes (dukes) Piotrowskis ?

      On October 28, 1757 in village Strachocina (Ziemia Sanocka, than a district in that part of Poland that had been annexed by Austria) there died in age of about 90 a Stephen Piotrowski. It is known from "Metrica Mortuorum Ecclesiae Parochialis Strachocinensis ab Anno Domini 1753 inchoatur" (in Latin: Register of dead of Strachocina's parish church inaugurated in 1753) that they did not bury him in a parish cemetery but in the church - then newly built, today already not existing. Not as a common inhabitant of the village, but as members of families of owners and tenants of neighboring villages and manors.

Entry on the death of Stephen Piotrowski in "Metrica Mortuorum Ecclesiae Parochialis Strachocinensis"
It says (in Latin): October 28, there died Stephen Piotrowski, about 90 years old, provided with the Holy Sacrament and Extreme Unction, he is buried in the church under floor in bigger gallery at the vault of Strachocina's church.

      Stephen was in Strachocina someone new - persons bearing this family name did not appear in earlier written records on the village. So he or more probable his parents must have settled down here relatively recently - perhaps at the second part of XVII century (or at the beginning of the XVIII century).

      They were not the only newcomers to Strachocina then. In XVII century Ziemia Sanocka experienced two big Tartar incursions - in 1624 and in 1655. After the first one the population of neighboring villages (there are no records relating Strachocina) decreased to ten and a few percent of number before the incursion. Revision of royal properties carried out in 1669, after the Khmelnytskyi Uprising, showed deserted 87% of earlier cultivated soil. However the area relatively soon set furnished with inhabitants. It is rather obvious that by lesser ("village") noblemen (szlachta zaściankowa, szlachta zagrodowa), fugitives from Ukraine - that had run away to avoid sure death from the hands of Cossack insurgents. Written records confirm this.

      There are not such records relating Strachocina. From 1624, when Tartars burned up village, church and parsonage (together with the parish-priest Jan Majstroga in it) till 1753 in Strachocina the local church administration did not exist so no registers were kept. Maybe there are records on the parish and the village from these times in archives in Sanok, or in bishop's curia, or in neighboring parishes. Nevertheless we do not know of them. So there are no immediate evidences confirming that Strachocina experienced inflow of new settlers after the Khmelnytskyi Uprising but it seems to be almost certain. Church registers from the middle of XVIII century with plenty of new family names that did not appear in any earlier record on Strachocina testify in favor of this. This new families are: Adamscy, Bańkowscy, Błażejowscy, Boreccy, Buczkowscy, Bukowscy, Dąbrowscy, Gawłowscy, Gorliccy, Chylińscy (later twisted to Heleńscy), Hoszowscy, Klimkowscy, Kozłowscy, Krupińscy (Krupiccy), Kucharscy, Kuźniarscy, Kwiatkowscy, Lewiccy, Lisowscy, Michalscy, Mieleccy, Osękowscy, Piotrowscy, Pawłowscy, Pączkowscy, Radwańscy, Rogowscy, Samborscy, Sidorowscy, Skubieńscy, Starzyńscy, Szafrańscy, Szaniawscy, Szczepańscy, Szymańscy, Winniccy, Wodziccy, Wysoccy, Wróblowscy, Woytowicze. All they, without a single excerption are village noblemen (szlachta zaściankowa).

      Parents of Stephen (maybe Stephen himself?) must have came to Strachocina together with this surge of people.

      "Metrica Mortuorum" from times of Stephen's sons has not preserved. So we do not know if they still were burying with such reverence as their father. But we know that Stephen's grandsons were not so favored among other inhabitants of Strachocina already. In parish registers they were not labeled "generosus" or "nobiles" as "big" wealthy noblemen, owners and tenants of neighboring villages and manors but only "hortulanus", almost as common serfs. However till nowadays descendants of Stephen preserved peculiar feeling of their own high value. From generation to generation they brought up their children in the conviction that they are something "superior" than it appears from their formal social status. Just this discordance made them take particular care to ever save face, to ever preserve dignity of their own. Just owing to this they understood their "supremacy" in some "aristocratic" way, as absolute prohibition of committing "ignoble" deeds, even such that would not be detrimental in any way to anyone "inferior".

      They handed down to their posterity the tradition of their noblemen identity (this tradition was preserved also in other families of Strachocina's szlachta zaściankowa). They also handed down particulars on the family coat of arms. According to this preserved tradition it was to be a kind of a shaped silver arrow at golden or red background.

      This latter piece of family tradition embarrassed these members of the family that started to interest themselves in its past and tried to check if the narration they had heard from elders conforms to actual historical reality. When they had looked through main Polish armorials they learned that Piotrowskis had got various coats of arms - Ślepowron, Junosza, Habdank, Tęczyc, but none contained the shape of an arrow. So they admitted that the information they were thought in their families (and even at school, by teachers of local origin) was false, fabricated by someone. As the conviction of the noblemen origin of Piotrowskis from Strachocina was strong and supported by sensible arguments they discussed a question what (now forgotten) coat of arms once belonged to them. Suspicion fell on the coat of arms "Ślepowron".

      In Strachocina people "ever" spoke that Piotrowskis were kin to Tartars in some way. From time to time this kinship was (and still is) emphatically confirmed by appearance of some members of the family even. However this tradition was so unclear (and heavily embarrassing - Tartars were frowned upon in these parts, no wonder, their compatriots caused plenty of calamities to local people) that nobody thought about looking to the armorial of Tartar noblemen.

      coat of arms Piotrowski And at last Władysław Henryk Piotrowski (the author of the monograph "Piotrowscy ze Strachociny w Ziemi Sanockiej") did it. He looked to "Herbarz rodów tatarskich w Polsce" by Stanisław Dziadulewicz (Wilno 1929, reprinted by WAiF. Warsaw 1986). And it turned out that ... such coat of arms that people in Strachocina spoke about really existed! This coat of arms was called ... "Piotrowski"! Such coat of arms had Piotrowskis of the Tartar origin, descendants of knez Ivashko, grandson of Tartar duke Najman-Beg. The latter was one of commanders of a squad sent by Tartar Khan to help Lithuanian Great Prince Vitold in his war against the Teutonic Knights. Najman-Beg together with other Tartar warriors took part in the famous Grunwald Battle (1410), then they settled in Lithuania and served as soldiers organized in troops and called up in need. Tartar dukes (mirzas) were acknowledged knezes.

      So handed-down family belief did not lie!

     But what relationship could be between Lithuanian Tartar dukes and Piotrowskis from far off Strachocina in Ziemia Sanocka?

      Stanisław Dziadulewicz ends his entry on dukes Piotrowskis in such a way: "In 1631 John Mirza Piotrowski signed an audit of the Kondrat troop 'in the name of his brother' (surely first cousin), knez Yakhya Zawadzki. This John must have got the son Alej Janyszewicz, which in 1647 sold his part of the estate in Syeltse to Dowgiałłos. Since that time there was no mention of Piotrowskis - perhaps they emigrated in the midst of XVII century to Turkey and never returned ..."

      Let us sum up events:
      In the middle of XVII century impoverished knez Alej Janyszewicz, than the only living Piotrowski using coat of arms "Piotrowski" sold the remnants of the family estate in Lithuania and leaved somewhere. Most probably to the Ukraine where he could hope for better fate. Pointed by Dziadulewicz departure to Turkey of the family that was perhaps "europeised" already seems to be less probable. We know from other sources that in XVII century many families of Lithuanian Tartars moved together with their families just to Ukraine, to serve as soldiers in troops of local magnates.
      Not much - maybe ten and a few years, maybe a few tens of years - later in Strachocina there appeared some Piotrowski. The most probably he came from Ukraine looking for a new place for him and his family after disaster of the Khmelnytskyi Uprising (of 1648-1654). He passed to his descendants the tradition of such coat of arms that was used by descendants of knez Ivashko only. We don't know anything of him but that his son or grandson Stephen was buried in Strachocina with great esteem as somebody important.

      May we do not connect all these events together?
      May we do not put forward the hypothesis that Stephen Piotrowski had to be a descendant of knez Alej?
      That he was his grandson or maybe even son (that is less probable)?
      How one can explain in other way appearance in Strachocina (not earlier than at the beginning of XVIII century, perhaps in the second half of XVII century) of Piotrowskis acknowledging silver arrow as their coat of arms, that were treated by natives with distinct respect?

      But acceptance of Stephen as a descendant of Najman-Beg means that the missing line of Piotrowskis using coat of arms "Piotrowski", descendants of knez Ivashko Kadyszewicz, grandson of Tartar duke Najman-Beg has been found!
      And that Piotrowskis from Strachocina are knezes (dukes) Piotrowskis.

      According to Polish heraldical tradition coat of arms of dukes (so also knezes) should be placed over the ermine robe and topped with duke's crown - miter.

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