Blinstrub family

Blinstrubs is the old Lithuanian noble family of Scandinavian origin, known in Lithuania since 1570’s.

Family’s origin and geographical expansion

An extract from “Heraldry of nobility of Grand Duchy of Lithuania” from 1658, written by historian Albert Vijukas-Kojelavicius describes Blinstrubs as following: Blinstrubs derives of Towtwil, prospers in Duchy of Samogitia and province of Kaunas. Rich people. Possess blazon “Swan”.  It is correct – Samogitia (Žemaitija) and Kaunas province are oldest known living places of Blinstrubs. The oldest Blinstrub’s patrimonies were Alsa (Viduklė-Paalsė) manor, currently Blinstrubiškės and Lelkiszki manor, both in Viduklė parish. In Alsa manor, until 1736, lived sons and grandsons of family’s progenitors in Lithuania, Simon’s (S1) sons Peter (S2) and Caspar Blinstrubs Alsiszki of Towtwil.

In other, Lelkiszki manor, lived the progenitor of split-off branch Urban Blinstrub (W1) of Chrzczon with his sons Stanley (W2) and Bartholomew (W3). That branch used blazon “Wręby”. Later, the son of Bartholomew, Michael Blinstrub of Chrzczon (W4) bought from John Blinstrub of Towtwil (S18) Raulai manor in Viduklė district. Since then there lived several generations of split-off Blinstrub branch of blazon “Wręby”. More about this branch you can read in the bottom of the page.
In 1643 Caspars grandson Samuel Mosis married wealthy widow Anna Žaltytė Parčevskienė and moved to Kulva manor in Aukštaitija region. In that way the only Blinstrubs branch in Aukštaitija has formed. Later Blinstrub’s patrimonies and manors were Pašaltuonis (Eržvilkas parish), Wizgirdiszki (Viduklė parish), Kulva (Kulva parish), Bopty (Babtai parish) Puzy-Legotiszki (Nemakščiai parish), Gabšiai-Gabšiškiai-Pakluonė (Raseiniai parish), Ugionys (Betygala parish), Czechov (Ariogala parish).  In the XVII-XVIII centuries, Blinstrub’s habitats geographically slightly expanded. In Samogitia’s Viduklė, Nemakščiai, Raseiniai, Varniai, Adakavas parishes, new patrimonies has appeared – Macaliai, Pabalčiai, Daujotėliai, Urniežiai. In Aukštaitija’s Pagiriai, Siesikiai, Dapšioniai parishes – Karpiai, Šiliūnai, Dapšioniai manors. In 18-19th. centuries Blinstrubs began to move away from their patrimonies. The branch of Aukštaitija spread towards Jonava, Labūnava, Siesikiai, Vepriai directions.  Samogitia branch spread towards Telšiai, Šiauliai, Tauragė districts. However, knowing that in 17th.-19th. centuries Blinstrubs had large families, geographical expansion has remained relatively low.  In 1888 began another Blinstrubs migration trend, which over time formed the second largest Blinstrubs community – emigration to the United States.  ccording to 1930 US Census data, the first Blinstrub immigrant to the US in 1888 became Vytautas (Witold) Blinstrubas.

If rely on a legend, our family to Lithuania arrived from Denmark. For this could be true tells one small Danish town name – Blenstrup. In Denmark many towns or villages have such endings as -trup or -trop, and even some Danish have family names ending  -trup, so chances that Blinstrubs came from Denmark are really considerable. A progenitor of the family was probably a person who derived from some place in Danmark and used in his surname as name of his patrimony or village (see an example below).

Birth record of Jens Christensen Blinstrup son Jacub in one of Copenhagens churches books. 1788.06.19

There is also a legend that Blinstrubs before moving to Lithuania, for a time lived in Poland, from which they were expelled, because of they became active Calvinism followers. This may be true, as  in the oldest historical documents mentioned Blinstrubs inhabited places, such as Kulva, Viduklė and Deltuva at that time was strong Lithuanian Reformation centers and the oldest Blinstrubs were activists of Calvin church. That there were Blinstrubs living in Poland, also confirms in 1934 released Braunsberg (now Braniewo) gymnasium student handbook, writen by the German professor Georg Luhr, which states that in 1715 in Braunsberg leadership and grammar studied the 23 year old student from Poland Bartholomew Blinstrub from Nakla city in Poland.

Until 19th. century Blinstrubs presented themselves as Blinstrubs of Towtwil, so it is possible that family has family relations with noble dukes family Towtwil. Towtwil (died 1263) was Duke of Polatsk and nephew of King of Lithuania Mindaugas. What is connection between Blinstrubs and Towtwil is unknown.
After 1918, when Lithuania declared an independence from Russian empire, family name has transformed from Blinstrub to Blinstrubas. Some got their family names converted to Blinstrubis, Blistrubis, Bistrubis etc., but it is people of the same family.

Family status in state of Lithuania and society

Signatures of King’s Wladyslaw Vasa secretary and King’s John Casimir royal man George Blinstrub of Towtwil and Secretary of the King John Casimir Vasa, John Blinstrub of Towtwil, on document of Lithuanian Evangelical Sinode. 1651.06.06

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Blinstrubs belonged to the Lithuanian-polish royal elite. The son of Adam, George Blinstrub of Towtwil (S15), has graduated from evangelical universities of Marburg and Frankfurt. Thanks to his education and support of Samogitian nobleman, he became the secretary of the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Wladyslaw IV Vasa and after his death, George became nobleman of King John Casimir Vasa. His brother John (S18, d. 1669) was the secretary of two Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania – Wladyslaw IV Vasa and John Casimir Vasa. He was also the deputy of Samogitia tribunal in 1640 and 1655. Other Blinstrubs took ranks of rittmeisters, judges, deputies, marshals of Kaunas county and Samogitia, as well as many honorary duties of nobility.

It can be assumed that the kings of the Swedish origin, Vasas, have chosen George and John as their secretaries, because of the Scandinavian origin of Blinstrubs. In the seventeenth century Blinstrubes not only enjoyed the privileges of being members of the royal elite but also had good diplomatic skills. According to historian Adolfas Šapoka, George Blinstrub, during Swedish Deluge, was the only nobleman who had a document issued by the Swedish general, Magnus Gabriel de la Garde, which prohibited the Swedish army from plundering George’s manors and lands in Lithuania (A. Šapoka “Kėdainiai treaty” 1990).

In 17th.-19th. centuries Blinstrubs were landlords, but already in the beginning nineteenth century many Blinstrubs became farmers and some began to move to the cities and towns.

In April 10th of 1798, the family confirmed its status of nobility in the Vilnius Governorate’s noblemen’s deputies’ council (LVIA F391, ap6, b7)

Blinstrubs were related and had friendly relationship with counts Zabiellos, Pliaters, noble families Kulviečiai (Kulwinski), Kossakowski, Meištavičiai, Bilevičiai, Urniežiai, Pilsudski.

Prominent Blinstrubs

George (Yuri) Blinstrub (S12) – commander of the Polish Army General Jan Podolsky, commander of the Cossack Division; Adam Blinstrub (S11, son of Caspar) – Samogitian Tribunal deputy in 1595, 1602 and 1621; Norbert Blinstrub (W14) – Raseiniai rittmeister; Joseph Blinstrub (ID14) – Rittmeister of Kaunas County; Anthony Blinstrub (S53) – Kaunas marshal, marshal of the trade confederation of Kaunas, Judge in Kaunas land court, Raudondvaris castle manager, counts Zabielas ward; Francis Blinstrubas (ID15, 1760-1828.03.23) – Samogitia rittmeister; Theodore Blinstrubas – (ID36, 11/26/1906 – 10/06/1999) – Rietavas, Pilviškiai, Šeduva, Kupiškis, Vilkija and Oldenburg (Germany) gymnasiums director,  longtime counselor of the US Lithuanian community and Lithuanian American Council ; Vladislovas Blinstrubas (25.10.1939 – 01.08.2005) – poet, theater and film director, teacher; Stanislovas Blinstrubas (W28, 20.01.1920 – 19.49.199) – Lithuanian scientist, radio engineer, geologist, chef of Klaipėda and Kaunas radio stations.

Split-off Blinstrub branch of blazon “Wręby”

It is unknown why, but Urban Blinstrub family, one of the oldest family’s branch, living in the same Viduklė district, has been separated from the remaining Blinstrubs and has chosen a different blazon, as well as a suffix. Most likely when all other Blinstrubs at that time were active proponents of the Reformation, the Urban Blinstrub family was likely to remain loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. And this seems to be the most likely reason for the split, which has led to the choice of a separate “Wręby” blazon, and, to emphasize its exclusion from other Blinstrubes, use the suffix “from Krikščiūnai” (z Chrzczona) in the surname. The branch family tree scheme can be seen in the section of Family tree. The progenitor of the branch is Urban Blinstrub, owner of the Lialkiskiai(Lialkiszki) manor. His grandson Michael in 1637 bought Raulai manor in the Viduklė district. Later it became a patrimony for several generations of the Wręby Blinstrubs. The most prominent representatives of the branch would probably be Raseiniai Rittmaster Norbert Blinstrub and geologist, radio engineer Stasys Blinstrubas.

Family today

In early 2000s, in Lithuania lived over 130 Blinstrubs (males). If we add females Blinstrubaitės and Blinstrubienės and people with changed  Blinstrubis name,  we get about 250 Blinstrubs. Approximately the same number of Blinstrubs live in the United States – under 2016 telephone and address directories in the United States live 170 adults with name Blinstrub, 55 people with the surname Blinstrubas (male and female) and several females with the surname Blinstrubienė and Blinstrubaitė. Plus 33 adults with the changed surname Blinstrup. In 2015 in Poland lived 37 Blinstrubs, in Germany 16 Blinstrubs. Several Blinstrubs resides in the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden and Brazil. In 2016 in Facebook you can find over 200 Blinstrubs account. Based on these numbers, it can be assumed that the current population Blinstrubs is about 650-700 people.