Blinstrubs family

Blinstrubs family is the old Lithuanian noble family of Scandinavian origin, known in Lithuania and Samogitia 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 from Towtwil, prospers in Duchy of Samogitia and province of Kaunas. Rich people. Possess blazon “Swan”.  It is correct – Samogitia (Žemaitija) , Viduklė county if to be more precised, has been oldest known living place of Blinstrubs. The oldest Blinstrub’s patrimonies were Alsa (Viduklė-Paalsė) manor, currently Blinstrubiškiai, Pašaltuonis-Žvirblaukis-Dūdiškės (Dūdlaukis) manor and Raulai-Numgaliai-Kempaliai manor, all of them in Viduklė county. 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 de Towtwil.

In other, Lialkiszki manor of the same county, lived the progenitors of another Blinstrub family, brothers Stanislaus (W2) and Bartholomew (W3) Urbanowicz Blinstrubs de Chrzczon. That branch used blazon “Wręby”. More about this family you can read in section Urbanowicz Blinstrubs de Chrzczon.

In 1643 Caspars grandson Samuel Mosis married wealthy widow Anna Žaltytė Parčevskienė and moved to Kulva manor in Aukštaitija region. In that way Blinstrubs branch in Aukštaitija has formed and survived until  July 16th of 1798, when last owner of Kulva manor Antoni Blinstrub (S53) died. Later Blinstrub’s patrimonies and manors were Pužai (1681 – 1799, Nemakščiai parish), Gabšiai-Gabšiškiai-Paklaniai (1756-1805, Raseiniai parish), Ugioniai (Betygala parish), Czechov (Ariogala parish).  In the XVII-XVIII centuries, Blinstrub’s habitats geographically slightly expanded. In Samogitia’s  Nemakščiai, Adakavas, Labūnava parishes, new patrimonies has appeared – Macaliai, Daujotėliai, Urniežiai. In Aukštaitija, new Blinstrubs setllers formed Šiliūnai (Pagiriai par.), and Pasodai (Siesikiai par.) patrimonies. In 19th. century Blinstrubs began to move away from their patrimonies. The branch of Aukštaitija spread towards Jonava, Ukmergė, Vepriai directions.  Samogitia branch spread towards Telšiai, Šiauliai, Tauragė districts. List of different manors, owned by Blinstrub family, can be found in Blinstrubs manors section.

In 1888 began another Blinstrubs migration trend, which, over time, formed the second largest Blinstrubs community – emigration to the United States.  According to 1930 US Census data, the first Blinstrub immigrant to the US in 1888 became Vytautas (Witold) Blinstrub.

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
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. 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. Unfortunately no more historical sources, confirming Blinstrubs living in Poland in XVI-XVIII centuries, found.

Until 19th. century Blinstrubs of blazon Swan presented themselves as Blinstrubs de Towtwil, so it is possible that family has family relations with noble family Towtwil. Does it mean relationship to Lithuanian king’s Mindaugas nephew, duke Towtwil or Grand Duke Vytautas’ brother duke Towtwil is unknow. This probably means that the Blinstrubs in XVI century got into relationship with Tautvilai family, which still existed in the middle of the 16th century, in the same Viduklė county.

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 a 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 de Towtwil and Secretary of the King John Casimir Vasa, John Blinstrub de Towtwil, on document of Lithuanian Evangelical Sinode. 1651.06.06
Signatures of King’s Wladyslaw Vasa secretary and King’s John Casimir royal man George Blinstrub de Towtwil and Secretary of the King John Casimir Vasa, John Blinstrub de 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 de Towtwil (S15), has graduated from evangelical universities of Marburg and Frankfurt. Thanks to his education 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 Johannes (S18, d. 1669) was the secretary to Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania – Wladyslaw IV Vasa and John Casimir Vasa and the royal secretary and rotmaster to their father, King of Poland and Sweden, Sigismund III Vasa. He was also the deputy of Samogitia tribunal in 1640 and 1655. Other Blinstrubs took ranks of rotmasters, 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 Blinstrubs 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 addition, brothers George, Johannes, David and Samuel Moses Blinstrubs were signatories of the Kėdainiai Union and in 1644 January 2 ratified the privilege of King Vladislav IV Vasa to Samogitia and its nobility.

In 17th.-19th. centuries Blinstrubs were landlords, but already in the beginning nineteenth century many Blinstrubs became wealthy 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 rotmaster; Joseph Blinstrub (ID14) – Rotmaster 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 favorite; Francis Blinstrub (ID15, 1760-1828.03.23) – Samogitia rotmaster; 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.

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.