Towtwil and Towtwils

Duke of Grand Duchy of Lithuania Towtwil Conrad Kęstutaitis (pol. Towtiwill or Towciwill, Germ. Tewtewill, Lat. Totivillus, Totiwillum or Thowtiwil, Rus. Товътвил) was the grandson of Grand Duke Gediminas, son of Grand Duke Kęstutis and brother of Grand Duke Vytautas Vygandas Alexander. The Blinstrub family lineal extension (Polish: przydomek) “de Towtwil” or sometimes used second surname Towtwil, which according to the historical sources began to be used in 1575, proves that family of Duke Towtwil was original primal Blinstrub family, which in the 16th. century merged into the Blinstrub family.

Historians think that Towtwil was born around 1350 and died or has been killed in a battle between 1390 and 1398. It is believed that both Towtwil and Vytautas mother was Kęstutis second wife Birutė (J. Tęgowski, “Czy Kiejstut był dwukrotnie żonaty?”, Przegląd Wschodni, 5, 1998, z. 3, p. 399-412). Historians believe that Kęstutis had 6 sons – the eldest was Patirg, followed by Vaidotas and Butautas. Kęstutis is believed to have had these sons with his first wife. It was followed by sons from his second wife Birutė – the eldest Vytautas, then Towtwil and Žygimantas.

After the assassination of Grand Duke Kęstutis, Duke Vytautas began to have conflicts with the newly appointed Grand Duke of Lithuania Vladislaus Jogaila Algirdaitis (Władysław II Jagiełło) and got imprisoned in the Krėva castle, from which he escaped, first to his brother Towtwil in Novogrudok and then, together with his brother Towtwil fled to brother-in-law Janusz Ist. to Mazovia. Then they fled to Prussia, where both were christened in Tepliava on 21 October 1383. Vytautas was christened under the name of Vygandas and Towtwil under the name of Conrad (Józef WOLFF – Ród Gedimina: dodatki i poprawki do dzieł K. Stadnickiego: “Synowie Gedymina”, “Olgierd i Kiejstut” i “Bracia Władysława Jagiełły” Kraków 1886; Jahrbücher Johannes Lindenblatts, oder Chronik Johannes von der Pusilie. 1823). The fact that both Vytautas and Towtwil were christened in 1383 is also confirmed by the complaint of the Teutonic order magister Conrad Zöllner to the Pope, in which he mentions the baptism of “Witoldus et Conradus frater eius Ducs Littuanie … qui sacramentum bapsisamatis susceperunt“. (Johannes Voigt, Codex diplomaticus Prussicus. 4, Königsberg 1836, p. 66)

Edward-Raczynski-Codex-diplomaticus-Lithuaniae-1845-2-p60 Mention of Princes Vytautas and Towtwil in a letter of 1383 from King of Poland Władysław II Jagiełło to the Master of the Teutonic Knights, in Edward Raczynski’s Codex diplomaticus Lithuaniae 1845, p.60 Codex-Diplomaticus-Prussicus-66m Mention of Vytautas and Towtwil Konrad in the letter of 1388 of the Teutonic Knights’ Master Conrad Zöllner to the Pope, Johannes Voigt, Codex diplomaticus Prussicus. 4, Königsberg 1836, p. 66


Later, around 1384, after Vytautas reconciled with Jogaila and returned to Lithuania, Towtwil also returned to Lithuania, where he continued to play an active role in political activities, loyally supporting his elder brother Vytautas in his political-diplomatic and military activities. It is mentioned that Towtwil and his wife were even part of a delegation of voluntary hostages in Prussia in 1390, together with other nobles.

Historians don’t agree on when Towtwil died. Some say he died in September 1390 by attacking together with samogitians and crusaders one of Vilnius castles. “Dux Conradus cum telo occitidur” (Wigand von Marburg – Cronica nova prutenica 1394; Eduard Raczynski – Kronika Wiganda z Marburga rycerza i kapłana Zakonu Krzyżackiego na wezwanie Długosza z rymowanej kroniki niemieckiej na język łaciński przetłomaczona, 1842 p.330). Even Polish historian Jan Dlusgosz writes the same in his chronicle “Historiae Polonicae“. Others indicate that the son of the Duke’s brother Vaidotas, with the same christian name of Conrad was killed at that time, while Towtwil himself died later, in 1395 or 1398. The only thing that can be said without doubt is that in the 15th. century Towtwil not lived anymore. The proof of this is the letter of Grand Duke Vytautas of 18th. January 1401, in which he swears obedience and loyalty to the Polish Crown and that after his death all the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania will revert to the Crown of Poland, with the exception of the homeland of Novogrudek with its 4 castles, which were previously ruled by his brothers Dukes Vaidotas and Towtwil. These lands remain to be owned his wife Anna until her death – “post decessum nostrum deputamus, videlicet: medietate Novogrodeg, que fuit de patrimonio nostro sors dominorum fratrum nostrorum ducum Woydati et Thowtiwil et in eodem Nouogrodek quatuor curiis nostris” (Antoni Prochaska – Codex epistolaris Vitoldi Magni Ducis Lithuaniae 1376-1430 1882, p.71-73).

Tautvilo-mirties-aprasymas-Jano-Dlugoso-Canonici-Cracoviensis-Opera-III-kn-9-p462 Description of the death of Towtwil in Jan Dlugosz's chronicle Canonici Cracoviensis Opera Vol. III, book 9, p.462 Kraków 1868


Tautvilo-mirties-aprasymas-Jano-Dlugoso-Historiae-Polonicae-libri-XII.-T.-3-491 Description of the death of Towtwil in Jan Dlugosz's chronicle Historiae Polonicae libri XII. Vol. 3 p.491 Kraków 1886


It is not clear how many descendants Towtwil had. Historical sources mention a daughter Jadwyga, married to the Pomeranian Duke Barnim V. Moreover, in one chapter of the Polish historian Antoni Prochaska’s book “Dzieje Witołda W. Księcia Litwy” describing the escape of Vytautas and Towtwil to the Crusaders in the autumn of 1382, arrival of George Towtwilowicz with his wife is mentioned, who came to visit him from confiscated Novogrudek principality (Antoni Prochaska – Dzieje Witołda W. Księcia Litwy 1914, p.40). Although there are historians who disagree that Towtwil could have been old enough to have had an adult son at that time. However, Antoni Prochaska mentions George, Duke of Novogrudek, the brother of the son of the Duke of Trakai, Vygandas (Vytautas is known to have been christened as Vygandas in 1383), even in his earlier book “Codex epistolaris Vitoldi Magni Ducis Lithuaniae 1376-1430″. There, in the confession document of of 30 January 1384, the expelled Duke of Trakai Vygandas (Vytautas), who had been expelled from Lithuania, confirming that he is submitting himself to the Teutonic order and entrusting his homeland to it.  In that document the expelled Duke of Trakai Vygandas and his brother’s son, George Duke of Novogrudek, are mentioned,  – “Wigand vorgenannt herczoge czu Trakken und Jurgen unsirs bruders son herczoge czu Nogarten” (Antoni Prochaska – Codex epistolaris Vitoldi Magni Ducis Lithuaniae 1376-1430 1882, pp. 4 ). In any case, it is highly possible that Towtwil had male descendants, otherwise it is unlikely that a family with the surname of Towtwil or Towtwilowicz would have existed in Lithuania later.
Codex_epistolaris_Vitoldi_Magni_Ducis_Lithuaniae_1376-1430-Minimas-Jurgis-Tautvilavicius-Naugarduko-kunigaikstis An excerpt of the confession of Vygandas (Vytautas), Duke of Trakai, who was expelled from Lithuania, about his loyalty to Teutonic order and entrusting his homeland to it, in which Vygandas and his brother’s son, George Towtwilowicz, the Duke of Novogrudok, are mentioned 1883.01.30 , Antoni Prochaska – Codex epistolaris Vitoldi Magni Ducis Lithuaniae 1376-1430 1882, p.4 .

There is not much information about Duke Towtwil descendants the Towtwil (Towtwilowicz) family. It is only clear that by the end of the 16th. century the family under this name no longer existed.

The historian Albertas Kojelavičius-Vijūkas, in his book “Historiae Lituanae“, published in 1669, mentions that in 1463, one of the Lithuanian delegates to the Sejm in Piotrkow, was a man with surname Towtwil (although the year should probably be 1468, as that is the year of the first Sejm in Piotrkow; HISTORIA LITVANIE PARS ALTERA, ALBERTO WIIVK KOIALOWICZ, 1669, p.228).
1463-m-Tautvilo-paminejimas-tarp-pasiuntiniu-i-Piotrkowo-seima-A.-Kojelavicius-Vijukas-1669-Historiae-Lituanae-p228 Mention of 1463 of Towtwil as delegate to Piotrkow sejm, HISTORIA LITVANIE PARS ALTERA, ALBERTO WIIVK KOIALOWICZ, 1669, p.228

The most information about Towtwil descendants probably could be found in the Lithuanian Metrica. In the 3rd book of records of the Lithuanian Metrica (Lithuanian Metrica III, 1440-1498), some Towtwil is mentioned five times as a man by whose orders the lands were distributed, as well as Mitko Towtwilowicz.

Bogdana Tautvilavičiūtė Daukševičienė is mentioned in the first and third record books of the Lithuanian Metrica (Lithuanian Metrica I record book 1380-1584 and Lithuanian Metric III record book 1440-1498). One document mentions that she, the wife of Stanislaus Daukševičius, donated to Marthine Gosztowt the Mikuliškės-Garlaučiškės manor in Daugeliškės. Another document, dated 21 July 1514, mentions that Bogdana sold a manor of Vilnius Castle to the Grand Marshal of Lithuania, Johannes Radzwil, for 200 kopas. A third document mentions that she donated Vidiškės manor to Gosztowt before her death. The fourth document, dated 1 October 1518, mentions that King Sigismund I the Old approved the deed of gift of Bogdana Tautvilavičiūtė Daukševičienė’s land on the Juodupė River to Albert Gosztowt, knight of Polotsk. Bogdana is also mentioned in the 1528.05.27 court decision of the 15th book of records of the Lithuanian Metrica.

The record book V of the Lithuanian Metrica mentions a document dated 10.08.1495, in which the Vilnius nobleman Towtwil Wiskontowicz is mentioned.

In the Book of Judgements of the Lithuanian Metrica VI, a case of 1542 is mentioned, in which the nobleman of the Ariogala county Jacob Towtwilowicz is mentioned.

In the Book of Records of the Lithuanian Metrica VIII, a document dated 07.12.1506 mentions Laurentius Towtwilowicz from the Maišiogala county.

The court book of the Lithuanian Metrica VIII mentions a case dated 12.03.1534, mentioning the Samogitian nobleman Johannes Towtwilowicz, and a document dated December 1534, mentioning two men – Petkus and Mackus Towtwilowicz.

In the Book of Records of the Lithuanian Metrica IX, there is a document dated 26.01.1516 mentioning Stankus Towtwilowicz from the Darsūniškis county.

The 19th. book of records of the Lithuanian Metrica mentions the privilege of King Sigismund I the Old, dated 1536.02.02., appointig hostlers of Trakai county, which also mentions the brothers Mateus and Mikutis Towtwilowicz.

Towtwils were also mentioned in the 1528 and 1567 censuses of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Army.

The following members of the Towtwil family are mentioned in the army census of 1528 of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Pacuk Towtwilowicz mentioned in the register of dukes and nobles of Giedraičiai, Bogusz Towtwilowicz and Towtwil, son of Michael are mentioned in the list of the nobility of Eišiškiai county (the first one may have been his son, the second is his father), Tomas Towtwilowicz in the list of Rodunė county, Johannes Towtwilowicz in the list of Viduklė County, Janusz Towtwilowicz in Šiauduva County, Stanislaus Towtwilowicz in Kražiai County, Petkus Tautvilaitis in Tendžiogola County.

In the army census of 1567 of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, only few Towtwils are mentioned. In Viduklė county, Michael and Jacob Towtwils, sons of Johannes and Barbara Andriuškaitė Tautvilienė are mentioned and in Ariogala county Michael Towtwil, son of Jacob and Stephen Towtwilowicz are mentioned.
1567-m-LDK-armijos-surasymas-Mykolas-ir-Jokubas-Tautvilai-Jono-sunus Excerpt of 1567 census of the army of Great Duchy of Lithuania, mentioning Michael and Jacob Towtwils, sons of Johannes

It seems that the surname sometimes spelled incorrectly. For example, the army census of 1528 of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania does not mention brothers Simon and Gregor Towtwilowicz who lived in Viduklė, but mentions Simon Tautkewicz (Товтковичъ) and Gregor Tautkewicz (Товткевичъ) living in the same county, who were most probably the same persons.
Simonas-ir-Grigalius-Tautvilaviciai-Blinstrubai Mentioning of brothers Simon (Szymko) and Gregor (Grycius) Towtwilowicz in 1536. May 1st. Veldomiai land and Peasants donation act of Michael Airimowicz to Viduklė Church

Simonas-Tautvilavicius-Blinstrubas Mention of Simon (Szymko) Towtwilowicz in 1536. May 1st.., in the act of donation of Johannes Pacewicz manor after his death


The oldest court books of the Raseiniai Land Court give some information about the last period of Towtwil family existence. The Raseiniai Land Court Book of 1575 mentions a document of 28 February 1571, by which Stephen Towtwilowicz pledged to the noblemen Venckavičius Aleknavičius a part of the Pašiliai manor ofAriogala county (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1575, p.730-732 ) The following documents are mentioned in the book of 1578 – 26.05.1575 Mateus Zakarevicz sells to Johannes Towtwil half of the land of Gudaučyzna in Padubysis (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1578 p.519-520 ), 03.06.1578 Stanislaus Daukantas donates to his wife Anna Tautvilaite two parts of Dobikiniai manor in Dirvėnai county (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1578 p.453-454), 05.06.1577 Jakob Towtwilowicz, son of Johannes, donates his wife Anna Martinaite Tautvilienė the manor of Srujėnai in the county of Gandinga (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1578 p.632-633 ), 28.05.1578 invitation of Joseph Towtwil to his fiancée (probably Elisabeth Vaitkevičiūtė) regarding his deceased brother Michael and his peace treaty (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1578 p.392-393 ), deed of gift of half of the Srujėnai manor in Gandinga to his son-in-law Merkel Matusevičius by Anna Martinaitė Tautvilienė, wife of Jacob, 1581.09.20 (Missing book of 1581 p.223-225 ), 24.06.1582 Agreement between Katherine Tautvilaitė, daughter of Johannes, and her husband Vojtech Vaitkevičius and Ellisabeth Vaitkevičiūtė, wife of Joseph Towtwil, son of Johannes, concerning Baltmiškis and Žarai manors in Viduklė county and Laukuva manor in Karšuva county. (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1582 p. 132-135), deed of gift of the manors of Baltmiškis and Žarai in Viduklė county by Joseph Towtwil to his wife Elisabeth Vaitkevičiūtė (VUB F7-ŽŽA 1582 p. 136-137), 24.06.1582

The National Library of Lithuania preserve a document with a transcript of the deed of sale of 1 April 1571, which mentions sale of the Juciškiai land located between the Žaltinis river, Gyžežeris lake and the Lioliai – Raseiniai road to Michael Towtwil, son of Johannes and his wife Barbara, daughter of George, for 15 kopas. (LNB Manuscripts Section).

It is also interesting to note that almost all of the listed members of Towtwil family lived in the lands of Samogitia and Trakai ruled by Grand Duke Kęstutis (Kęstutis was the Duke of Samogitia and Trakai).

After 1582, Towtwils are no longer mentioned as a separate family in survived court books of the Raseiniai Land, but in 1585-1588 the Blinstrub Towtwil-Towtwilowicz family appear. In the Raseiniai Land Court Book of 1585 there is a document of 6 September 1585 in which brothers ID848 Sebastian and ID847 Laurentius Towtwilowicz. sons of Peter, sold to their brother ID839 Stanislaus Towtwilowicz a part of Pašaltuonis Kulvertiškiai Vėžiškiai manor land (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1584-1585 old no. 14583-14584, doc. no. 35, p. 73-76) and the Raseiniai Land Court Book of 1588 mentions a deed of gift dated 28 June 1588, by which Kaspar Towtwil, Simon’s son, donates to (his second) wife Gertruda (Šimkevičiūtė), daughter of Peter, Mikolajiškiai folwark (of Alsa manor) and the village of Butkiškiai (Būtaičiai) (VUL F7-ŽŽA 1588 old no. 14588 doc. no. 144, p. 244-245). Therefore, it can be concluded that Towtwil family merged with Blinstrub family at the latest around 1570-1580.

Based on these documents we can identify Towtwil’s descendants who lived in the same Viduklė county, the same county as Blinstrubs did – Simon (Szymko) and Gregor (Gricius) Towtwilowicz (1528-1536), Johannes Towtwilowicz (1528-1534, perhaps even 1575), Johannes daughter Katherine Tautvilaitė (1582), sons Michael (1567-1571, died before 1578, had a wife Barbora), Joseph (1578-1582) and Jacob (1567-1577), Jacob’s wife Anna Martinaitė Tautvilienė (1577-1581) and Joseph’s wife Elisabeth Vaitkevičiūtė (1578-1582). In the nearby Ariogala county also lived Jacob Towtwilowicz (1542), Jacob’s son Michael Towtwilowicz (1567) and Stephen Towtwilowicz (1567-1571). You can read more on the main page of the website why some were called Towtwils and others Towtwilowicz .

All these people were probably the last representatives of Towtwil family in Viduklė-Raseiniai region. It’s probably not possible to identify which who was that man who made a decision on amalgamation with Blinstrub family, but, as ID843 Kaspar Blinstrub Towtwil Olsowski  and ID841 Peter Blinstrubs Olsowski de Towtwil identified themselves, as sons of Simon, there is a possibility that mentioned Simon (Szymko) Towtwilowicz could be that person.

The author of the study is Šarūnas Blinstrubas.

March 2023

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