Saturday, November 15, 2014

Extraordinary Estate: Illegitimacy in XIX Century Russia

  ...The godparents were Maria Mikhailovna Krylova, the widow of the Colonel of the Guard, and the son of Natalia Alexandrovna, Alexander Ivanovich Krylov, of the village California, but his surname, however, was not Krylov but Tyubukin...
...In the process of making his first vital record, the embarrassed young priest invented an extraordinary estate for Alexander Tyubukin and made an error in his last name.

What extraordinary estate? The record says nothing about Tyubukin's estate!

This is what I found. At the time, Russia had several estates (each further subdivided into groups):
  • Nobility
  • Clergy
  • Honorary Citizens
  • Merchants
  • Commoners
  • Peasants
  • Cossack
The child belonged to the father’s estate. “Illegitimacy, in contrast, prevented one from exercising one's family rights and thus put one in an awkward position, both legally and socially” (O. E. Glagoleva, 2005)

A record of christening always indicated the estate of the parents and of the godparents. In this case, the godmother, as a widow of a colonel, belonged to nobility, but what about the godfather?   

For people of illegitimate birth, the mother's name was written instead of the estate.

When the priest wrote down the mother's name, he formally indicated (incorrectly) that the godfather was of illegitimate birth rather than a nobleman, as was the case. Aha! The estate was indicated.

Krylov later gives a fictitious reason why the family had to move to France. Krylov's grandson, Andrey Kapitsa,  explains in the introduction to the memoir, that, in fact, it was the impending birth of Krylov's half-brother.
“Now, 130 years later, a family secret can finally be revealed. … Had the baby been born in Russia, his fate as an illegitimate child would be a sad one.”

Extraordinary estate indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?