Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Jan Austen

Jan Austen

*1774 Wilkiejmy, †6 V 1828 Warszawa

Jan Austen was born at the beginning of 1774 in Wilkiejmy (Ger. Welkeim), situated near the town of Jeziorany. He was the son of Jan and Anna, née Jagielska, of which nothing is known. The Austens would appear to have been a noble family, settled in Braniewo, and according to German heraldists descended from ennobled townsfolk from Świdnice, Lower Silesia. Another member of this family was Jerzy Austen (1721-1793), vicar of Frombork Cathedral and canon of Warmia.

Jan Austen arrived in Warsaw c.1789; it is not known, however, what his occupation was during his first twenty years in the capital. Possibly by dint of their common geographical roots, Austen was acquainted with Jakub Benik, and through him with the latter's friend Mikołaj Chopin. The first recorded information concerning Jan Austen dates from 1810. He lived in Warsaw at the following addresses: 607 Bielańska St. (in the Mint building, together with Benik, up to 1810), 600 Bielańska St. (1810-1811), 636 Trębacka St. (1811), 415 Krakowskie Przedmieście (1812), 460 Senatorska St. (1813-1817) and 497c Podwale (1827 until his death). In 1810 he was already a teacher at the Elementary School of Artillery and Engineers, also known as the Cadet School, and subsequently taught in private schools (in extant documents he is described as 'a teacher at the School of Artillery and Engineers and subsequently a teacher in a private college' or 'college teacher'). His subject-at least in the Cadet School-was German. At the same time as Mikołaj Chopin (after 1810), Jan Austen founded and directed an elementary school and lodging house for its pupils. In 1813 this was located on the second floor of the Olbromski Palace, at 460 Senatorska St.

Jan Austen was among Mikołaj Chopin's closest friends, as extant sources attest. He was a witness at the civil registration of the birth of Emilia Chopin, in 1812, and in 1814 the same function in relation to his own daughter, Paulina, was discharged by Mikołaj Chopin. In 1809, he also became godfather to Jakub Benik's daughter Józefa. Austen's known links to Benik can be dated from 1810, in which year the latter was a witness at Austen's wedding and the two men were living at the same address.

On 20 December 1810, in Warsaw, Jan Austen wed Franciszka Roślakowska (also spelt 'Roszlakowska'), daughter of the painter Jakub and Marianna, née Jaworska, born in Warsaw on 7 March 1788. Franciszka was the sister of Antoni Roślakowski (1796-1842), a cadet at the Elementary School of Artillery and Engineers (thus possibly a pupil of Austen's), captain of the 4th Regiment of Line Infantry, an active participant in the 'November Night' (it was he who took the arsenal in Warsaw, of key significance for the further fortunes of the insurrection), and later an émigré in France.

Jan Austen died on 6 May 1828 in Warsaw. After his death, his widow Franciszka and their children received from the authorities an annual pension of 500 zloty 'by special grace of the Public Treasury'. She lived on Podwale (Land Registry no. 487b), where in 1832 she changed the school from a boys' to a girls' school; she was to be assisted in its running by her daughter (most probably Emilia), who, with this aim in mind, completed studies at the government's Governesses' Institute and also a suitable course of practical training. Franciszka Austen died on 25 February 1841 in Warsaw, and was buried two days later in the Powązki cemetery. The union between Jan Austen and Franciszka Roślakowska was blessed with eight children: Emilia, Kamila, Waleria (b. c.1820), Cezar, Paulina-Naryza-Engelbertyna (1814-1814), Aleksandra (b. c.1824), Leon or Kleon (1825-1827) and Józefa.

Emilia-Franciszka-Marianna Austen (b. Warsaw, 3 Oct. 1811; d. Warsaw, 8 Jan. 1860) was the wife of Skarzyński.

Kamila Austen (b. 15 Aug. 1813; d. 24 Apr. 1872) was the wife of Piotr Czerwiński, captain of the 11th Regiment of Line Infantry in the November Rising.

Cezar Austen (b. 14 Jan. 1814; d. 22 June 1869) was a civil servant with the Internal Affairs Commission. He maintained close relations with the Chopin family, as can be seen from the fact that in 1858 the now elderly Justyna Chopin became godmother to his daughter (most probably Helena).

Józefa Austen (b. c.1827; d. after 1904) lived in Mitawa, the capital of Courland (now Jelgava in Latvia).

Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski (June 2006)

Bibliography
Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski, Chopinowie. Krąg rodzinno-towarzyski  [The Chopins. Their Family and Social Circle] (Warszawa, 2005).

 


 

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