Adam Jan Weydlich
*22 X 1742 Świecie, †ok.1815
A crucial role in the history of the Chopin family was played by the figure of Adam Weydlich, who was responsible for Nicolas [Pol. Mikołaj] Chopin emigrating from France to Poland and looked after him on his arrival.
Adam Weydlich (sometimes mistakenly called Adam-Jan) came from a noble-burgher family with German roots that had settled in West Prussia. His grandfather, Krzysztof von Weydlich, a German noble married to Anna-Maria, lived in Pozožice, near Brno, Moravia, around the turn of the eighteenth century. Their son Franciszek (b. 19 August 1694), having obtained a certificate of his origins and good conduct, went out into the world to look for employment, and in 1721 found himself in Świecie on the River Vistula, in West Prussia, where he is believed to have worked as the local parish administrator. It was here that eleven children were born to him and his wife, Krystyna (née Beltz), including the youngest, Franciszek (b. 25 November 1738; d. after 1814), Adam and most probably Kazimierz (b. c.1750; d. 12 February 1770). Franciszek later taught German and Latin in the Knights' School in Warsaw, whilst Kazimierz was a pupil of Chełmno Academy and died in his youth.
Adam Weydlich was born in Świecie on 22 October 1742 and must have gained a suitable education, since while still a young man he arrived in France as ‘secretary to the Polish envoy to the King of France' (1770-1787), in the person of Michał Wielhorski, ambassador of the Confederation of Bar at the court of Louis XV. He probably lost that position when the confederation broke up (1772), especially since Wielhorski returned to Poland. Weydlich remained in France among the most prominent representatives of the confederation in exile. In 1775 Louis XVI awarded Weydlich a certificate of naturalisation, granting him and his progeny French citizenship, along with all the prerogatives of the noble estate. In 1777 Weydlich wed a wealthy Parisienne, Françoise Schelling, and he entered the service of Michał-Jan Pac, one of the leaders of the confederation also exiled in France. In 1782 Weydlich became steward of the chateau and estate of Marainville, near Nancy in Lorraine, recently acquired by Pac.
In the village of Marainville, the fortunes of the Weydlichs coincided with those of the Chopin family, as the local village clerk of long standing was François Chopin - a wheelwright and cartwright by trade. His grandfather, also François, had left the distant Dauphiné in the Alps and settled in Lorraine, thus founding the Lorraine branch of the Chopin family (the surname had previously been written Chapin). In the year the Weydlichs arrived at the chateau of Marainville with the Polish court of Count Pac, Chopin had three children: two daughters and an eleven-year-old son, Nicolas. The Chopin children were soon being admitted into the rooms at the chateau, and Mrs Weydlich undertook to complete the education of the promising young Nicolas. Barely a few years later, in June 1787, Michał-Jan Pac unexpectedly died in Strasbourg, and the Weydlichs were forced to decide on their future. They chose to return to Poland - the homeland of Adam Weydlich. Aware that he would remain burdened with the unresolved financial affairs of his defunct employer for a few years to come, and seeing in the bright young Nicolas Chopin, now seventeen, a possible assistant in his business dealings, Weydlich proposed that Chopin leave for Poland with him. Their journey to Warsaw took place in October/November 1787, although Adam Weydlich probably travelled there earlier alone in order to prepare for the arrival of the rest of his family and Nicolas. The Weydlichs were given accommodation by Adam's brother, Franciszek, a teacher at the Knights' School, also known as the Cadets' School, who left them his apartment in the Missionary House on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street (Land Registry no. 406; now no. 1) and moved to the ‘Cadet Pavilions' - living quarters on the grounds of Casimir Palace, which served as the Knights' School headquarters. This is attested by a list of residents from 1792, which documents the first recorded address of Nicolas Chopin in Poland that has come to light. However, another document may testify to the earlier fortunes of the Weydlichs and Chopin. A few months after arriving in Warsaw, in the early spring of 1788, Adam Weydlich set up a boarding school for young ladies in an Augustine friars home on Nowy Świat Street (Land Registry no. 1259; now no. 33), where the young Frenchman also most probably found board and employment, given that he was still living with the Weydlichs some four years later. No documents have been discovered accounting for the later history of the Weydlichs' Warsaw school for girls, but it may have lasted for a number of years as one of many such institutions at that time. Meanwhile, the Weydlichs' charge, Nicolas Chopin, was becoming more independent, taking up tutoring posts in a succession of noble residences in Mazovia and the region of Dobrzyn. The Weydlichs disappear from Warsaw sources c.1800, and their further fortunes are known to us today from fragmentary information alone. A pupil of the Warsaw Lyceum (secondary school), Wiktor Malski, from the region of Grodno, wrote in his curriculum vitae that he had earlier been taught ‘by Weydlich in Galicia'. In 1817 the Weydlichs' daughter, Salomea Malawska, wrote a letter of attorney concerning the receipt of jewellery left by her deceased mother in Kutyszcze. Finally, c.1822 the Weydlichs' son, Michał (b. Marainville, 1783), purchased the estate of Skotyniany, near Kamenets Podolski, and in 1826 provided evidence of his nobility in the Russian province of Podolia.
According to documents submitted to the Deputation of the Gentry of the Province of Podolia, Franciszek senior became a lieutenant/captain in the artillery of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, receiving for his services, from King Augustus III, land in the region of Vilnius. He sold this estate to Duke Michał ‘Rybeńko' Radziwiłł, receiving the first instalment of payment in 1762. After the duke's death, the outstanding debt was to be paid by his son, Karol ‘Panie Kochanku' Radziwiłł, Voivoide of Vilnius, but he delayed payment, and Franciszek's heirs, his sons Franciszek junior and Adam, took Radziwiłł to court. They won the case in 1764, yet by 1830 the sum involved had still not been paid. The documents presented before the tribunal treated both Weydlichs as noblemen, which contradicts later references to Franciszek junior (teacher at the Knights' School), where he tends to be referred to as a burgher. Franciszek senior's progeny are also referred to in Świecie as ‘famatus' or ‘honoratus' (terms applying to the burgher estate), which may be surprising in relation to the Lithuanian artillery officer described above.
Adam and Franciszka Weydlich died before 1815 in an unknown location, in Galicia or Russian Podolia. Their children were Henryka (b. Paris, 1778), Michał-Józef-Karol (b. Marainville, 29 July 1783) married to Klara Modzelewska (coat-of-arms Trzywdar, tria in donum), whose descendants are still alive today, Salomea (b. Warsaw, 5 November 1788; d. after 1817), wife of Andrzej Malawski, and Marianna, who is recorded in 1817 as the widow of one Jan Zienkiewicz.
It should be added that in 1844, in his funeral speech over the coffin of Mikołaj Chopin, his former pupil, Bishop Jan Dekert, said of his teacher, among other things, that he had arrived in Warsaw ‘in the company of a respectable matron, with regard to whom he fulfilled filial duties until her death'. This refers to Mrs Franciszka Weydlich and her great role in shaping the fortunes in life of Nicolas/Mikołaj Chopin.
Piotr Mysłakowski, Rodzina ojca Chopina. Migracja i awans [The family of Chopin's father. Migration and social advancement] (Warsaw, 2002).
Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski, Chopinowie. Krąg rodzinno-towarzyski [The Chopins. Their family and social circle] (Warsaw, 2005).
Wanda Jóźwiak, My z Podola. Saga rodzinna [We from Podolia. A family saga] (Cracow, 1993).
Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski (July 2006)