Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Ksawery Zboiński

Ksawery Zboiński

Ksawery Zboiński - among the close acquaintances of the Chopin family, a certain ‘Mr Zboiński' appears many times. It was at his home, in Kowalewo, that Fryderyk Chopin stayed during his summer holidays in 1827, and with him that Chopin undertook the journey around the region of Dobrzyn, and also-probably-to Gdańsk and Waplewo, that is familiar from family correspondence. Many hypotheses have been advanced in the literature regarding the circumstances and character of this expedition. Recent detailed research has allowed the authors to identify precisely this Mr Zboiński and to describe the nature of his relations with the Chopin family.

The name ‘Zboiński' appeared earlier in Chopin's life: in 1815, Ksawery Zboiński was made godfather to Emilia Chopin, the youngest daughter of Mikołaj and Justyna, baptised in the Holy Cross church in Warsaw. Given that godparents were usually chosen from among genuinely close acquaintances and friends or family members, we can infer that Zboiński and the Chopins had just such a relationship and that it dated from Mikołaj's bachelor days.

Ksawery (properly Franciszek-Ksawery) Zboiński, who employed the title ‘Count', was born on 2 December 1795 in Kozłowo, the son of Jan-Nepomucen, royal chamberlain (d. 24 Jan. 1796), and Józefa, née Jeżewska. On his father's death, he inherited the Kozłowo estate in Pomerania. Kozłowo was an entail estate, situated in the district of Świecie nad Wisłą, in West Prussia, which also included the estates of  Konopat Niemiecki and Skarszewy (4855 ha in all). The entail was established by Michał-Augustyn Zboiński (c.1713-1788), Lieutenant General of the Crown Forces. On the death of the childless Michał, the estate passed to the heirs of his brother, Antoni Zboiński, including his grandson, Ksawery.

Another estate, Kowalewo, in the district of Płock, together with the neighbouring Dziewanowo and Lubcza in Galicia, was inherited by Ksawery and his sister, Róża-Tekla, from their half-sister, Bibianna-Barbara (d. 1822), Józefa Jeżewska's daughter from her second marriage, to Franciszek Piegłowski.

Zboiński resided principally at Kozłowo, which lay in the Prussian part of annexed Poland; he himself also became a subject of the King of Prussia. Consequently, in 1829, he ceded Kowalewo, in the Russian partition, on a three-year lease to one Stanisław Łukowski, though not before notarially reserving the right to rooms in the annexe, feed and stables for six horses, and the maintenance at the leaseholder's expense of two servants whenever he came to stay.

On 4 November 1818, in Radzanów, in the district of Mława, Ksawery Zboiński married Antonina Niemojewska (coat-of-arms Rola), of an old senatorial family active in Kujawy and West Prussia. This marriage ended in divorce, in 1839. Antonina (1794-1843) was the daughter of Józef (1769-1839), starosta of Śrem and later Brigadier General of the army of the Duchy of Warsaw, and Julianna-Konkordia Klug, daughter of a Poznań banker.

After the fall of the November Rising, Zboiński lived in exile (in 1839 we find him in the Knoc Hotel in Kraków). In early 1848 he took part in a riot against the Prussian partitioner in Pomerania: he collected 40,000 thalers and organised a forty-man unit, but was arrested by the Prussians and incarcerated in the fortress in Grudziądz, and later in Piława. The following year, he reappears in the Kingdom of Poland. He died at Kozłowo on 19 June 1853.

His union with Antonina Niemojewska produced three daughters: Olimpia, Eugenia and Kamila. Julia-Joanna-Olimpia (b. Kozłowo, 4 June 1820; d. 17 Apr. 1867, ??), entailer of Kozłowo after her father, gave substantial sums of money to her sisters and died unmarried.

Eugenia-Oktawia-Leokadia (b. Złotowo, in the district of Mława, 12 Mar. 1823; d. ?? before 1883), became notarial proprietress of Kowalewo and Dziewanowo as a one-year-old infant, doubtless due to her father's Prussian citizenship. She married Jakub-Tomasz Klicki (1806-1867), a clerk at the Bank of Poland, with whom she had a son, Stanisław.

Ksawery's youngest daughter, Kamila-Józefa-Pulcheria (b. Kowalewo, 7 July; d. after 1881) is referred to in a letter Fryderyk Chopin wrote to his parents from Kowalewo (1829): ‘But most amusing of all is the blackbird that sings up a rumpus outside the windows, and after the blackbird Mr Zboiński's youngest, Kamilka, not yet two years old, who has taken a liking to me and babbles that "Kagila lo's you". Just as she me, so I lo' and respect Papa and Mama, Mama and Papa a billion times over and kiss you tenderly on the foot'. In 1849 Kamila wed Stanisław Turowski, with whom she had a son, Józef, and two daughters, Antonina and Wiktoria. She inherited the Kozłowo estate from her elder sister. She also owned an estate in Mazovia, which included half the town of Sierpc. The last certain piece of information relating to her dates from 1881. As for Kowalewo, linked to Chopin's stay there, Ksawery's wife and daughters sold it in 1843 to one Krystyna Fink.

Ksawery Zboiński features in the biography of Fryderyk Chopin chiefly in connection with Fryderyk's planned (and doubtless realised, although no evidence exists) journey to Pomerania. We find a description of this planned journey in Fryderyk's correspondence. Indirect sources allow us to advance the following hypothesis regarding the details of this journey: it took place in the first half of August 1827, following Fryderyk's July sojourn at Kowalewo. The purpose of the journey was doubtless linked to the business of Ksawery Zboiński, who did indeed stay at the Three Negros Hotel in Gdańsk from 9 to 15 August, in the company of Antoni Sierakowski of Waplewo and Ignacy Dembowski. They were most probably accompanied by Fryderyk Chopin, who, as a minor, was not entered into the hotel's guest book. From Kowalewo to Gdańsk, the journey took Zboiński and Fryderyk via Płock, Rościszewo and Kikół, and then-beyond the Prussian border-Turzno and Kozłowo. The heir to Turzno was Zboiński's cousin, Ksawery Działowski, whilst Kozłowo was Ksawery's family home; this part of the journey would therefore have represented a visit to his family. In Gdańsk-according to unconfirmed information-Fryderyk supposedly separated from his minder, Zboiński (who returned to Kozłowo), and went for a few days with Sierakowski to the latter's home town of Waplewo, near Sztum. If this were the case, it is not known with whom the under-age Fryderyk would have returned (through the border crossing) home, which lay in the Kingdom of Poland (under Russian rule). Minors were usually entered in the passport of their minder; the idea of visiting Waplewo with Sierakowski was doubtless conceived at the last minute, in Gdańsk; returning alone, Fryderyk must have had his own passport. This uncertainty seriously undermines the credibility of this hypothesis.

It is worth closing with a brief account of the pedigree of the Zboiński family. The Zboińskis (coat-of-arms Ogończyk, ‘of Zbójno and Ossówka') were a very extensive family hailing from the district of Lipno in the Dobrzyn region. Some branches of the Zboiński family attained high office and noble titles in the Republic of Poland-Lithuania, whilst others remained among the ranks of Dobrzyn families of little or middling wealth. The best known line of the family issued from Franciszek Zboiński (d. 1718/1710), Master of the Hunt to the Royal Court. His descendant was Franciszek-Ksawery, the last Castellan of Płock and senator of the Kingdom of Poland, who in 1798 was made a Prussian count. Among the lands in his possession were the estates of Kikół, in the region of Dobrzyn, and Izbica, which he purchased in 1800 from the Skarbeks (hence his indirect influence on the fortunes of Justyna Chopin's parents). His son, Karol, was visited at Kikół Palace in 1827 by Fryderyk Chopin, during the journey to Pomerania described above.

Hunt-master Franciszek's brother was the Castellan of Elbląg, Jakub Zboiński (d. 1755). Of his several sons, particularly distinguished were Michał, Lieutenant General of the Crown Forces, and Antoni. The latter's son was Jan-Nepomucen (d. 1796), royal chamberlain, married to Józefa Jeżewska, whose son was [Franciszek-] Ksawery of Kowalewo, godfather to Emilia Chopin.

Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski (June 2006)

Bibliography:
Andrzej Sikorski and Piotr Mysłakowski, ‘Fryderyk Chopin a Zboińscy z Kowalewa' [Fryderyk Chopin and the Zboińskis of Kowalewo], Ruch Muzyczny, 2003/15-16, pp. 50-54.
Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski, Chopinowie. Krąg rodzinno-towarzyski [The Chopins. Their Family and Social Circle] (Warsaw, 2005).

 


 

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