The family’s oldest ancestor known with certainty is Feodor Aminev, who first appears in historical documents in 1609 in Narva. He was a voivode, that is to say the foremost commander, at the fortress Ivangorod in Ingria. His time at the fortress coincided with the Time of Troubles, a period in Russian history characterized by internal power struggles. Sweden, which wished to defend its own interests in the Baltic, involved itself in the question of who should be chosen to be the new czar. After several years of violence where several pretenders to the throne passed in review, Mihail Romanov was finally elected in 1613 and thereby founded the Romanov dynasty.
After the Swedes conquered Ivangorod in 1612, Feodor Aminev went into Swedish service. He was declared a Swedish noble on 24th Sept 1618 by a patent of nobility signed at the royal palace in Stockholm by King Gustav II Adolf. The lineage was introduced to the Swedish House of Nobility with the son Esaias Aminoff on 9th October 1650 under number 446 (later changed to 456).
During the Time of Troubles around ten Russian noble families chose, like Feodor Aminev, to transition to Swedish service. They were called the Swedish ”Ryssbajorer”. The word bajor originates in the nomenclature for the Russian high nobility under Muscovite rule. The bojars retained both the majority of the land and the highest administrative offices. In the Swedish language of the time, all Russian nobles were incorrectly called ”bajorer”. The majority of the ryssbajorer actually belonged to the administrative, or civil or military service, lower nobility, as did Feodor Aminev.
Major General Johan Fredrik Aminoff was elevated to the rank of friherre together with his sons by King Gustav IV Adolf on 15th Octobre 1808 at the headquarters at the parsonage in Lemland on Åland, with the limitation that the rank of baron would fall to each of their eldest sons by primogeniture. Since they stayed in Finalnd after the separation of Finland from Sweden in 1809, they were never introduced at the Swedish House of Nobility. Later Czar Alexander I in response to a petition on 18th March 1812 ordered to ”issue a patent of nobility of comital estate, to which His Rotal Swedish Majesty had elevated him” for him, his children and descendants. The noble house of Aminoff was registered with the Finnish House of Nobility on 5th February 1818 under number 36, and on September 17th of the same year Johan Fredrik Aminoff was introduced as number 25 with comital status including descendants without limitation.
Esaias, the oldest son of Feodor participated in the defending of Ivangorod against the Swedish forces, but like his father, he also entered service in the Swedish army in 1612 and served as the under-governor of Gdov 1616-1619. During his lifetime he also got the opportunity to participate in both the coronation of King Gustav II Adolph in the fall of 1617, and his funeral in June 1634. At the coronation of Queen Christina on the 17th of October 1650 Esaias represented the Knighthood and Nobility of Ingria. When participating in the Four Estates Diet the same year, he signed all the resolutions of the Diet with Cyrillic letters. At the same Diet he also asked for permission from the Knighthood and Nobility to be introduced at the House of Nobility of Sweden, whereupon the Lord Marshall according to the minutes would have commanded “Aminoff to sit in the first line of those who have been introduced under the current Four Estates Diet, since he was proved to be of an old noble family, and had acted in a proper manner.”
The Family Leaves Ingria
The Great Northern War broke out in the year of 1700. Sweden fought on one side, and Russia, Denmark and Poland on the other side. At this point the family of Aminoff was still very small, roughly 40 persons. 25 of them were under 20 years old, and half a dozen at most had reached the age of 40. Until the end of the 17th century the family members had primarily lived in Ingra. Most of the men served in the military.
In August 1700 the Russians broke into Ingria with catastrophic results. Sweden’s victory in the battle of Narva in November 1700 delayed the Russians’ attempts to conquer both Ingria and the Baltic region. In 1703 the Russians had however already managed to seize the greater part of the area. They had also started to build Saint Petersburg on grounds that still technically belonged to Sweden. The women and the children of the family proceeded to escape Ingria. At first they went to Narva, but after the city fell in 1704 they continued via Reval to either Finland or Sweden. 13 family members in total fought in the war. Two of them died in battle, while five was taken as prisoners of war, and had to spend over ten years in captivity. It was very common of the Russians to try to persuade their war prisoners to enter service in the Russian army. At least Henrik Johan (born in 1680, the grandson of the grandson of Feodor) was pressured in this manner. He was promised to have all of his lost land property in Ingria returned to him as long as he entered the service of the Russian Czar. However, after refusing time after the other, he was eventually put in chains.
The Treaty of Nystad in 1721 ended the war between Sweden and Russia, but Sweden lost both Ingria and their Baltic provinces. The family members who had survived the war decided to settle down in either Sweden or Finland. None of them remainded in neither Ingria nor the Baltic region. The Finnish line of the family originates from two brothers, Gregori (1696-1758) and Berndt Johan (1697-1779). After the peace treaty Gregory was granted a lieutenants residence of his own in Iisalmi. Bernt Johan was also given a lieutenants residence in Pohja. Their offspring are still living at Iisalmi and in the western parts of Uusimaa.
In 1730 about 25 members of the family were living in Sweden, and roughly 30 in Finland. The family’s bifurcation into the Swedish and the Finnish family branches begins here. During the following decades, when Finland still remained a part of Sweden, (and also later on) the family members would however not cease to move from one part of the realm to the other. All the male members of the family served in the military until the Finnish War of 1808-1809.
More information about Berndt Johan can be found here.
The Baronial and the Comital Family Branches
On November the 5th 1808, in the headquarters of the parsonage of Lemland, King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden raised major general Johan Fredrik Aminoff and his three sons to the baronial estate. The rank of baron would however only be inherited by the oldest son. At this time the inheritance of different ranks of nobility was not very common to limited by primogeniture, in this case creating three different family branches which each held the baronial rank, but with the rule that only the oldest son would be able to inherit it. In practice, this was never came to be the case, firstly because of the fact that he two eldest sons of Johan Fredrik, Gustaf and Adolf, both died without any successors. Secondly, the rank of baron was granted Johan Fredrik in the middle of the ongoing war against Russia. No letters patent was given to him, and there was no time to create a baronial count of arms, let alone time to introduce him at the House of Nobility of Sweden. After Sweden and Russia had made peace, Johan Fredrik resigned from the Swedish army and returned to Finland. There he quickly attained new merits. At request, the Emperor Alexander I granted him, his children and his descendants an “open letter about that baronial rank that His Majesty the King of Sweden had raised him, his children and his descendants into” on March the 18th 1812. In other words, the Emperor verified his and his successors’ baronial rank. This meant that the inheritance of the rank limited to primogeniture, that was linked to the baronial rank granted by the King of Sweden, had lost its validity, and the baronial rank was allowed to all of the members of the family branch that had once been raised to the baronial estate.
The noble family of Aminoff was matriculated at the House of Nobility of Finland on the 5th of February 1818 with the number of 36. In the same year, on November the 7th, Fredrik Johan and his successors were introduced as the baronial family with the number of 25. He was raised into the comital estate on the 12th of November 1819. The inheritance of this rank was limited by primogeniture. The introduction took place on the 6th of November 1821, when the comital family branch of Aminoff saw the light of day. This was verified by His Majesty the King on the 5th of November 1838, at request.
Aminoff is the only family with representation in all of the three noble classes of the House of Nobility of Finland; the noble, the baronial and the comital class. Furthermore, the family is also the only one of Russian origin with representation both at the House of Nobility of Sweden and the House of Nobility of Finland.
More information about Johan Fredrik can be found here.
Numerically, the family has had a stable growth since the 18th century both in Finland and Sweden alike. In the mid-19th century the family had 93 members living in Finland and 43 in Sweden. In the year of 1900 the three different family branches in Finland had a total number of 129 members. In Sweden the number of family members were 50. According to the Almanac of Nobility, there were 213 members in Finland and 136 in Sweden in the year of 2020. The rapid growth of family members in Sweden is partly due to the fact that two new family branches registered at the House of Nobility of Sweden has been found. They are using the surnames Jernberg, Järnberg, Pihl and Sahlström. In Finland the lineage has been one of the biggest at the House of Nobility for ages.