Pio-Ulski (Пио-ульский)

Family Pio-Ulski

George’s great-great grandfather was Alexander Pioulski, who was a noble landowner. His great grandfather was Jerzy, who was a judge and landowner and his grandfather was Wladyslaw Grzegorz (who was a mathematics teacher and secondary school inspector). He married Sabina Bronislawa Biestrzykowska, who came from a noble family in western Poland. He managed to “reclaim” noble status for his family in 1893.

Click to enlarge

The Pio-Ulski family was a branch of the Ulski family which were located in northeastern Belarus, especially in the Polotsk, Witebsk, Mogilev triangle, and which originated from at least the early 17th century. Originally the Pioulski family spelled the name as one name and it is probable that the “Pio” part was a nickname of a particular Ulski branch which stuck over time (a so-called “Przedomek” or nickname surname).

This family was a noble family and several of its members participated in the elections of various Polish kings during the 17th & 18th centuries.
During these times, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of Europe’s largest states, comprising the territory of today’s Poland, parts of Czechia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The Commonwealth (the so-called Rzeczpospolita) was ruled by kings who were elected by the nobles of all provinces. This state was remarkable in that a relatively large proportion of the population of its land were noble (6-10% of the total population) and that there was a “noble culture” which officially held that a poor noble had the same political rights as a rich magnate. The Pio-Ulskis lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, part of the Rzeczpospolita, which was at the forefront of many wars with Muscovy. As such their lands experienced much war (which continued well until the end of WWII).

Towards the end of the 18th century the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita was attacked simultaneously by the Russians, Prussians and Austrians and divided up amongst themselves. After the “partitions of Poland” the occupying powers needed to do something with the large group of Polish-Lithuanian nobles that they had inherited with their booty. In each partition a slightly different approach was taken. Unfortunately the Pioulskis were confronted with the harshest approach as they were in the Russian partition.

The aim of the Russian Central government was to significantly reduce the number of Polish nobles in their territory for two main reasons: firstly because numerically the Polish nobles outnumbered the Russian nobles in the Russian Empire significantly; secondly because the independent ethos of the Polish noblemen (the slogan had always been “Nic o nas, bez nas” – “nothing can be decided about us without our participation”) (“Nihil novi,” in this political sense, is interpreted in the vernacular as “Nothing about us without us” (in Polish, “Nic o nas bez nas”)) was a constant threat to the absolutist ethos of Tsarist Russia. Therefore it was decided that all Polish noble had to “prove” their nobility. In practice, only the higher nobility and some pro-Russian Polish nobles were officially confirmed – the rest condemned to fade away as declassed nobles, treated as peasants or city dwellers.

Documents from the St Petersburg archives show that the Pioulski family tried to get the confirmation of their noble status for a long time. Between 1830 and 1842 numerous documents were written to the Central Herald’s Office with descriptions of the family’s noble rights. Yet, and despite the full support of the Noble Assembly of their province, their applications were refused.tsarnavalemblem

It is my conviction that this was purely for political reasons that they did not succeed, as the documents I have seen demonstrate that their social environment was clearly a “gentry” environment and they clearly owned small “dwors” (Polish term for manors) and also owned serfs (mention is made of one family owning 14 souls).

The Pioulski family carried the Swinka arms.
[Source: My nephew]



According to Konstantin Pio-Ulsky, way back when the family name used to be plain old Ulski but in 1609, Jan Ulski went into service for Tsar Vasily Shumsky (aka Vasily Ivanovich IV/Basil Shuisky). The prefix “Pio” (Latin meaning pious) was added to our ancestors’ surname by Pope Paul V (a Borghese no less!!) during his visit to Poland to visit King Sigismund III after an Ulski saved Sigismund’s daughter





Gules, a boar’s head contourne, couped proper, and from the base, a dexter arm embowed, vested azure, opening the mouth of the boar.


Out of a crown proper, a demi-maiden issuing affrontee, vested argent.




This coat-of-arms dates from the year 1412.

The red background used in the shield signifies military strength and fortitude, it was the colour used by a warrior or martyr.

A boar’s head was both a symbol of hospitality and a most important feudal offering.

The arm is the symbol of a laborious and industrious person.

A crown represents royal or seigniorial authority.

The maiden issuing signifies grace and beauty, her white clothing is a sign of purity and innocence.



There is a book from 1909 which lists the noble families in Belarus and the Pioulski name is there 😀

A book containing the names of the nobles in Mogilev

The translation of the title of the book is «Alphabetical list of noble families made in noble bloodlines books Mogilev province» and the Pioulskis appear on Page 11 …

page. 11
Malinowski, Mankovsky, Marcinkiewicz, Mackiewicz, Meyer, Merkushev Melnikov, Monnerot Du Maine, Merlin, Flashes Mikosha, Miropolskaya, Michalowski, Madestov, Portyanko-Mońki, Moskovenko, rake Murashko Neyshventer, Nicotine, Nichiporenko, Novitsky Nosovichi, Ozmidov, Olechowski, Olszewski, Ostrovsky, wit, Okhochinsky, Pazdeev, Panchenko, Poprotsky, Pashinsky, Pelrashkevich, Penquin, Peters, Pyatkevich Petrash, Pechkovskii, Pioulski, Plohotski, Podashevski, Pokrovsky, Polomian, Poltoratsk, Poslavskaya, Przheradovski, Prigorovsky, Pukhovsky, Radkevych, Radchenko, Rachmaninoff, Rego, Renteln, Bronyushets-Retsky, Retsky, Rodkevich, Roland Romankevich Romushkevich, Sommerset-Rosseter,



The Pioulski name was also mentioned in the Kasper Niesiecki, Polish Heraldry list …

and according to Wiki, this is the history of the Swinka arms

«Świńka is one of the oldest coats of arms in Poland. According to legend, the history of the Świńka family began in 712, when a certain Biwoj, squire to Queen Libusza, gave her a giant boar that he had hunted down in the forest. The queen rewarded him with the coat of arms, the village of Świny in Silesia, and her daughter

Swinka Coat of Arms

Swinka Coat of Arms

An interesting article which (I think) refers to the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth but you need Chrome (certainly in 2016) to get the Russian translated 😀

АКТУАЛЬНО АРХИВ ВИДЕО МЕДАЛИ НИКОЛАЕВСКОЙ ЭПОХИ: ОТ ПОЛЬСКОГО ВОССТАНИЯ ДО КРЫМСКОЙ ВОЙНЫ (Medals Mykolaiv Epochs: From the Polish Uprising before the Crimean War) by Maxim Lavrentyev
(Since in the years 1814-1815 the decision of the Congress of Vienna was created by the so-called Polish kingdom – the kingdom, being in union with Russia, the Russian government, dismissing from the urgent needs of its own people, it has tried every possible way to placate the Poles, as though they had just emerged victorious of the Napoleonic wars. This enemy of autocracy, orthodoxy and nationalism Alexander I gave the Constitution, which has not received Russia, left the parliament (Sejm) and even its own army of legionaries who took part in the housing Poniatowski ranks the most active part in the invasion of “motley array of languages.”





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