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INSTERBURG

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 648 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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INSTERBURG, a town in the kingdom of Prussia, situated at the point where the Angerapp and Inster join to form the Pregel, 57 M. E. of Konigsberg by the railway to Eydtkuhnen, and at the junction of lines to Memel and Allenstein. Pop. (1900) 27,787. It has four Evangelical churches, of which the town church is celebrated for its fine wood carvings, a Roman Catholic church, a synagogue, several schools and a park. Besides flax-spinning and iron-founding, Insterburg has manufactures of machinery, shoes, cement, leather and beer, along with a considerable trade in cereals, vegetables, flax, linseed and wood, while horse-breeding is extensively carried on in the neighbourhood. Close to the town lies the demesne of Georgenburg, with an old castle which formerly belonged to the Teutonic order. Insterburg, the " burg " on the Inster, was founded in the r4th century by the knights of the Teutonic order. Having passed to the margraves of Brandenburg, the village which had sprung up round the castle received civic privileges in 1583. During the next century it made rapid advances in prosperity, partly owing to the settlement in it of several Scottish trading families. In 1679 it was besieged by the Swedes; in 1690 it suffered severely from a fire; and in 1710-1711 from pestilence. See Tows, Urkunden zur Geschichte des Hauptamts Insterburg (Inst., 1895-1897, 3 parts); and Kurze Chronik der Stadt Insterburg (Konigsberg, 1883).
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From the history of the Scottish family Simpson The interaction of Scotland and continental (European) countries during the period of the Scottish Reformation and the years after that period is one of the interesting pages in the history. One of the problems which are searched in this sphere is the problem of Scots migration to the known and less known cities of Pomerania and Prussia. I want to deal with only the small part of this question, searching the history of the Scottish family Simpson which originally came from William Simpson from Angus- Coupar (Scotland) on the territory of East Prussia. From Britain to Europe The German historian Walter Grunert in his article “The Simpsons in Georgenburg” notes, that the Simpsons like the Douglases, the Mitchells, the McLeans and a lot of other Scottish families widened the group of foreign sounding names of Scottish origin in East Prussia. Being alone and with the families they left their motherland (Scotland) (mostly because of religious reasons, following Reformist views) and settled in the trade cities of the Baltic sea. In the 17-18th centuries one could met the Scots among rich merchants and предприимчивых торговцев in Reval, Riga, Memel, Konigsberg and Danzig. Being shipowners themselves they went to long journeys under sails to Europe, to the towns of Hansatic League. In the book “The Scots in East and west Prussia” by Thomas Alfred Fischer we fi nd the following record of the family of Simpson: “It seems that they fi rst settled at a small place about twenty miles north of Memel called Heiligen Aa, [“Aa” means water. “Heilig” is “sacred.”] from a river Aa which emptying itself into the Baltic at the same time formed the boundary between Kurland and Szamaiten. Besides the Simpsons, tradition mentions the names of Muttray, Douglas and Melville as settlers. They traded with the produce of Szamaiten, corn and fl ax, which they chiefl y sold to Danzig. The inhabitants of Memel, feeling themselves aggrieved at this proceeding, lodged a complaint with the Crown of Poland, at that time exercising supremacy over the Duchy of Prussia; and effected an interdict of King Vladislaus, dated February 6th, 1639, by which all trading across the Heilige Aa was strictly prohibited. His captains received orders to burn the place. To this day, (My remark: In the beginning of the 20th century) there is a fi shing village called Heiligenaa on the borders of Curland, but the harbour has long ago been choked with sand. Simpson and the other Scots fl ed to Memel, where they soon held positions of infl uence and trust”. Paying attention to the exact matching surnames and names and difference of dates, we can suppose, that here Fischer writes not about the family of William Simpson, but about his relatives who came to the place of Heiligen in the 20-30s of the 17th century. Further Fischer tells, that “The Simpsons, another Scottish family in Memel, which spread from there all over Prussia, came originally from Cupar Angus in Forfar (Scotland). An old birth brief, dated 1680, is issued there”. On the 22nd of March 1656 in the Andrew Simpson son’s family of Jacob Simpson and his wife Barbara Young the baby William was born who would become a rich whole sale merchant in future. The document about his birth which was given to him in 1681 for showing it in Memel is a good proof of this fact. “The Chronicle of the Scottish family Simpson” by Gunter Schuhmilski tells us, that in 1679 William Simpson together with his brother Andreas left his home town by their own ship for settling in the town of Memel in East Prussia. The names of Andreas and William Simpson were met among the representatives of the Scottish community in Memel in 1682 and 1684. Soon after arriving at Memel William Simpson became a known merchant and got the post of a councilor of municipality. His wife Mary Mitchell (1661-1733) gave birth to seven children. The fi fth son of William Simpson, William too, was born on the 15th of 1697 in Memel. He became one of the fi rst representatives of the family Simpson who were born on the territory of East Prussia. In 1719 he married Adelgunda Hoppius from Konigsberg who was the daughter of the headmaster of the region school. William Simpson was appointed to the important post of burgomaster. He developed his trade business too and helped a lot to the Scottish congregation in the town. This man lived in Memel till his death on the 12th July, 1772. His son, William (1720-1752) continued “trade business” of his father. He was married twice and had twelve children in two marriages. John Ludwig Simpson, the grandson of William Simpson, was born in Memel on the 5th of January, 1751. He inherited the enterprising features of his ancestors and became the owner of the trade fi rms in London, Danzig, Antwerp, Konigsberg and Kauen. Even during the time of Napoleomic wars, when continental borders existed, he managed to conclude profi table bargains. Being a rich merchant, John Ludwig Simpson helped to the town Protestant Scottish congregation. In 1802 he granted a large amount of money (8000 guldens) to the church for increase of teacher’s salary in the church school. Probably John Ludwig used the earlier action of his cousin John as a good example. In 1760 his cousin John Simpson made a big fi nancial contribution for the urgent repair of the church which had damaged a lot from the Russian troops during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). The fi rst wife of John Ludwig, Henriette Caroline, was the daughter of the Prussian royal counsellor Conrad. The father –in-law of John Ludwig was in the King’s retinue and accompanied the monarch in his many trips.The councillor was a respected person and was entrusted by Fridrich the Great. In the estate of Conrad there was a horse farm where the thoroughbred horses were bred. As for John Ludwig Simpson, he died in his home town of Memel on the 16th of September 1819. The fi rst generation of the family Simpson in Georgenburg Horse-breeding became professional activity and for the following generations of the Scottish family Simpson. Two elder sons of John Ludwig Simpson were landlords. Both they specialized in the sphere of agricultural production, and especially in horse-breeding. The fi rst son, August Ludwig Simpson (was born on the 8th of February 1785 and died on the 3rd of February 1848) owned the estate of Friedrichsgabe. He became the fi rst representative of Rosenshtine- Friedrichsgabe line in the family of Simpson. He was married Augusta Wilgelmina Ruverthad and had eight children. The second son, Johann Wilhelm von Simpson was born in Memel on the 13th of October 1788. It was he who became the fi rst representative of the fi rst generation of the Simpsons in Georgenburg. Following tuition at home Johann Wilhelm von Simpson attended the école francaise in Königsberg from 1800 to 1803. Then he studied agriculture at several estates in the district of Gumbinnen. In about 1815 his father provided the money for his purchase of the 600 hectare estate of Plicken, where he quickly had success as a horse-breeder. As early as 1821 Simpson took part in the fi rst livestock show at Belle Alliance near Gumbinnen. In 1820 Johann Wilhelm acquired Wensoewen with Sidden in the district of Oletzko, passed Plicken to his younger brother George and with the proceeds as well as his inheritance bought Georgenburg and Zwion from the heirs of the Insterburg merchant Johann Albert Heyne. Here he founded the Simpson stud-farm, which was to become famous far beyond the borders of East Prussia over three generations. Johann Wilhelm was a district deputy. From 1830 to 1834 he was superintendent of the Insterburg Agricultural Association and later general district counsellor. He promoted the building of roads. On the occasion of the oath of fealty to the throne of Friedrich Wilhelm IV in Königsberg on the 10th of September 1840 Johann Wilhelm Simpson was granted a hereditary peerage. Johann Wilhelm was married twice.His brief fi rst marriage to Wilhelmine Sperber produced a daughter, Mathilde (born on the 2the of June 1816), who married Louis Tellkampf, professor of politics and a member of the Prussian assembly of nobles, a national liberal opponent of Bismarck. Wilhelm Simpson´s second marriage, in 1818, was to Mathilde von Neumann, who bore him a son, George Wilhelm in 1820. Simpson belonged to the group of liberal agriculturalists typical for East Prussia in the period up to 1848. His life ended in Georgenburg on the 21st of March 1858. Johann Wilhelm von Simpson (1788-1858) George William von Simpson – the most outstanding Simpson of Georgenburg When Johann Wilhelm von Simpson died his only son George William von Simpson was 38 years old. This representative of the second generation of the family of Simpson in Georhenburg was born in Plicken on the 14th of June 1820. At Michaelmas 1841 Simpson graduated from the Tilsit grammar school and subsequently undertook training in agriculture with his father and on various estates in the Gumbinnen district. In 1846 his father gave him Wensoewen with Sidden, in the Oletzko district. In 1858 he inherited Georgenburg and Zwion from his father, and in 1875 also acquired Nettienen. He continued to build on this solid basis established by his father and gained recognition in all areas of agriculture. He increased the size and reputation of his stud-farm, using not only Arabian but also English pedigree stock. He played a decisive part in the development of the Insterburg horse races. The stable jackets’ of the jockeys were dark blue with white sleeves. But his restoration of the Georgenburg buildings under the infl uence of the contemporary Romantic fashion cannot be regarded as wholly successful. George William promoted the advancement of agricultural science and was chairman of the board of trustees of the Insterburg Agricultural Association, of which he was a founder, from 1856 to 1866. Shortly after the death of his father George William broke with the family´s liberal tradition and joined the conservative party, of which he was one of the most infl uential members in his native province. As a member of the Prussian assembly of nobles he had contacts to Bismarck, about which he kept diaries. In summer 1846, in Berlin George William married Emilie Lemmke (1824 – 1902), a solo dancer at the Prussian royal court. The young family was very happy. They kept their love till death. This marriage gave life to two children Mathilde (was born on the 15th of April 1847 and died in1901) and George William von Simpson (1853 – 1899). In 1867 Mathilde married Gustav von Gossler, later president of West Prussia. George William was considered ultraconservative person who didn’t loose the relations with the bourgeois roots of his family. In business matters he combined far-sightedness with a cool head, possessed a winning warmth of character in his dealings with others and took a concern for the well-being of his employees The life of George William von Simpson, the brightest one among three generations of the Simpsons who lived in Georgenburg, came to the end on the 13th of September 1886. He died too early because of infarction. His wife Emily outlived her husband rather longer. She kept the traditions of the family of Simpson till her dearth in Zopot on the 12the of September 1904. George William von Simpson (1820-1886) George Alexander von Simpson – the last owner of Georgenburg George Alexander von Simpson became the Georgenburger of the third generation. His enterprising ancestors left him all the necessary conditions for life and continuing family business. George Alexander was born in his father’s estate Wensoewen on the 3rd of November 1853. It is less known about his professional education. After fi nishing school he got military education and served as a good racing jockey in the Cuirassier - Regiment number three under the commander of Earl Vrangel. In June 1878 George Alexander married Ellen von der Groeben (1854 – 1934). Soon Alexander and Ellen became the happy parents of six children. First the young couple settled in Nettienen. Here, and later in Georgenburg, George Alexander devoted himself to horse-breeding like his father and grandfather. Horse-breeding brought him as the owner of the estate much praise, but low and not constant profi ts to his family. At the age of 33 years old, after the father’s dearth, George Alexander inherited the large estate Georgenburg. But he had lack of good knowledge in the sphere of trade and agriculture. Plus George Alexander was self-suffi cient and he rashly didn’t follow the valuable advice of his father’s old friends. The Georgenburg period of life wasn’t stable from fi nancial point of view. In spite of this, during the same period, the Order castle changed. From the side of the river Pregel, a tower and some other buildings in romantic style were built. They created a romantic image of the locality. The end of the 19th century was characterized with the sudden crisis in agriculture. Misfortune came to the family of Simpson. George Alexander caught a cold seriously. He suffered more and more from kidney disease which he had from an early age and gradually lost his eyesight. Continuing George Alexander’s work in the estate led to weakening his vitality and appearing some diffi culties in governing the estate. Under such circumstances he had to think about the future of his family. One day George Alexander called his three children and said to them in presence of family’s attorney the following words: “ The one who got the lands of Zwion, can live; who has Georgenburg – this person is fi ne too; but the one who inherited the clay in Nettienen is in unlucky”. Soon poor Alexander became almost fully blind. He felt death soon. In order to provide the further existence to his wife and six children (the elder was not 18 yet), he decided to sell the estate. This decision was made not long till his death at the age of 46 on the 27th of September 1899. On the 1st of October1899, for a price of 2.5 million marks, all family estates passed to the Prussian state, which worked them as a stud-farm. George Alexander von Simpson (1853 – 1899) The reaction of the members of the family of Simpson on this act, was different. For example, according to the legend, the eldest son of the deceased, William von Simpson, couldn’t forgive it to his father. The widow of George Alexander von Simpson, Ellen by name, inherited the Later she lived in Konigsberg. Frau Ellen had a respect among her friends and neighbours. She died at the age of 80 in her brother’s house in Juckstein of the district Tilsit-Ragnit. As for the children of George Alexander von Simpson, the eldest son, who was mentioned already above, is worth to be spoken about. William von Simpson became the last well-known representative of the family Simpson in East Prussia. He made a name as an author of the famous trilogy about the Barrings. The writer William von Simpson We can learn about him from such edition as “The Old-Prussian biographies”, the original “biographical encyclopedia” of the outstanding people of Prussia, which was published in German in some volumes in Germany since the 50s of the 20th century. The information about the biography and creative activity of William von Simpson Is contained in one of the volumes of the “The Old-Prussian biographies” like the information about the two mentioned above representatives of the Scottish dynasty Simpson of different generations. So, what does the historian Walter Grunert tells us about William von Simpson in his article? William Hubertus von Simpson was born in Georgenburg, Insterburg district on the 19th of April 1881. After agricultural training, military service and travels he bought the estate of Gross Lauth in the Preussisch Eylau district. In 1913 William left East Prussia to be provincial master of horse at the Lopshorn stud-farm and was called up in 1914. From Peest in the Köslin district of Pomerania he rode to Constantinople and wrote about his journey under the title “From the Baltic Shore to the Bosphorus”. In 1916 von Simpson married Margot (divorced von Herder, née von Gustedt), also an author of “Rider by Day and in Dreams” and other things. In the marriage there were two children: Hubertus von Simpson (born in 1919) and Christa who was born in Bremen in 1922. In 1918 William published “Topical Issues on German Horse-Breeding”. He later spent time in Brazil and lived in Berlin and Graz before settling in Scharbeutz on the bay of Lübeck. Here he took his own life upon the arrival of the English army on the 11th of May 1945 Von Simpson devoted twenty years to his main work, the trilogy which consisted of three parts : “Der Enkel“, „Die Barrings“ and „Das Erbe der Barrings“. William Hubertus von Simpson (1881-1945) In the fi rst part of his dynastic novel about East Prussian land-owners of the Wilhelmine period, “The Barrings”, which was published in 1937 and soon translated into six languages, William described the East Prussian rural aristocracy in the years 1875 to 1900. As a counterpoint to the idealised main character of the novel, a family patriarch closely allied to the politics of Bismarck, he portrayed a capricious daughter-in-law. The principal character of the second volume, “The Grandson”, proves his worth in furthering the family tradition after initial disappointments. The novel “The Barrings’ successors” is the third part of Simpson’s trilogy. The family of Simpson and the present Nowadays, in the former Insterburg, and now modern district centre Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad region of Russia, on the territory of the former estate Georgenburg of the Scottish family of Simpson, a modern stud-farm with the same name was restored and is developing with success. It continues the traditions of East-Prussian horse-breeding. In one of the stud-farm building there is a small museum. Here the visitors can hear the story of a guide about the history of the Scottish family Simpson and look through the book “The Barrings”(“Die Barrings”) by William von Simpson. At the distance of about 500 metres from the main buildings of the stud-farm “Georgenburg”, between fi elds and meadows with walking horses, in the former park of the estate Georgenburg there is the grave of its last owner George Alexander von Simpson.The tomb is erected by his loving wife Ellen. It becomes very calm and cosy seeing this lovely, like stopped in time, place of East Prussia, which takes us back a century ago. Last year, in 2004, the stud-farm was visited by the descendant of the Scottish clan Simpson on Friedrichsgabe line Heinrich Simpson. He was born in Konigsberg in 1933 and he lives in the German city of Bielefeld. One more representative of the ninth generation of the Scottish dynasty Simpson on Friedrichsgabe line is Petra, born as Simpson. She lives in Berlin. Her husband, Gunter Schuchmilski who has been interested in the genealogy of the Scottish family Simpson for many years came to Georgenburg some years ago. The direct descendants of William von Simpson, the representatives of Georgenburg line of the Scottish family Simpson live in Germany too. Thus, we have followed the life history of some bright representatives of the Scottish family Simpson on the territory of East Prussia. One can make a conclusion, that this family is one of the thousands of the Scottish families, which settled in Prussia and other European countries searching military glory, religious freedom or wealth. They made a great and valuable contribution in the development of different sides of life of European continent. The tomb of George Alexander von Simpson (1853-1899) in Mayovka (Georgenburg) of Chernykhovsk(photo by Tren S.). Bibliography: 1. Fischer, Th.A. The Scots in Germany. Edinburgh .1902. 2. Fischer, Th.A. The Scots in Eastern and Western Prussia. Edinburgh .1903. 3. Altpreubische Biographie. Landesforschung von Kurt Forstreuter und Fritz Gause. Band II 2. Marburg/ Lahn.1963. 4. Altpreubische Biographie. Landesforschung von Kurt Forstreuter und Fritz Gause. Marburg/Lahn .1975. 5. Schuchmilski, Gunter J. Aus “Die Chronik der schottischen Familie Simpson in Ostpreuben” (from the private archive). 6. Ditmar Albrecht. “Ten days in Prussia. Places. Texts. Traces.” Olshtin.2003. In Polish. Notes: Reval – Tallin (Estonia) Memel – Klaipeda (Lithuania) Danzig – Gdansk (Poland) Coupar-Angus – in Pertshire (Scotland) Fotar – a former county in Great Britain Kauen – Kaunas (Lithuania) Georgenburg – Mayovka – the suburb of Chernyakhovsk (Kaliningrad region, Russia) Gumbinnen – Gusev (Kaliningrad region, Russia) Plicken – the former estate in Gumbinnen region, doesn’t exist Friedrichsgabe – Furmanovo, Ozyorsk district, Kaliningrad region, Russia Gerscullen – Gannovka, Neman district Wensoewen – Wezewo (Poland) Zidden –Zydy (Poland) Zwion – Dovatorovka, Chernyakhovsk region (Kaliningrad region, Russia) Tilzit – Sovetsk (Kaliningrad region, Russia) Nettienen – Krasnaya Gorka, Chernaykhovsk region Ludwigsort – Ladushkin (Bagrationovsk district, Kaliningrad region) Heiligenbeil – Mamonovo, Bagrationovsk district, Kaliningrad region . Juckstein – Krajneye, Krasnoznamensk district, Kaliningrad region Ragnit – Neman, Kaliningrad region Pomerania- the former province in Germany Lippe – Germany Scharbeutz – Germany Pr. Eylau – Bagrationovsk, Kaliningrad region The article is written by Tren Irene (Mikhailovna) (a teacher of English from Russia) tren@baltnet.ru The illustrations for the article: Illustration.01 - The tomb of George Alexander von Simpson (1853-1899) in Mayovka (Georgenburg) of Chernykhovsk(photo by Tren S.). Illustration.02 – The castle of Georgenburg (photo by Tren S.). Illustration.03 – The church in Georgenburg (the picture by Gromov S.). Illustration.04 - William Hubertus von Simpson (1881-1945) Illustration.05 – George Alexander von Simpson (1853-1899) Illustration.06 – George William von Simpson (1820-1886) Illustration.07 –Johann Wilhelm von Simpson(1788 -1858) Illustration.08 – Arms (the emblem of Samland bishop) Illustrations.02, 03 and 08 – for free replacement
William Hubertus von Simpson was born in Nettienen.
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