Korwin-Szymanowski Family

Family crest 'Jezierza'
Family crest 'Ślepowron'

Occurrence of the Surname

'Szymanowscy' is the Polish plural of the name Szymanowski. It occurs in Northern Europe, from Russia, through the Baltic States and Poland to Germany, France and the United Kingdom. It is also found in the United States, Canada and South America. Alternative spellings are Schimanovsky, Szymanowsky.


The family name is of ancient heritage in Greater Poland. It is presently traceable to at least the fifteenth century, but may have roots further back in the kingdom of Hungary. Legend has it that genealogy connects it to a Roman tribune in the province of Dacia in the late Roman Empire.[1] The Szymanowski name relates to a place identified as "Szymany". According to composer Karol Szymanowski's exacting biographer, Teresa Chylińska, Szymany is a village in the Szczuczyn district of the Podlasie region of Eastern Poland and the land is recorded as having been inherited by Mikołaj (Nicholas) Szymanowski who died before 1544. The family later moved to the Rawa Voivodeship.[2] The first part of the name, Korwin, is a later 19th c. addition, shared by several other Polish families using the late medieval Korwin clan denomination, such as the Korwin-Kossakowski or Korwin-Piotrowski families. The use of the hyphen in Polish Double-barrelled names is a 20th c. development, hence prior to that names were not hyphenated.

Coat of arms

Another distinguishing feature of the Korwin-Szymanowski family are its heraldic insignia. It is associated with two coats of arms, but significantly seldom with the one called "Korwin". It is commonly connected with Ślepowron and occasionally with Jezierza. Both use raven like birds with their beaks facing the East, presumably towards Jerusalem. One explanation, as yet to be established, is that family members participated in the Crusades. The reason for two distinct coats of arms may be due to the geographic spread of the family and their enlisting in different army groupings.


The earliest written record of the family dates from the 15th century.[3] In 1457 the knight, John (Jan (Korwin) Szymanowski), returned to a small village - "Szymany", from the Thirteen Years' War, also called the War of the Cities, fought between 1454–66 by the Prussian Confederation, allied with the Kingdom of Poland, against the State of the Teutonic Order. He is considered the founder of the family. John came from a clan bearing the coat of arms, "Jezierza", which has its beginnings among pre-Christian tribal warriors.

In the ensuing centuries, scions of the family appear not only as landowners in the Mazovian province, but as holders of numerous civic roles and as magistrates (in Polish, Starosta), representatives to the Polish Sejm (diet or parliament). They were noted and honoured for their peace time contributions to the development of Polish society and culture. Their long held and cherished reputation as dedicated to Church and Kingdom made them consistently sought after consorts to many grander families in the land, whose star may have waxed and then wained during the tribulations of Polish history. By the end of the 18th century, Szymanowskis were familiar at Court and signatories of the new Polish Constitution of 1791.[4]

The family, like many others of comparable standing, had long maintained strong cultural ties with the Catholic Kingdom of France. French was taught and spoken in the home alongside Polish. When Poland was torn apart as an entity in three successive partitions Partitions of Poland in the last quarter of the 18th century by its powerful neighbours, Russia, Prussia and the Austrian Empire, the hope offered by Napoleon became inexorable. Several Szymanowskis enlisted as officers in army regiments, as a patriotic duty and fought in Napoleonic campaigns. For some it cost them their wealth, their lives or drove them into exile.[5][6]

This pattern continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, when Polish uprisings meant the ultimate sacrifice for family members. Around this time, the double barrelled form of the family name came into usage, to distinguish clan members from other (unrelated) Szymanowskis, although several noted writers, artists and musicians of the family continued to be known simply as "Szymanowski".

The several branches of the Korwin-Szymanowski family continue to this day, spread now over a number of continents.[7]

Some notable members

Notable members[8] include:

See also


  1. Bartosz Paprocki - "Herby Rycerstwa Polskiego. Zebrane i wydane 1584"; published by Kazimierz Józef Turowski
  2. Chylińska Teresa, Karol Szymanowski i jego epoka, tom 1-3, Kraków, Musica Iagellonica 2008, ISBN 978-83-7099-145-6 See vol. 1 p. 25.
  3. Archiwum Rozwadowskich, Księga pamiątkowa rodziny, założona przez Jana Rozwadowskiego, zawierająca Geanalogia i wypis z różnych źródeł dotyczących rodziny. ss 364, rkp. 7992/II, Ossolineum
  4. "Jozef Szymanowski + Listy do Starosciny Wyszogrodzkiej", edited and with an introduction and notes by Franciszek Korwin-Szymanowski. Polski Instytut Wydawniczy, Warsaw 1973. Introduction, especially, page 7.
  5. Norman Davies, "God's Playground" volume 2, Oxford University Press 1981 - ISBN 0-19-822592-X
  6. "Pamietniki Jenerala Jozefa Szymanowskiego" Edited by Stanislaw Schnurr-Peplowski, H. Altenberg, Lwow, 1898.
  7. Archiwum Rozwadowskich, Księga pamiątkowa rodziny, założona przez Jana Rozwadowskiego, zawierająca Geanalogia i wypis z różnych źródeł dotyczących rodziny. ss 364, rkp. 7992/II, Ossolineum
  8. National Dictionary of Biography in Polish: Polski Slownik Biograficzny - Szyjkowski Jan-Szymanski Edward, Tom L/1, Zeszyt 204, Polska Akademia Nauk, Warsawa - Krakow 2014, 160 pages. This edition contains articles about over two dozen people named "Szymanowski" - ISBN 978-83-63352-36-3
  9. Szymanowski, Stephen Korwin, 1854-: The evolution of a theologian, by Stephen K. Szymanowski (Boston, Sherman, French & company, 1913)
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