The Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in South Russia
Compiled March-November 2002 by Tim Janzen & Tatyana Makarenko
Fund (Fond) 6, Inventory 1
Click on the year below to see the descriptions of each file from that
year which may be found in these microfilms.
1799 - 1800
- 1801 - 1802 - 1803
- 1804 - 1805 - 1806
- 1807 - 1808 - 1809
- 1811 - 1812 - 1813
- 1814 - 1815 - 1816
- 1817 - 1818 - 1819
- 1820 - 1821 - 1822
- 1824 - 1825 - 1826
- 1827 - 1828 - 1829
- 1830 - 1831 - 1832
Settlement of the region known as New Russia (Novorossiysk) by foreign
immigrants began in 1787. At the close of the 18th Century Mennonites
lived in the Chortitza Colony in eight villages (Ekaterinoslav District),
in Kronsgarten (Novomoskovsk District), and in Schoenwiese (Pavlograd
District). Other colonists lived in the Josephstal (Novomoskovsk District),
Danzig (Elisabethgrad District), Jamburg (Ekaterinoslav District), and
Swedish Colonies (Kherson District).
Administration of Foreign Colonies
From 1797, onward all colonies in Russia were overseen by a department
known as the Expedition of the State Economy
and by the Guardianship Office of Foreign and Rural Settlers.
These offices were established by a decree made on March 4, 1797 by
the Government Senate and were under the supervision of the General
Public Prosecutor. In 1811 the Expedition of the State Economy was renamed
as the Department of State Economy and Public Buildings
when the various ministries and departments were established. The Department
of State Economy and Public Building was subordinate to the Ministry
of Internal Affairs.
In 1797 the Expedition of the State Economy undertook effective measures
to regulate the foreign settlements on the Volga River because it had
received information about poor management of the colonies that didn't
correspond with the stature and rights the colonists were promised when
they originally settled there. The Expedition of the State Economy thus
created the Saratov Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers.
As a result, the colonies in the Saratov area were excluded from the
general structure of Russian civil governance and the colonists there
In 1798 the Expedition of the State Economy dispatched the Adviser
of the Geographical Department, Samuel X. Contenius, to investigate
the economic condition of the colonies in New Russia because it had
received information about the decline of the condition of the colonies
and about oversights in management. Samuel Contenius examined the condition
of the colonies and within one year put in order the confused state
of the colonies' accounts. He also made plans for the settlements and
supplied an accurate description of the circumstances of the settlers.
He presented this information to the Expedition of the State Economy
and his notes became the basis of a report from the Senate to the Emperor.
This report had the title "About Prospective Means to Improve
Conditions of Foreign Settlers in the New Russia Region and about the
Establishment the New Russia Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers
under the Supervision of the Expedition of State Economy".
On April 6, 1800 this report was accepted by the Emperor.
The New Russia Guardianship Office created
in 1799 was similar to the Saratov Guardianship Office and its purpose
was to carry out the general management of all foreign colonies in the
territory of South Russia (also known as the New Russia or Novorossiysk
Region). Samuel Contenius was appointed to be the Chief Judge of the
Guardianship Office, and his assistant, I. O. Brigontzi, was made the
director of the colonies in New Russia. The Guardianship Office was
established in the city of Novorossiysk (Ekaterinoslav).
On July 26, 1800 the Emperor approved "Instructions for the
Guardianship Office of New Russia Foreign Settlers" which
was prepared by the Expedition of State Economy. These These Instructions
determined the basic functions of the Guardianship Office and served
as a guide for officials for many years, remaining unchanged until the
reorganization of the Guardianship Office in 1818. In addition, on May
16, 1801 the "Instructions for the Internal Regulation and
Management of the New Russian Colonies" concerning the internal
affairs of the colonies was authorized.
Resettlement of Foreigners
Intensive resettlement of Germans, Bulgarian, Greeks, Mennonites, Serbians,
Swiss, Jews, and immigrants from internal provinces of Russia to southern
Russia began in 1803. Admission, distribution, and settlement of the
colonists were entrusted directly to Samuel Contenius.
On October 17, 1803 colonists received permission from the Odessa Governor,
the Duke Emmanuel O. Richelieu, to settle in the vicinity of Odessa.
All immigrants who wished to settle near Odessa were under the supervision
of the Duke de Richelieu and the other colonists were under the jurisdiction
of the Guardianship Office. The Guardianship Office was to help the
Duke de Richelieu on all matters concerning the settlers. The formation
of the Odessa Settlement thus began in 1803. Prior to 1803 Catherine
the Great's Manifesto of 1763 was the document providing for the settlement
of foreigners in Russia. However, experience and time demanded revision
of its provisions. On February 20, 1804 Emperor Alexander the First
authorized new rules for admission and settlement that differed in many
respects from the conditions outlined in the Manifesto of 1763. On February
23, 1804 the Duke de Richelieu was appointed President of the New Russia
Colonies and the Guardianship Office was transferred under his supervision.
Soon after that the Duke de Richelieu was also appointed to be the Kherson
Military Governor. In addition to this, he was made the New Russia General-Governor,
the Odessa City Governor, and the President of the New Russian Colonies.
The measures taken to prepare for the reception and settlement of new
immigrants into colonies were complex. These numerous preparations and
responsibilities in conjunction with the imperious power concentrated
in the hands of the educated, energetic, and progressive Duke de Richelieu
fortunately created the opportunity to successfully establish the colonies.
In 1800 the staff of the Guardianship Office consisted of the Chief
Judge, his assistant, the secretary, the accountant, and two bureaucrats.
However, by 1810 the staff of the Guardianship Office had grown to consist
of 55 people (members of the Office, inspectors of the colonies, and
clerks). Samuel Contenius was the first and only Chief Judge of the
Guardianship Office. In 1808 at his own request he was released from
his responsibilities at the Guardianship Office in the areas of office
correspondence, accounting, and monetary affairs due to his poor health.
Thereafter he only engaged in the management of the economic affairs
of the colonists and in the initiation of new kinds of enterprises (sheep
breeding, silkworm breeding, winemaking, etc.).
About 1803 the special Chancellery (Office) of the Odessa Settlement
was established to supervise the settlement and management of colonies
in the vicinity of Odessa. Initially the Chancellery was in Odessa,
but in 1817 it was moved to the colony of Katarzina. Originally the
staff of the Chancellery consisted of one person, namely I. O. Brigontzi.
Later the staff of the Chancellery was considerably increased.
The managers of the Chancellery were changed a number of times. In
1806 Prince I. S. Meshchersky replaced I. O. Brigontzi because the Duke
de Richelieu had found evidence of dishonesty in his accounts. In 1807
A. D. Smolodovich was named as the manager. In 1808 Andrej ?. von Rosenkampf
was made the manager. However during his time as manager evidence was
found that he was embezzling funds. He died in 1814 during an investigation
of this situation. From 1814 to 1816 the manager was A. S. Lashkarev.
In April 1816 the manager of the Odessa colonies become Karl von Lau
and he remained in this post until the reorganization of the Guardianship
Local Supervision of Colonies of Foreigners
Inspectors of the colonies were the staff of the Guardianship Office.
They lived in the colonies and were intermediaries between the Guardianship
Office and the colonists. The Chief Judge of the Guardianship Office
determined the duties of the inspectors of the colonies and supervised
them. Self-management of the colonists was the task of the district
and village offices (okrujnoy and village prikaz). A village office
was established in each village and consisted of the mayor, two assistants,
and one foreman from every 10 houses. The Guardianship Office divided
all colonies into districts. A district office was established in each
district and consisted of a district mayor and two assistants. District
mayors, mayors, and assistants were determined by the results of elections
held in the communities and were affirmed by the Guardianship Office.
All colonies in each district elected the district mayor to a term of
3 years and district assistants were elected to terms of two years.
Both were under supervision of the inspector of the colonies. The community
of a village (or colony) elected a mayor and assistants to terms of
2 years, each being under supervision of the district mayor. Elections
were held in each village where the owner of each farm had one vote.
The colonies that from 1800 until 1818 were under the jurisdiction
of the New Russia Guardianship Office are as follows:
- Colonies in the Josephstal District (Ekaterinoslav Province)
- Colonies in the Molotschna Mennonite District (Taurida Province)
- Colonies in the Molotschna Colonist (Prischib) District (Taurida
- Colonies in the Chortitza District (Ekaterinoslav Province)
- Colonies in the Swedish District (Kherson Province)
- Smolensk Colonies of state farmers (Ekaterinoslav Province)
- Jewish Colonies (Kherson Province)
- Belowesch Colonies until 1809 (Poltava and Chernigov Provinces)
- Crimean Colonies:
- Colonies of the Neusatz District (Taurida Province)
- Colonies of the Zuerichtal District (Taurida Province)
- Greek-Bulgarian Colonies (Taurida Province)
- Colonies of the Odessa Settlement:
- Colonies in the Berezansk District (Kherson Province)
- Colonies in the Glueckstal District (Kherson Province)
- Colonies in the Kuchurgansk District (Kherson Province)
- Colonies in the Liebental District (Kherson Province)
- Greek-Bulgarian Colonies (Kherson Province)
- Bessarabia Colonies:
- Colonies in the Malojaroslawetz District
- Colonies in the Kloestitz District
- Bulgarian Colonies
- Separate Colonies:
- Danzig (Kherson Province)
- Hoffnungstal (Kherson Province)
- Ternovka (Kherson Province)
- Radichev Colony of the Mennonite (Hutterite) Brotherhood (Chernigov
- Artisans and colonists who lived in the cities of Odessa, Feodosia,
Simferopol (from 1800 to 1816)
- Mennonites and colonists who lived in the cities of the New
In 1817 the New Russia Guardianship Office supervised 84 colonies (16,967
persons) and the Chancellery of the Odessa Settlements supervised 44
colonies (15,499 persons). In total 128 colonies (32,466 persons) were
under the supervision of the President of the New Russia Colonies or
the Kherson Military Governor who in 1817 was Count A. F. Langerone.
In addition to the above totals, many new foreign settlers arrived in
the provinces in 1817. The increase in the number of colonists and colonies
dictated the necessity to create a new structure of management of the
colonies in South Russia. A special Senate Committee was created to
come up with a solution for this problem.
In December 1817 the Kherson Military Governor Count A. F. Langerone
received a rescript from Emperor Alexander the First about the need
for him to discontinue management of the settlement of foreigners because
a new Chief Guardian was to be appointed and a new Guardianship Committee
was to be established. On January 10, 1818 General I. N. Inzov was appointed
as the Chief Guardian of the Colonists of the South Russia Region. On
March 22, 1818 Emperor Alexander the First issued an edict about the
establishment of the Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in city
of Kherson. At that point the New Russia Guardianship Office of Foreign
Settlers was renamed as the Ekaterinoslav Guardianship Office of Foreign
Settlers. Its office opened in Ekaterinoslav on October 9, 1819. The
Chancellery of the Odessa Settlement was renamed as the Odessa Guardianship
Office of Foreign Settlers. The Bessarabia Guardianship Office of Foreign
Settlers was established in Bessarabia. All Guardianship Offices were
subordinated the Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in the South
Additional historical information researched by Tatyana Makarenko
The history of the New Russia (Novorossiysk) Province dates back to
1764 when it was first named. The New Russia Province existed from 1764
to 1802. During this period it included various regions of Russia. In
1796 and 1797 Emperor Paul the First carried out reform of the political
boundaries in Russia that included changing the boundaries of the various
provinces. In accordance with these reforms the New Russia Province
was divided into 12 districts. In 1802 the New Russia Province was divided
by order the Emperor Alexander the First into the Nikolaevsk, Ekaterinoslav,
and Taurida Provinces. In 1803 the Nikolaevsk Province became the Kherson
Province. From 1805 to 1874 the New Russia Region consisted of the Kherson,
Ekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Bessarabia Provinces.
In 1784 the Ekaterinoslav Region was organized out of the New Russia
Province and the Azov Province. This new region was governed by Governor-general
Prince Gregory Potemkin and its principal city was Ekaterinoslav, which
was founded in 1783. In 1795 this region was reorganized into the Voznesensk
Region. The Voznesensk Region was governed by Governor-general P. Zubov
and its principal city was Voznesensk. In 1796 this territory was included
in the reorganized New Russia Province. In the same year the city of
Ekaterinoslav was renamed as Novorossiysk and became the principal city
of the New Russia Province. In 1802 it was again renamed as Ekaterinoslav.
Thus, Novorossiysk was the principal city of New Russia Province from
1796 to 1802 but was known as Ekaterinoslav from 1802 to 1926, when
it was renamed to its present name of Dnepropetrovsk. The present city
of Novorossiysk was founded in 1836 on the coast of the Black Sea.
* Note: The inventories for 1836-1839 and 1840-1841 are not
yet microfilmed, but are based on a full Russian-language inventory of
the records. It is hoped that the records will be filmed and available
in most Mennonite Historical Societies in North America eventually.
© 2001-09 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
Last Updated 26 Jun 2009