Familienverband von Borries

Report about the History of our Family

The story of our family begins in the year 1425, i.e. at the close of the Middle-Ages. Documents speak of a Hermnn Borries who was a patrician in Minden / Westphalia. In 1445 he is mentioned as a mayor of this city. He also was warden of the Nicolai - poorhouse.

Hermann Borries is the common forefather of all Borries who are listed in the family book. Researches came across the name of a Gerhard Borries who from 1390 - 1394 was a citizen and mayor of Minden. According to another source he was born in Minden November 11, 1390 and died there in 1462. There is, however, no documentary evidence of any relationship existing between  him and the first Borries mentioned in the family book.

What happened prior to these ancestors could not be ascertained. There is no evidence of anything that happened earlier. Names of families or villages of a similar sound could not be related to our family with any degree of certainty. Researches came to the conclusion that the name of our family, like the Christian name Börries, probably derives from St. Liborius. It might perhaps be asked why any documents turn up only at this point of time and wether other patricians of Minden were able to go farther back into the past. It would not be surprising if the family had aleady belonged to the city''s patriciate before one of its members made his appearance as a mayor. It is also interesting that the family history begins with this one name and that in the city documents there are no further references to the name which would point to a larger family. But all these considerations do not lead us toward any concrete facts. It is therefore no use trying to reach farther into the past since all data are lacking.

The family has two lines which separate around 1600 with the generation F. The elder line continues through the next four generations, F to I, only with one member. All other branches died out. In the generation K toward the end of the 18th century a denser ramification occurs. The younger line is connected also by only one member in the next three generations F to H. In the middle of the 18th centurywith the generation of I it divides into two branches, the younger of which has spread the most.

First Period:  Up to the Thirty Years War

The first period of the family history extends to the end of the Thirty Years War (1648). In MInden, as in many other medieval towns, the "town" of the bishop and that of the burghers lay side by side. During the 15th century the power of the bishops declined while the citizens grew in power and prestige. The town became more and more independent, almost a free city, and the bishops had to recognize its rights and prerogatives. The old constitution of Minden dated from 1301 remained in force for centuries. It gave the merchants preponderance in the city council. The most distingished families remained the same for many generations. It is very likely that the first Borries' belonged to the leading merchants of the city, though some of them also attended the universities and obtained the title of doctor juris. Minden was a flourishing commercial city. It had 16,000 inhabitants, which before the Thity Years War was quite remarkable.

Our ancestors of the first generations were encountered as patricians, councilmen and mayors entrusted with the administration of the city; as treasurers, Brüchtenherren and Scholarchen charged with the city''s finances, its jurisdiction, its schools and colleges; and as warden of the Nicolai poor house and the Heiligen-geist-Hospital they were active in honorary positions of the city''s welfare. A few of them were also found as canons of the church and as Subsenior of the Martinistift. The first landed property was acquired by the family in the form of municipal fees.

After the Thirty Years War a complete change took place. The close-knit family bonds began to dissolve. One Borries after the other left the city and before two centuries had elapsed no Borries was found in Minden anymore. It is true that at a later time occasionally a Borries returned to Minden by his profession or by an appointment. But the family had separated itself from its place of origin. What caused this change?

The Thirty Years War affected the town greatly. The suburbs outside the gates of Simon and Marien were destroyed. The number of inhabitants decreased to such a point that it was impossible to man the walls and the watch-houses at the gates. The city's assets were devoured by the war. The burden of debts grew enormously. The prosperity of its citizens was ruined. The once flourishing town was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. In the year 1722, more that 70 years after the great war, Minden had only 3000 inhabitants.

Due to the peace of Münster and Osnabrück Minden lost its long-lasting independence. The town was given to Brandenburg as indemnification for thr loss of the province of Vorpommern which was ceded to Sweden. As the Electorate of Brandenburg later became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, Minden finally became a Prussian city.

It was a Borries who, as a mayor, had the difficult task to represent the city at the peace conference of Münster and Osnabrück but greater powers decided about the future of the  city of Minden.

Second Period: After the Thirty Years War

The second period of our family history starts with the time of the principality after the Thirty Years War. It was the time of the powerful princes. And here we find the Borries'' again, appointed to higher state offices in Prussia, Hannover and Hesse. They were lawyers but more frequently active in administration than at the courts. Besides being scholars the Borries'' now increasingly became officers. In the 19th century the family comprises an equal number of scholars and officers.

This period is characterized by three events which add new features to the family: 1. the first intermarriages with nobility, 2. the acquisition of estates in the country and 3. a number of noble awards. The first awards are received during the 18th century. More information about the awards and their back grounds can be found at the state records in Vienna.

The second period of our family ends with the First World War 1914 - 1918.

Prussian Noble Line

The count diploma from 1860 was a personel honour and appreciation to the Secretary of State Wilhelm v. Borries L1.

Today''s nobility of the family is based on those diplomas. The first diploma was conferred on
Kurfürstlich-Hannoversche Geheime Justizrat und Kanzleidirektor
(Privy Concillor of the Electorate of  Hannover and Director of the Chancery) Johann Friedrich H9 of Stade in 1733 by Emperor Karl VI and was confirmed in 1734  by Georg II, Elector of Hannover. This diploma established the nobility of the elder line.

Emperor Noble Line

The second patent was granted in 1777 by Emperor Joseph II to Geheimrat Franz I5, who had served the fatherland well with extensive deliveries of equipment during the Seven Years War and who, with the fortune he had made thereby, acquired the family estates in Westphalia. This diploma did not extend beyod is death since he died without children.

The third diploma conferred by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia on Kammersekretär (Secretary to the Exchequer) Heinrich Johann I36 in Minden and his three nephews 1. Coucillor of War Diedrich, 2. Major Philipp and 3. Paymaster at the revenew office Ludwig, establishes the nobility of the two branches of the younger line. The diploma of nobility cover all living Borries'' of the pedigree. According to the origins of the diploma, the elder line belongs to the Reichsadel (nobility created by the Emperor) and the younger to the Prussian nobility.


During the first 250 years of the family's history all Borries' mentioned in the family book lived in the ancestral town of Minden. It is true that their knowlwdge and horizons were broadened by attending universities such as those of Rostock, Marburg and Strassburg, but there was not one among them who did not find work and fulfilment in the city of his ancestors.

The Borries' formed part of the patriciate of the city of Minden.They married the sons and daughters of other patrician families which was was usual and did correspond to the family's status in town. As they became high officials, they attained access to the princely courts and women of noble rank joined the family.

Real estate at this time consisted of municipal fiefs and fees. This municipal property today is no longer in the hands of the family. The period of landed property in the country began inm the 18th century with the acquisitions of the "Geheime Rat" (Privy Councillor) Franz I5. "Geheimrat" Franz belonged to a branch of the elder line. He started as auditor, then became a tax collector in Rahden and  later "Amtmann" (magistrate) in Minden.

In 1774 in recognition of "his accomplishments and his learning" he was made privy councillor by the King of Prussia and in 1777 he was knighted by EmperorJoseph II. He made a considerable fortune though large deliveries of war material to King Frederick II of Prussia, which he did together with a certain Hertog and a certain von der Horst during the Seven Years War. His acquired wealth enabled him in 1774 to buy the Rittergüter (noble-men's estates) Eckendorf, Schwabedissen, Hovedissen and Schockenhof, in 1788 he acquired the Herrlichkeit Beck with Shockemühlen as well as the Rittergut Ulenburg. He further owed two estates at Grimminghausen and Greve, the Oexterhof near Gohfeld, the Gohfelder Hof, the estate of Rahden and the Rittergut Steinlacke.

Finally he bouht from his cousin Colonel Philipp I19 the estates of Horneburg and Apensen which the Colonel had acquired in 1768 from the insovent Oberdeichgraf von Düring. Thus, this extensive property finally was owned by him alone. As he died without progeny the estates were inherited by his nearest nephews, the brothers Wilhelm,Philipp and Franz of the elder line who also were nephews of the late Colonel Philipp.

The last estates of this property to remain in the family were Eckendorf, Schwabedissen and Hovedissen, Ulenburg and Steinlacke. In 1927 Ulenburg was sold to the Institution of Wittekindshof. In 2015 Ulenburg was bought by the religious Kurd's minority of the Yezidus who will make Ulenburg a cultural center.

Eckendorf, Schwabedissen and Hovedissen were lost with the death of cousin Hermann M76 in 1939 as he died without male heirs. Even Steinlacke was sold finally by Götz P21 in 2010.

In this application Johann Friedrich Borries H9 referred to the fact that his ancestors had lived for many centuries as noblemen before they (as many other families of noble rank had done) moved from the country into the cities where they had formed the patriciate. The Borries had selected Minden as their permanent abode. Like many other families, the Borries family had been hit by the devastating wars raging throughout the German fatherland during the 16th and 17th centuries in such a way that it had suffered great material losses and therefore had been compelled for a certain periodof time to dissimulate its nobility. Johann Friedrich also referred to the Prussian fiefs in possession of the family and to the family's coat of arms which he called a nobleman's coat of arms. The patent of nobility bestowed upon the family in 1733 repeats the assertions made in the application and pronounces and confirms the knighting of the applicant.

There is in the family files no copy of Johann Heinrich Borries I36 and his three nephews' application for the Prussian patent of nobility of 1816. The patent gives as reasons for the knighting that their ancestors had belonged to the nobility and that the applicants by their good conduct had proved worthy of the rank of their ancestors. The patent of peerage of 1860 when Staatsminister (Secretary of State)Wilhelm von Borries L1 was raised to the rank of count, must be considered as an honor bestowed on him personally and has no bearing on the family's descent and past.

If we try to assess the value of the data given in the above mentioned application with regard to the origins of the family, they prove to be poor evidence for want of further substantiating particulars. To say that the former nobility of the family was renewed by the patent wasthe usual way in keeping with the style of the late Baroque period which was rich in ornamentation. it cannot be regarded as an authentic document for the former nobility of the family. On the other hand, it is established beyond any doubt that the Borries' belonged to the oldest patrician families in  inden. With the possible exception of the Gevekoht's there seems to be no other family in Minden about which exists such a great deal of information. Members of the familyheld the highest offices and posts of honor. Landed property and fiefs demonstrated their wealth. All that is reported in the patents of nobility on the family's fortunes and failures during the Thirty Years War is factual.

In the 19th century the picture changed though the fundamentals remaind the same - high officials and officers formed the nucleus of the family. Most of the estates were still in the hands of the family. Special mention should be made here on the number of Herford Landräte (heads of administration of the Prussian district of Herford), because they may be considered as symbols of a particular traditionand faithfulness. Our family's close ties with the Westphalian homeland and the great confidence it enjoysa there is impressively demonstrated by this chain of Landräte. By decree of the royal government of October 18th, 1816, the Regierungsbezirk Minden (administrative area, part of the Prussian Province of Westphalia) was divided into 12 districts. On the same day in a ceremonial meeting the new Landräte were sworn in in Minden and installed in their offices. One of them was Philipp von Borries K8 and from 1816 to1933 the district of Herford was administered by members of our family. Philipp K8 was succeeded by Georg L9, then followed by Rudolf M14, Georg M20 and finally Franz M13. This tradition lasted for 117 years. To complete the picture of our family's ties with the paternal soil it may be mentioned that the neighboring district of Lübbecke also had a Borries, viz. cousin Kurt N115 as Landrat since 1918.

In the 19th century for the first time merchants appeared in the family. It cannot be ascertained wether the old councillors in Minden were merchants as the family book contains no information on their jobs or professions. Geheimrat Franz I5 however might be considered a merchant though he probably was not a businessman in the strictsense  of the word, but rather quite a unique character.

The foreign branches of the family descended from the merchants. More than a hundred years ago, around the middle of the 19th century, two cousins of the elder line emigrated to the United States of America and founded a large family there.. Members of the younger line emigrated to South America.  There became businessmen and farmers in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The largest group of von Borries lives presently in Bolivia. In all foreign countries the Borries' are found in high professions and as professors.

The second period of our family history ends with the First World War. As the governmental structure in Germany changed, the family's relationsto its institutions changed likewise. There were hardly any officers left. For some time public service was continued by the Westphalian Landräte. But apart from this our name was from now on rarely to be found in public service. The new democratic form of government confronted the family with a new situation, but it soon showed that it found its place within the changed society. Having lost its former ties, the family broadened and the trades and professions of its members diversified. There was hardly a branch of knowledge at the institutes of higher learning which was not represented. The scholar, the doctor and the lawyer as well as the businessman and the craftsman all are to be found in our family today. As for landed property, no estate, neither in Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Bavaria or Pomerania is longer owned by the family.

The family has produced important personalities. The first were the mayors and councillors of the city of Minden from the 15th to the 17th century. Out of the last two centuries the following should be mentioned:

Count Wilhelm L1, 1802 - 1883, was Secretary of State of the King of Hannover. Julius L32, 1816 - 1881, emigrated to the USA as a b usinessman. He became President of the Third National Bank in Louisville, KY and a Prussian Vice Consul - the confirmation of this office bears the signature of President Lincoln. Georg M20, 1857 - 1922, becme quite well known as Polizeipräsident of Berlin, later he was Regierungspräsident in Magdeburg and then in Minden. Arthur M99, 1853 - 1923, was Staatsminister (Secretary of State) of the Dutchy of Sachsen-Altenburg. The Westphalian Landräte have already been mentioned.

Among the officers General August L50, 1816 - 1899, stands out.During the war of 1870/71 he led a large unit. Ferdinant K43, 1814 - 1870,  was killed in 1870 as a colonel and commander of the Göttinger Infantrie-Regiment. General Karl M67, 1854 - 1938, was commander of a large unit and General Rudolf M23, 1863 - 1932, was chief-of-staff of an army during WWI. Both received the order of Pour le Mérite, the highest Prussian decoration. In WWII Hermann N52, 1899 - 1943, was highly decorated during the battle in Russia. He was killed in action in 1943 as commander of an infantry regiment.

A very successful farmer was Wilhelm L37, 1815 - 1890, owner of the estates of Eckendorf, Schwabedissen, Hovedissen and Schockenbaum. After decades of hard work as a cultivator of seeds, he developed the Eckendorfer Runkeln, a plant used for fodder which is known world wide up to today. The cultivation of seeds continues still today at the estated of Eckendorf and Hovedissen.

The family has also brought forth some outstanding scientists. August M98, 1852 - 1906, was professor at the Technical Colege of Charlottenburg. As an inventor and engine builder he has contributed essentially to the technical development of steam locomotives. Bodo N27, 1905 - 1956, a professor at the Technical Colege of Aachen and director of the Institut für Übermikroskopie in Düsseldorf gained great reputation at home and abroad as inventor of the electron microscope. Arthur M99 in addition to his regular work studied religious problems. The University of Jena conferred on him the degree of honorary doctor of theology. Rudolf M23 is author of several important books on military history. Emil M66 wrote about the history of Alsace.

Finally our family's achievements in the field of charity should be mentioned. Adolf L70, 1827 - 1906, founded the von Borries - Stift in Lübeck, an institution for aged ladies. The Georg and Martha - Family Foundation originates from the last will of Martha M20, 1868 - 1944. Its purpose is to give the young generation of the family financial assistance during its vocational training. Anna M100, 1854 - 1951, founded the Anna-Stift in Hannover, the great orthopedic institution of healing and learning.  In the name of the foundation her name lives on.

Many of the afore-mentioned also were chairmen of the family council: Farmer Wilhelm, General August, Regierungspräsident Georg, Secretary Arthur and General Karl. Bodo too had long been a member of the family association and his untimely death was mourned by the whole family as well as outsiders as a grievous loss.

 Just what is it that binds us together, all these many cousins of so different and yet also kindred looks, of so different vocations and backgrounds? The explanation may be found on the fact that our family is history. This report has shown us how closely our family's development was connected with the course of history and how, from its early beginnings in a closed society, its way led into the diversity of our time maintaining its identity rather than losing it. The history has held our family together. As long as we are aware of this and have a feeling of belonging our family will lst and its cohesion will be secured.

More information of the present Borries world wide can be found at the family tree (see Internal Family News) and by contacting Evelyn v. Borries - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who is responsible for the family tree and the Borries genealogy.