1. Paprzyca knights settle in Niewino hamlets
During the early 15th c. Knights bearing the Paprzyca coats-of-arms arrived and settled in the area of Bielsk Podlaski (Podlasie). Their provenance remains unknown but they received a substantial land estate representing about 50 włóka, a superficy equivalent to 897 hectares (1 Volok = 17.955 hectares or 44.37 acres). This property became the initial nucleus of their noble estate in the village of Niewino, also formerly known as Niwino. The presence of Niwiński families is also confirmed in Malinowo, a village mentionned for the first time in 1512. The village was established in the “noble area” of Niewino.
Probably, the first settlement in this area was established by people from the extended Paprzyca family from the Kuszaba Clan. In 1528, 7 families of knights herbu Paprzyca which means “from the Paprzyca coat-of-arms” were recorded in Niewino Stare.
This local nobility took the name of the Niwino/Niewino village and adopted the name of Niwiński/Niewiński herbu Paprzyca. Over the centuries, some of them also used the coats-of-arms of the Nowina, Łabędź and Lubicz. Most of the families from these Podlasie areas were not well-off people. They were members of the “small nobility” (szlachta) who remained on their land and did not achieved successful careers. We lack data regarding their history. However, some of the Niwiński had a different profile. They have been portrayed by Count Uruski (1817-1890) in his 15-volume book Heraldry of Polish Nobility published in 1915.
3. A Niwiński family uses the nickname Książyk
To differentiate from other Niwiński people, some prominent families decided to use the nicknames Chreba and Książyk. With time, this nickname became a name and a new branch of the Niwiński nobility was established and soon confirmed in official documents.
Chronicles tell that some Niwińsky raised from the petty gentry to become middle-nobles (szlachta zamożna). However, those who remained in the Niwino area remained in a statute of small nobility. Still, some of them were rather wealthy. As an example, Sebastian Niwińsky gave a 6 voloks (107,4 hectares) estate to his son Maciej Książyk .
Recommended reading: Was Maciej, the first official Książyk?
4. Nobility Rights not claimed?
From 1772 to 1918, after a series of 3 partitions, the Podlasie region of Poland was under Russian occupation. In the first half of the 19th c., the Russians ruled that Polish nobility had to be verified and certified and therefore had to prove their origins. Some members of the Niewiński family successfully obtained the acknowledgement of their privileges and entered on the list of “legitimated nobility” (Szlachta wylegitymowana). In the years 1843-1860 they have been “confirmed as nobles and enrolled into the books of the nobility of the Bialystok district.”
But many of szlachta families failed to prove their claim, in particular families who were using ancestral surnames. For those who had left the District, it was very difficult to demonstrate evidences. For those who were living far away in the Polish territories occupied by Germany or Austria, it was impossible. Most of the nobility of these areas was “eternal nobility” (szlachtą odwieczną), but they were not able to prove it. These people were unable to trace their titled ancestor, to provide the required documents and to pay the cost of registration at the administration offices. Many failed to pass this infamous verification procedure. In particular, the nobility of the surrounding areas of Topczewa and Wyszki failed to prove their rights.
Today, are living in Poland 1 Kuszaba, 38 Paprzyca, 600 Niwiński and 285 Książyk people (source www.moikrewni.pl).
Marie-Jeanne C.K., Paris.