The house of Gnatowski settled for ages in a village Gnaty, parish Winnica, district Zakroczym (Gnaty-Zarazy, Gnaty-Szczepankowo, Gnaty-Gromadze) derives, according to the oldest Heraldry of Polish Knighthood (Paprocki, 1580) from a mutual origin - Family Łada, settled in a village Łady, Land Zakroczym.
The following information about the Gnatowskis are included in later published books of heraldry of Niesiecki, Uruski, Boniecki and in the "Notes about Heraldic Masovian Nobility" (from the main reading-room of the National Library in Warsaw):
“… according to Bielski and Anonymus, at the time of Boleslaw the Shy in the year 1248, the heir to the land called Łada, while minding his subjects doing their compulsory work in the field, was suddenly surrounded by Jadzwings (who, after the death of Konrad, Masovian prince, together with Lithuanians ravaged the country). He shot many of the attackers and later escaped to the nearby forest, found hunting pitchfork, which he showed to the Masovian prince and together they defeated their enemy, enforcing their flight.“
This story seems to confirm the origin of the Knight's coat of arms Łada, which is, (according to Paprocki) a variation of the coat of Arms JASTRZĘBIEC (Hawk) with an arrow and a fork on both sides of a horseshoe with a cross and – in the nobility crown – a lion with a sword.
During following years, individual members of the house of Łada settled in many different places in the Masovian area and here, at the turn of the 15th and 16th century, they added the names of their estates to the coat of arms of Łada, thus creating noble family-names, such as: Bienkowski, Bogdanowicz, Borzymowski, Brodowski, Czarnowski, Czerniakowski, Dobrzyszewski, Gnatowski, Grodzicki, Klodnicki, Koronowski, Kowalewski, Lipski, Lazowski, Moczarski, Noskowski, Proszkowski, Radonski, Skrzynski, Sluzewiecki, Sobolewski, Sznerzynski, Wasowski, Zablocki, Zaleski, Zawistowski. All of them with coat of arms Łada.
The oldest source of knowledge about the family - branch Łada settled in Gnaty, Land Zakroczym (Notes of Heraldry of Masovian Nobility) names more than 20 representatives of this family in the period from 1453 to 1537, beginning with Nyemery (Niemiry), coat of arms Łada de Gnathy, dating February, 22nd 1453. It was the reason why Paprocki (1580 - Heraldry of Polish Knighthood) called the Gnatowskis "the ancient noble house".
During the Jagellonian Age, many Gnatowskis settled in the eastern parts of the Polish Republic: Wolyn, Podole, Kiev district, and until present times, kept the high level of land-gentry. From this branch the priest prelate Jan Gnatowski (Jan Łada) comes from - a writer, editor and publisher, who died after the First World War.
According to Boniecki's Heraldry - 15 Gnatowskis signed the election of King August Mocny (the Strong) in the name of district Zakroczym (1697): Kazimierz, Michal, two Walentys, two Jans, two Adams, two Szymons (Simons), Fabian-Tomasz (Thomas), Jerzy (George), Pawel (Paul), Stanislaw and Stefan.
Maciej and Wawrzyniec, a land-bailiff and a hood-judge of Zakroczym, signed, in the name of district Zakroczym, the election of King Stanislaw August (1764)
One of the branches of the Gnatowski-family, which is especially interesting for us, lived in Zalesie, parish Przewodowo, district Pułtusk. There are no documents about the beginnings of Gnatowskis settling in Zalesie. Wladyslaw Gnatowski, who died 1894, grandfather of the below signed Bronisław Gnatowski, related, that he was the ninth generation of the family living in Zalesie.
Documented information about this branch of the Gnatowski-family, coming from a copy of the Przewodowo - parish's register No 877 for the time from 1696 to 1776, which is being kept at the diocese's archive in Płock, show following data: Stefan Gnatowski, born about 1666, died 14 August 1726 and his wife Teresa, born about 1676, died 19 May 1743.
Children of Stefan and Teresa Gnatowski:
- Marianna, born 5 January 1698, died 24 December 1718
- Franciszek, born 25 March 1700
- Kazimierz, born 29 February 1704, died 17 May 1712
- Paweł, born 25 March 1708, died 17 August 1775
- Walerian, born 13 April 1713
Note: above mentioned Walerian Gnatowski appears in the birth-certificates of his nephews Michal (born 1743) and Tomasz (born 1755) as their godfather and is being named castellan of Zakroczym. In Uruski's Heraldry "Family - Heraldry of Polish Nobility" this same Walerian is mentioned as land-bailiff and hood-judge of Zakroczym, his son Blazej as leaseholder and vice-regent and during the years 1778 - 1794 as Zakroczymian castellan.
Children of Franciszek and Magdalena (Sosnowski) Gnatowski:
- Antoni, born 14 January 1732, died 21 January 1732
- Ludwik, born 24 August 1733, died 20 May 1759
- Franciszek, born 26 August 1736
- Marianna-Matylda, born 1 April 1742
- Katarzyna, born 18 April 1745
- Tomasz, born 28 December 1755
Children of Paweł and Marianna (Dziedzicki) Gnatowski:
- Michał, born 29 September 1743
- Mikołaj, born 6 December 1745
- Benedykt, born 18 February 1750
- Joachim-Józef, born 2 September 1752
- Antonina, born 28 May 1755
- Rozalia, born 20 August 1763
Here ends the interesting data about the Gnatowski-family from Zalesie, which was found in the copy of the Przewodowo parish's register No 877 for the years 1696 - 1776, kept at the archive of the diocese in Płock. This data is not complete, as, according to Mr. Zebrowski, head of the archive, some middle pages were missing.
All the files from that period are in Latin. By the names of the main persons (Gnatowski) and to those who were witnesses or godparents (Zalewski, Kesicki, Pomaski, Dębowski, Dziedzicki, Ostaszewski, Obidziński, Kołakowski, Mostowski, and others) ) their status is marked by adding the indication “nobilis” or “ Generosus” that stress their noble state. Later on, about 1808, these Latin words are replaced by the Polish word – “born”.
There are no register-books for the years 1777 to 1807 at the Parish of Przewodowo nor at the diocese's archive in Plock, so, unfortunately, we are not able to find out which of the sons of Franciszek and Magdalena or maybe one of the sons of Pawel and Marianna was the further link to the branch of Gnatowski-family from Zalesie that is concerning us. There is one - two generations missing.
According to the register-books dated after 1807, and copies of those supplied by prelate Szczepanski of the parish Przewodowo, the following data was ascertained:
I. On September 25th, 1831, Stanislaw Gnatowski dies (age 44), married to Aniela Szczepkowski, born - as we conclude - about 1787, who was the son of one of the sons of Franciszek or Pawel Gnatowski and a direct ascendant of Stefan Gnatowski, mentioned at the beginning.
II. Children of Stanisław and Aniela (Szczepkowski)Gnatowski:
- Władysław-Michał, born 29 September 1821, died 25 May 1894
- Piotr-Aleksander, born 29 April 1824
- Mikołaj-Mateusz, born 9 August 1827
- Franciszka, born 8 March 1819
- Katarzyna-Petronela, born 29 April 1830
III. Children of Władysław and Barbara (Koźniwski) Gnatowski:
- Aleksander-Teofil, born 27 February 1855, died 13 November 1919
- Ludwika (married name Ołdakowska)
- Bronisława (married name Nałęczowa)
- Józefa (married name Ostrowska)
IV. Children of Mikołaj and Florentyna (Koźniewski) Gnatowski:
Albin, Bronisław, Jan, Paulina-Scholastyka (married name Dlugolecka)
V. Children of Aleksander and Anna (Ołdakowski) Gnatowski:
- Bronisław, born 28 November 1885
- Walery, born 1893, died in 1963 in USA
- Henryk, born 1897
- Albin, born 1905, died 1945
- Maksyma, born 1888, died 1937
- Czesława, born 1890
- Bronisława, born 1901
Note: Points III, IV and V are according to family acquaintances.
The village Zalesie, once owned by the Zaleski family, went (probably by marriage) to the Gnatowski family. During the years 1698 and 1700 two members of the Zaleski family (Valentinus Zaleski and Eva Zaleska) appear in the records of the Gnatowski family. In the process of years, as a result of distributing among family-members and the family getting poorer, Zalesie was divided and reduced, but until recent times the part of Zalesie owned by the Gnatowski family figured in the land-register as an estate, unlike the rest of the possessions owned by small-nobility.
About 1880 Władysław-Michał Gnatowski mentioned above, together with his adult and growing up children, left Zalesie and moved to his newly acquired big manor in Prusinowice, administrative district Pułtusk.
Composed by Bronisław Gnatowski
Warsaw, July 1, 1963