Curtius baronets

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Wilhelmus Curtius, Baronet "Ambassador in Germany for His British Majesty for 19 Years" National Portrait Gallery mw140525

The Curtius Baronetcy of Sweden was a title in the Baronetage of England,[1] created on 2 April 1652 for William Curtius, "Resident to the King of Sweden".[2]

In Germany Curtius was known as Wilhelm von Curti, where from 1654 he resided in Castle Curti in Umstadt, Hesse.

Curtius was a diplomat representing the House of Stuart during the Thirty Years' War and the exile of Charles II, and head magistrate for two of the Electoral Palatinate districts for many years. [3] [4]

Curtius was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1667,[5] and was England's Resident Ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire from 1664 until 1677.

Early life

The coats of arms of the Curti-Schloss (demolished in 1963) of the Curtius Baronets, the Curti di Gravedonna family, and of Sir William's first wife Anna von Gressenich have been moved to the walls of the school[6] that is now on the site.

The di Curti family were Italian lower nobility from the Lombardian region around Gravedona. Parts of the family moved along Lake Geneva and the river Rhine (ex allobrogius) to the German area of the Electoral Palatinate.[7] Sir William's father settled at the city of Bensheim, where Curtius was born in 1599.[8][9][10]

As a young man, Curtius studied with Alstedius, "the Encyclopediast", at the Calvinist Herborn Academy in the Palatinate.[11]

Sir William Curtius, 1st Bt by Robert Cooper, after Unknown artist. Stipple engraving, early 19th century. NPG D30756

English diplomat

Curtius served as secretary to King Charles I's Calvinist brother-in-law, Frederick V, Elector Palatine,[12] up until the Elector's death in November 1632. Curtius last met with Frederick when he was displaying early symptoms of the plague that killed him only days later.[13] [14]

In 1632, in the midst of the Thirty Years' War, Curtius went to the Swedish King campaigning in Germany as Secretary to the English ambassador Sir Henry Vane.[15] Curtius then remained in Germany as an Agent of Charles I of England until December 1633.[16]

Curtius was in London early in 1633 hoping to be further employed by Charles I, but was unsuccessful. Elizabeth Stuart wrote to diplomat Sir William Boswell in his support,

I pray remember what I saide to you about Curtius that if the king my deare Brother will not keep him in his service, he may be dismissed with his favour, and the sooner the better for the poore man is there [in London] on his own purse and cannot be paid what is owing of him. [17]

Curtis then entered the Palatine Service[17] until Charles I appointed him as representative of England at the Imperial Diet of Nürnberg in 1639 and 1649, and at Frankfurt in 1642. He also supported Sir Thomas Roe in Vienna in 1641-42.[16]

Curtius was appointed by Charles I as official resident of the English Crown in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1652, the time of his appointment to the Baronetcy by the then-exiled Charles II, Curtius was "resident for his majesty, with Gustavus, King of Sweden, and the princes of Germany".[1] Charles II described him as "borne in these partes, and long imployed there by our father of blessed memory" [18]

On 5 August 1664, four years after Charles II's Restoration, Sir William was appointed Resident Ambassador at Frankfurt am Main, and remained so until recredentialled in September 1677.[1][16]

German governor

Curtis was appointed Oberamtmann - Bailiff, or District Governor - for the Electoral Palatinate in the city of Umstadt from 1650 to 1672, his son Charles William again from 1681 to 1691. At that time, half the city was owned by the Palatinate as a condominium with the changing sucessors of the Landgraviate of Hesse: the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt, Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Rheinfels.[3]

Fellow of the Royal Society

Sir William was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society on 3 October 1667.[5][19] He corresponded with both Henry Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Society, and Leibniz, bringing the latter a copy of Wilkin's Encyclopaedic Essay.[20]

Curtius Baronets, of Sweden

The coat of arms of the Curtius Baronets from the old cemetery of Umstadt, now located beside the Pfälzer Schloss at the centre of the city
  • William Curtius FRS, 1st Baronet (Born Johann Wilhelm di Curti on 12 August 1599 in Bensheim, died 23 January 1678 in Frankfurt am Main).[4][21]
  • Charles (William) Curtius, 2nd Baronet (26 December 1654 – 13 April or September 1733)[21]
  • Herman Carl (Charles) August Adolf Curtius, 3rd Baronet (22 April 1699, married 15 March 1740, 18. August 1753)[22]
  • Wilhelm Adam von Curti, 4th Baronet (21 July 1742 - 15 January 1823).[21]

On his death in 1678, Sir William was succeeded as Baronet by his son, Sir Charles William Curtius (Carl von Curti), who lived until 1733.

Seal of the Curtius Baronets from 1699; the small hand is from the Arms of Ulster, included as an inescutcheon on the armorial bearings of all English Baronets.[23]

Sir Charles petitioned the English Parliament to pay the substantial fees promised Sir William by "Kings Charles the First, and Second". The petition sought "for a Debt incurred upon the Account of Publick Service by his Father Sir Wm. Curtius, that to the Amount of Fourteen thousand Two hundred Fifty-five Pounds, as appears by the Accompt signed by his late Majesty King Charles the Second; who was pleased to grant him a Privy Seal for Two thousand Pounds; but only Five hundred Pounds, Part thereof, was paid." [24] The petition was unsuccessful.

Since 1785, the church in the village of Wald-Amorbach, Breuberg has rung its bells at 10am daily in the "Curti-Peal" for the salvation of the von Curti family. The peal was established by Carl August Adolf von Curti's widow, Erhardine Catharina Louise von Wahl (* around 1700, † 17. Februar 1786), when she gave the Curti forest to Gross-Umstadt.[22]

Wilhelm Adam von Curti was declared bankrupt in 1790. His estate at that time included feudal leases ("lehen") in six towns: Groß-Karben, Klein-Karben, Kaichen, Kloppenheim, Burggräfenrode and Dortelweil, Kurpfalz.[25]

The baronetcy became extinct in 1823 with the death of Wilhelm Adam, the last male descendant.

Baronetage of England
Preceded by
New creation
Curtius Baronetcy,
of Sweden
Succeeded by
Sir Carl William Curtius

In popular culture

In the novel Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson quotes from The History of the Royal Society of London,[26] in which "the president produced from Sir William Curtius a hairy ball found in the belly of a cow". [27]


  1. ^ a b c Heyleyn, Peter (1773), Help to English History: Containing a Succession of All the Kings of England ... the Kings and Princes of Wales; the Kings and Lords of Man: and the Isle of Wight. As Also of All the Dukes, Marquises, Earls and Bishops Thereof ... Together with the Names and Ranks of the Viscounts, Barons, and Baronets, of England, p. 475 
  2. ^ Cokayne, George E. (1900), Complete Baronetage, Exeter: W. Pollard & co., ltd. 
  3. ^ a b Widder, Johann Goswin (1 January 1787). Versuch einer vollständigen geographisch-historischen Beschreibung der kurfürstl. Pfalz am Rheine. Band 2. (A geographic history of the Palatine Electorate, volume 2). Frankfurt und Leipzig: Dritter Zheil. p. 4. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Wilhelm von Curti, Biography of Hesse, at: Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (LAGIS) in Germany
  5. ^ a b "Fellowship of the Royal Society". 
  6. ^ German secondary school qualifying for university admission or matriculation
  7. ^ Großkopf, Gertrud (1987). "Wilhelm Curtius. Lebensspuren eines kurpfälzischen Adeligen aus Bensheim im Dienst der englischen Krone" [William Curtius. The path of a Palatine nobleman, from Bensheim to the service of the English Crown]. In Historischer Verein für Hessen. Archive für hessische Geschichte und Altertumskunde (in German). Neue Folge 45. Band 1987. ISSN 0066-636X. 
  8. ^ S. Scholz: Die Inschriften des Landkreises Bergstrasse, part 12, publ. house Reichert, 1994, p. 173-174
  9. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, part 52, page 254
  10. ^ Peter Schröck-Schmidt: Wilhelm Curti: Ein kurpfälzischer Adliger aus Bensheim und sein Schloß in Groß-Umstadt. chapter in: 1250 Jahre Groß-Umstadt 743-1993. ed. and publ. by: Magistrat der Stadt Groß-Umstadt, publ. house: Geiger-Verlag, Horb am Neckar, p. 194-198.
  11. ^ Evelyn, John; Bray, William (1850). Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, to which is Subjoined the Private Correspondence Between King Charles I and Sir Edward Nicholas, and Between Sir Edward Hyde and Sir Richard Browne. Colburn. p. 267. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Oman, Carola (1938), Elizabeth of Bohemia, London: Hodder and Stoughton Limited, pp. 325, 369 
  13. ^ Green, Mary Anne Everett (1854), Lives of the Princesses of England: From the Norman Conquest, Volume 5, H. Colburn, p. 508 
  14. ^ Green, Mary Anne Everett (1921), Elizabeth, Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia, London: Methuen & Co (republished by Forgotten Books, 2003), p. 298 
  15. ^ Collins, Arthur (1812), Peerage of England, England: F. C. and J. Rivington, p. 509 
  16. ^ a b c Bell, Gary M. (1995), Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives, 1509–1688, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 146, 274 
  17. ^ a b Queen Elizabeth (Consort of Frederick King of Bohemia) (2011), Akkerman, Nadine, ed., The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 274 
  18. ^ Calendar of the Clarendon State Papers Preserved in the Bodleian Library 1649-1657, ed. by the Rev. W. Dunn Macray. Great Britain: Clarendon press. 1869. p. 166. 
  19. ^ Thomson, Thomas (1812). History of the Royal Society, from Its Institution to the End of the 18Th Century. London: Baldwin. p. xxv, Appendix IV. 
  20. ^ Maat, Jaap (2012). Philosophical Languages in the Seventeenth Century: Dalgarno, Wilkins, Leibniz. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 298. 
  21. ^ a b c Curti Castle (de)
  22. ^ a b "Stadtarchiv Breuberg: Curti-Waldkauf-Originalurkunde von 1785 entdeckt". 
  23. ^ The Standing Council of the Baronetage. "A short history". 
  24. ^ "House of Commons Journal Volume 10: 3 August 1689". Journal of the House of Commons. 10 (1688–1693): 251–252. 1802. 
  25. ^ "Leonhardi, Johann Peter Freiherr von, in: Hessische Biografie". 10 Sep 2013. 
  26. ^ Birch, Thomas (1756). the History of the Royal Society of London for Improving of Natural Knowledge from Its First Rise ... As a Supplement to the Philosophical Transactions, Volume 1. 
  27. ^ Stephenson, Neal (2003). Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle No. 1). William Heinemann Ltd. 

External links

  • Sir William Curtius in the National Portrait Gallery
  • Despatches, letters and papers of Sir William Curtius 1643–1662 , Surrey History Centre
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