Ukase 24.882. of 1811 concerning the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Source: Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov Volume 31 page 908 - The British Library Ref: SN142 (1811)
Translation © British Association of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Translated by : Tatiana Azzopardi - Russian Translator - Malta.

Ukase (The Order) 24.882 - November 20th, 1811:-
The High Senate's regulations - Concerning the Family Commanders of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

"The Governmental Senate was present during the presentation by the Minister of Finance, the Royal Secret Official Senator and Chevalier Dmitry Alexandrovich Gurjev on the matters arising from the High Statement confirmed by the Council of the Government dated April 10th of the current year concerning the estates of the Family Commanders of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The State Secretary was informed of the Statement by the Minister as follows:
1. All the Commanders established through the Family Commanders should be given the right to pay the funds receivable by the Order from the profits of the Commanders' estates to the State Treasury. Once this regulation is carried out, the estates should become their complete property.
2. The Commanders who are unwilling to pay in the whole sum at once should continue to pay until their death in accordance with the existing rule.
3. The profits received from the Commanders under regulation N2 should be used by the State Treasury to pay the expenses of the Order. The funds collected under article N1 should be used for the foundation of charitable establishments for persons on military service and invested in the Zaemny Bank or Vospitatelny Dom where they can earn interest. The Finance Minister brought this Statement to the attention of the Government Senate and requested the senate to make the Ukases public, advising the responsible Regional Governors, under whose supervision the Ancestral estates were held, to release the Family Commanderies after full payment to the State Treasury. The Bank responsible for the collection of profits made on the estates should state the amounts due from the Commanders and also inform the State Treasury of the amounts owing from some of the Commanders. His Highness the Emperor, whilst confirming the Statement of the Council of State, gave the Order to inform by Ukases all those concerned: the Governors, the Regional Council, the Managers of the Civil List and the Governor-Generals. The new Ukases should also be made known to the Holy Synod in Moscow and St Petersburg. In accordance with the report of the Minister of Finance, all the Civil Governors and Regional Administrators under whose supervision the Family Commanderies were held, should release the Commanders after the payment to the State Treasury the sum advised by the Bank calculated on the profit received from the estates together with the shortfall due from the Commanders."

The Ukase 24.134 - February 26th, 1810 had secularised the property of the Order. It did not suppress the Order as some writers seek to claim, and in fact the text understands, and states that the Order was to continue - see . The issue of the Family Commanders and the property they enjoyed had been left for later deliberation, which is the subject of this Ukase. The Decision was that the State secularised the properties formally held by the Order to be enjoyed by the Commanders. The Commanders could continue to enjoy the property for the rest of their lives by paying in installments (renting it from the State), or they were offered the chance to purchase it, to become their own property. Again, it did not suppress the Order as some writers seek to claim. Specifically money raised through the payments by installments was to be "used by the State Treasury to pay the expenses of the Order" - thus rather than proving the suppression of the Order, this Ukase confirmed its ongoing existence.

The money had hitherto been paid to the Order - i.e. the cash went outside of Russia to Catania. The effect of this Ukase, was to secularise the property in favour of the State Treasury, which was to use the cash, both in favour of charitable establishments for military personnel, and for the Order.

There are examples of the official Imperial Court Almanac using the designation of "Hereditary Commander", and this term is found in other Russian records. Thus whilst the Estates after 1811, belonged to the Commanders themselves, an honorific title "Hereditary Commander" was enjoyed by the Commanders, and confirmed in individual cases by the Imperium. The evidence of the Court Almanacs, and other documents reveal that this was the case. For example Baron Michael de Taube notes; "Under the following reigns, those of Alexandre II (1855-1881) and of Alexandre III (1881-1894), the Imperial Government was always perfectly aware of the existence of a Russian Priory of the Order of Saint John represented by the assemblage of direct descendants its first hereditary commanders. This fact is proved, for example, by an official document belonging today to the one of these Russian hereditary commanders of our days, Prince Cyrille Troubetzkoy (residing in Paris); this is the original State Service Record of the elder son of the general-aid-de-camp Prince Vassily Serguéévitch Troubetzkoy of the beginning of the XIX century, Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch, established in 1889 and carrying the following notation :

"In his capacity of eldest of the family - hereditary commander of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem whereof he wears the insignia conforming to the Supreme authorisation of 19 October 1867 ". Taube, Professor Baron Michel Alexsandrovitch, de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 43.

There are other clues for example, further evidence is found in the biography of Prince Pierre Ivanovitch Tufiakine taken from State records which provides this statement; "Prince Tufiakine emigrated abroad, where he passed the rest of his life. In 1841, he was stripped of his functions of Current Chamberlain, and of his dignities of Master of the Court and of Commander of the Order of Malta. He spent his last years in Paris, where he died on 19 February 1845. It is recorded;

"Le prince Tufiakine partit pour l'étranger, où il passa le rests de sa vie. En 1841, il fut dépouillé de ses fonctions de chambellan actuel, et de ses dignités de maître de la Cour et de commander de l'Ordre de Malte. Il passa ses dernières années à Paris, où il mourut le 19 février 1845". " [Mikhailovitch, Grand Duke Nicolas, Portraits Russes, Tome III, Fascicule 1. St Petersbourg 1907 (the information in the book is "manufacture des papiers de l'etat" - created from the State Documents)]

In regard to the Prince Tufiakine's Commandership of Malta (Hereditary) ;

(a) if it is the Roman Catholic Order (which could be argued from the text; 'commander de l'Ordre de Malte') then the Russian State cannot strip him of that dignity (which it was not - Tufiakine was a Commander of the Russian Grand Priory).

(b) Equally, if the Order in Russian was suppressed in 1810/1811/1817 - then the Russian State cannot strip him of that dignity - it had already been done!

This clearly demonstrates, that in 1841 there was a continued role of the State in regulating the continuing Russian Grand Priory, and that the Hereditary Commanders continued to enjoy the recognition of the State.

Certainly the Ukases of 1810 and 1811, are not Acts of Suppression, the former being a sequestration of property by the State, the latter a returning to the Commanders the property which formed the Commanderies, but using the income "to pay the expenses of the Order".

Amended 19rd July 2010

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