I have only recently come across your forum discussions about the princely title of John Zylinski. I write to you in my capacity as Chairman of the Polish Knights of Malta in the UK.
John’s uncle (Wojciech DOB 1912 and deceased in 2000) was a member of Sovereign and Military order of Malta (SMOM), or a Knight of Malta in short, and satisfactorily proved his nobility going back for many generations. John Zylinski, his nephew, is obviously entitled to be a Knight as well but has refrained, whilst supporting many of our activities.
Some genealogists claim that the Princes Zylinski, originating from the original Russian "Kniaz/Bojars" (The Duke in Oxford ED), died out in the seventeen century but a book about the family attributes substantial evidence to the contrary. Written by the Chairman of the Warsaw Genealogical Society (Krzysztof Bakala), and published last month, it looks at the history of the family over 800 years.
There is many details of this family also included in 1895 published in Warsaw, by the famous
Gebethner and Wolff, author Joseph Wolff, "Kniaziowie Litewsko-Ruscy od konca 14 wieku".
in English: "Lithuania/Russia "Kniaz" families from the end of the 14 Century", pages: 621-622.
Many Polish families were forced to renounce or stop using their titles by various invaders, mainly the Russians. Over half the Polish nobility did so to survive. They went underground or simply become polonised. Mr Bakala includes the Zylinski family among them.
He clearly explains that more research is necessary but there is no evidence that the male line of the family died out and that all the evidence he has found points to John Zylinski being a genuine successor in this princely family. Brought up on the legend of a princely title, after much evidenced research, John Zylinski resurrected it.
From his paternal grandmother, John Zylinski also has a blue blood. She was born Countess Rzewuska, a very well-known Polish name. There are 3 Rzewuski 18th century portraits in the Warsaw Royal Castle whose likeness is the spitting image of John Zylinski. Moreover, his paternal great grandmother was born Princess Ursyn Szantyr. This is the Polish branch of the princely Italian Orsini family.
This means our Prince Zylinski is related to Catherine the Great of Russia as well as a dozen Popes, several dozen Cardinals and half a dozen Saints in Heaven. Not bad at all!
I would also like to point out that in Poland many people and the media accept his title. Members of the Polish Government including the Prime Minister refer to him as Prince Jan Zylinski and he is regularly praised for his activities in the field of Polish heritage.
Hopefully my words will contribute more information to your members on this subject.
Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki MBE KM
Chairman, Polish Knights of Malta (UK)
Visiting Professor UCL