The Origin of the Family
The first documented members of the family are Alverik and Herewart von Decca. About 1250 they were vassals of Frederick of Haseldorf. The genealogy of the family can be traced back to Nicolaus de Deken. He was a squire and lived from about 1290 to 1360. The first von der Deckens lived near Freiburg, Lower Saxony, at the southern bank of the Elbe river.
Five Lines of the Family
All living von der Deckens are descendants of Claus von der Decken, who died in 1541. He was a mayor of Stade and had eight children. Five of his sons started the different lines of the family (see Genealogy of the von der Decken family).
The von der Deckens in South Africa
Adolphus (1834–1886) is a son of Adolph Melchior (1806–1862). They are descendants of the Oerichsheil line. For Adolph Melchior and Adolphus see Extract of genealogical table of the family von der Decken 1. Line in German language. Adolphus emigrated 1855 first to England and later to South Africa. He settled near King Williams Town. Adolphus married in 1855 Emma Louisa Eustace, when he was 21 and she was 19 years old. There are many descendants of Adolphus and Emma living in South Africa. Some of them with the name von der Decken live in King William's Town, in Fort Beaufort and near to Durban.
Coat of arms
Historic coat of arms
Seal of Heinrich von der Decken of the year 1585. He had three trammel hooks in his coat of arms and lived until 1590. Heinrich was alderman and mayor of the town Stade. He had farms in Götzdorf north of Stade and Aschhorn near Drochtersen. He belonged to the extinct line in the town of Stade. (copied)
Seal of Peter von der Decken from the year 1591. Peter lived from 1539 to 1619. He is the son of Hermann. Hermann was a mayor of Stade and he started the first family line. Peter owned the farms: Kampe, Oerichsheil, Ritterhof and Wechtern. This style of the coat of arms from 1591 stayed until present.
The General of the Cavalry Count Georg J.W.L. von der Decken chose as blazon holders two soldiers of the 1. Hussar-Regiment of the King's German Legion, a Regiment, in which he had distinguished himself so much. He was honored with the title Graf in 1835. He had no legitimate children, therefore the title did not continue after his death in 1859.
Notable family members
- Claus von der Decken (died 1541) councillor and mayor of the town of Stade. He was a principal supporter of Bremen's Prince-Archbishop John III.
- Klaus von der Decken (born 1742 in Ritterhausen near Balje, died 1826 in Hanover), Hanoverian minister.
- Count Johann Friedrich von der Decken (born 1769 in Langwedel, died 1840 in Ringelheim), Hanoverian Generalfeldzeugmeister.
- Karl Klaus von der Decken (born 1833 in Kotzen, died 1865 in Bardera in Somalia), Explorer in East Africa, especially at the Kilimanjaro and at the Jubba River.
- Count Georg von der Decken from Ringelheim (born 1836 in Brunswick, died 1898 in Ringelheim), Member of Reichstag of the Deutsch-Hannoversche Partei. Grandson of Johann Friedrich von der Decken.
- John Decker (born 1895 in Berlin, died 1947 in Los Angeles), was born with the name Leopold von der Decken or Leopold Avenarius. He was a painter, sculptor and caricaturist in London, New York City and Los Angeles. Grandson of Count Georg von der Decken.
Friedrich von der Decken (1802–1881), King's Hanoverian state minister.
Karl Klaus von der Decken (1833–1865), Explorer of East Africa
George von der Decken (1898–1945), German officer.
Bibliography in German language
- Luneberg Mushard, Monumenta Nobilitatis Antiqvæ Familiarum Illustrium, Inprimis Ordinis Equestris in Ducatibus Bremensi & Verdensi, i. e. Denckmahl Der Uhralten/ berühmten Hochadelichen Geschlechter/ Insonderheit Der Hochlöblichen Ritterschafft Im Hertzogthum Bremen und Verden (Monuments of the ancient and famous noble families, especially of the Knighthood in the Duchy of Bremen-Verden), Bremen: Brauer, 1708, pp. 192–201.
- Elias Friedrich Schmersahl, „Nachricht von dem alten ritterbürtigen Geschlechte der Herren von der Decken im Lande Kehdingen“ (a report on the von der Decken family), in: Hamburgisches Magazin, vol. 9 (1752), pp. 619–629.
- Wilhelm von der Decken (1807–1866) Secretary of the Kingdom of Hanover, Die Familie von der Decken in ihren verschiedenen Verhältnissen dargestellt (history of the family von der Decken), Hanover: Klindworth's Hof-Druckerei, 1865.
- Blätter der Familie von der Decken (i.e. annual family news), 1919–....
- Richard Drögereit (1957), "Decken, v. der.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 3, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 544–545
- Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Adelslexikon volume 56, 1974 and endorsements in volume 144, 2008
- Ernst Heinrich Kneschke, Neues allgemeines deutsches Adels-Lexicon (encyclopedia on nobility), 1860, p. 433. Article on Decken and Decken-Offen
- Johann Siebmacher, Siebmachers Wappenbuch (Book on coat of arms in Germany, Austria and Switzerland), 1605 in WIKIMEDIA COMMONS: Ritterschaft und Adel in Brauschweig there on p. 181 "V. DER TECKE" is the misspelled writing of "V. DER DECKEN"
- Brümmel, v. Gruben, v. Marschalck: Die Güter der Ritterschaft im Herzogtum Bremen (estates in the Duchy of Bremen), Stade: Ritterschaft der Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden, 2001
- Wilhelm von Hodenberg (ed.), Hoyer Urkundenbuch (Document book from Hoya), Hanover: 1855, 1. Abteilung (part) Hoyaer Hausarchiv (archive), Heft (booklet) IV: Hoyaer Lehne, 10. Haseldorfer Güter (estates from Haseldorf): pp. 8 and 9. on page 9 the first three lines cite a document of Herewart und Alverik von Deca, dated 1250/55 'her vredeke' is Frederick of Haseldorf; 'twe houe' are two farms; 'in den dorpen ierlinhusen' is in the village Ihlienworth 10 km south of Otterndorf; 'en pund' are dues; 'bedenem' is the village Belum northwest of Neuhaus (Oste); 'bultestrope (61,a)' means: see on p. XI 61) 'Zum Amte Neuhaus an der Oste: ... Bülsdorf is the oldest part of the village Neuhaus (Oste).
- Wilhelm von der Decken, Die Familie von der Decken in ihren verschiedenen Verhältnissen dargestellt (history of the family von der Decken), Hanover: Klindworth's Hof-Druckerei, 1865 p. 7
- Stammtafeln der Familie von der Decken, Thora von der Decken (ed.) on behalf of the Wangenheim-Decken'sche Familienstiftung, Stade: Heimberg, 1936, p. 83.
- Herwart und Thassilo von der Decken, Pedigree of the Family: Stammtafeln der Familie von der Decken, 1994
- Document from 1360 in state archive in Stade: Rep 3, Altkloster 106, there: The famulus = squire Claus (Nicolaus de Deken) witnesseth on 25 July 1360 this document with the following circumstances: Der squire Hinricus de Dozen (Heinrich von der Döse) sells farming ground near Wechtern in the parish of Freiburg/Elbe to the Benedictine nunnery in Altkloster nowadays a part of Buxtehude.
- Karl Ernst Hermann Krause: in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol 5, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, page 2
- From the church book entry: Adolphus was born 8 February 1834 and baptised 20 February 1834 in the Holy Trinity Church in Altona. Altona belonged to Holstein, which was ruled in personal union by the Danish crown until 1864. The mother is Anna Maria Ernestine Hume, the father is Claus Melchior Adolph von der Decken, see: Kirchenkreisarchiv Hamburg West / Südholstein – Lutheran Church Book Office (=Kirchenbuchamt) in Pinneberg
- Wilhelm von der Decken, Die Familie von der Decken in ihren verschiedenen Verhältnissen dargestellt (history of the family von der Decken), Hanover: Klindworth's Hof-Druckerei, 1865 p. 507
- Regarding personal names: Freiherr was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Baron. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
- Regarding personal names: Graf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Gräfin.
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- List of Lower Saxonies noble families
- Schlossarchiv Wildenfels: The family von der Decken in the books like Almanach de Gotha
- Database Persons of Lower Saxony There are 33 members of the family. Search in the database with the Name: Decken.