knighted by Kaiser Karl VI
Franz Friedrich Thönemann, youngest brother of the famous
Pater Vitus Georg Thönemann, studied law like his father. He
settled in Warburg in 1685, worked as an advocate and notary and was
especially successful in the legal field by means of a new court order
and changes in the jurisdiction of the Canstein rule. As he also performed
royal services, he received the title of an imperial Hofpfalzgraf
(comes palatinus), which his great uncle Bernhard von Wiedenbrück
had already held. This honour represented a sort of elevation to the
peerage and gave the entitlement to grant coats of arms and to issue
On 14 January 1687 Franz Friedrich Thönemann married Maria Elisabeth
von Hiddessen, daughter of Mayor Hans Heinrich von Hiddessen (born
1612, died 1672) and Margareta Schlicker. His first wife was Angela
Weddigen. Maria Elisabeth (born on 27 February 1656 in Warburg; died
on 17 December 1707) originated from the landed gentry family von
Hiddessen, initially resident in Höxter, then in Warburg; Johann
von Hiddessen, the grandfather, had been general under Tilly and Governor
of Emsland and commander of the city of Meppen; Johann’s brother,
Rudolf by name, was seminary deacon in Heiligenstadt and provost in
Nordhausen; the second brother, who had studied in Marburg, was Kurmainzer
senior clerk in Lindauer in Eichsfeld.
A brother of Maria Elisabeth von Hiddessen, Hermann Christoph (born
1639) had studied in Paderborn and Marburg and was Kurmainzer privy
councillor for many years, married Helena von Giesen. Another elder
brother of Maria Elisabeth, Hans Heinrich (born 1641) became Lord
of Peckelsheim and married Ursula von Nagel, daughter of the Chancellor
of Friesland, founding father of the later von Hiddessen family in
Through the wealth of his father, Dr. jur. Heinrich Thönemann,
Franz Friedrich got a lot of property in the Warburg area, especially
fees of Corvey monastery. On top of that came from the property of
the baron of Canstein fees from the villages of Germete, Papenheim,
Rotheim and Ossendorf (Warburg Mark). Franz Friedrich died on 21 March
1718 in Warburg and was buried in the Neustädter Church in front
of the altar.
Of his six children Johanna Maria Helena became a peer in 1717 in
the ladies chapter in Willebadessen and was Abbess from 1741 to 1778.
Johann Vitus Christoph, born on 27 March 1693 as the third child,
became a lawyer like his father; he studied in Münster and Mainz.
There he settled as a lawyer and on 30 March 1724 he married Anna
Maria Barbara von Lobenried. He was successful in big court cases,
became well-known as a result and advanced professionally quickly:
1732 Kurmainzer privy councillor, 1734 courtyard councillor, and 1736
appeal councillor at the Mainz supreme court. Kaiser Karl VI named
him imperial Supreme Court assistant judge in Wetzlar.
The brother Johann Konrad Franz, the fourth child of Franz Friedrich,
was born on 18 October 1694 in Warburg, later canon and scholar at
St. Mauritz in Münster, Generalvikariatsassessor (a special kind
of assessor) and member of a consistory of the Kurfürsten of
Cologne. He died on 23 July 1747 in Münster/Westphalia.
The Imperial supreme court in Wetzlar, at this time the highest German
court consisted of a council of twelve supreme court assessors, a
president from the nobility and an equally titled Imperial court judge.
Half the assistant judges represented the Elector, the other half
the other Imperial classes and one each the Kaiser; one assistant
judge had the right – as a special honour – to represent
the President of the court as imperial court judge.
All the judges wore special dress and were only allowed to go out
accompanied by a servant. It is interesting that these worthy gentlemen
were exempt from all customs duties, tax and postage charges and received
an annual salary of 3,555 Taler for life.
If assistant judges were only commoners on entering this high body
as judges, it was customary that they were ennobled soon after entry.
Vitus Christoph had the noble origins, like his brother Konrad Franz,
on 20 May 1734 with a view to the social position of the family, their
wealth and the noble marriages confirmed by the Kaiser and was on
1 November 1735 with his brother Johann Konrad Franz in recognition
of the performance of the Thonemann ancestors, who "in Policitis
and Publicis on the Crayß- and Reichstägen had encouraged
the common weal”, were ennobled with the title "noble of
Tönnemann”. With the enhancement of the coat of arms (completion
of the coat of arms on account of the peerage) by the Kaiser in consideration
of their famous uncle, Pater Vitus Georg Thönemann, (Had he helped
a little as an intimate of the Kaiser at the imperial court?) the
usual high fees for this state process were cancelled. In 1749 Vitus
Christoph was, in recognition for his special services in Heilbronn,
taken on in the roll of the knights as imperial knight subject to
the Emperor of the Franken land. A Würzburg ranking list from
1757 included his son Georg Ignatz as Baron von Tönnemann. If
the genealogical tree of the Thonemann ancestors is viewed, the list
of dynamic and skilled people, one can speak of an aristocracy of
The patent of nobility of the Kaiser for
the two von Tönnemann brothers
The granting of noble titles resulted on the prompting of the significant
man of our lineage, Pater Vitus Georg Thönemann, confessor to
Karl VI in Vienna for his two nephews Johann Vitus Christoph, imperial
supreme court assistant judge in Wetzlar, and Johann Konrad Franz,
Generalvikariatsassessor and member of a consistory of the Elector
of Cologne; both are sons of Franz Friedrich Thönemann, Mayor
of Warburg and his wife Maria Elisabeth von Hiddessen. The conferring
took place by letter and seal of Karl VI in Vienna (order of merit).
The text from the imperial register Karl VI number 24 following 211
V following in the house-, court-, and state archives in Vienna has
the heading: "Imperial knighthood with praedicato noble of, for
the two brothers Johann Conrad von Tönnemann Canonico and Scholastico
ad Sanctum Mauritium of Münster, and Johann Christoph Veit von
Tönnemann Chur – Mayntzischen government – and privy councillor”.
The patent of nobility arouses particular attention by its material
and the graphic design. On fine soft parchment is the hand-written
text, its magnificent title page begins: "We Carl VI by God’s
mercy chosen Roman Emperor, at all times enlarger of the empire…”
there followed all the titles of the Holy Roman Empire.
The heavy seal with the fine chased brass case has a diameter of 17
cm. It shows the double eagle with sceptre and sword and the initials
C VI. The binding may have been red velvet; it is very faded.
The first paragraph of the letter – after the list of all Kaiser
Karl’s titles – speaks about the general situation: "How
well we from the Roman-Imperial highness…also innate goodness
and mildness…..which inform our grace and kindness…..to
endow, whose forefathers and you….behave in faithful services
The next chapter is devoted to all the prerequisites for the award
of the aristocratic title: legitimate origins, noble characteristics,
virtues, reasonableness, scholasticism and skill. In detail then follows
the exact description of the merits of the two brothers, and also
of their relatives, under which "knightly good behaviour towards
the traditional enemy..” is not missing.
"Bemelten Beeden Gebrüdern Johann Conrad and Johann Christoph
Veit von Tönnemann” are then in the following "all
of the last of his present and future legitimate heirs, and their
heirs, males and females in descending line for eternity…”
to be awarded the title of nobility. Vote, seat, dignity, freedom
and all other resulting rights and advantages are listed by name.
The right to the coat of arms and its detailed description are dealt
with in the further paragraphs of the patent of nobility, which is
represented in colour in fine watercolours. All opportunities for
the maintenance and showing of the coat of arms are named in detail.
Also of interest is the subsequent call on all places of the Holy
Roman Empire, because the Tönnemanns are now regarded as knightly
persons, "disgrace and punishment” are called for, in case
those so distinguished would be insulted, in case the coat of arms
described above would be wrongly maintained.
The document concludes: ”With the instrument of this letter
sealed with our Kaiser attached seal, who is given our city of Vienna
on the first day of November after Christ our dear Lord and Saviour
merciful birth in 1735. Our empires and Roman in 25th of the Hispanic,
in the 33rd of the Hungarian and Bohemian also in the 25th year.”
The further descendants
of the noble Johann Vitus Christoph von Tönnemann and the Tönneburg
Franz Friedrich Thönemann, mayor in Warburg, was married to Maria
Elisabeth von Hiddessen in his first marriage; six children, among
them Johann Vitus Christoph, born on 27 March 1693 and Johann Konrad
Franz, born on 18 October 1694, - both born in Warburg – were
born of this marriage. Franz Heinrich Anton died young; Johanna Maria
Helena Christiana, born on 7 January 1701 in Warburg, became Abbess
of the noble ladies convent in Willebadessen (1741 to 1778). Johann
Konrad Franz entered the priesthood, became Generalvikariatsassessor
and later church council to the Elector of Cologne. No details are
known concerning Maria Margaretha and Joseph Franz.
Johann Vitus Christoph von Tönnemann (see above) married Anna
Maria Barbara von Lobenfried on 30 March 1724; they had ten children
– six sons and four daughters. Leopold Joseph entered law (in
the fourth generation), two sons Johann Konrad Franz Ludwig and Johann
Jacob Franz Ludwig died young. The remaining three sons became officers.
As a result of the intercession of the Supreme Court judge Prince
Hohenlohe-Waldenburg, Johann Vitus Georg Ignatz received the rank
of captain and fought with distinction in the various battles of the
Seven Year War. On 18 July 1751 he married Anna Maria von Merckel
from Würzburg. They had no children. He died at the age of 72
Bernhard Anselm Joseph, born on 21 December 1732 in Mainz, was named
as a cadet and officer candidate from 1749 to 1751. Nothing is known
of his further career. One of the daughters, Helena Franziska, born
in 1741, married cavalry captain Bartholomäus von Chiari.
The daughter Maria, born in 1726, married (before 1751) Leopold Philipp
Albert Adolf Erhard Graf von Galler; he came from senior officer circles,
was kurpfälzischer privy councillor and district president in
Neuburg on the Danube.
The last child of Johann Vitus Christoph von Tönnemann and Anna
Maria Barbara von Lobenfried was christened Julian Gerhard Georg Wilhelm
Xaver (born 1 March 1745 in Wetzlar; died 9 July 1810 in Warendorf).
Before Wilhelm Xaver was transferred to Warendorf as lieutenant colonel,
he lived as a major in Münster. There he owned the old Erbdrostenhof
in the green staircase, which he had bought from Baron von Droste-Vischering.
When he was transferred with his von Tönnemann regiment to Warendorf
in 1778, where he became general, he sold the residence with the big
park in the city of Münster to Princess von Galitzin; thus this
house in Münster was to become a meeting-place of many famous
people, such as Claudius, Goethe, Jacobi, Lavater, etc. In the following
three years Xaver bought before the Emstor in Warendorf near Kalvarienberg
from the former drill-ground a big area of about 500 Morgen (1 Morgen
= 0.25 ha), on which he built a house, one-storey, brick in baroque
style. This house soon became known popularly as the "Tönneburg”
(Tönnemann castle). The deep red of the walls and roof harmonised
well with the dark green of the surrounding coniferous forests. According
to the plan, which is still available, the house had ten rooms, in
addition plenty of farm rooms as well as kitchens and cellars, which
were mainly accommodated in an extension.
The Tönneburg, it is said, despite all simplicity in construction,
did not lack a manorial character. Here General von Tönnemann
led a highly pleasant family life with his wife Margareta von Ernsthuys
from Holland and the four children, Helena Arnoldine Agnes, who died
at the age of 34, Catharina Theresa, who died four years after her
marriage to Major Karl August von Teiffel on 4 October 1800 (he later
became post master in Mülheim on the Ruhr – they had two
children) as well as the two sons Christoph and Franz Karl. The diary
of the 14-year-old Christoph from 1789 and 1790, which he kept in
a precise and detailed manner, testified persuasively to this. There
is a vivid picture of the life of a well-to-do, refined and spiritually
interested family on the lowlands, also of the regular intercourse
with the officers of the Warendorf garrison – the von Tönnemann
regiment was quartered there – and the local dignitaries of
the town, who were only a half an hour’s ride away from the
Tönneburg. Plentiful staff was available at the Tönneburg
to tend to all duties. Thus we learn from the diary that the Colonel’s
wife got great support in her household from a Lisbet from Vechta,
who had a position of trust. In winter the maids had to spin homegrown
hemp, flax, and also hare wool. Four fat pigs, weighing 1100 pounds
(550 kg) together were slaughtered annually, however were in no way
sufficient for the big household and the many visitors; the shortfall
in meat was covered by additional purchase. It is also reported in
these papers about the workers, in contrast to the well-off people,
who, as factories and firms were scarce, had to do the farm work mostly
by hand. At this time a good farm labourer earned about 8 to 10 Taler
per year, besides food and board, the maids much less. It was no rarity
that in the later decades young, strong men wandered in autumn from
one employment to another asking for work and were often prepared
to take only their keep without pay for winter work. Thus it was also
no surprise that many young men joined the army in order to have bread
to eat; perhaps the smart, colourful uniform was also an attraction.
The diary report gives a vivid picture of the varied life of the officer’s
family on Tönneburg, from the nice trouble-free youth of the
children of General von Tönnemann’s family, of excursions
far and near, also of learning with the father or with the employed
teacher, who walked from Warendorf to Tönneburg every day. Occasionally
the children were also allowed to travel with their father in their
own carriage to Minster, a trip that took four hours on the not yet
paved roads. The beautiful sights of the town of Münster and
dining with the General made a big impression on the writer of the
diary. The pleasant family life on Tönneburg was affected by
the French revolution as the French freedom fighters by their success
encouraged the people from Lüttich to have an armed rising. The
sovereign, Earl von Hoensbruch, Bishop of Münster, fled from
the growing revolt. On 21 October 1789 the von Tönnemann regiment
in Warendorf was also called up; on 17 November 1789 the regiment
marched off from their location in order to meet up with those from
Münster. From these two regiments, as can be seen in the city
annals of Münster, 1,000 foot soldiers, 100 cavalry, 27 artillery
men with six cannon, six ammunition wagons and 15 carts left on 20
November at 8 a.m. from the Aegiditor to Lüttich and did not
return until 21 months later. At the end of August 1791 the von Tönnemann
regiment was in Warendorf again.
Colonel Wilhelm Xaver von Tönnemann died on 9 July 1810 in Warendorf.
In the time of the French, his son Christoph was owner of Tönneburg.
He was mayor of Warendorf for a long time. He married Maria Anna von
Chiari on 30 July 1803; they had two children, Helena Franziska Maria
Anna Wilhelmine (23 October 1805) and Norbert Joseph Bartholomäus
(14 March 1807), who died shortly after birth. The daughter Helena
Franziska Maria Anna Wilhelmine married Joseph Zumholz, the post inspector
from Münster, on 9 August 1823.
Christoph’s brother, Franz Karl von Tönnemann, was born
in 1774; he was also commissioned Münster first lieutenant and
later left military service as a Prussian captain. He married Philippine
Theodora Baroness von Westram in 1811; she was the daughter of Friedrich
von Westram zu Gutacker, Major in Warendorf and his wife Maria Wilhelmine
von Scheffert zu Kreyenborg; the remarriage was to N. von Glan from
England. The son Christoph Wilhelm Julius von Tönnemann, officer
in Münster, left because of a gunshot wound in his hand and became
lord of the manor in House Farwick near Amelsbühren; he was born
in 1815; got married in 1848 to Südlohn to Dieudonné Adela
Countess von Looz-Corswaren, whose second son Alfons, resident in
Ohio/USA sold the Tönneburg property in 1888. The first son Clemens
died without children in 1924 in Wolbeck; Alfons, Albert and Ludwig
went to America.
Thus the Tönnemann male lineage in Germany came to an end. As
a result the title of nobility is also invalid.
The Tönneburg manor house burnt down in 1885; thus all the old
files of the family from the Warburg time burnt. Alfons rebuilt the
massive part, however sold the whole property which comprised 210
Morgen to the merchant Linnemann in Ahlen, who some years later sub-divided
and passed it on to various heirs.
Thus the Tönneburg like the family von Tönnemann belonged
to history too. Later the Warendorf Land stud was established on the
site and after the First World War the Westphalian riding and driving
school in Warendorf.