Johann Vitus Christoph Thönemann and his brother Johann Konrad Franz

Both 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 legitimations.

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 Warburg.

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 performance.

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… endow, whose forefathers and you….behave in faithful services honourably”.

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 near Warendorf

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 in 1799.

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.