The Berzsenyi Family
The egyházasberzsenyi Berzsenyi family was among Hungary’s noble families already during the reign of the House of Árpáds (895-1301). Nevertheless, it was necessary to have it reaffirmed in 1559 since the family’s documents were lost during the Turkish occupation of Hungary (1526-1686). That was done by Prince Miksa on behalf of his father, Ferdinand I (Habsburg) on the 16th of May in that year, in the presence of other Berzsenyis from locations nearby Egyházas-Berseny, where György Bersenyi lived and owned property. Unfortunately, we don’t know the relationship of the other Berzsenyis who served as witnesses to the above György, and neither can we establish the relationship of the “egyházasberzsenyi” branch to the various other families of Berzsenyis known to us. Nevertheless, unlike in the case of the Varg(h)a families, it is probable that all Berzsenyis are related on account of the fact that the name is so unusual, even if it is spelled in a different way like Bersenyi, Börsönyi, etc.
The egyházasberzsenyi Berzsenyi family was fortunate to have a truly famous poet in Dániel Berzsenyi (1776-1836), George’s great-great-grandfather. Hence, because there have been many devoted Berzsenyi-scholars (of his life and poetry) throughout the ages, we know a lot about him and his ancestors. Moreover, other Berzsenyis who could prove their relationships to him proudly claimed such, and hence the job of identifying the egyházasberzsenyi Berzsenyi clan was made easier. Nevertheless, like all of genealogy, the study of the Berzsenyi family is full of difficulties too. This is well-evidenced by the fact that genealogists fail to agree even on the great-grandparents of Dániel Berzsenyi, with some claiming that they were Benedek Berzsenyi and Margit Nagy, while others say they were János Berzsenyi and Katalin Pacsay.
George’s mother, Kornélia was the youngest daughter of Sándor Berzsenyi, who assisted her mother in the management of the estate after her father’s death. In her youth she rode and drove horses competitively, and later she served as the guardian of the Berzsenyi Museum in Nikla honoring the memory of her great-grandfather.
Sándor Berzsenyi was a lawyer, who greatly enlarged the original Berzsenyi holdings (to around 3000 acres) by buying out several other noble families in Nikla. He was an exemplary manager of his holdings and a devoted functionary of the Lutheran Church.
Sándor’s father, Farkas Berzsenyi, was the oldest son of Dániel Berzsenyi. He was a landowner and lawyer, who served as a district judge prior to be named lieutenant governor of Somogy in 1848. During the 1848-49 Revolution, he served his nation’s interest faithfully, for which he was imprisoned by the Austrians afterwards. His patriotism, as well as that of his two brother’s is recognized each year in Nikla on March 15, on the anniversary of the glorious start of that revolution.
Concerning Dániel Berzsenyi and his accomplishments, see the link below. His wife was a dukai Takách, while his mother was a Thulmon, both well-to-do landowner families. His move from the Kemenesalja (part of Northwestern Hungary) to Somogy (South of the Lake Balaton) was on account of his Thulmon inheritance there.