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The Riesenkampff family
The Riesenkampff family is most likely to originate from Lower Saxony. The uninterrupted family line begins in the middle of the 16th century with Jost Riesenkampff, who acquired the citizenship of the city of Hildesheim in 1542 and was also mentioned in a tax receipt as the owner of the house number six on the old market.
Two of his sons moved to Reval (Tallinn), Heinrich the elder of the two reached Reval in 1570 and had no descendants. His younger brother Hans, who settled there in 1590, was married three times and had nine children. His three wives, two of whom died relatively early, were daughters of respected Reval merchants, which suggests that he was a well recognized member of the local community. Five of their children were sons, who passed the family name further on.
At first the Riesenkampffs were mostly merchants, later we find them as lawyers, notaries, doctors, farmers and members of the military. There are records about nine family ennoblements in the 17th and 18th centuries altogether. There have also been variations of the surname in different regions, for example: Rosenkampff, residing in Livonia, Sweden and Finland, was ennobled 1687, and Rehekampff from the island of Ösel and Bessarabia, ennobled in 1780.
Until the First World War, members of the family resided far beyond Estonia and Livonia. They were found in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland and Bessarabia. The Russian Revolution brought about a clear change and after almost all Baltic Germans were resettled to Germany in 1939, with very few exceptions, no family members could remain in the Baltic States. Today most of the family members are based in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Reval (Tallinn) remained the center of the family up until 1939. Here the family had two mayors (Karl Philip Riesenkampff and Karl Alexander Justus Riesenkampff), a large number of city council members, many members and elders of the great guild as well as the members of the Brotherhood of Black Heads. Many successful merchants, doctors, lawyers and notaries shaped the life of the old Hanseatic city. As depicted in the old maps of Tallinn, the city had a Riesenkampff street (which was renamed into J. Vilmsi street in 1923) as well as a Riesenkampff bathing establishment in Kalamaja district.