Table of ranks

If you have managed to get the file from the Russian State Historical archive (St Petersburg) or from Military archive in Moscow and translated it, then more likely you came across the various titles/ranks your ancestor had during his service.

For your interest, Peter the Great introduced the Table of ranks in 1722.  This table was a formal list of positions and ranks in the military, government and court of Imperial Russia until it was abolished by the Bolshevik government on November 11, 1917.  In this table you will see the comparison between civil, military and court ranks.  What is interesting-  depending on the grade people were addressed differently.

You can find the table by searching “Table of ranks” in Wikipedia.

Grade[6] Civil ranks[6] Military ranks[6] Court ranks[7]
I Chancellor
General field marshal
II Active privy councillor[Note 1]
(Действительный тайный советник)
Grand marshal
III Privy councillor
(Тайный советник)
Lieutenant general
Vice admiral
Grand master of the stables
IV Active state councillor
(Действительный статский советник)
Major general
Rear admiral
Grand marshal of the court
Grand chamberlain
V State councillor
(Статский советник)
Marshal of the court
Grand cup bearer
VI Collegiate Councillor
(Коллежский советник)
Captain 1st rank (Navy)
Master of the stables
VII Court councillor
(Надворный советник) (from 1745)
Lieutenant colonel
Captain 2nd rank (Navy)
VIII Collegiate assessor
(Коллежский асессор)
Captain 3rd rank (Navy)
Titular chamberlain
IX Titular councillor
(Титулярный советник)
Staff captain
X Collegiate secretary
(Коллежский секретарь)
Staff captain None
XI Naval secretary
(Корабельный секретарь)
None Chamber groom (lit. “Chamber junker“)
XII District secretary
(Губернский секретарь)
XIII Provincial registrar
(Кабинетский регистратор)
XIV Collegiate registrar
(Коллежский регистратор)

Table in Wikipedia is very comprehensive.  But please be aware of various translations (especially by Google or similar) and investigate the meaning of rank until you get the full understanding.

Here I want to copy an extract from the book by N.M. Korkunov “Russian State Law” (1909) which states that at the beginning of the 20th century the nobility status was easily received just by serving in the government and how the personal nobility status lost its meaning.

“‘One cannot help draw the attention to the easiness by which the nobility is received by people with higher education, especially with graduate degrees, and for persons serving in administration and training departments.  Higher education gives you the right to achieve directly the ranks of XI, X or IX class; the degree of PhD Doctor entitles you even to the rank of Class VIII.  ….  Thus, we can say that everyone, who received higher education and served a country somehow, becomes a nobleman.  However, until recently, the receipt of ranks and orders was somewhat only connected with the public service.  Educated person in zemstvo, therefore, could not become a nobleman. But now this restriction has disappeared.  ….[the law of] 1890 granted the right of public service to the members of zemstvo.  Because of this, the candidate of the University, who served as a member of zemstvo for at least three years, now receives the rank of class IX and with it the personal nobility.  Even members of zemstvo, who cannot enter the public service, may after three three-year periods be entitled ….to the first class [XIV grade] rank.”

*zemstvo – was a form of local/rural self-government that was established in 1864 during the great liberal reforms to provide social and economic services.

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