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Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Denis Iliin, the ancestor from whom the Denissoffs trace their descent, left his home in Novgorod because of religious persecution during the reign of Alexis (1645-1676) and settled in Five Huts, a village in the Don region. During Peter the Great's expedition to the Black Sea (1696), he stopped at Five Huts and ordered Denis and several of his fellow Cossacks to join the expedition. Peter was favorably impressed by Denis, and rewarded him for his brave conduct during the attacks on the Azov fortress. Subsequently, Denis was made Ataman (chief) of the Cossacks in the region. Originally independent frontiersmen, the Cossacks became an important and privileged element in the Imperial Russian Army as the Empire expanded. The Denissoff family remained prominent in military service throughout the 18th and 19th centuries; Il'ia Fedorovich Denisov (1718-1792) distinguished himself in the war against Prussia (1756-1763), and received a gold medal from the Empress Maria-Theresa. Fedor Petrovich Denisov (1732-1803) participated in numerous campaigns during the reign of Catherine the Great, who made him a general of cavalry and gave him the title of Count and 1,200 serfs along with various awards. Adrian Karpovich Denisov (1763-1841) took part in the historic march of Marshall Suvorov across the Alps and retired at the rank of Lieutenant General in 1825. Vasilii Avksentiievich Denisov (1788-1829) pursued Napoleon's army beyond the Rhine in 1812. Although the family is most noted for its military service, Vasilii Il'ich Denisov has a most distinguished civil career as a Senator and a member of the State Council. His son Il'ia left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. With the death of Il'ia Denisov in 1971, these family papers passed to his son, Basile A. Denissoff.