Skip to navigation – Site map
Valeurs familiales

Avraam Stepanovich Sverchkov and “Embezzlers”

Family connections within Russian bureaucracy in the first half of the 18th century
Avraam Stepanovič Sverčkov et les « déprédateurs » : les liens de famille dans le milieu administratif en Russie dans la première moitié du xviiie siècle
Galina O. Babkova
p. 609-640


State Councillor Avraam Stepanovich Sverchkov was a key figure in the legislative commissions between the 1720s and early 1740s. In 1755, he bequeathed a considerable part of his property to the newly established Moscow University. Reconstructed on the basis of a lawsuit over this legacy, the history of Sverchkov’s family and kinship relations suggests that the category of bureaucrats he belonged to gave precedence to and valued the nuclear family. Coming from unprivileged estates and not being members of chancellery service families, these bureaucrats climbed the hierarchy ladder thanks to their professional skills, and independently built their careers, friendships, matrimonial and other strategies, advancing in service through personal contacts, knowledge and experience. Active participants in the actual implementation of state reforms in the first half of the eighteenth century, Sverchkov and officials like him formed the higher level of office employees in a variety of central institutions and ensured undisturbed operation of all the units of the state machine. Acquiring hereditary nobility through their service, these collegiate officials reduced the field of social and family interaction to the nuclear family to the exclusion of vertical kinship relations. Their social capital, career progress, material well‑being and security were interrelated and depended on two generations (parents and children) integrated in a complex system of social contacts.

Top of page

Editor's notes

Translated from Russian by Denise Mansurova and Iryna Bickle



Full-text article available to subscribers or on a "pay per view" basis. It will be available on this URL in January 2020.
Read it


Chancellery service
The family

First lines

On December 13th 1755 the board of the Moscow Imperial University submitted a promemoria [note] to the State Collegium of Justice asking them to send immediately a representative of the Collegium accompanied by prikaznye sluzhiteli [bailiffs] to the house of State Councillor Avraam Stepanovich Sverchkov, who died on December 8th. As quickly as possible they had to make an inventory of promissory notes and cash, present in the house, and also to make a copy of Sverchkov’s will, which “remained in the house, signed by Mr. Sverchkov’s hand and witnesses.” The Collegium of Justice took its decision the following day: it granted the university’s request and on December 14th sent the Secretary Il´ia Iazykov to Sverchkov’s house.

The reason for this rush was rather unusual: according to the oral will, dictated by А.S. Sverchkov on November 26th 1755 (written down by the Moscow State Bank junker Gavriil (Gavrila) Iushkov), he had transferred a considerable part of his property to the newly ...

Top of page


Electronic reference

Galina O. Babkova, « Avraam Stepanovich Sverchkov and “Embezzlers” », Cahiers du monde russe [Online], 57/2-3 | 2016, Online since 01 April 2019, Connection on 18 January 2018. URL :

Top of page


Galina O. Babkova

School of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow,

Top of page


© École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris.

Top of page