The following was prepared from the classical genealogical and heraldic reference "Herbarz Polski" by Kasper Niesiecki, S. J., Lipsk (Leipzig) edition, 1839-1846. For each herb [clan shield, coat of arms] the blazon or verbal description of the arms is first given in authentic heraldic style, followed by a translation from the Polish description by Niesiecki. The right and left sides of a shield are identified from the standpoint of the bearer, i. e., the one holding the shield. His right would be your left and vice versa. The tinctures (colors) in heraldry are as follows: azure = blue, gules = red; sable = black; or = gold, argent = silver; vert = green. In heraldry all charges (pictures) on a shield are assumed to be facing dexter (right side) unless otherwise specified. In Polish heraldry all animals or birds are assumed to be in their natural coloring unless otherwise specified.
The blazon, or verbal description, of the Dabrowa clan shield for the surname of Kostka is given below in the authentic heraldic style, then, followed by a translation from the Polish description:
"Arms: azure, between two crosses pateé fitchee or, a horseshoe argent, the heels in base, surmounted of another cross pateé of the second; issuant of a helmet befitting his degree, mantled of his liveries, whereon is set for a crest: upon a ducal coronet a vol sable pierced by an arrow fessways, argent, flighted or, the point to sinister."
On a field of blue between two ancient crosses pointed at the bottom stands a silver horseshoe, with still another golden cross at its top. On a helmet and crown is a vulture wing black in color, pierced by a silver arrow with golden feathers in an angular position pointing to the left. (In heraldry, the right and left sides of a shield are identified from the standpoint of the bearer, i. e., the one who is holding the shield. His right would be your left and vice versa).
The tinctures/metals (colors) in heraldry are as follows: or = gold; argent = silver; azure = blue; sable = black.
Mantle liveries: are the colorful swirls eminating from behind the shield and helmet, as in this case azure and argent (blue and silver).
The Polish blazon is as follows: "w polu blekitnem podkowa biala polerowana, krzyz na niej zlocisty, a drugie takiez dwa po koncach, barkiem do góry podniesiona stoi, koncami nadól, na helmie skrzydlo sepie, a przez nie strzala, z dolu ku górze przelatujaca. "
Niesiecki cites the following sources: Bielski fol. 173, Paprocki in Gniazdo cnoty, fol. 1104 and 1159, 0 herbach fol. 329 and fol. 662, Okolski Orbis Polonus, vol. 1 fol. 128, Klejnoty fol. 45,
History of the Dabrowa clan arms and ancestry
I will cite here what Rev. Duryewski says on the origin of these arms in Niezeszla Pamiatka Kostków, page 3. The ancestor of this family, according to Paprocki, was a native-born Pole of that family whose coat of arms was a horseshoe and on it an elevated cross, which we call Poboze (as Kromer gives it, vol. 1) or (as in the Statutes of Laski, page 127) Pobodze, now more commonly known as Pobóg. The author of the first history of Prussian Poland asserts in his manuscripts that the first ancestor of the Dabrowa clan was a foreign knight who, when the Christian armies made an expedition in 1096 to recover Jerusalem and with it the grave of Christ, had accompanied Godfrey of Boullion to the holy war and dispatched before him a legation to King Boleslaw Krzywousty of Poland to ask for free passage through his kingdom to Carogród. When this ancestor distinguished himself by his courage at Jerusalem, Godfrey, who had been elevated to the Kingship of Jerusalem, bestowed on him a new coat of arms, a rendition of Calvary that is, the hill of Our Lord's death with three crosses, which we call Dabrowa. Returning from Palestine through our country of Poland, he settled here and propagated his family. (Histor. Polon. Pruth. Posselii in Coll. Premisl. S. I, fol. 56.) Konopatski's manuscripts give something similar to this, with the addition that two brothers from Lotharingia mounted an expedition to Palestine with several hundred men in 1104 and describes these adornments earned there by bravery. This story, however, appears to be more fiction than fact. Firstly, it does not cite any more ancient authors; furthermore, it does not agree with established history in several matters, among them: it makes Krzywousty the monarch of Poland in 1096, whereas he did not ascend to the throne of Poland till 1102; and the arms themselves of this house show that its author was a member of the Pobógs who added to his ancestral arms only two lateral crosses. There is also little resemblance between a horsehoe and Calvary; and the name of these arms, Dabrowa, clearly demands that it originated in a Slavic language, not a foreign one; and supposedly this Pobóg took these arms out of piety, to the credit of his relatives, and the occasion of their origin was as follows. A large force of enemies attacked Polish territory and ravaged it with customary cruelty; to repel the sudden attack, the Polish nobles and knights of several counties assembled swiftly, but they could not match their foes in force and numbers; their leader, wishing to conceal the meagerness of his forces, arrayed them at Dabrowa or an oak grove [in Polish, a dabrowa] and awaited a suitable occasion for battle. The foe called this delay cowardice and scoffed at them. One of the brave men, a member of the Pobóg clan, could not bear this disgrace, and urging his horse forward he attacked the foe so mightily that he broke their ranks and tore through their detachments, killing many of them on the spot; the others, seeing this, dashed to his aid and, behind this one whose heart and fortune had made it possible, they routed the enemy. Then in memory of this deed of valor, and supposedly for having fought his way through two detachments of these enemies of the Holy Cross, he added two lateral crosses to his ancestral coat of arms. As for the helm, however, I understand that it was acquired by augmentation on another occasion; I do not know, but it might have come from an extraordinary archer's having shot down a vulture flying over the army. This was taken as a good sign, for otherwise the ancients did not take vultures flying over the army as a good omen, believing that this bird which feeds on corpses could foresee defeat and would head for wherever more corpses would fall, as Horus Apollo writes - but about this wing the historians say nothing. What is certain from them is that the name and the coat of arms Dabrowa came from the Dabrowa by which our army stood; some also call it Dabowa, but this is supposedly a printer's error from omission of the letter r.
Some eulogizers were of the understanding that this first ancestor of the Dabrowa clan about whom we have been speaking was the renowned Mazovian wojewoda Przybyslaw z Rostkowa. For me this tidings are groundless, about which more later. The more ancient authors who mention this give neither the names of this knight and of the enemies defeated by his example, nor the year in which this happened, nor the place at which this victory was accomplished. I would take it as having happened in Mazovia, or on the border of that province, inasmuch as his descendants had their seat in Mazovia province since ancient times. I conclude also that the foe was from those regions adjacent to the Duchy of Mazovia to the north or to the east, that is, either the Jadzwings, the Podlasians, the Lithuanians, or the old Prussians, all at that time enemies of the Poles. As for what I read in the manuscripts of Rev. Rutka, that they were Teutonic Knights, the cavalry order of the German nation settled in Prussia, that does not work. For the family of the Dabrowa clan unquestionably appeared in Mazovia well before the Teutonic Knights in Prussia, for the latter, according to Treter in 1225, Dusbruchiusz in 1226, and Długosz in 1230, were summoned to those regions by the Mazovian prince Conrad; while the Dabrowa clan, already well propagated, were holding the first offices of the Mazovian senate in a creditable manner, as for instance Boguta z Rostkowa,- Mazovian wojewoda in 1232. Przybyslaw z Rostkowa occupied the same seat in 1246. Furthermore, it is clear from the annals of Poland that at this time the Teutonic Knights, having taken benefices within recent memory, had no quarrel with the Poles, their founders and benefactors; they had already quarreled with the Pomeranians, but not yet being great in numbers, they fought, mostly with Polish reinforcements, against the pagan Prussians, and only began to fight with us after 1300. I also regard as certain that this family of the Dabrowas had their origins not in the days of King Wladyslaw Lokietek, but supposedly before his grandfather, the Mazovian prince Conrad. It is difficult to establish the time, however, although it can be confirmed that it was perhaps around 1100, as before 1041 the Pobozans were noted for their good counsel and dignity (Bielski fol. 70), of whom one sent a legation for Kazimierz I. Some have stated in print that one of the Dabrowa clan, the third from the first author of this family, accepted holy Baptism in 965 with Mieczyslaw, the first Christian among the Polish princes, but I take that to refer to a Jastrzebczyk. I noted Marcin of arms Dabrowa, Mazovian wojewoda in 1937, among the senators of that province.
Bearers of these arms:
Kuropatnicki and others also ascribe these arms to these families: Boguta, Lepkowski, Podolec, Smolechowski, Wdzienk, Dabrowa, Mikoszewski, Siemienski, Talko, Zelkowski.
Copyright © 1993 Leonard J. Suligowski. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in Rodziny (Vol. 16, No. 1, May 1993), the journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America.