Category Archives: Generation 1

Nicholai LIGDA

Nicholai LIGDAMale View treeBorn:
Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Siblings: none

The earliest record we have is of his marriage to Ekaterina (family name not shown) in Odessa on November 26, 1820. It was his second marriage, his first having ended on April 5, 1820 when his 40 year old wife, Ekaterina, died of dropsy. His marriage certificate lists him as a “merchant from Odessa.” Family recollections 1 and records 2 conflict on whether Nicholai was originally Greek or Russian, but all accounts are that he was a sea captain operating a privateer 3 under Greek authority during their war of independence from the Turkey. 4

If family recollections are correct, Nicholai would have interrupted whaever he was doing as a merchant to take advantage of the opportunities privateering presented after war broke out between Greece and Turkey in 1821. There is ample historical evidence that Greek authorities licensed privateers to attack the shipping of Turkey and her allies, 5 rewarding them with a percentage of their booty. In fact, the crews of these ships were largely undisciplined and little of the government’s share was turned over. 6 Until 1827, privateering against Turkish shipping proved highly profitable. In that year English and French fleets destroyed a Turkish fleet at Navarino. That victory reduced the number of potential prize ships and some privateers then began attacking ships under other flags. The Russians, English, and French could not tolerate this risk to merchant shipping and retaliated by attacking the privateers and privateering was far more risky. The increased risk may have prompted Nicholai to abandon privateering. Family accounts are that he sold his ship, paid off his crew and left for Moscow with his wife and the booty he had seized.

Nicholi and Ekaterina had two children, an older son named Vladimer (according to Alexander) or Nicholas (according to Paul) possibly born in 1828 and Viktor, born in Moscow on Jan. 31, 1832. We have no accounts of what Nicholai did in Moscow. When his sons were born, Russia was ruled by Czar Nicholas I who was described as:

” . . . absolute in power; under him were great officials and numerous unimportant nobles; there were a few merchants and artisans in the widely scattered cities; but the vast number of the inhabitants were debased and ignorant peasants living in their lonely little villages on the plain or in the forests: dirty, stolid, ignorant, and dreamy.” 7

By all accounts, Nicholas and Ekaterina were well off. Despite living under a regime in which education was discouraged, both of their sons were educated. As there were strict measures prohibiting teaching by private instructors, 8 they were probably sent to the Gymnesia (higher schools) open to the children of nobles and officials where they could earn a diploma which would allow them to enter State service. 9

If Nicholas was Greek, his family would have lived subject to the control of Czar Nicholas’ secret police, one branch of which had the power to arrest, deport, exile, or get rid of any foreigner. 10 However, if he was as wealthy as family accounts indicate, he could afford to bribe officials – a system which was condoned in a country where government officials were paid no salary. 11 By no family account did Nicholai suffer any hardships in Russia. Most probably he died there.


  1. Edith Ligda took notes of accounts told her by three of the grandchildren: Paul off and on until his death; Alec in 1932; and Valentine in 1953.
  2. Paul Ligda (1934- ) has a notation in his baby book:
    “Nicholas Ligda was a sea captain and came to Russia from Greece.”
  3. Edith’s notes of a conversation with Alexander in 1932 indicate Nicholai, “fought with the Greeks against the Turks.” Her undated notes of conversations with her husband (who died in 1932) indicate Nicholai, “was a Greek sea captain who owned a privateer in the war between Greece and Turkey.”
  4. See Felton, Greece, Ancient and Modern, vl. V II, Ticknor & Fields, Boston, 1867, p. 425 which reports: “No law of nations existed between Greeks and Turks; it was the law of war in its simplest and rudest forms . . .” and Churchill, The Great Democracies, Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1958, pp 295-6, which reports British Prime Minister Gladstone as writing: ” . . . there is not a criminal in a European goal; there is not a cannibal in the South Sea Islands, whose indignation would not arise and overboil at the recital at that which has been done . . .”
  5. Pasha Mehemet Ali of Egypt came to the aid of the Turkish Sultan in 1824. This gave the Turks control of the seas and forced the Greeks to look to other countries for aid. See Europe 1789-1920, Doubleday, Page & Co. Garden City, New York, 1921, P. 19.
  6. See Finley, Greek Revolution, Wm. Blackwood & Sons, London, p. 213
  7. See Turner, Europe 1789-1920, p. 19
  8. See Knornilov, Modern Russian History, vl. I, pp. 249-50.
  9. Ibid., p 231.
  10. Ibid., pp. 247-8.
  11. Turner, Europe 1789-1920, pp. 279-80.