The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



A merchant family of 17th-century Russia. The Gur’evs began as posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans) of the City of Yaroslavl. The progenitor of the family was Gurii Nazar’ev. His brother, Druzhina, actively contributed to the defeat of the Polish interventionists. After the accession of Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov to the Russian throne in 1613, the brothers received the title of gost’ (member of a privileged merchant group) and rapidly occupied a prominent position among the merchant class of Moscow. The wealth of the Gur’ev brothers developed in trade with Kazan, Astrakhan, the cities of Siberia, and foreign countries.

In 1640, near the mouth of the Iaik (Ural) River, the Gur’evs set up a large fishing industry in which they exploited hundreds of workmen. For the protection of the industry “from Kalmuck and cossack pogroms,” gost’ Mikhail Gur’evich Gur’ev and his brothers constructed a wooden fortified town in 1640. The consolidation of the position of the Gur’evs on the Iaik was an infringement on the interests of the free cossack vorovskie (“thieves”), who tried to destroy the town and murder the Gur’evs. In 1645 the government, desiring colonization of the Caspian area, issued a ukase permitting the Gur’evs to build a city of stone and freeing their fishing industry from seven years’ quitrent (approximately 18,000 rubles). The construction of the city of Gur’ev (begun in 1647) stretched on into several years and cost the Gur’evs approximately 290,000 rubles. In 1661 the wooden town and industry were destroyed by the cossack ataman Parshik. The Gur’evs were ruined by building the stone city. In the 1670’s, the industry and town were handed over to the administration of the Prikaz of the Great Palace (the office serving the needs of the tsar’s household).


Bakhrushin, S. V. “Promyshlennye predpriiatiia russkikh torgovykh liudei v XVII v.” In his book Nauchnye trudy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1954. Pages 249–55.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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