Demidoff, a noble and wealthy Russian family, the most distinguished members of which are the following: I. Nikita, the son of a serf in the government of Tula, born about 16G5. He became a blacksmith and a manufacturer of arms, and in 1699 established for the government the first iron foundery in Siberia at Neviansk, near Yekaterinburg. This served as a model of many other establishments in the Ural mountains, and was presented to him with its dependencies by Peter the Great, who also ennobled him. II. Akinfi, son of the preceding, died about 1740. He discovered important mines of gold, silver, and copper in different regions of Siberia, which he and his son Nikita were allowed by the government to work for their own profit by German miners. He established the extensive iron founderies of Lower Tagielsk, and was made councillor of state. III. Pavel, nephew of the preceding, born at Revel in 1738, died in 1826. He travelled through several countries, studied metallurgy at Freiberg in Saxony, and natural science under LinnaBUS at Upsal, founded at Moscow a public cabinet of natural history, a botanical garden, and a professorship of natural science, and a flourishing lyceum at Yaroslav. He also founded a prize of 5,000 rubles to be given yearly to the author who in the judgment of the academy of sciences had enriched Russian literature with the most important and useful work.
IV. tficolai, nephew of the preceding, born in 1774, died at Florence, April 22, 1828. He entered the imperial guard at an early age, became aide-de-camp to Prince Potemkin in 1789, served in two campaigns against the Turks, and travelled through Germany, Italy, France, and England. He commanded a regiment equipped at his own expense during the invasion of Napoleon, and was made colonel, count, and privy councillor. He enlarged the wealth of his family by mining enterprises, added to the collections of the Moscow university a new cabinet of natural history, and contributed to the construction of four bridges at St. Petersburg. A collection of his pamphlets, entitled Opuscules d'economie politique et privee, was published at Paris in 1830. V. Anatoli, son of the preceding, born in Florence about 1812, died in Paris, April 29, 1870. He was educated in France, travelled through southern Russia and adjoining countries, was made prince of San Donato by the grand duke of Tuscany, and in 1841 married the princess Mathilde de Montfort, daughter of Jerome Bonaparte and Catharine of Wiirtemberg. While he lived in Paris after his marriage, his house was the resort of literary men, artists, and other persons of distinction.
Having agreed to bring up his children as Roman Catholics, contrary to the rules of his own country and religion, he lost for some time the favor of the emperor Nicholas, and was summoned home to answer for this offence, but was soon allowed to continue his residence in foreign countries, and lived alternately in France and Italy. His marriage, however, had no issue, and was dissolved in 1845. On the outbreak of the Russian war against Turkey in 1853, he was attached to the Russian legation at Vienna, and made councillor of state. He was liberal with his wealth, and spent considerable sums in the causes of charity and science. He founded an agricultural colony for the cultivation of the vine in the Crimea. He wrote in part the Voyage dans la Eussie meridionale et la Grimee, par la Hongrie, la Valachie, et la Moldavie (4 vols., Paris, 1839-'41), in which he was assisted by several French scholars and artists who accompanied him, and which was translated into several European languages.