Orloff, the name of a Russian family which rose into consequence early in the 18th century.
Ivan, the founder of the family, was one of the corps of strelitzes who in 1689 were induced by the princess Sophia to mutiny against her brother the young czar Peter (the Great). Being sentenced to death, he showed such coolness upon the scaffold that he was pardoned, and obtained a commission in the army. He adopted the name of Orloff.
Grigori Grigorieviteh, grandson of the preceding, born in 1734, died in Moscow in 1783. He became an aide-de-camp of Gen. Shuvaloff, with whose mistress, the princess Kurakin, he had an intrigue which brought him under the notice of Catharine II., then grand duchess, who took him under her protection. He was instrumental in the deposition of her husband, Peter III., and in establishing her upon the throne (1702); a service which gained him the first honors of the empire, including the title of count, conferred also upon his four brothers, who had assisted him. He vainly aspired to the hand of the empress. His fickleness and indiscretion alienated her affections, and to rid herself of a discarded lover she charged him in 1771 with measures for arresting the plague in Moscow. His courage and devotion in the performance of this duty reinstated him temporarily in the good graces of Catharine; but during his absence in Wallachia to negotiate a peace with the Turks, he was supplanted by another favorite, and on his return to St. Petersburg the empress exiled him to the castle of Tzarskoye Selo. After wandering over Europe he became insane, and died in that condition.
He left a son by the empress, called Count Bobrinski.
Alexci, brother of the preceding, born in 1737, died in Moscow in 1808. He entered the army, and attracted the favorable notice of Catharine II. by the daring part he played in the deposition of Peter III. He is said to have strangled Peter in prison with his own hands. In 1768 he was appointed admiral of the fleet in the Grecian archipelago, and by the assistance of a British officer named Elphinston he gained brilliant successes over the enemy off Scio and Tchesmo (July 5-7, 1770), for which he received many marks of honor, including the surname of Tchesmen-skoi. He was exiled from court by Paul, and passed the remainder of his life in travelling or on his estates.
Fcdor, brother of the preceding, born in 1741, died in Moscow in 1790. He served in the army against the Turks, and became general-in-chief. He left four illegitimate sons, by whom the male line of the Orloffs has been continued.
Alexei, son of the preceding, born in 1787, died in St. Petersburg, May 21, 1801.. He entered the army at an early age, and, after participating in the campaigns ending with the peace of Paris in 1814, became aide-de-camp to Alexander I., and colonel of a regiment of horse guards. During the formidable insurrection in St. Petersburg which followed the accession of Nicholas (1825), the energy of his movements and the loyalty of his troops contributed much to crush the rebels. He was made a count, appointed adjutant general, and in 1828 fought against the Turks. In 1829 he negotiated the peace of Adrianople, and during the Polish insurrection of 1830-31 he was commissioned to supervise the operations of the Russian generals in Poland. The sudden deaths of Marshal Diebitsch and the grand duke Con-stantine gave rise to an accusation (probably unjust) of poisoning against Orloff. His next important service was the negotiation of the secret treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, July 8, 1833, for the closing of the Bosporus and Dardanelles against all but Russian ships of war. In 1844 he took charge of the secret police of Russia, and became one of the most formidable personages in the empire.
After the death of Nicholas he exercised an equal influence in the councils of Alexander II. In 1850 he represented Russia at the congress of Paris as first plenipotentiary, after which he was appointed president of the grand council of the empire, and was made a prince.
Nikolai, prince, a Russian diplomatist, son of the preceding, born in 1827. He distinguished himself as a soldier in the Crimea, losing an eye. In 1859 he became minister at Brussels, and afterward lieutenant general and aide-de-camp of the emperor. In 1872 he was appointed ambassador in Paris; and in January, 1875, President Mac-Mahon gave him the grand cross of the legion of honor. He has written a work on the campaign in Prussia in 1806 (St. Petersburg, 1850).