Mid 18 century. Oil on canvas. Ryazan Art Museum, Ryazan, Russia. Read Note.
Sievers, Jakov Efimovich (1731-1808), Count, Major General, Secret Councilor, was born September 19, 1731 in Wesenberg into the family of an impoverished Lithuanian nobleman, who worked as a manager to Baron Tisenhausen. When he was 12 years old, his uncle, Carl Sievers, Count and Ober-Hofmarshal to the Empress Elisabeth Petrovna, took the boy to St. Petersburg, where he began his service in 1744, first as a cadet in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, then in embassies in Copenhagen and London. From 1756, Sievers participated in the Seven Year War. In 1763 he retired from the army in the rank of General Major. In 1764 he was appointed the Governor of Novgorod region. The vast Novgorod region demanded much work of a governor. Sievers founded a number of new towns: Borovichi, Valdai, Vytegra, Vyshni Volochek, Kalyazin, and Ostashkov. He paid much attention to the organization of police, post and roads; he improved navigation, had some new channels built. He took care of introducing new scientific methods into agriculture in the region, and was for improving the situation of serfs. His constant collisions with Senate, dislike of Catherine II's favorite Prince Potemkin, and scandalous divorce with his wife, who was his cousin, daughter of his uncle Count Carl Sievers, caused Catherine II to dismiss him from the post of governor. In 1781-1792 he lived in his estate Bauenhof. In 1792 he was appointed the ambassador to Warsaw, where he prepared the second division of Poland.
Paul I appointed Sievers the chief trustee of the Foundling Hospital and the Director of water traffic. In 1798 Paul made him a count. Sievers dedicated much time and effort on improving old channels and digging new ones.
In 1800 he retired and lived in Bauenhof. He died in 1808. He is an example of a foreigner, who became a real Russian patriot and selflessly served his new country