The Hunyady family is originally from the town of Hunyad in Transylvania, now in Romania.
In 1607 András Hunyady was ennobled by King Rudolf of Hungary. András shortly afterwards moved to Upper Hungary, now Slovakia and acquired properties in Bars and Nyitra Counties. Among these were Kiskresztyen and Nyitraszegh. The members of the family were then titled Lords of Kiskresztyen and Nyitraszegh. In 1677 András’s son László became vice-governor of Bars County. László’s son Ignácz became chief-notary and vice-governor in the same County. In 1653 László’s brother Ferencz became chief judge of Somogy. His son András (II) was vice-governor of Bars County.
In the early 1700s, two sons of András (II), Antal and István came in possession of substantial properties in Somogy, on the South shores of Lake Balaton.
In 1745 Antal was titled Lord of Kéthely.
His son János was made a Baron in 1753. János’s son József (I) was made Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1797.
Through the 19th and the early 20th Century the Hunyady de Kéthely properties were famous in Hungary and abroad for being modern and well managed.
The estates were especially famous for horse and sheep breeding as well as for the wines from Kéthely.
With Count István Széchényi de Sárvár-Fels?vidék, Hungary’s national hero, Count József (I) Hunyady de Kéthely (1773-1822), developed modern thoroughbred breeding and racing in Hungary.
Between 1814 and 1821 he organised on his estate of Ürmény, now Mojmirovce, Slovakia, the first thoroughbred horse-races in Central Europe. Up to 40,000 visitors attended the races every year.
In 1994, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the first race, Slovakia issued a stamp commemorating this event.
The stamp features a drawing of Tajár, a Horse that Hunyady imported from Egypt in the early 1800s and one of the founders of Hungarian thoroughbred stock. Its skeleton is still preserved at Vienna’s veterinary museum.
Count Kálmán Hunyady de Kéthely (1828-1901) was the first President of the Viennese Trotting Racing Club (Wiener Trabrennverein).
One of Europe’s most important horse races, the “Graf Kálmán Hunyady Memorial” is named after him. It is held in Vienna every year in September.
Additionally, one of Hungary’s most prestigious flat races is called the Batthyány-Hunyady Stakes, to honour the family’s commitment to horse breeding.
Kálmán’s sister, Julie (1831-1919) married the King of Serbia, Mihály III Obrenovic, who was assassinated in 1868.
Until the Second World War Count Joszef (III) Hunyady de Kéthely (1863-1942) was the largest wine producer South of the Balaton. His vineyards consisted mainly of Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), Kékfrankos (Blaufrankisch) and Pinot Noir.
During or shortly after the Second World War, with the advent of communism, all members of the family had to leave Hungary and settled in the West.
József (IV, 1962-), Etienne (II, 1968-) and his son László (2009-), are the only male descendants of the family.