Tokugawa Clan (徳川氏)

The Tokugawa clan name was created by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Whilst the veracity is doubtful, it is said that descendants come from the Egawa clan of the Nitta clan branch that sits at the top of the family tree.
The clan had its origins in Tokugawa hamlet, Nitta County in Kozuke Province (present day Tokugawa, Ota City, Gunma Prefecture)

The Tokugawa clan commenced by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA

Tokugawa' is the family name used by the clan commenced by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. According to the family tree, the Tokugawa clan is supposedly descended from Tokuami, a wandering Buddhist priest who married into the Matsudaira clan, which ruled Mikawa Province (present day Aichi Prefecture). Upon becoming a Ronin (a wandering masterless samurai), legend has it that a chance meeting at a poetry reading held at Ohamashomyo-ji Temple (Hekinan City) lead to him becoming an adopted son of Nobushige. (His ancestor's temples (Jishu-jiin [Jodo (Pure Land) sect] and Tokugawa Mantoku-ji Temple) located in Tokugawa hamlet, Nitta County in Kozuke Province later on became Engiri-ji temple (a refuge for women seeking divorce). On his return to secular life he went by the name of Chikauji MATSUDAIRA. The story of this Buddhist priest wandering from one province to the next and his marriage into the Matsudaira clan is probably just a fictional story that was created during Ieyasu's generation in order to establish a genealogically link with the Nitta clan and the Matsudaira clan, which were originally unrelated. In short, any pedigree prior to Chikauji is not known for sure. Taking Chikauji MATSUDAIRA as the first generation, Ieyasu emerges as the 9th Matsudaira generation (6th generation of the Yasuyoshi MATSUDAIRA family) who founded the Tokugawa shogun family dynasty (eldest son lineage of the Chikauji branch of the Matsudaira clan) who in turn formed the head family of the clan. Besides this, also included as recognized heirs to the Tokugawa name are Ieyasu's offspring who are direct descendents (ie part of the family domain) and in particular, the three privileged branches of Tokugawa family (Owari Tokugawa family, Kishu Tokugawa family and Mito Tokugawa family), the three branches of Tokugawa family (Tayasu Tokugawa family, Hitotsubashi Tokugawa family and Shimizu Tokugawa family) as well as their heirs and, individuals adopted into the family were also considered as part of Ieyasu's male lineage.

Origins of the name 'Tokugawa'

In 1566, Ieyasu obtained the consent of the imperial court to use 'Tokugawa' as his hereditary surname (in actual fact a change of name) and was invested with the imperial court rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) of Mikawa Province. At the time, Emperor Ogimachi hesitated over this unprecedented petition however, permission was granted based on the efforts of nobles working behind-the-scenes who found that the Nitta branch of the Egawa clan was purported to be part of the dynastic Fujiwara clan (which had close ties to the court).
For this reason, there are documents remaining from that time signed by 'Ieyasu FUJIWARA.'
In 1603, when Ieyasu took charge of the extended Minamoto family/became seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") he became part of the 'Seiwa-Genji' (Minamoto clan).

What is important about this event is, not that the Matsudaira family (in entirety) changed its name to Tokugawa but rather, Ieyasu was the sole individual permitted to use the surname 'Tokugawa' and as such, opinion is divided whether his eldest son (Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA) appropriated the Tokugawa name, or not. The 'Tokugawa' surname established Ieyasu's autocratic powers within the Matsudaira clan and as such, it is thought Ieyasu exploited the entire Matsudaira clan and framework of retainers. In 1605, the founder Ieyasu stood down from his roles as shogun and family head and until his retirement use of the 'Tokugawa' surname was limited to one individual: his heir Hidetada TOKUGAWA. Only 4 of Ieyasu's 11 officially recognized male heirs were allowed to take the surname 'Tokugawa': Hidetada (his 3rd son and successor), Yoshinao TOKUGAWA (his 9th son, and the forefather of one of the three main families), Yorinobu TOKUGAWA (his 10th son), and Yorifusa TOKUGAWA (his 11th son). In the case of the 3 subsequent individuals, after Hidetada became the 2nd generation clan head (Shogun) his coming-of-age ceremony was held.

Circumstances surrounding the naming of the Seiwa-Genji.

In the Tokugawa clan pedigree sitting at the top of the family tree is the Egawa clan branch (decedents of Nitta clan of the Seiwa-Genji) and accordingly the original family name is said to have been either; the Minamoto surname or Minamoto no Ason. One theory is that the initial imperial court consent was approved on the basis that the Tokugawa clan was of Fujiwara clan (rather than Minamoto clan) stock however, when Ieyasu set up the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) the convention was that a Minamoto clan member be the Shogunate's leading unifying Shogun (commander-in-chief). As such, it can be said there was some window dressing of the family tree for this reason or, subsequently in 1567 there was embellishment to the pedigree to secure an appointment as Governor of Mikawa Province.

Prior to the posting as Governor of Mikawa Province, Ieyasu's official rank was a lowly kurandonosuke (assistant official of kurodo) however, although he accomplished the unification of Mikawa, at the time he became the virtual ruler of Mikawa, Ieyasu lacked the necessary rank to be posted as Governor of Mikawa. To obtain the Mikawa Governor post, it was customary at that time to hold a rank of equivalent to a Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) however, there were rigid hereditary family line limitations to who was awarded Jugoinoge rank. To address this, the stance was to firstly emphasize the historical fact that 'the Egawa clan are descended from the Matsudaira clan' and they were decendents following in the lineage of Kiyomasa MATSUDAIRA (as grandfather) who was once part of the Serata clan (same family lineage as the Egawa clan) and, that the Nitta clan were linked in the family tree. It is said that the reason the Nitta clan was selected instead of the Ashikaga clan was because the neighboring Imagawa clan was familiar with the family tree of the Ashikaga lineage as they were part of the distinguished Ashikaga family.

However, whilst limited to historical records of the day, 3rd generation Nobumitsu assumed the Kamo clan family name and perhaps, this is the oldest original surname of the Matsudaira clan. However whether it is because it was thought that this surname would be disadvantageous in dealing with the issue of confirming official rank or, at some stage from Nobumitsu's time onwards he took this original family name, either way Ieyasu was known by the Fujiwara surname from a young age.

Tokugawa and Matsudaira
The core domain was formed using only Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's personal male descendents or various families of the Tokugawa clan and, together with Ieyasu's descendents allowed to use the Matsudaira surname such as Echizen Matsudaira family and Aizu Matsudaira family.
They formed the ruling class which controlled Japan for the duration of the Edo period: approximately 270 years,
Being an elite samurai family the Tokugawa clan was treated as nobles even after the Meiji Restoration with a line of priority: the family head as a Duke, the 3 main families as Marquis, and heads of the 3 families as Counts. Also, the 15th generation Shogun, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA was removed from the main family home to another residence and Yoshinobuke TOKUGAWA installed, appointed as a Duke and held onto the traditional position.
Currently the descendents of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and families using the Tokugawa name can be divided into the following 9 separate families:

Tokugawa Shogun Families (Shogun family. Original Tokugawa Family)

Owari Tokugawa family (three major familys)

Kishu Tokugawa family (ditto)

Mito Tokugawa family (ditto)

Hitotsubashi Tokugawa family (3 Counts)

Tayasu Tokugawa family (ditto)

Shimizu Tokugawa family (ditto)

Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA family (removed from the original family)

Matsudo Tokugawa family (branch family of the Mito Tokugawa family)

Currently descendants of the entire Tokugawa/Matsudaira clan belong to an association with approximately 600 members.

On the other hand, the following families have become extinct:
In research in recent years it is not the Tokugawa surname that appears but, the Matsudaira name that appears.

Suruga Tokugawa family (ending with the ritual suicide of the family head Tadanaga TOKUGAWA.)

Kofu Tokugawa family (referred as "Goryoden") (lapsed when 2nd generation clan chief Ienobu TOKUGAWA inherited the role of 6th generation Shogun.)

Tatebayashi Tokugawa family (referred as "Goryoden") (lapsed when 5th generation clan chief Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA inherited the role of 5th generation Shogun.

In 2003, Tsunenari TOKUGAWA (18th generation clan chief of the Original Tokugawa family line) established the Tokugawa Memorial Foundation to manage the precious Tokugawa legacy. News reports have appeared of Iehiro (Tsunenari`s eldest son) marrying a Vietnamese woman which was vehemently opposed by his parents.

[Original Japanese]