The family was Polonized Lithuanian nobility that over time became part of the Polish nobility (szlachta); it has been called either a Polish noble family or a Polonized Lithuanian noble family. Its most famous member was Józef Piłsudski, described variously as a Pole or as Polonized-Lithuanian noble.
The family took its name in 1539 from the Samogitian village of Pilsūdai (Polish: Pilsudy), now in Lithuania's Tauragė district, where the family ancestor, the Starost of Upytė, Baltramiejus Ginvilas (Polish: Bartłomiej Ginwiłł), established himself.
The earliest notable members of the family include Roch Mikołaj Piłsudski (late 16th – early 17th century), Stolnik of Vaŭkavysk. His marriage to Małgorzata Pancerzyńska—whose brother, Karol Pancerzyński, was Bishop of Vilnius—raised the wealth and prestige of the Piłsudski family.
The family also became related through several marriages to the Billewicz, another prominent and wealthy noble family. In 1863 Józef Piłsudski, senior, married Maria Billewicz; one of their children, Józef Piłsudski the younger, would become the famous Polish hero and dictator, and the most celebrated member of the family. Józef Piłsudski's closest and most prominent relatives included his three brothers—Adam Piłsudski, a politician; Bronisław Piłsudski, a noted ethnographer; Jan Piłsudski, a lawyer and politician—and his daughters: Wanda Piłsudska, who remained in England after World War II, practicing psychiatry, then in 1990 returned permanently to Poland, where she died in 2001 and Jadwiga Piłsudska, who was a ferry pilot during World War II.
Today, the remaining male members of Józef Piłsudski's family are Japanese. They are in fact the descendants of Bronisław Piłsudski, Józef's older brother who married an Ainu woman and lived in Sakhalin.
- Wacław Jędrzejewicz, Janusz Cisek, Kalendarium Życia Józefa Piłsudskiego (Calendar of the Life of Józef Piłsudski), Zaklad Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1994, ISBN 83-04-04114-6, pp. 11-12.
- Jerzy Jan Lerski, Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945, Greenwood Press, 1996, ISBN 0-313-26007-9, Google Print, p.439
- Robert Bideleux; Ian Jeffries (28 January 1998). A history of eastern Europe: crisis and change. Psychology Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-415-16112-1. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Robert Bideleux; Ian Jeffries (28 January 1998). A history of eastern Europe: crisis and change. Psychology Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-415-16111-4. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- (Polish) Wysocki, Wiesław Jan. "Konterfekt rodu Piłsudskich". Nasza Gazeta (in Polish) (5; 494).
- (Polish) Tadeusz Zubiński, Ostatni po mieczu - Marian Piłsudski z Suchedniowa, Nasz Czas 16/2005 (665)
- (Japanese) Inoue Kooiti (井上紘一), ブロニスワフ・ピウスツキの足跡を尋ねて40 年 ―就中、その極東滞在の究明― (The footsteps of 40 years Bronislaw Pilsudski), The University of Hokkaido