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The beginning of the second Bruehlmeier-Dynasty

The assumption that the Bruehlmeier-gender must have been founded twice was based on a logical deduction, as shown above, but was not yet positively proven. One will therefore, well understand that it was a special moment to me when I read the following headline while browsing in handwritings of the years 1717/20, documenting the second farmyard:


[Transcription from old German:] 

"Andertens Ist Ein Hoff, vor altem des Felix Wildheitzen, dermalen Vogt Schibliss Hoff genant; wird anietzo besessen von Undervogt Philipp Krammer, Leontis Krammer seel. Erben, alt amman Hans Ulrich Meyer, genant Bruellmeyer, und Herren Franz Carl Omlin seel. Erben” 

[Rough translation:] 

“Furthermore there is a farmyard, formerly belonging to Felix Wildheitzen, at times called reeve Schibliss’ farmyard, now owned by underreeve, Philipp Krammer, heir of Leontis Krammer, former mayor Hans Ulrich Meyer, called Bruellmeyer, and heirs of Franz Carl Omlin.“

With this document, it was now proven that there had indeed existed a “Meier” after 1700, with the by-name “Bruehlmeier”, which of course wouldn’t have been possible if the formerly documented Bruehlmeier still existed at this time. When I read that headline, I couldn’t have known that I would encounter the expression, “Meier, called Bruehlmeier” six times in the register of baptism and that this by-name was routinely and quite often used in the mentioned handwriting later on. And, just as, little did I know of the passage in a court protocol from December 4, 1726, which was quoted by Eduard Spiegelberg, “Instead of Hans Ulrich Meyer, his son Leonti Bruelmeyer, was elected judge”. This text nicely shows the gradual passing from “Meier” to “Bruehlmeier”.

It was now time to dig for the roots of the second Bruehlmeier-dynasty. The two Jahrzeitbuch’s were outstanding sources for this quest. The first entry in the first Jahrzeitbuch concerns Martin Bruehlmeier and his two wives Elisabeth Schibli and Barbara Meier. There can be no doubt about the fact that this Martin Meier (who in different sources appears under both names: “Martin Meier, called Bruehlmeier”) is identical with the Martin Meier mentioned in the “History of Wettingen” (page 230). He bought half of the Schibli-farmyard in 1772, i.e. the 5th farmyard, originally owned by “Heini in the Bruehl”, later owned by Felix Widheitz. Its central building was the Bruehlmeierhaus [the house of the Bruehlmeiers]. Several entries in church registers, as well as the complete reconstruction of the family tree that is based on these entries, confirm that Martin Meier is unambiguously the origin of the second founding of the Bruehlmeier-gender. Three of this sons (Ulrich, who was already mentioned, Martin junior and Adam) as well as his daughter Maria are also referred to as “Meier, called Bruehlmeier” in different sources.

For decades, the first Bruehlmeiers appear in the registers sometimes as “Meier”, “Meier, called Bruehlmeier” or “Bruehlmeier”. The addition, “called Bruehlmeier” can be found in the register of baptism for Adam Meier for the first time on January 1, 1775, almost three years after the purchase of the Bruehlmeierhaus by his father, Martin Meier. On the other hand, Martin’s grandchild, Leonz, is still listed as “Meier” in 1718 at the baptism of his son. This shows that a whole series of the deceased listed in the Jahrzeitbuch under Bruehlmeier were in fact born as “Meier”, but died as “Bruehlmeier”.

The earliest date that a member of the founder-generation is listed in the register of baptism only as “Bruehlmeier“ (and not as “Meier” or “Meier, called Bruehlmeier”) is December 12, 1687. It’s an entry of Hans Ulrich, whom I mentioned earlier, the son of the progenitor, Martin Meier.

Our ancestors were therefore simply called Meier (or Meyer, both spellings can be found) before 1672, but were also noted as “Meier, called Bruehlmeier” between 1675 and 1720. As of 1687, and then ever more frequently, the notation “Bruehlmeier” occurred. The last time “Meier” was mentioned in a document was in 1718.

It is a legitimate question to ask whether there was the intention of creating a new family name when Martin Meier Senior, with his two sons, Hans Ulrich and Adam, started using the by-name “called Bruehlmeier”, or whether they wanted to stick to this addition. There were lots of “Meier” in Wettingen at this time, and it was one way of bringing some order to this diversity - already for historic reasons - by using by-names such as “called Strotz”, “called Bohuesli” or “called Barthlis”. Spiegelberg is of the opinion that our Martin Meier must have been a “Bohuesli”, but back then, there were already so many “Bohuesli” that he might have had enough reason to choose the new by-name, “called Bruehlmeier”. It is striking that in the year 1675, all family members mentioned in the register of baptism are listed with the addition “called Bruehlmeier”. It seems obvious that they put great emphasis on this by-name at the beginning (i.e. after the purchase of the 5th farmyard with the Bruehlmeierhaus).
It seems, however, that certain members within the family did have the deliberate intention of creating a new gender. The one showing this intention most openly is the already mentioned Hans Ulrich. He is the first who allows himself to be listed in the register of baptism only as “Bruehlmeier” in 1687. And as though to emphasize his position as propositus, he called his oldest son, Adam, and his oldest daughter, Eva. The fact that 40 years later, he is mentioned again as “Meier, called Bruehlmeier” in the Urbar might be explained by the circumstance that the political administration was not as ready to accept a self-created gender name as the clerical administration. It seems, however, that the leaders of the parish also had a little trouble accepting the new name. In the beginning, they usually capitalized “Meyer”, even in conjunction with “Bruehl”: “BruehlMeyer”.

At this time, I would like to point out the very arbitrary spellings of our family name. In the first register of baptism (1652 – 1734) as well as in the two Jahrzeitbuch’s mentioned above, no less than 19 different spellings can be found, but in view of the double dots over u and o it doesn't make sense to reproduce them.

The origin of the first Bruehlmeier-dynasty

Because the first Bruehlmeier-dynasty had died out with certainty by 1653, but the first still existing register of baptism starts only in 1652, one obviously has no chance of finding any indication of the earlier Bruehlmeier’s. However, there can be found a most valuable and clearing clue in the Jahrzeitbuch of 1742. Father Franziscus Dorer opened the month of June, which was reserved for the Bruehlmeier-gender, on a new page at the right side of the book, whereas the left side remained empty. On this empty page, a later pastor noted such “former” Bruehlmeier’s, obviously after he had learned that there had already existed persons with the name “Bruehlmeier” sometime in the past. Fortunately, this book also held a loose note with the same handwriting and similar (as well as additional) information, which must have served as a basis for the entry in the Jahrzeitbuch.

This pastor may first have found a hint in a register that held information about Vergabungen [old German word for donations]. Through this register, we can learn that “Hans Bruelmeyer”, who is without a doubt, identical to the “Hans Bruehlmeyer” already mentioned in a document in 1599, donated 10 guilders “for the cancellus” in 1596 and 6 guilders “for the banner” in 1597. Obviously, it didn’t seem right to this pastor that there were no prayers for this Hans Bruehlmeier in the month of June, which is why he must have started to research Hans’ descendants. The results of this effort can be found on the note as well as in the Jahrzeitbuch itself. According to this information, Hans Bruehlmeier had two sons:


Furthermore, we can learn that Conrad was married to an Anna (?) and that their daughter, Margaretha, was baptized on May 9, 1615. Moreover, a son of the married couple Schibli-Bruehlmeier, Hans Melcher, was baptized on December 28, 1634. In the margin is the notation “16. Feb. 1638 dito” which allows for the assumption that a second child of this couple was baptized on the same day.
Eduard Spiegelberg found some mentions of the name even earlier. In his stenographical notes, the following clue can be found: “Bastian Grim called Bruehlmeier of Wettingen becomes a citizen of Baden on February 21, 1526”. Exactly as it was with the second dynasty, the name “Bruehlmeier” is first used as a by-name, and only later as a sole family name.

On the basis of these notes, the establishment of the first Bruehlmeier-founding, as well as the relationship with the second founding, can be assumed with some probability. Felix Wildheitz probably gave up his position as Bruehl-Meier soon after 1504 (the date for which it can be proved he owned that position) and passed it on to Bastian Grim, who also officially carried the by-name “called Bruehlmeier” and therefore became the actual propositus. Possibly, he had two sons or grandsons who had already taken on “Bruehlmeier” as their patronymic, namely Ueli (proved to have existed by Spiegelberg) and Hans Bruehlmeier, who is mentioned in the archive of the abbey in 1599. However, the young gender was doomed for only a short existence, because neither of Bastian's two sons (or grandsons) had male descendants. A grandchild – Magdalena – married a Schibli of Neuenhof in 1634 (once mentioned as Hans, once as Jakob – he probably carried both forenames).

Remarkably, in the “History of Wettingen” (page 230), the 5th farmyard – formerly owned by “Heini in The Bruel” and later by Felix Wildheitz – appears as “Reeve Schibli’s farmyard” in 1652 and Adam Schibli is indicated as the owner. Therefore, the Schibli’s had purchased the 5th farmyard and the reason seems to be quite obvious: The two sons of the first Bruehlmeier dynasty had died before 1635 and there were no male descendants. If Magdalena Bruehlmeier had married an Adam Schibli (and not a Hans, also called Jakob Schibli of Neuenhof), the circumstances would have been clear: The farmyard would have simply been passed on to the son-in-law. In the archive of the abbey, a register from 1653 mentions a Heinrich Schibli beside Adam Schibli. This could be interpreted as a clue, indicating that several Schiblis (probably brothers) came to the farmyard and that Jacob Bruehlmeier’s daughter, Magdalena, married one of them (Hans, also called Jakob).

From the “History of Wettingen” (page 230), we can further learn that Hans Melcher Nespler had to borrow 428 guilders from Maram Guggenheim [a rich Jew] of Lengnau [a village seven miles from Wettingen] and use all he owned as a security. Obviously, reeve Schibli had gotten into financial trouble. However, it remains unclear why this Hans Melcher Nespler is mentioned in the “History of Wettingen” with the above information under the rubric “Reeve Schibli’s farmyard”. I only began to understand this piece of the puzzle after my own research showed that this Johann Melchior Nespler was married to an Anna Schibli and that Martin Meier was the godfather at the baptism of her child, Barbara, on August 27, 1661. Therefore, Martin Meier, as well as Hans Melcher Nespler, were married to a Schibli and it can be assumed that their wives Elisabeth and Anna were sisters. Consequently, the two men must have been brothers-in-law. If this is true – and the probability is very high, since Spiegelberg also mentioned Hans Melcher Nespler as the brother-in-law of Martin Meier – and if one also assumes that Nespler went looking for money for his insolvent father-in-law, then it would be logical that Martin Meier was also the son-in-law of the owner of the farmyard, Adam Schibli. It can also therefore be assumed with great probability, that there is a genealogical link not only between the first Bruehlmeier-dynasty and the Schiblis, but also between the Schiblis and the second Bruehlmeier-dynasty. This relatively close familial relationship might have led Martin Meier to the decision to call himself “Bruehlmeier”, because he was called Meier on the one hand, and on the other he inhabited the Bruehlmeierhaus as Meier and therefore acted in the function of “Bruehl-Meier”.

To sum things up, it can be said that the Bruehl-Meier-farmyard (farmyard no. 5) was in the hands of a family (Grim) between ca. 1520 and 1635, which was at first just called Bruehlmeier as a by-name, but then gradually took on the name “Bruehlmeier” as patro-nymic. Since there were no male descendants, the farmyard fell into the hands of the Schiblis, but not for long (ca. 1635 – 1672). Finally, it became the house where the second Bruehlmeier-dynasty was founded. That the Schiblis mediated both, the takeover from the older Bruehlmeiers as well as the passing on to the younger dynasty, is highly probable if not unambiguously proven, by genealogical documents.


The work on the family tree

The core of every genealogical project is the family tree. At the beginning, a fundamental decision needs to be made:

I had no reason to choose the first method, because I wanted to research and document the creation and evolution of the Bruehlmeier-gender. In order to construct the family tree, information such as names, dates of birth and death, as well as ancestry, is basically enough. Of course, a genealogist who considers this task a lifetime hobby would never be satisfied with only that. There is still a lot more to be discovered, like the date of baptism, date of engagement, marriage, and possibly divorce, and finally, after death, the date of the funeral. Also of interest are the profession, education and address. A picture of any piece of the family tree lends the work even more substance, but to a real genealogist, the work has only just begun. One question leads to another, such as: What was the fate of the person, what was his social or economic position, was he politically or culturally active, did he leave any works to the world, was there any writing about him, etc.? One ventures deeper and deeper into the lives of these men, takes part of their fate and makes parts of the past live again. For a person wanting to accomplish all that in a dependable and thorough manner, the exploration of a gender is a lifetime task. And perhaps only after 40 years of research, he then dares to publish the whole findings in compressed publication …

I have decided not to take this path, but basically to come to a certain end with my work. Even so, the efforts needed have been great.

As I already mentioned, the computer is of great help in effectively organizing the investigated data and the collected documents. The software features predefined, as well as freely customizable fields, for every need and lets one gain an overview of all familial relationships of any person entered and links to the parents, siblings and children. One can enter notes about a person or family, attach scanned pictures, texts or word documents, and finally define and print family trees in almost every shape and variation imaginable.

I started the family tree with the family members I could find in the oldest citizen’s register (opened in 1819). Each person is automatically assigned a number by the software, in the order of entry into the database. Leonz Bruehlmeier-Fueglister - his wife was a midwife in Wettingen - was indicated as the father of three sons and a daughter. This is why he bears the number 1 and his close offspring bear the low numbers, even though he had already died at the time of the opening of the register. From here I went on through the 19th and to the verge of the 20th century, up to the point where I could rely on the information of the still living members of our gender. This part of the work did not pose any particular problems, but nevertheless it was very time-consuming, since several hundred persons needed to be recorded. This diligent work was greatly extended after I received by Internet from America, the family tree of Kaspar Bruehlmeier (who had emigrated in 1869).

The difficult part started after I found persons called Bruehlmeier in older sources that have been previously mentioned, which were not listed in the citizen’s register of Wettingen and of which it was totally unclear in the beginning how they were linked to the family tree. Through the combination of information gathered from the registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths from the parish of Wettingen, along with different lists of Firmling’s (including those of their parents and godparents), data from both Jahrzeitbuch’s, and clues from the "History of Wettingen", I gradually succeeded in identifying all bearers of the name and including them in the family tree. I am therefore more than happy to be able to present a virtually complete family tree.

One problem while entering individuals’ names is the very arbitrary spelling, not only of the last, but also of the first names, which was common in the old times. The same man might once be called for instance Leontius, then Leonz, Luntzi or Lunzi. Nevertheless, he can only be entered under one name. If the certificate of baptism was available for all persons, one could basically decide to use the spelling from this document. But even those are very arbitrary. On top of that, it happened that one pastor wrote everything in Latin, another wrote in German and a third used a mix, which could for instance result in the situation that a person might be called "Udalricus" as a child, but "Ulrich" as a father later on. It would also be disruptive if the different spellings of "Hans" [John], like "Ioannes", "Joan", "Johann" or "Johannes" appeared. This is why I decided to unify all names before roughly 1900 under the present common [German] spelling. Accordingly, the men mentioned in the documents mostly as "Caspar", "Conrad" or "Joseph", appear in the family tree simply as "Kaspar", "Konrad" or "Josef".

I have differed in another point from the customs of the genealogical community: I entered all married Bruehlmeier into the computer (and thus also for the printed version) with the double last name, no matter if it was a man or a woman. This way, for instance the three Kaspar Leonz Bruehlmeier can be distinguished more easily. Therefore, if a person is entered with Barbara Meier or Peter Egloff, s/he is an in-law, however a Kaspar Bruehlmeier-Steimer or a Maria Verena Meier-Bruehlmeier is from a Bruehlmeier-family.

"Rothen", "Rebmeister" and "Hoeckler"

On page 177 of the "History of Wettingen", one finds a text about the start of the vintage in the years 1811 to 1823. The source is indicated as "Diary of the district judge Leonz Bruehlmeier. Since we didn’t find this diary anywhere, we kept to the chronicle of Thimotheus Steimer in the provincial archive, Wesemlin, and to the chronicle of Spiegelberg." In the meantime, this small book has reappeared and is now in my possession. It was opened and led by the known, Mathe Leonz Brühlmeier (FT 43). We know this from the following note on the first page: "Dises Büöchly gehört mir Mathe-Luntzy Brüöhlmeier Districhts Richter Von Wettingen" [Translation from old German: ‘This small book belongs to me, Mathe-Luntzy Bruohlmeier, district judge of Wettingen]. It was bequeathed for three generations to the last of this line, Emilia Verena Brühlmeier (1864 – 1954). She died in the St. Bernhard’s home for the elderly in Wettingen, but had left the book to the Wettingen local historian and teacher, Eduard Spiegelberg. Before his death, she asked for its return and left it to Sales Zehnder, who was also interested in local history and who handed it back to our family a short time ago.



There’s a note in the book from Verena Brühlmeier, which reads as follows: "This notebook belonged to the father of my grandfather. He probably supervised something in vineyard affairs and it appears that we were given back then the by-name, Bruehlmeier, Rebmeisters [Rebmeister roughly translates as "master of vines"]. The other Bruehlmeiers, that is, the ones from Oswald and Administrator and Carpenter Bruehlmeier, to whom also the ones in the Binz belonged [Binz is a part of Wettingen] and the family of the home economics teacher, Verena Bruehlmeier, bore the by-name the Roten."

While researching the documents from the end of the 18th and throughout the 19th centuries, one encounters time and time again, the two by-names, "Rebmeisters" or "the Rothen" (or simply "Rothen") also called, "Rothenpeters". It is too tedious to explain exactly how it was gradually possible for me to distinguish between the "Rebmeisters" and the "Rothen". This dichotomy started early on, probably with the grandchildren of the propositus. The propositus had two sons, the younger Martin, whose line died out with the generation of his great-grandsons, and the older Hans Ulrich, who is the propositus of all later and current Bruehlmeiers. He again had two sons with descendants, namely Adam (1675 – 1743; FT 882) and Leonz (1692 – 1752; FT 868). We only find the by-name, "the Rothen", with descendants of Adam, and those, however, only starting with his three grandchildren, the brothers Peter, Johann and Josef. Therefore, they must have received the common designation from their father, Leonz (1713 – 1792; FT 1) or – perhaps but rather improbably – from their grandfather Adam. Besides these three families, there was only one more family with descendants at the beginning of the 19th century, namely the one from Mathe Leonz. He was acting as Rebmeister, just like his father had before him. All their descendants belonged to the Rebmeister-line, which was less numerous, but had more political influence. The cloistral titles and positions, (court, Marian council, tax Meier) as well as important political offices (mayor, judge, state council) were held exclusively by members of this line, beginning with Hans Ulrich (FT 883), via the younger of both sons (Leonz FT 868, not Adam). His older son, Johann Konrad (FT 897), succeeded Hans Ulrich and after Johann Konrad’s early death, was succeeded by his brother, Joseph Leonz (FT 866). Joseph Leonz was succeeded by his son, Mathe Leonz Brühlmeier-Wetzel (FT 43) who was subsequently succeeded by his sons, Kaspar Leonz Brühlmeier-Steimer (FT 53) and Mathe Leonz Brühlmeier-Merkli (FT 49). [His son (also Kaspar) was a beer brewer and got into financial trouble over sureties.] He (Mathe Leonz Brühlmeier-Merkli) must therefore have been sought after as bail bondsman and thus, probably had a very good reputation. In the Rebmeister-line, we can also find a nun (daughter of Mathe Leonz, FT 43) and a priest (Johann Konrad Brühlmeier, FT 134, grandson of Mathe Leonz). As an heir of the Rebmeister-family, he (Johann Konrad Brühlmeier) was also in a position to donate a piece of land to the parish for the erection of the new St. Sebastian’s church in Wettingen. Today, the Rebmeister-line has died out in Switzerland, but lives on in America, because Kaspar Bruehlmeier-Beetschen (FT 150), a grandson of the well-known Mayor Kaspar Bruehlmeier, emigrated in 1869 and became the propositus of a numerous posterity.

It should be mentioned that the office of the Rebmeister was obviously very prestigious. Already the propositus, Martin Meier, called Bruehlmeier, is mentioned as the Rebmeister of the abbey in Muri [a town about twenty miles from Wettingen; this abbey owned land in Wettingen] at the occasion of the birth of his daughter Maria. The later by-name "Rebmeisters" however, is not referring to the abbey in Muri, but to the administration of the vineyards of the abbey in Wettingen. The abbey typically hired day laborers or farmers with small land holdings to work in the vineyards. These workers were directed and supervised by the Rebmeister. He was responsible for the timely completion of all tasks and for a high quality of wine.

Probably the most famous Rebmeister was Mathe Leonz Bruehlmeier (FT 43), the owner of the mentioned diary. A careful research of this peculiar document would certainly reveal many interesting details. But this work will be most demanding, since the writing of this important citizen of Wettingen is very difficult to read.

The considerably more numerous line of the "Rothen" clearly stood in the shadow of the Rebmeister-line. One can find no dignitaries here, some farmyard owners, but mostly craftsmen (butchers, bricklayers, shoemakers, tailors, barrel makers, carpenters), day laborers and also poor folks.

It can only be assumed where the by-name "Rothen" actually comes from. Probably one of the two possible sources for the naming (Adam, FT 882 or his son Leonz, FT 1), had red hair. [Rothen literally means "the red one" since "rot" means "red". Therefore, "Die Roten" means "The red ones" and "Rothen" is an old spelling for this.] This would also explain why the by-name "Rothen" was not reserved only for the Bruehlmeiers; I also discovered it in a document from 1797 for a Josef Leonzi Gueller, who also bore the by-name "des Rothen". According to his stenographical notes, Spiegelberg also was of the opinion that this by-name was due to a red-haired ancestor. One way or the other, all Bruehlmeiers currently living in Switzerland belong to the Rothen-line. This line only gained some political importance after the decline of the Rebmeister-line: Johann Philipp Leonhard Bruehlmeier was justice of the peace from 1883 to 1893 and again from 1901 to 1905. Then he became mayor of Wettingen from 1905 to 1913. His son, Hans Bruehlmeier-Lienberger, (who lived in Wuerenlos [a town close-by] for some time) was also justice of the peace for the district of Wettingen.

As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the propositus, Martin (FT 885), had two sons, and the mentioned lines of "Rebmeister" and "Rothen" both originate from the older Hans Ulrich (FT 883). The younger brother, Martin (FT 888), also had descendants, but his line died out probably before or not long after 1800, because none of the 7 children of his grandson Johann Konrad (FT 900) married or had children. They left no traces of their lives except in the birth register. Johann Konrad, however, appears in the documents time and time again under the somewhat particular by-name, "Hoeckler". In our ears this sounds like a man who liked to spend more time in the hostelry than his wife appreciated and would certainly be the last to leave the place. ["hoecklen" is a Swiss-German verb which means roughly "sitting and socializing". It is a rather cute term which is used to express when we feel really comfortable, like with a group of friends, neighbors or relatives who get along very well, maybe playing cards, drinking a glass of vine, or chatting. A "Hoeckler" is a person known to do just that as much as s/he can.] Spiegelberg is of the opinion that the by-name, "Hoeckler", actually originated from just such a character, but I doubt this. If this by-name was in fact referring to this clearly negative notion [because "hoecklen" also implies being relatively easy-going, rather lazy], it would not have been used so naturally in all official documents and even in the Jahrzeitbuch of the church. I assume it was instead referring to his domicile. Possibly, he and his family lived in a small farmhouse that was called "the Hoeckli". His wife Anna Baltischwiler died in 1805, when he was 73, but obviously his age did not prevent him from marrying a second time, an Anna Keller from Endingen. However, this marriage remained childless.


"The Members of the Court and the Marian Council"

As already mentioned, the two Jahrzeitbuch’s were a crucial source for the exploration of our gender. Here, we not only find names, dates of death and notes of age of the deceased Bruehlmeier, but furthermore notes of the political importance of a person. We learn, for instance, that our propositus Martin (FT 885) was not only Rebmeister of the abbey in Muri (this abbey owned land in Wettingen), but also a member of "the Court and Marian Council". Also his son Hans Ulrich (FT 883) was "Beistaender of the Court and Marian Council" [Beistaender literally means "succoring person" and is an old German term no longer used in modern language], whereas "Beistaender" is the same as "Member". Of his son, Leonz (FT 868), it is said that he was "the First Assistant of the Court and the Marian Council". His son Konrad (FT 897), also was member of the Court and the Marian Council. It seems as though there was some kind of prerogative of a gender for certain offices and honors, since the ones mentioned provably were "bequeathed" for four generations. Konrad had already died at the age of 48, wherefore these honors were passed onto his brother, Josef Leonz (FT 866). Evidently, his famous son, Mathe Leonz Bruehlmeier (FT 43), also belonged to this illustrious circle, not only as member, but also as secretary with far reaching competencies.

Before I go on to explain the backgrounds of these two offices, I would first like to mention that all their holders belonged to the Rebmeister-line without exception and there is no indication whatsoever that the Rothen-line were ever even considered.

First to the "Marian Council": In the year 1651, a so-called "Brotherhood" was founded in Wettingen, i.e. a Catholic community of men and women from Wettingen with the purpose of beautifying the Sunday Mass and to hold – besides the regular Sunday Mass – worships that would be particularly festive. This brotherhood gave itself the same name the abbey had chosen at its founding: Maria Meerstern. I was a member of this brotherhood myself about 50 years ago and I participated at the monthly worships, which were always held on Sunday afternoons. Today, this brotherhood no longer exists.

Until the abolishment of the abbey Wettingen in 1841, the brotherhood was led by a priest from the abbey. Twelve men from Wettingen formed a Council of the Brotherhood. One of them held the position of Prefect and another, the position of Secretary. The latter was responsible to hold an accounting of proceeds and expenditures, report to the Council once a year and to follow its directives and instructions. Many members of the brotherhood donated money in memory of late members of the brotherhood during a special Mass. The priest from the abbey was asked to hold the Mass once a year for the deceased. This donated money was passed on as loans and with the incoming interest, the brotherhood financed activities according to the purpose of the foundation.

It is therefore clear that the mentioned representatives of our gender were members of the twelve-headed Council of the Brotherhood. It can be assumed that the abbey deliberately chose members of the important and established families for this council.

In order to understand what a "Member of the Court" means, one needs to understand that the abbey Wettingen not only owned the village of Wettingen, but also had the right and the duty to exert judicial power - however only in private manners and in light manners of criminal offence. The provost of the abbey did not want to hold this office by himself, so he chose 12 respected personalities from the village, which gathered three times a year to hold court.

It is interesting to note that – again - 12 farmers from the village were elected. Based on the stereotypical connection of the two offices ("Member of the Court and Marian Council") it can quite safely be assumed that the abbey had linked both offices. Considering that the office of the Judge is older, it can also be assumed that, at the founding of the brotherhood in 1651, the abbey simply appointed the twelve judges as council of the brotherhood.


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