Stehelin, Stähelin or Staehelin

The family name appears in Basel and the surrounding area since the 13th century.

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The origin of the family name

The gender name Stehelin or Stähelin, widespread in the Alemannic language area, appears sporadically in Basel and its nearer and wider surroundings from the 13th century on.

A direct descent from old German male names, like Stahalhart, Stahalolf or the abbreviated form Stal (8th century) and Stallo (9th century), which mean an expression for the steel sword, but later disappear again completely, can not be assumed already because of the time gap until the appearance of the similar sounding gender names1.

1400 till 1500

The family name appears for the first time with the mention of a Dtheodericus Stehellinus in 1201 in Strasbourg and appears in Basel in 1273: "domus in vico textorum (= Unterer Heuberg) in latere Stehellini "2.

In context, however, a bourgeois family can be traced only since the beginning of the 15th century. A son of the blacksmith Konzmann Stellin, who died around 1408 in Büsserach, Hans Stellin (Stehelin), became a citizen in 1406 "ze minren Basel" (Rotes Buch, p. 296) and practiced the blacksmith's trade here. His sons included the armorer Oswald, who taxes two gulden in 1429, and another "Stehelin und sin mueter", who taxes three gulden in the same year (Schönberg). This is probably Oswald's brother, Peter Stellin, the armorer, who had also settled in Basel. "1429 sabatto videlicet ipsa die S.Vincencii... git ze kouffende her Henman von Thonsel, oberster Zunftmeister ze Basel, und frow Ennelin, sin efrow, Petro Stähellin, dem wappenschmied, das hus hoffstat mit Schöepflin und stalle dahinder, genannt Ochsenstein, vo ist gelegen in minren Basel zwüschent hüsren zem roten schilt und zem witen kehr... " (Untere Rheingasse, alte No. 375) 3.

The four petaled flower

According to the inscription, a seal of Oswald Stehelin, which is attached to a document from 1463 (Urk. Klingenthal 2207), dates from 1441; this seal has a four-petaled flower.

Around the same time, various other bearers of the name Stehelin or similar spelling live in Basel, e.g. 1420 Stechellin, der gerwer (Urteilsbuch A 15 fol. 106), 25 October 1457 Hans Stachel, Gerber (B.Urkundenbuch Vlll, p. 43, No. 69); "1459 empfängt Albrecht Stechenly von Wingarten ein hus gelegen im Rapoltzhof zu erbe" (Clararegistratur von 1507); however, these probably do not belong to the family of Oswald 4.

Oswald Stehelin we meet as a taxpayer also in 1446, and in 1453 he is mentioned as "Meister Oswalt Stehelin, schmid" in Kleinbasel, owning a fortune of fl. 900 (Schönberg). He was married to Elsi Rogklin ( = Röcklin) (Kleinbasler Gerichtsbuch). Without doubt he is the same person as Oswald Stehelin, who is attested in 1439 as sixth, 1451, 1453, 1458, 1460 and 1462 as master, 1456,1459 and 1460 as lord of court "der mehrern Stadt" (Schönberg) 5.

His brother Peter Stehelin, the armorer, was married to Clara Bloczin and was a member of the Great Council from 1429 to 1435 and a sixth forger in 1435; he died before 1440.

The red ox

While still in 1463 Oswald, now as "Burger und des Rats", uses the old seal with the four-petaled flower, for the first time in 1477 a red ox, turned to the left and standing on all fours, appears in the coat of arms, and in 1481 for the first time in a seal the blacksmith's sign, consisting of hammer and tongs with iron piece (illustrations of both coats of arms in the first edition of the family book), namely both in connection with a garment man Hans Stehelin (Stechely).

Such a person became a citizen of Basel in 1465 from Laufen in the Birstal: "Uff Sambstag nach Jacobi (= July 27) het Burgrecht koufft und schworen Hanns Stehelin der Schnider von louffen" (Opening Book IV, p. 41). In the same year, he also bought the saffron and key guilds 6. Both entries lack a coat of arms. On the other hand, in 1477 we find in the old coat of arms book of the Schlüsselzunft the coat of arms with the red ox in connection with a Johann Stechely, Sechser.

The origin of this coat of arms, which was later used by various bearers of the name Stehelin, is possibly directly related to the property "zum Ochsenstein", which Peter Stehelin (see above) had bought in 14297. If this assumption is correct, then two Hans Stehelin, garment people, must have lived in Basel at that time; because if the Hans Stehelin from Laufen, naturalized in 1465, would have come from the family already naturalized in 1406, then he would not have needed a new naturalization. It is also noticeable that the red ox appears as a heraldic symbol as early as 1477, while the blacksmith's mark is known only since 1481 and, as far as we know, is no longer in use after 1500. Hans Stehelin from the old Basel family, as a craftsman, certainly had no reason to turn to the symbols of another trade again after four years since the introduction of his own coat of arms (red ox).

It is more obvious that the documents from the years 1481 and 1500, to which the smith mark is attached (see first edition), refer to Hans Stehelin from Laufen, whereby the smith mark can be taken as a material adjective to the gender name or can be traced back to the possible descent from Konzmann Stelli, smith of Büsserach.

1500 till 1600

Hans Stehelin (coat of arms red ox) was married to Clara Zangenberg (died between 1523 and 1526). He died in 1503 or 1504 and left the following children, whose birth dates are unknown:
  1. Hans, renewed the Schlüssel guild in 1491, the Safran guild in 1492, Aug. 1510 furier, 29.4.1513 scribe (war red of the Italian campaigns), 1518 sixer zum Schlüssel, 1518 to 1523 first chief bailiff on Ramstein, died 1523. His wives: 1) Elsa Mütt, 2) Elsa Strütt. His seal (red ox) is attached to the document No. 800 in the regional archive at Liestal from 1522.
  2. Barbara, oo with Jakob Böck, Stadtschreiber zu mindern Basel, both died before Oculi 1526 (Fertigungsbuch B 23).
  3. Elsin, oo with Heinrich Egen, butcher, both died before 1513.
  4. Ursula, oo 1) with Hans Bomgartner, the Gwandmann, 2) with Burkhart Tegerfeldt (both still alive in 1526).
  5. Hieronymus, renewed the saffron guild in 1505, since 1511 owner of Gerbergasse 12, also of a part of Gerbergasse 2, 1511 six and 1512 Seckelmeister zum Schlüssel, 1513 forager on the train to Dijon (Basler Chroniken VI 76,14), August 1515 "Soldner", i.e. paid deputy of the mayor Wilhelm Zeigler übers Gebirg (according to the war roll of 24.8.1515), falls as such the 14.9.1515 in the battle with Marignano (Basler Chroniken I 23,19, and VI 69,20). He was married to an Ottilia (Bischoff von Hiltalingen [?],as Aug. Burckhardt based on the disc outline of Urs Graf, sign. 41 a, in the hand drawing collection of the Basel Museum).
    Hieronymus had an illegitimate son Eucharius, who led a rather adventurous life (P. Burckhardt, Basler Jahrbuch 1947, p. 35 ff.).
    Nothing is known about his descendants who settled in the margraviate. Eucharius had on his seal (1545) as coat of arms the red ox.
  6. Heinrich, enrolled as a student in Basel in 1500 and in Dôle in 1504, later canon at Colmar, lived in 1526.
  7. Margreth, oo 1) with Ludwig Ross (d. before 1509) in Bern, 2) with Peter Wymann (d. before Oculi 1526) in Bern, where she lived as a widow.
  8. Agnes, oo 1) with Simon Schoni, Burger zu Bern (died after 1509), 2) with Rudolf Pur, Schultheiss zu Aarau, both living 1526.
"Stechelin, duechlüt, dead".

Hans des älteren Widwe Clara geb. Zangenberg sold 1509 the "guldin Wind" and 1523 the "gelen Wind", the latter to Jacoben Bomgartner the gwandman, together with all cloth, gewandt etc. and schulden, so Hieronymus Steheli ir son sel. hinder im verlassen, und sy von im erbt, for 1500 fl. Thus assets and liabilities of the Stehelischen Tuchhandlung went to the new company Bomgartner, the husband of Ursula (see above No. 4).

From the year 1528 on, there is no mention of this family in Basel, so that Konrad Schnitt (died 1541) could rightly remark in his handwritten coat of arms book p. 230a about the coat of arms of this family (red ox, with him to the right, crest only upper body) "Stechelin, duechlüt, died off".

Two cousins from the Villingen patrician family Stähelin von Stockburg still belong to the 15th century. They are mentioned in several documents of the years 1447 to 1454 (Basler Urkundenbuch Vll). One of them, Berchtold Stehely the elder, is commander of the Knights of St. John at Heitersheim, Freiburg and Neuenburg. His cousin Berchtold the younger is a mercenary in the service of Basel in 1448 and swears an oath of fealty in 1452. Both have an eagle with outstretched wings in the seal (the older one is attached to the municipal documents 1422 and 1498, the younger one to the municipal documents 1398 and 1498), the commander has a stork as helmet decoration. There are no known descendants of these Stähelin von Stockburg in Basel, and in Germany the family died out in 1587.

Also to be mentioned are a Johannes Stehelin "de Basilea", who was matriculated at the university in 1485, and a Jörg Stehelin, pastor of Rümlingen. The former came from Magden, the latter from Memmingen.

Eventful years in Basel

The 16th century brought a fresh move to the old Basel citizenry. In the 1520s, the struggle against the powers of the bishop and the nobility was successfully brought to an end by the guilds; new elements were accepted in quantity as citizens, and it was not least thanks to the influence of these new citizens that the ecclesiastical Reformation was also carried out in Basel in 1529.

Two families of the name Stehelin have naturalized in Basel during these eventful years. Their founders are

  • Hans Stehelin the roper, citizen become 1520, and
  • Heinrich Stehelin the barber from Schlettstadt, citizen 1524.

The descendants of the Seiler are treated in detail in this book; about the lineage of the Bader some more is added here.

  1. Heinrich Stehelin from Schlettstadt, bather in Kleinbasel and conductor at the castle, resident in Basel since 1515 at the latest, was married to Anna Brand, the daughter of the councilman and wound surgeon Bernhard Brand. According to the war roll of June 24, Heinrich took part in the Italian campaign as his "Soldner". On October 11, 1524 he became a citizen, in the same year he is called bailiff over the Rhine and master of the bath brotherhood, and in the autumn of 1535 he received the Schaffnei on castle. As his children are listed in the Basler Wappenbuch:
  2. Niklaus (Klaus), the bather in Kleinbasel, renews the Himmel guild in 1533, becomes bailiff of the municipal court of the several city in October 1547, divorced from Margaretha Strittberger in 1534,
    oo 2) with Anna Kösy 1537, from the second marriage only one daughter Anna is known.
  3. Michael, bather, of whom a daughter Anna is mentioned in 1542.
  4. Bernhard, * about 1520, oo 1) with Dorothea Gyßler, 2) with Anna Grebel from Zurich. 1541 Signer. 1543 to 1551 head clerk at the hospital. In 1547 he buys the guild of wine people and becomes its clerk, in 1550 its sixth clerk. 1551 to 1556 innkeeper at the "Kopf". From 1553 for several years captain in French service, 14 August 1554 knighted by King Henry II himself for his brave conduct on the battlefield of Renty and raised to hereditary nobility (nobility diploma of January 1555)8. Later again in French service as colonel over ten ensigns of Confederates, finally political agent of France in Basel. 1557 to 1565 owner of the castle Pratteln, died August 20, 1570. Only one daughter from his first marriage named Anna (~~ March 9, 1544) is known 9.
  5. Apollinaris, oo 1) with Abigail Gast (* 1531, d. 1564, daughter of the priest Johannes Gast and Apollonia Glaser), 2) with Gertrud Irmy (* 1543, d. 1606, daughter of Hans Valentin Irmy and Ursula Frobenius), renewed the Himmel guild in 1547, Schaffner auf Burg 1555, Sechser zu Weinleuten 1558, Seckelmeister 1580, Ratsherr 1588, d. 28.8.1591.

Children of first marriage:

  1. Anna, ~~ between 27 Nov and 10 Dec 1549 (S. Mart.).
  2. Margaretha, oo 21.9.1567 (S. Pet.) with Samuel Merian, goldsmith, ~~ 9.10.1542, after 1590.
  3. Hans Heinrich, ~~ 23.3.1552 (S. Alb.), d. 1586, o 1577 with Verena Felber in Liestal, wine man, owner of the house to the "Ortenberg" (Freie Straße 64)1580 to 1584. A coat of arms disk donated by him hangs in the city hall of Liestal.
    His children:
    a) Hans Heinrich, * 1578
    b) Hans Jakob, * 1579
    c) Maria, * 1581
    d) Apollinaris, * 1583
    e) Anna, * 1584
    f) Hans Jakob, * 1586
  4. Hans Bernhard, * 1554, captain in French service (cf. Basler Chroniken l, 184), oo 2) with Rahel Brand, * 1562, daughter of Oberstzunftmeister Bernhard Brand.
    Children of first marriage:
    a) Barbara, * 1579
    b) Katharina, * 1580
    Children of second marriage:
    c) Bernhard, * 1582
    d) Dorothea, * 1584
    e) Salome, * 1586
  5. Hans Jakob, * 1557
  6. Magdalena, * 1560, oo with Isaak Krämer.
  7. Dorothea, * 1562, d. 1596, oo with Heinrich Strübin, pastor in Bubendorf and Ziefen, d. 6.6.1625.

Children of second marriage:

  1. Ursula, * 1567, d. 1625, oo 1589 (or 1586?) with Hans Konrad Wieland, * 1563, d. 2.7.1629. From this marriage comes Hans Konrad Wieland (§ 263,6).
  2. Gertrude, * 1571.
  3. Emanuel, * 1574, died 1610, married Verena Frey, * 1569.
    Their children:
    (a) Maria, * 1603.
    b) Apollinaris, * 1605
    c) Ursula, * 1606
  4. Henry, ~~ 21.6.1530 ( S. Theod.).
  5. Margaretha, ~~ 21.9.1531 ( S. Theod.).
  6. Ulrich, * 1532, bather, d. gr. R., sixth to heaven (White, Basilea sepulta).

The coat of arms of this clan is shown twice in the coat of arms book of the guild of wine people and is also attached as a seal to the Liestal document No. 935. It shows three red roses over a green three-mountain, above three golden stars in a blue field. These elements are also used in the noble coat of arms of knight Bernhard, which can be seen in the coat of arms letter, on the gravestone and as a seal on the mentioned Liestal deed. The shield is divided into four fields; in the field on the lower left there are three red roses on a silver background, on the upper right three golden stars on a blue background. In the lower right and upper left and in the crest is a black crowned lion in gold. The heart shield contains the golden French lily on a blue ground (see Basler Wappenbuch: Stehelin aus Schlettstadt; furthermore, the first edition of this book contains illustrations of these coats of arms).

The family, however, since it did not descend in a direct line from Bernhard, continued the old simple coat of arms. About the fourth generation it can not be traced.

Before proceeding to the history of the family, which considers as its progenitor the master ropemaker Hans Stehelin, naturalized in 1520, it should be noted that until now it has not been possible to prove a direct genealogical connection to the Stähelin and Stehelin families living in Eastern Switzerland (Schaffhausen, St. Gallen).


  1. 1 Cf. Alfred Götze, Zeitschr. f. Deutsche Bildung (4. Jg. 7./8. Heft, July/August 1928).
    2 Fechter, Basel im 14. Jahrhundert. Basel 1856, p. 76, note 4.
    3 Cf. Wappenbuch der Stadt Basel, 1. Teil, 2. Folge, Stellin und Stoelli, by Aug. Burckhardt and W. R. Stähelin,
    as well as court archive P 3.
    4 Cf. Rudolf Kaufmann, Gregor Stächelin und seine Familie. Basel 1930, p. 3ff.
    5 See also Karl Stehlin, Gerichtsbesatzungen des Gerichts der mehrern Stadt 1394-1500.
    6 Entry book Safran No. 24; Schlüsselzunft, guild book ll.
    7 Handwritten note by Felix Stähelin to a communication by Aug. Burckhardt.
    8 The letter of nobility for Bernhard Stehelin in French language and in German version (St-Germain 1555) is in the State Archives as a deposit of the Hist. Museum; in the family archives two certified copies from the year 1716 are kept.
    9 s. Basler Biographien,Bd. lll, 1905.