The three spellings
About the spelling of the family name from the past to the present.
Our family name
In older times, the forms "Stehelin" and "Stähelin" were used equally and without consequence next to each other, with "Stähelin" predominating first and "Stehelin" later.
But until deep into the 19th century no regularity is to be observed. Only since about 1870, after the introduction of the official spelling, the consistent spelling according to one or the other way has been fixed in the individual branches of the gender.
At the beginning, ae instead of ä appears very rarely and only in Latin. Thus, § 9 calls himself "Joh. Henricus Staehelius" (1706), and even Johann Jakob (§ 230), who otherwise always writes himself "Stähelin", uses the form "Staehelin" only on the title page of his Latin Licentiate (1827). Elsewhere, the spelling with e appears in Latin, so with the botanist Benedict (§ 10), who signed his prints with "Benedictus Stehelius, later also "Stehelinus". The form "Stehelinus" was also used in the 18th century by the physicians Johannes (§ 251), who otherwise fluctuated between "Stehelin" and "Stähelin", and Johann Rudolf (§ 258, 8), who also wrote himself "Stehelin" in German.
While the spelling Stehelin was preferred namely by those branches of the family who lived temporarily or permanently in French-speaking territory, the form Stähelin generally remained intact in Basel until the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, the two founders of the poor fund Balthasar St.-Ryhiner (§ 61) and Benedict St.-Sarasin or -Merian (§ 177) consistently wrote the family name and so did their descendants in the two lines from the "Streitgasse" (Balthasar St.-Respinger § 62) and from the "Graben". Where it was deviated, the form "Stehelin" appeared for it. So with Hieronymus St.-Passavant (§ 175); so temporarily with Peter (§ 64) and his wife Sara née Bischoff, as also with their son Balthasar St.-Merian (§ 65); his brother Peter (§ 101) described this in a letter of August 3, 1821 as an "unsolvable habit".
The earliest evidence for the form Staehelin, which deviates from the official spelling, is probably provided in the German language context by the marriage contract between Balthasar "Staehelin" and Maria Merian, which was concluded on July 8, 1812. July 1812 between Balthasar "Staehelin" and Maria Merian (§ 65), which was also signed by the father Peter "Stæhelin" (a and e connected), besides the grandmother Dorothea "Stähelin née Gemuseus" (§ 63) and the two uncles "Hieronymuß Stähelin" (§ 117) and "Christoff Stähelin" (§ 163). The brothers and the sons of Balthasar St.-Merian (§ 65) changed to the spelling "Staehelin", thus the representatives of the Streitgasse line in the narrower sense. It is interesting that Rudolf (§ 66) wrote his personal name "Staehelin-Staehelin", but always gave the signature of his company in the officially correct form "Gebrüder Stähelin". The sons of the aforementioned "Christoph" remained faithful to the spelling "Stähelin" from the older line: the professor of physics Christoph (§ 164) and the councilor and member of the Council of States August Stähelin-Brunner (§ 165).
In contrast to Streitgasse, the Graben line held on to the old form much longer. So the three sons of the second poor fund founder: Balthasar St.-Burckhardt (§ 178), Philipp St.-Keller (§ 248) and the triple lord Joh. Rudolf St.-Werthemann (§ 249). So also his grandsons Philipp St.-Reber (§ 179), Benedict St.-Reber (§ 180) and Balthasar St.-Christ (§ 229). Also Benedict St.-Reber's son Benedict St.-Bischoff (§ 181 ) as well as his two sons Benedict St.-Linder (§ 182) and Theophil St.-Merian (§ 206) never wrote themselves differently than "Stähelin", and this example was followed again by Theophil's sons, but only by some of his grandsons.
Likewise, the descendants of Balthasar Stähelin-Christ (§ 229) generally followed the custom of their ancestor for a long time; only pastor Dr. theol. Ernst St.-Hagenbach (§ 233) may be mentioned, who always wrote himself "Stähelin" on the title pages of his numerous printed publications. His brothers Carl St.-Bucknor (§ 231) and Dr. med. Alfred St. (§ 246), however, later switched to the "ae".
From the now living family members, who are not bound by tradition to the spelling "Stehelin", today "Staehelin" is preferred to "Stähelin" often because the "ä" is uncommon outside the German language area and led to confusion or met with incomprehension. However, a common, uniform spelling has not been established even within siblings. At present personal arbitrariness rules over the use of the "ä" or "ae". A member of the family living in Geneva achieved a formal name change from "Stähelin" to "Staehelin" by official decree in 1984.