History of the Auf der Maur
Summary (chapter 12 of the Auf der Maur book)
Translation German/English: Willy Auf der Maur/Edward Gasser

Table of contents

The origin of the Auf der Maur and first variations of the family name

The Auf der Maur (uff der Mur) are ancient peasant people of Schwyz (Switzerland). Their native places are the villages Ingenbohl, Unteriberg and Schwyz. Their origin is the farm «Mur», situated at Oberschönenbuch, Schwyz. 

In a document found  in the monastery of Einsiedeln dated 1217/22 the farm is called «Super murum» (Latin), which means «above the wall».

The first reference to uff der Mur with his Christian name is Johans uff der Mura, who was in 1281 a witness at the parish of Schwyz, when the farm Jessenen at Iberg was sold to Conrad Hunn. The next one documented was Ulrich der Murer, mentioned in the Klagerodel 1311 (book of the complaints) of the monastery of Einsiedeln, after the Marchenstreit (border quarrel) between Einsiedeln and Schwyz. Also documented, in 1387, there’s Jost uff der Mur from Oberschönenbuch, guard of the Ingenbohl chapel.

On the first pages of the Jahrzeitbuch (book of the yearly commemoration services kept by the Catholic church of the parish of Schwyz), we  find Hans uff der Mur from Oberschönenbuch and his wife Verena Ronery. Is he identical with the mentioned witness Johans uff der Mura of 1281? We don’t know! The first entry in the mentioned book with a date is that of Jost uff der Mur, who in the year 1444 lost his life at the battle of St.Jakob on the River Birs.

Niklaus uff der Mur, maybe the progenitor of all the uff der Mur

According to a mortgage document,  Niclaus uff der Mur of Schönenbuch took a loan against his  farm Schwendlen, above Schönenbuch, in the 15th century. He is also mentioned, in the Jahrzeitbuch of the parish of Schwyz, along with his wife and his children, as «living uff (at) Begenberg». He’s the first uff der Mur who appears as owner of a farm and the first not living in Schönenbuch (the farm Begenberg, today called Degenberg, is situated in Ibach). The farm Schwendlen wasn’t only owned by Niclaus but also by later generations uff der Mur. Later uff der Mur properties are also documented in the area of Degenberg, for example, the farms Wernisberg, Hanenberg, Utzental. This opens the possibility, that Niclaus uff der Mur was the progenitor of all the Auf der Maur families.  

First family branches and their developments

The first documented family branch is that of Ulrich uff der Mur, who lived towards the end of the 15th century. From 1486 to 1494 Ulrich was twice elected Landammann (highest official) of Schwyz. He, his parents and his children are also to be found in the documents of the parish St. Martin Schwyz. His son Jost married  a daughter of Landweibel (usher) and Landvogt (commissioner of subject territories) Heinrich Flecklin. Heinrich Flecklin was married to Elsbeth Fründ, daughter of Hans Fründ, from Lucerne and, from 1437 to 1461, Landschreiber (scribe), Schwyz. As a result, this interesting personality is one of the ancestors of the Auf der Maur. Hans Fründ was the author of the chronicle of the Old Zurich-battle, 1443.

In the 16th century, some members of the Auf der Maur achieved social prominence, such as Landammann Ulrich uff der Mur. In the same period, six of his descendants were elected Landessäckelmeister (treasurer) and Landesstatthalter (governor). From 1598 to 1600 Ulrich uff der Mur served as Landammann, the second of our families to do so. Later, Auf der Maurs were repeatedly elected to higher political positions: 5 Landammänner, 14 Landesstatthalter, 10 Landessäckelmeister, 5 Viertelsvorsteher (governor of the election circles) and about 25 Landvögte. Seventeen Auf der Maur served in government,  as members of Tagsatzungen (Diets) and Jahrrechnungen (auditors of the annual statement of accounts). Since 1848, the year of the foundation of the New Swiss Confederation, 16 Auf der Maur have been elected to canton council, two of them presiding it. Xaver and Karl Auf der Maur were members of the Regierungsrat (members of the cantonal government). Xaver represented the canton of Schwyz from 1854 to 1861 as Ständerat (2nd chamber of Swiss parliament) in Bern; Dominik from 1950 to 1967, and as president 1965/66. From 1974  to 1994, journalist and columnist Josef, Erich, Nikolaus Auf der Maur was city councillor of Montreal/Canada (Literature: «Nick, a Montreal Life»; Véhicule Press, Montreal, 1998).  Members of Auf der Maur families often served as councillors at municipal and regional levels.

Ancient farm properties of the Auf der Maur

The history of Ulrich uff der Mur, the elder, shows that there were other Auf der Maur farm properties. He also owned, circa 1500, the farms Linde and Blatten in Oberschönenbuch, Weglosen and Schlipfau in Iberg and a meadow on Felderboden (Ibach/Ingenbohl). He  moved to the village of Schwyz where he owned two houses. His son Jost owned the farm Husmatt (today known as Utzental, the home of family Hermann Wiget-Studer, Ibach). All these farms partly remained possessions of Auf der Maur families until the 17th century. The farm Husmatt (Mur), mentioned in 1523, and the adjacent farm Egg were owned by Auf der Maur families until the year 1815. Many of the farms of  Oberschönenbuch were at times, especially in the 16 th  and 17th century, properties of some Auf der Maur families, for example, the farms Wasserschaft, Malzen, Schiben, Rickenbach, Hof, Frohn and Hochforli. In Ingenbohl the meadows Höchenen and Breiten were possessions of Auf der Maur families as late as the 16 th century, and in Seewen the farm Früenen/Gässlimatt,1571/74, and in Iberg the farms Michelmatt and Bogenmatt 1537. In late 1500s and after 1600 Auf der Maur families owned farms also in Muotatal, for example, Schwendi, the pasture Kessleren (Stoos), the farm Oberstein in Ried with the pastures Syten and Gummen, the farms Krummen, Hesigen, Maienen, Grossenmatt and the farm Acher, situated above the Convent of Muotathal. A most surprising fact, as today there aren’t any longer Auf der Maur families living in that valley.

Branches of peasant origin

Beside the branches of leading, prominent Auf der Maur families, there had always been branches of peasant origin. Of special interest are two brothers, Georg and Beat uff der Mur, Oberschönenbuch, who married in the middle of the 16 th century  two sisters Z’Rotz, from Nidwalden. The origin of the two sisters can be traced to Winkelried (historical hero of the Battle to Sempach, 1386) and to the famous family Von Wolfenschiessen. These two marriages were of great importance because most of the Auf der Maur actually descend from them. Members of both the emerging landowning and the peasant sides of the Auf der Maur were elected to district and municipal councils, i.e. Jörg uff der Mur, farmer, Ingenbohl, who was, from 1646 to 1648, the third Auf der Maur elected Landammann of Schwyz.

Further development of the Auf der Maur and their present home municipalities

In the 17 th century, the branches of Auf der Maur divided. Two branches remained in Oberschönenbuch. The mentioned Landammann Georg Auf der Maur is the progenitor of the Ingenbohl line. However, Hans Heinrich moved 1664 to Iberg and founded the Iberg line. In 1797, Jonas, descendant of this branch, moved to Haggenegg (-pass, 1414m above sea level). He’s the progenitor of various Auf der Maur lines of Schwyz. The Ibach branch comes from the farm Utzental. Jakob, in Ibach, Feld, Wegmatt, is the progenitor of an other Ibach branch, from which the Seewen branch (farm Gässlimatt) derived. Also originating from the second Ibach branch is that of General Ludwig Auf der Maur. From the main branches, there were further branch lines, so that today there are 20 flourishing branch lines.

The cantonal constitution of 1848 changed the governing power structure from the parishes to the municipalities. In order to have the right to reside in one of these new civil governed communities, one must have originated from it, have been living there for ever or at least stayed for 25 years in an other municipality within the district. The Auf der Maur families had their roots in the municipalities Schwyz, Ingenbohl and Iberg, so that they became registered citizens of these villages. After the division of Iberg (Unteriberg, Oberiberg), 1884, the Auf der Maur families living there became citizens of Unteriberg.

Today Auf der Maurs are registered citizens of these villages:

Schwyz                            302 families                        1000 persons
Ingenbohl                        128 families                          403 persons
Unteriberg                        40 families                           156 persons


The  peasant Auf der Maur sons  married  daughters of other country families. Most of them remained peasants and farm owners. After 1700,  we increasingly note marriages between Auf der Maur children and Beisassen (members of families who lacked full civic rights), i.e. Bolfing, Nölli, Schatt, Stössel, Waldvogel. Those who, through politics or wealth, rose to a higher class married partners of the same social status. Therefore, there were marriages between Auf der Maur children and those of the distinguished families Ab Yberg, Bäsy, Betschart, Büeler, Fassbind, Kätzi, Reding, Reichmuth, Schorno etc. Associations by marriages were also formed with Lucerne (families Von Mettenwil, Trüllerey, Ratzenhofer), Zug (families Schönbrunner, Zurlauben) and Nidwalden (families Durrer, Lussy, Z’Rotz).


From 1450 to the mid 1800s, thousands of Swiss served as professional soldiers in foreign armies. Whereas the number of Auf der Maur killed in the Swiss wars from the period of the Old Zurich battle to the French war amounts to 10, the documents note about 60 Auf der Maur serving as mercenaries. Most of them died abroad. Whether they died a natural death or were killed in battle is seldom documented. Board and lodging often were very bad so that a lot of soldiers died of illness. The real number of mercenaries was much higher than documents show, because many of them served foreign armies only sporadically and died at home a natural death. Many Auf der Maur served as officer (captain, guards officer, major, lieutenant colonel).

Clergymen, monks and nuns

During the Reformation of the first half of the 16 th century Schwyz remained catholic. Schwyz politicians also supported catholic reform movements. Early there were convents for nuns in Schwyz and in the year 1585 Capuchin monks took up residence in Schwyz. In the little convent at Loo above Schwyz, a Latin school opened its doors. Canton Schwyz is considered to be Catholic to this day. So it’s not surprising at all, that  more than 25 Auf der Maur  became priests, monks  and nuns. Especially worth mentioning: Dr. Josef Maria Auf der Maur (monk’s name: Ivo), born 1924, abbot of Benedictine monastery St. Othmarsberg, Uznach.


Many Auf der Maur  were artists, most of them painters, but also some were  wood or stone carvers. Martin Auf der Maur, Zug and Maria Auf der Maur, Einsiedeln still today are  active as  painters. Our research proves, that the painters Jost (1641-1683) and Jost Rudolf uff der Mur (1688-1754) were more important than assumed to this day. They were more than local painters, because their works are found today in several Swiss cantons.

Special Auf der Maur rights

The Auf der Maur have special rights to the alpine pasture Silberen in Muotatal valley. Silberen lays on a terrace (1900m above sea level) at the margin of a wonderful high, wide karstland, distant a 3 hours’ walk from Pragelpass road. Since documented times, the eldest Auf der Maur has been authorized to choose the herdsman in charge of  the cattle there. The herdsman also was allowed to graze cattle on the adjacent pastures Bruderplanggen and Löcher and to live in the little cattle keepers hut. Since 1877 these rights were used only once, in the year 1899. Therefore in the year 1930, an agreement was concluded with the Oberallmeind (local alpine grazing association, one of the largest in Switzerland) setting a yearly compensation of sixty francs, payable to the oldest Auf der Maur living in Schwyz. These special rights derive from traditions or ancient alpine grazing rights and not as a result of extraordinary services performed for the benefit of the community (as often is speculated).

The Auf der Maur families were entitled to an other right. They apparently had the honour of carrying  the big candle at the Pentecost procession, Einsiedeln. In the accounting documents of 1618-1744, the local historian Felix Donath Kyd shows five payments to Auf der Maur for carrying the candle, but often the reward was included in the general costs of the pilgrimage. We don’t know the origin of this right or custom. We simply find the payment entry of 1678: «according to ancient tradition».

Family name and coat of arms

In 1927 and again in1967, family members at the Auf der Maur reunions agreed to write our name in 3 words.  Ingenbohl approved this request in 1927. The municipalities Schwyz and Unteriberg carried it out later. Today the adaptation is nearly universal, however,  there are still variations such as,  Auf der Mauer and Aufdermaur.  As for the coat of arms, the 1967 reunion recommended the oldest and simplest and, therefore, the most authentic heraldic design:  silvery battlements on red background.

The social and economic development of the Auf der Maur families

At the end of the 15 th century, some of the Auf der Maur of peasant origin changed their social status, but there continued to be strong peasant branch lines, up to the present, and many of them have  also contributed to politics. These families were elected to municipal, district and cantonal councils, some even to the rank of Landammann. When these «country gentlemen» were away in foreign military service or as commissioner in subject territories, the work on the farms was done by farmhands and farm girls. People of lower social  status served as  mercenaries  partly out of love for adventure, but also partly because the little farms couldn’t nourish all the children.

In contrast to Gilg Reichmuth, who several times was elected Landammann in the years 1521-1535,  and who dealt in cereals, cattle and horses with Italy, there’s nothing known about business activities of Auf der Maur families in this period. We have still reason to assume that some participated in the sale of cattle to Italy. According to the documents, captain Sebastian uff der Mur earned his living in 1659 as salt tradesman; Johannes uff der Mur (1644-1678) was a miller. 1686 Johann Franzist uff der Mur owned the mill on the Dorfbach (brook in the lower part of Schwyz). Until the 18 th century, crafts  were in the hands of the Beisassen. By 1710, Josef Michael uff der Mur and his son were glaziers. Johann Josef uff der Mur (1693-1756) in Ibach, Stutzli, was brick maker. By and by there followed other craftsmen, such as master joiners, tanners, shoemakers, tailors, bakers, millers etc. Often, Auf der Maur are documented as «master», without specifying the kind of craft.

Before the 19 th century, the Auf der Maur rarely resided outside the old district of Schwyz. As previously mentioned, many were abroad as mercenaries, students at the universities of Paris, Milan etc., Landvögte, officers on duty and quite a lot as clergymen, capuchin monks and nuns. When the Federal constitution of 1848 granted the right of domicile, Auf der Maur families began, rather hesitantly, to move in other Swiss regions. In the second half of the 19 th century, the first Auf der Maur families emigrated to France, America and England. Descendants of these emigrants, such as many of you reading this, still live in these countries. Only a few chose to retain their Swiss and Schwyz citizenship. In the 20 th century, Auf der Maur families spread out through the whole territory of Switzerland. Of the 1559 Auf der Maur alive today, 697 reside in canton Schwyz, 661 in the rest of Switzerland and 201 abroad.

Final comment

The Auf der Maurs as a known family unit has existed for more than 700 years. The Auf der Maurs were witness to all the major historical events since 1291 (Rütli oath, considered the foundation of the Swiss Confederation); the period of the border quarrel between the monastery of Einsiedeln and the district of Schwyz; the Swiss battles such as the battle of Morgarten 1315; the Napoleanic invasion, and the fall of the Old Confederation in 1798. They lived through the ups and downs in the old Schwyz district, were present in the turbulent period from 1798 to 1847, participated in 1848 in the struggle to integrate canton Schwyz into the newly created Swiss Confederation.

Like any other family, there were ups and downs also within the Auf der Maur families. Auf der Maur were elected to high politician posts, others became honoured at foreign army service. On the other hand we mustn’t  forget  the soldiers killed in Swiss battles and those who died as mercenaries, causing pain and grief to the families. An unhappy chapter also occurred during the time of the Harten- and Lindenhandel* when Auf der Maur officials and councillors (and of other families) got dismissed. *This was a dispute between Schwyz and France which arose out of disagreement concerning the new conditions under which Swiss mercenary soldiers served under the French military. The Schwyzer were split in their allegiance whereas some supported the French and some the Schwyz position.

Throughout history, whole groups were often expelled, murdered or forbidden to practice their customs or their culture, or otherwise persecuted. But, our family and our country still exist and it’s still possible today to collect the data of the families and to retrace their history. The mere fact that we have survived the turmoil of history, shows that fate has treated us kindly.

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