Origin of the family name Amsler
As documented by Rolf Hallauer, the family name Amsler was known in various places in Switzerland as early as the 15th century. At that time, the country consisted of 8 sovereign allied states and city-states forming a confederation, in German known as “Alte Eidgenossenschaft”. Together with the states that joined later, modern Switzerland with its cantons was formed. The city-state of Bern was able to expand its national territory in the course of the following centuries to a size that far exceeded the size of today’s canton of Bern. Until the fall of the old Swiss Confederation in 1798, Bern was one of the largest and most powerful city-states north of the Alps.
The first mention of the Amsler family name
One finds the Amsler family name for the first time in the citizens’ register of the city of Bern, with an entry in 1438. An Ulrich Amsler was registered as a “Twingherr von Signau, of the Council of Bern”. He owned and ruled the community of Signau and was a member of the city council of Bern. He inherited half of Signau and its subjects from his wife, a daughter of Johann von Bueren. In 1450 he sold his share of Signau to Lois von Diessbach. Ulrich Amsler seems to have died soon afterwards. Hartmann Amsler, mentioned in the register in 1446 as a citizen of Bern, is probably Ulrich’s son. – Further entries for the family name Amsler cannot be found in the citizens’ register of the city of Bern.
The spelling of the name Amsler varied – Ambsler, Ampsler, Ampssler were common devitations of the same family name.
The family name Amsler appears in today’s canton of Aargau
King Sigismund, who later became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, imposed 1415 an imperial ban on Frederick IV of Habsburg. As a result, he lost his rights and possessions. The old town of Bern took advantage of the opportunity without consulting the other allies of the Swiss Confederation and let its troops march into today’s canton of Aargau and without resistance took a large part of it in possession, the so-called Unteraargau with the cities of Zofingen, Aarau, Brugg and Lenzburg. Other smaller areas were acquired later from monasteries and local noblemen. Bern thus gained control of strategically important roads and cities bordering on the Fricktal, which had remained under control of the Habsburgs.
Soon after we find evidence of Uli Amsler in Seengen, Canton Aargau. He served there as a bailiff from 1462 to 1464 and was registered as an official of the Lords of Hallwyl. Only two generations later, the Amslers appear as mill owners in Schinznach, Lenzburg, Densbüren and Aarau. Amsler owned property in Effingen and held offices in various communities. It can be assumed that the descendants of the aforementioned Bernese citizen, Twingherr Ulrich Amsler, used their wealth and reputation to establish themselves elsewhere in the new territory of the old city-state of Bern.