The Amazing Story of Ludwig Ernst von Bibra and Katharina Seyfert

1694 – 1785 Timeline of the Amazing Story of Ludwig Ernst von Bibra and Katharina Seyfert /Seifert/Seiffert
(Ennobled “Theresa von Seyferhold”)
from His Birth to Her Reported Death

Summary from Brennhausen Wikipedia Page

Ludwig Ernst von Bibra who moved to Brennhausen and married his former pig maid and housekeeper, Katharina Seifert on 22 October 1734. She was the daughter of a linen weaver and a midwife in Rentwerthausen which is a village next to Bibra.
In 1736 they had a son, Friedrich Gotthelf and in 1739 a second son, Karl. On 8 February 1740 Katherina was raised to the nobility by Emperor Karl VI and given the name Theresa von Seyferhold. Only five months later (16 July 1740) Ludwig Ernst died and his nephew at Bibra, Johann Philip forcibly took possession of Brennhausen with a band of horsemen, exiling the low-born Katharina and her two small sons.
She appealed to the Imperial Court (Reichshofrat) and twelve years later on 28 April 1752 she won an order from the court that Johann Philip must return the property to her sons and pay damages. When Johann Philip children died without children, Bibra was transferred to Katharina’s younger son Karl own son, Karl Friedrich.[1][2]

The beginnings of the current Brennhausen and Bibra-Bibra lines.

1870 Bibra history states that she was born at Brennhausen although it is stated her parents lived lived in Rentwertshausen. Bibra (right next door to Rentwertshausen) and Brennhausen ownership at that time were closely tied. Originally a pigmaid and then housekeeper (Schweinemagd, dann Haushälterin) of Ludwig Ernst. Her father was Friedrich, a linen weaver in Rentwertshausen (village just south of Bibra) and died about 1720. Her mother was Dorothea Ruck, a midwife (Hebamme).

  • 11.9.1694 Ludwig Ernst born
  • 12.4.1701 Ludwig’s father Hans Kaspar, Jr dies
  • 6.10.1702 Reported birth date of Katharina on etc.
  • 1706-09 Coburger Gymnasium
  • 29.5.1713 Finished studies at Gießen
  • 17.1.1714 Studied at Leiden
  • 4.9.1714 Studied at Frankfurt a.d. Oder
  • 12.8.1734 Maria Elisabeth born to Katharina Seyfert and Ludwig Ernst Born in Bibra according to several genealogical websites
  • 25.09.1734 Maria Elisabeth dies in Bibra
  • 22.10.1734 Ludwig Ernst (40) marries Katharina Seyfert (32?)
  • 21.7.1736 Received Brennhausen, ½ Aubstadt, Aroldshausen and two Guthöfe at Bibra
  • 6.8.1736 Friedrich Gotthelf is born
  • 8.1.1739 Carl is born
  • 8.2.1740 Katharina was raised to the nobility by Emperor Karl VI and given the name “Theresa von Seyferhold”.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Seyfert2.jpg
Theresa von Seyferhold coat of arms

The coat of arms shows a green laurel wreath (a symbol of honor and victory, a symbol of success, fame, and prosperity, and a symbol of protection) in silver, a beaver (clearly a reference to the Bibra coat of arms) growing from the edge with gold background, a hexagonal golden star in blue. It appears the star on a blue background related to her mother being a midwife as blue is traditionally the colour for the midwife; this colour signifies chastity, loyalty and fidelity and the Morning Star is the sign of birth. Above the shield is a white shell with a pearl, from which the beaver grows, as in the shield, holding up a green laurel wreath. The coat of arms inspector, William O. Kelly, died in 1751, but his successors no longer took up the shell motif he had developed for women’s coats of arms. All colleagues who succeeded him as coat of arms censors went back to the time before 1700 and no longer made a distinction between male and female coats of arms. (Sir William O’Kelly was born in Aughrim, Co. Galway about 1670. He studied humanities at Louvain University (present Belgium), and philosophy at Paris. He settled in Vienna in 1698 and was soon a friend and adviser to Emperor Leopold. He usually signed his name in Latin Guillermo (or Giulo) O’Kelly, Hibernia, ex familia O’Kelliorum ab Aghrim. and sometimes William O’Kelly of Aughrim, chevalier of the Holy Roman Empire, hereditary Lord of Culagh and Ballinahown, Count Palatine Imperial and Inspector of Arms of His Imperial Royal Majesty. In 1701 he published his great work dealing with Logic, Ethics, Physics and Metaphysics. In the preliminaries there are a number of neo-Latin poems by O’Kelly giving some autobiographical and family information which confirmed his love for Ireland and his ancestors who were kings of Hy-Many, covering East Galway and South Roscommon.)

  • 16.7.1740 Ludwig Ernst died and his older brother’s son at Bibra, Johann Philip, forcibly took possession of Brennhausen with a band of horsemen, exiling the low-born Katharina and her two small sons. A lawsuit dragged on for over a decade at the Imperial Court (Reichshofrat)
  • 28.4.1752 She won an order from the court that Johann Philip must return the property to her sons and pay damages.
  • 13.10.1760 Friedrich Gotthelf married Justine Johanna Renate von Uttenhoven on October 13, 1760 in a double wedding with Carl marrying her sister Johanna Sophia von Uttenhoven at Wetzhausen.
  • 10.7.1772 Both sons received the hereditary title of Reichfreiherrn (baron)
  • 21.8.1785 Reported death date of Katharina at Brennhausen on (know alive in 1748) (age 82?)

Many things about these events fascinate me.

  • How old he was when he married (old). How old she was if genealogy websites correct.
  • How he married her when it was clearly going to cause major problems.
  • How well educated he was and uneducated she was.
  • That they married right before the fiefs had be awarded to him.
  • How closely related the nephew was who took Brennhausen by force.
  • How incredibly rare it was for the emperor to raise a peasant women to the nobility.
  • Amazing for the two brothers to marry to sisters.
  • How this double wedding began a large number of weddings between these two families especially for the descendants of Carl the second son.
  • Amazing for them to be married at Wetzhausen, at the church of the neighboring aristocratic family of which there are many ties.

Things I wonder about

  • Where did she go to with the two boys? Did Wetzhausen take them in?
  • Who helped her organize and pursue a lawsuit in the imperial court?
  • Curious to see baptismal record for daughter at Bibra.
  • Curious to see marriage record for marriage.

Major Sources:

WILHELM FRHR. VON BIBRA, Geschichte der Familie der Freiherrn von Bibra, 1870; p.159-160

MARTIN STINGL, REICHFREIHEIT UND FÜRSTENDIENST DIE DIENSTBEZIEHUNGEN DER BIBRA 1500 BIS 1806, Verlag Degener & Co, 1994, page 180, ISBN 3-7686-9131-4; He referenced the below sources:
State Archive Würzburg Ritterschaft Sp/V 375, darin Nr. 1, 29,30
State Archive Meinigen, Bibra, Urkunden IV 9 a. Michael Göbl, Wien Die Frau und das Wappen im Hl. Römischen Reich und der Habsburger-Monarchie. Her ennoblement and granting of a coat of arm is highlighted this article on female coat of arms in the Holy Roman Empire

Die Herren von Uttenhofen, Johanna Hausdörfer, 1966, 220 pages