Louis Muller [a.k.a. Jakob Ludwig Muller] immigrated from Schwetzingen, Germany to London, England during the mid-1800s. Evidence of his passage (passenger lists etc.) remains elusive but there is plenty of evidence supporting the families’ origins in census and marriage data. This includes research commissioned on Louis Muller and his family by Panoz Anagnostopoulos (a distant in-law) conducted in Germany.
Louis Muller’s Birth
Louis Muller, my great-great-grandfather, was born on 30 Jan 1843 in Schwetzingen, Germany. Schwetzingen lies in the Baden-Wurttemberg region, nine miles southeast of Heidelberg. It is an ancient town, first documented in 766 but with archaeological evidence of human settlement as far back as Neolithic times.
A few years before Louis Muller was born the town was declared a city (1833) encouraging economic growth. By 1850, agricultural industrialization had taken hold and the city was producing hops, tobacco, and asparagus. Schwetzingen quickly became world-renowned for its asparagus. This industrial boom continued to build through the 1800s with the arrival of the railways in 1870.
Louis Muller Arrives in London and Marries Margaretha Gaspers
Sometime before 1870 Louis made the journey to London. There are numerous Louis Mullers in the immigration records, but we haven’t been able to positively identify when our Louis arrived in the UK, or how.
There are several tax documents on record for a J L Muller dated between 1861-64 in Cripplegate, London but these aren’t conclusive evidence of Louis.
The first conclusive evidence we have of Louis being in England is through his marriage certificate, issued when he married Margaretha Gaspers in 1870.
Louis and Margaretha were married on 3rd March 1870. They married at St Joseph’s Chapel, Lamb’s Passage, Holborn, Middlesex. Louis was listed as living at 20 King’s Square, Goswell Street, London and Margaretha in Chipstead, a neighborhood in the Kentish town of Sevenoaks. He was 27 and a waiter, and she was 34 and a spinster.
The wedding certificate also confirms Louis’ father as Christian Muller, a locksmith, and Margaretha’s father Joseph Gaspers, a hairdresser.
Erich Sommer and Eliza Warnes witness the wedding.
The Mullers and the 1871 Census
Shortly after marrying the Muller’s moved to 24 Hanover Street, Islington, London. This is documented in the 1871 UK Census. There are three families living at this address, including Erich Sommer and his wife Bertha. It’s worth noting that Erich was a witness to Louis and Margaretha’s marriage.
The 1871 UK Census confirms Louis’s employment as a waiter and the birthplaces of Louis and Margaretha as Schwetzingen and Prussia respectively.
Starr’s Hotel, Finsbury Square
By 1873, Louis has gone into partnership with a Gustav Schmidt in the ownership of Starr’s Hotel, 14 Finsbury Square. This is documented in the 1873 London and Suburban Licensed Victuallers’, Hotel and Tavern Keepers’ Directory where on pages 62 and 136 we see the following entry:
‘Starr’s Hotel. Muller Louis and Schmidt Gustave, Finsbury Square, St Lukes, EC’1873 London and Suburban Licensed Victuallers’, Hotel and Tavern Keepers’ Directory
Louis and Margaretha have moved into the 23 bedroom hotel.
Birth of Louis Muller and Margaretha’s son
On 28 Jun 1874, Margaretha gave birth at home to Louis Muller. He was baptized on the 16th August 1874 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Lamb’s Passage, London.
Using an alternative spelling for Louis, the birth record names ‘Aloysius Muller son of Aloysius Muller (hotel keeper) and Margaretha Muller (Gaspers). The baptism was witnessed by Aloysius Scheerbait and Bertha Sommer
Louis Muller Illness and Death
In August of the same year that Louis Muller’s son was born, an article in the London Gazette announced that Louis and Gustav had dissolved their joint ownership of Starr’s Hotel and that Louis would take full ownership.
This change in ownership where Louis assumed all payments and debts from the hotel may indicate issues that led to his illness and ultimately his early death because by 1877 it seems the Mullers had fallen on hard times.
The family had moved to 25 Nelson Street, London. The long hours working the hotel and rumored mounting debts seems to have hit Louis with a stroke or similar ailment. Detailed evidence of his decline is documented in the case books of two asylums he was admitted to Brookwood and Hanwell.
Louis was admitted to Brookwood Asylum, Woking, Surrey, the UK on 20 Apr 1877. He stayed here until he was transferred to Hanwell, Norwood, UK on 15 Aug 1877. Among his symptoms were delusions, confusion, and slurred speech, all symptoms that might be associated today with a blood clot or stroke.
He died on 24 Sep 1877 in Hanwell Asylum at the age of 35.
At this point, Margaretha Gasper disappears from view. She is mentioned in Louis’ case notes at the asylum, where at some point her Nelson Street address is crossed out and Temple Grove, East Sheen was added. But after that, she disappears from records.
What we do know is that by 1881 Louis and Margaretha’s son (and my great grandfather) Louis Muller is living in an Orphanage on Dalton Street, Hackney.