Spiegelhalter | Family history

The name Spiegelhalter comes from Spiegel-Halde (mirror slope), and is supposed to have come from a family who lived on a south-facing slope north of lake Titisee. From their land, the sun made the lake look like a mirror. It is likely that everyone with the name Spiegelhalter or with a Spiegelhalter ancestor is related. Lake Titisee is in the Black Forest region of South West Germany, in the province of Baden.

Many of the Spiegelhalters were watchmakers, clockmakers and jewellers or a combination of the three. Orginally they have worked as farmers in the summer and watchmakers in the winter. As there was only a limited market for watches and clocks in this idyllic part of rural Germany, many watchmakers, Spiegelhalters included, went abroad. London was a popular destination, as a bustling capital city and with its 'streets paved with gold' reputation. Also, in the nineneenth century, relations between Britain and Germany were good, as shown by the fact that Queen Victoria's consort was a German Prince Albert. A further attraction to that UK was that prior to 1911 there no immigration controls.

The Spiegelhalters were also farmers and owned a farm at Neukirch, 12a Kohlplatzhof.

From 1828 George Spiegelhalter and his family ran a jewelers and watchmakers business in the East End of London. The shop started in Whitechapel and after a few moves became settled at 81 Mile End Road. Otto Spiegelhalter ran the shop at the end of the nineteenth century. After his death in 1902 his sons took over the business. In 1919 seven of Otto's children changed their surname by Deed Poll from Spiegelhalter to Salter. This was a result of anti-German sentiment following World War I. The London Gazette carried announcements about the name changes and some of the business moves. The shop at 81 Mile End Road became famous locally in the 1920s as the Wickhams wanted to buy the premises for their department store. Leo Salter and his brothers refused to sell, leading to a masterpiece of thwarted desire.

For German Catholics in London St Boniface church was a focal point. It seems likely that some of the marriages resulted from meetings at mass or afterwards in the social club.