With the exception of Josef Bindtner, all authors who have written on Mayrhofer agree on 3 November 1787 as Mayrhofer's date of birth: from Ernst von Feuchtersleben in his 1843 edition of Mayrhofer's poems to Constant von Wurzbach in his Lexikon; from Anton Schlossar in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Valerie Hanus in the Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon and Walburga Litschauer in Neue Deutsche Biographie to Gerrit Waidelich in Bärenreiter's 2012 Schubert Liedlexikon. The source that is curiously at odds with this long-held information is a commemorative plaque on Mayrhofer's birthplace in the Upper Austrian town of Steyr:
What is the reason for this odd discrepancy of almost two weeks? It turns out that Mayrhofer's baptismal entry in the records of the Stadtpfarre Steyr was never consulted by any of the above authors and that the date 22 October given on the plaque on the house Pfarrgasse 12 is correct. The false date "3 November 1787" was put into existence by Mayrhofer's friend Ernst von Feuchtersleben in his "Biografische Skizze" in Beilage zu den Sonntags-Blättern of 15 October 1843.
Feuchtersleben had obviously received flawed information from somebody in Steyr. This anonymous researcher (or Feuchtersleben himself) only checked a separate index (begun in 1785) and not the Taufbuch proper. In this index he came across the following wrong entry (which in the meantime has been corrected with pencil)
The original entry in the baptismal record is of course very clear and it shows that Mayrhofer was indeed born on 22 October 1787, at 9 p.m., son of the court procurator Mathias Remigius Mayrhofer and his wife Magdalena, née Heitzinger:
The entry concerning the baptism of Johann Baptist Mayrhofer (Stadtpfarre Steyr, Tom. 1784-1813, 16). Susan Youens's suggestion that Mayrhofer's "unclear date of birth" was caused by two different baptismal registers, is false.
As can be seen in the above document, the wrong date "3ten November" belongs to the following entry referring to Maria Josepha Widal whose name in the index analogously stands beside the date of Mayrhofer's birth:
Mayrhofer's godfather was Johann Baptist Göppel (1763-1827), apothecary and owner of the renowned Löwenapotheke in Steyr. This may be seen as a kind of omen, since in his later life Mayrhofer was known as a notorious hypochondriac. On 8 September 1818 Franz Schubert writes: "Lieber Mayrhofer [...] Höre auf zu Kränkeln, wenigstens zu mediciniren, so gibt sich das andere von selbst." ("Dear Mayrhofer [...] stop ailing, at least medicating, then the other will be resolved by itself".)
Seal and signature of Mayrhofer ("k.k. B.[ücher] R.[evisor] als erbet.[ener] Zeuge.") appearing as witness on an 1815 marriage contract
© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2012
Updated: 16 June 2017