This interesting surname with of several spellings is Eastern European. It can be found in various forms in all the countries around the Baltic Sea. These spellings include Capeloff, Capelow, Kapelhoff, and Kapelhof. The spelling as Kapiloff seems to be an American form, not originally recorded in Europe, or perhaps not recorded in the Romance alphabet. Registers from Eastern Europe are very restricted. Many were lost in the Second World War, and others have never been cataloged, making research very difficult. The name is probably locational, either from a place called "Kapelhoff" or similar spelling, or from residence in or by the courtyard (hoff) of a church (kapel). The name is rare in German registers, but curiously is one of the very earliest of all surnames recorded in that country. It is said that the origin of the name is the Latin (Roman) "Cappella", meaning a cloak. This is thought to have originally referred to a sanctuary where the cloak of St Martin of Tours, in France, was kept as a relic. Early examples of the surname recording include the family Kapelhoff, first recorded at Bork, Westfalen, Germany, on February 11th 1813. Anton Joseph, the son of Joseph and Anne Kapelhoff, was born on that date, whilst their second son Herman, was born on June 22nd 1815. Perhaps surprisingly in those two years the name had been shortened to Kapelhof. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jacob Cappilhove, which was dated 1328, in the charters of the city of Mainz, Germany, during the reign of Emperor Louis 1V of the Holy Roman (German) Empire, 1314 - 1347.
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