Recorded in many forms including Eschelle, Echelle, Deeschelle (French), Scala and Scalera (Italian), and Escala, Escalera, and Escalante (Spanish), this is a very interesting and aristocratic surname. However spelt it is of Roman (Latin) pre 4th century a.d. origins, and derives from the word 'scandere' meaning 'to climb'. Various directories suggest that the name was originally topographical for a person who lived in a village or house on a terraced slope, or one where the entry was by an outside ladder. Another suggestion is that the name was occupational and referred to a maker or seller of ladders, whilst a further suggestion is that it is a nickname for the only person in a village who possessed a ladder! Our opinion is that it is, or rather was, sometimes at least, a military term for a soldier who was responsible for the scaling ladders, which paid such a major part in all warfare in the ancient times before the use of firearms. This would seem to be confirmed by the coat of arms as recorded below, since this was granted for military deeds. Examples of the surname recording include Giovanni de la Scala, of Verona, Italy, a christening witness there on July 1st 1574, Juan de Escalante, who married Maria del Rio, at Santa Maria Magdalena, Valladolid, Spain on June 26th 1598, and Luis Echelle, christened at Notre Dame de L'esviers, Angers, France on June 4th 1737. The coat of arms granted in Spain, has the blazon of a red field, a gold ladder, bendwise. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roland Deeschelle, which was dated 1476, in the charters of the city of Lyon, France, during the reign of King Louis X1, of France, 1461 - 1483. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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