Recorded in many forms including Schell, Schelle, Shell, Scheller, Schellig, Scholig, (German) Schell, Shell and Van Schell (Dutch), this is an unusual and interesting surname. However spelt it is a medieval nickname surname for a wild or obstreperous person! The derivation is from the Middle High German word "schel", meaning "loud". Nicknames which became surnames are a feature of medieval surname creation. It is estimated that at least fifteen percent of all surnames started out as a nickname, given by friends or neighbours as an easy mark of identification. Humour in those far off times being very robust, often meant that the surname actually described the total opposite of what it appeared to indicate. A good example of the genre in England, was that of Little John, the largest man in the Robin Hood's band of outlaws. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. Amongst the very earliest examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving rolls and charters of Germany are those of Zinsman Schello of Gunzerhausen in the year 1200, and Waltherus Schelle of Wurzburg in 1276.
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