Recorded in many spelling forms including Schach, Schacter, Schechter (German) and Szach, Szachnitow, and Szachniewicz (Polish), this is an occupational surname. It originally described a cattle butcher, but in later times was apparently often Ashkenasic, and used specifically to describe a ritual slaughterer. The derivation is understood to be from the Hebrew 'shachet' meaning to slaughter, which adds a little twist to the origin, as the early recordings were not Jewish but Roman Catholic. Polish and sometimes German surnames, certainly those with a Slavonic origin, are akin to Italian in their love of diminutive or hypocoristic endings such as '-owicz' or '-ewicz' or '-ski'. In this case we have been able to establish a number of German recordings back into the medieval period, as well as later ones from surviving 18th and 19th century records. Sadly Polish records throughout this long period are either erratic or apparently non existent, or more likely have been destroyed for political reasons. The recordings that we have been able to find include: Heinrich Schechellin of Klingau, in 1362 and Haintz der Schach of Andelfingen, Germany, in 1381. Later recordings are those of Vinautius Szachewicz at Graudenz, on March 3rd 1762, and Francisco Szachnitowski, of Briesen, both West Preussen, on September 27th 1868.
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