This unusual surname is a Polish Germanic version of a medieval Italian form, itself derived from the Roman (Latin). Originally the form was "Zappa" and as such was job descriptive for a maker of sickles or perhaps a person skilled in the use of this particular agricultural implement. There are many spelling variations which range from Zappi or Zappa to the diminutive or patronymics Zapel, Zappel, Czaple, Czapla and Zaple, although the latter would seem to be a purely anglicised variant. In its various forms the name is recorded in Germany as far back as the 13th century, making it one of the earliest known surnames in that country. The Coat of Arms shows a silver horseshoe surmounted with a gold cross on a blue field. Early recordings include Anna Marie Zapel who married John Gregorius Dietz on September 21st 1743 at Siegen, Westfalen, and Dorothea Elisabeth Zapel, the daughter of Christian Zapel, christened at Goldenbaum, Mecklenburg, on July 22nd 1794. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johannes Zapfle, which was dated 1381, in the Records of Rutesheim (Leonberg), during the reign of Emperor Wenceslas of Bohemia, 1378 - 1400. 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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