This surname of ABELA is of two-fold origin. It was a Catalan nickname for a small and active person, or an occupational name for a bee-keeper. The name was from the Catalan word ABELLA (bee) and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form APIS. It was also a habitation name from places so called in the provinces of Lerida and Barcelona. The name is of uncertain etymology, and may be akin to that of Avella in Italy, normally considered to be of Etruscan origin. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish derivatives. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ABEL, ABELLAN, ABELLA, ABEILLE, ABEILHE, ABEILHON and ABEILHOU. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. A notable member of the name was Sir Frederick Augustus ABEL (1827- ?). He was born in London. As a chemist with the war department and ordnance committees of 1854-88, he applied himself to the science of explosives. As well as cordite, he introduced a new method of making gun-cotton, and invented the Abel tester for determining the flash-point of petroleum. He became the secretary of the Imperial Institute in 1887, and died in 1902. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error
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