This surname of SCHALL was a German nickname from the coin 'schilling' and may have referred originally to a rent or fee owed, or to have some other anecdotal origin, now irrecoverable. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Johann Adam von Bell SCHALL (1591-1666) was the Jesuit missionary and astronomer, born in Cologne, Germany. He studied astronomy in Rome, and went to China in 1622, where he was appointed to translate astronomical books and reform the Chinese calendar. After 1644 he became head of the Imperial Board of Astronomy, and advisor to the young emperor Shun-chih (who ruled from 1644 until 1661), who allowed him to build a church in Peking. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized.
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