This surname of DESCHELLE was a French topographic name for a dweller by a terraced slope, or in a house with an exterior staircase or ladder; perhaps also a metonymic occupational name for a maker or seller of ladders, or a nickname for the unique possessor of one in a small village. The name has numerous variant spellings which include DELLA, ESCHELLE, ECHELLE, DESCHELLE, SCALA, LESCHELLE, LECHELLE, SCALERA and ESCALA. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. 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. The name was also occasionally a Spanish placename from a place in the province of Burgos. The name in Spanish was ESCALA, referring to a terraced slope. A notable member of the name was Lisa DELLA CASA, born in 1919. She was the Swiss soprano, studied in Zurich, and first appeared at Solothurn-Biel in 1943. She has sung all three soprano roles in 'Der Rosenkavalier'.
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