This French, Italian Jewish and Spanish surname of KAPPEL was originally derived from the Old French word 'chape' meaning a hooded cloak, cape, hood or hat, and was applied as a metonymic occupational name for a maker of either cloaks or hats, or as a nickname for a habitual wearer of a distinctive cloak or hat. The name was written in medieval documents in the Latin form CAPPA or CAPA. The two Latin byforms were borrowed into Old English as COEPPE and CAP, respectively, becoming in modern English Capper and Cope, with later semantic differences. The name has numerous variant spellings which include CHAPE, CAPE, CHAPUT, CHAPET, KAPPE, KEPPER and CAPELLI. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. 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.
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