This German surname of PFEIL is of various origins. It was a nickname for a tall thin man, derived from the Latin PFEIL and it may also have been a topographic name for someone who lived by a stake fence or in a property defended by one. The name may also have applied as an occupational name for a builder of such fences and was also an occupational name for a maker of arrows or a smith. The smith was one of the most important men in medieval Europe. He served both the lord and the peasants. It was his duty to shoe the lord's horses, mend and sharpen his plows and make all the metal objects that were required. For these duties he would receive certain honours such as charcoal and wood from the lord's forest and the right to have his land ploughed by the lord's plows. He also did work for the serfs in the manor, from whom he would receive payment. Henry II of England in 1181, ordered every holder of land worth X10 a year, to provide himself with a coat of mail, a helmet, a shield and a lance, and many smiths were required to make these articles. The smith, as a worker in metals was important in every country, and many surnames in America have been translated from SMITH from many different languages. The name has variant spellings which include PIELE, PEILE, PFAHLER, PFAHL, PAHLMANN and PAHLKE. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. German or Teutonic heraldry extended its sphere of influence over central Europe and spread into Scandinavia. It is most notable for its design and treatment of crests, most of which reflect the arms in the charge or tinctures (colours) or both, which is unknown in British heraldry. Teutonic Europe assembled many arms on a single shield, each bearing its corresponding crest on a helmet.
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