The surname of SCHARFF is of Dutch origin, an occupational and locational name, the shepherd, one who looked after the sheep and resided on the farmland. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived.
The name has many variant spellings which include SCHAFFE, SCHAFFER, SCHAP, SCHAPP and SCHAEP. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. In the 13th century one Giselbertus dictus SCHAEFARER is recorded in 1266. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. A notable member of this name was Philip SCHAFF (1819-93) the Swiss-born American Presbyterian theologian, born in Coire. He was called to the chair of the German Reformed seminary at Mercersburg, Pennysylvannia. In 1870 he became professor at the Union Seminary, New York. He was a founder of the American Branch of the Evangelical Alliance, and president of the American Old Testament Revision Committee. Among his works are 'A History of the Christian Church' (1883-93) and 'The Creeds of Christendom' (1877).
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