The surname of SCHOEPF is a Polish and German name of two origins. The name was applied to a heavy drinker, derived from the Old French word CHOPINE, a large liquid measure. More respectably the surname may have been acquired as an occupational name for a maker of ladles or vessels used in the casting of metal, which were also called 'chopines'. It was also a nickname for a pugnacious person, from the Old French word CHOPIN, and rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form COLPUS. The name has numerous variant spellings which include CHOPY, CHOPPING, CHOPPEN, SCHIFFENHAUER, SCHUFFNER, CHOPINEL and CHOPINET. 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. The Polish composer and pianist, Frederic CHOPIN (1810-49) spent most of his career in France, although he was born near Warsaw. His father, who was born in Marainville in the Vosges region, where his family were vineyard owners, went to Poland to make his fortune at the age of 16, and became tutor to an aristocratic Polish family, marrying a poor relative of his employers and cutting himself and his children off completely from his family in France. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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