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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the German Shell family come from? What is the German Shell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Shell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Shell family history?

The surname Shell is a Westphalian-German nickname. Such surnames were very common in Westphalia. They were adapted from traditional eke-names, or added names, that described physical characteristics of their bearers. Shell is a hereditary surname for a person who was either wild or clamorous. The name was originally derived from the German word "schel," which means "noisy" or "loud."


One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Shell include Schell, Schelle, Schelling, Scheller and others.

First found in Westphalia, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region. From the 13th century on the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the German nation. As early as 1526 they had their seat at the manor Schellenberg near Essen.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shell research. Another 401 words(29 lines of text) covering the years 1510, 1774, 1562, 1620, 1680, 1648, 1701, 1775, 1854, 1808, 1763 and 1809 are included under the topic Early Shell History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 111 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many Germans emigrated across the Atlantic to seek better lives in North America. This great migration began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century. Resettlement was particularly attractive to those from Westphalia as a means of escape from poverty and religious persecution. For many Westphalian farmers, the chance to own one's own land was also a major incentive. The process of the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlements centered around Ontario and the Prairie provinces. Among them:

Shell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • John Shell, who landed in Virginia in 1643
  • Mary Shell, who landed in Virginia in 1663

Shell Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Caspar Shell, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1767
  • Friedrich Shell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1782

Shell Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Christoph Shell, aged 22, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Thomas Shell, aged 30, arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1833
  • E Shell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • A Shell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Mrs. C B Shell, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851

Shell Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Patrick Shell, who landed in Arkansas in 1906


  • Donnie Shell (b. 1952), former American Football strong safety
  • Steven Daniel Shell (b. 1983), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Joseph Claude Shell Sr. (1918-2008), American oil producer and lobbyist
  • Ray Shell, American film, TV and stage actor, as well as an author, director and producer
  • Karl Shell (b. 1938), American theoretical economist, specializing in macroeconomics and monetary economics
  • Ernesto Aguero Shell (b. 1969), retired male weightlifter from Cuba


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  1. Gritzner, M. Handbuch der heraldischen Terminologie in zwölf Zungen. Nürnberg: 1890. Print.
  2. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  3. Bahlow, Hans and Edda Gentry. Translation Dictionary of German Names 2nd Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2002. Print.
  4. Hildenbrand, A.M. Wappenfibel. Handbuch der Heraldik. Neustadt an der Aisch: 1970. Print.
  5. Bentley, Elizabeth P. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. Print.
  6. Zoder, Rudolf. Familiennamen in Ostfalen. Hildesheim: Geog Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968. Print.
  7. Götze, Alfred. Familiennamen im badischen Oberland. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1918. Print.
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Kneschke, Dr. Ernest Heinrich. Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon 9 Volumes New General German Aristocracy Lexicon. Leipzig: Friedrich Voigt, 1859. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Shell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 3 September 2013 at 09:46.

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