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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

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 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 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 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 United States in the 20th Century

  • Patrick Shell, who landed in Arkansas in 1906

Shell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Edwd Shell, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • Edward Shell, who arrived in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813

Shell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Mary Shell, aged 19, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima"


  • 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
  • Mr. Arthur J  Shell (1883-1917), English Gunner aboard the SS Curaca from Chester, England, United Kingdom who survived the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917 but later died due to injuries


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  1. Tobler-Meyer, Wilhelm. Familiennamen der Ostschweiz. Zürich: 1894. Print.
  2. Siebmacher, J.J. Siebmacher's Grosses Wappenbuch 35 Volumes. Germany: Bauer & Raspe. Print.
  3. Bahlow, Hans. Abhandlungen zur Namenforschung und Buchgeschichte. 1980. Print. (ISBN 978-3768690522).
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Steed, Henry Wickham . The Hapsburg Monarchy. London: Constable and Company, 1919. Print.
  6. Karlsruhe. Badisches Generallandesarchiv Baden Emigration lists 1866-1911. Salt Lake City: Microfilm of Card Index by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Print.
  7. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. Strassburger, Ralph B. German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
  9. Zoder, Rudolf. Familiennamen in Ostfalen. Hildesheim: Geog Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968. Print.
  10. Jones, Henry Z. Palatine Families of New York 2 Volumes. Rockland, ME: Picton Press, 2001. Print. (ISBN 978-0961388829).
  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 13 November 2014 at 16:21.

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