Surnames in Spain came into use in about the 12th century. Those doing Hispanic genealogy are especially lucky because children are commonly given two surnames - one from each parent. A child's first surname is the father's name and the child's second surname is the mother's maiden name. Sometimes, but not always, surnames joined by an "y".
Origins of Hispanic last names fall into one of the following categories:
- Patronymic Surnames
- The suffix means "son of"
- -es, -as, -is, or -os (Portuguese)
- -ez, -az, -is, or -oz (Spanish)
- Example: Diaz - son of Diego
- Occupational Surnames
- Derived from a person’s job or status
- Example: Molinero - Miller
- Descriptive Surnames
- Derived from a physical feature of the individual.
- Example Garza - heron, probably a nickname for someone with long legs
- Geographical Surnames
- Derived from nearby locations.
- Example: Aguilar - haunt of eagles.
Castro - castle.
Some Common Hispanic Surnames in the U. S.:
Hispanic country vital and genealogy records are unmatched anywhere in their quality, quantity, and availability. In most cultures, church records are an important part of genealogy research, but this is especially true of the Hispanic culture, for the parish records of Spain, Mexico, and Peru are the oldest and most complete in the world.