Articles > Names
16th Century Spanish Names
by Elsbeth Anne Roth (Kathy Van Stone)
© 2002 by Kathy Van Stone; all rights reserved.
NOTE: This article replaces both 16th Century Spanish
Mens Names and 16th Century Spanish Womens Names, being an updated and expanded
treatment of the subject by the same author. As such, the aforementioned titles have been superceeded
by this article and have been removed from the Laurel website.
The names and naming practices for this handout were primarily taken from a
series of books called Catálogo de Pasajeros a Indias (Catalog
of passengers to the New World). The books contain lists of records of the people
who traveled from Spain to the New World in the 16th century. The entries were
altered from the original in that accents were added and abbreviated names were
expanded. It is also possible that given names were normalized, although it
looks like the surnames were not. Therefore, while the names listed here are
in correct forms for the 16th century, there are probably other correct forms.
In particular, for any name containing an accent the version without the accent
is also appropriate. This is currently a work in progress -- the list of names
will be updated as more of the Catálogo is entered. Currently
the data is taken mostly from volume V, years 1571 and 1574, with smaller samples
from 1536 (volume III), 1560 (volume IV), and 1578 (volume VI).
The names in this source generally consist of a given name followed by one
or two bynames (there are a few examples of 4 element names in the last volume
of the Catálogo, but none of them have yet made it into the data). While the
choice of bynames were frequently governed by inheritance, that is, the names
were hereditary surnames taken from one or both parents, for simplicity we divide
the bynames into three types:
- Patronymic: These are names originally derived from the
given name of one’s father. For example, if, in the 10th century, Diego’s
father was Rodrigo, then Diego would be called Diego Rodriguez, where
Rodriguez is the patronymic. The form was the same for women: Diego’s
sister Maria could be called Maria Rodriguez. Patronymics were frequently
formed by altering the father's name into a patronymic form originally derived
from a Latin gentive form. Sometimes, however, patronymics were formed by
using the given name unaltered, such as Diego Rodrigo. Approximately
1/3 of the bynames in the Catalog were patronymic in form. In the
Catálogo patronymics are not longer literal; for example, one of the entries
is for Alonso Sánchez. His father's name (included in the
entry) is not Sancho but Diego Sánchez.
- Locative: These are names taken from places. In general,
locatives come in two forms: names that refer to the name of a place (such
as de Figueroa), and names that refer to a type of location, such
as del Rio ("of the river”). About half of the bynames
used in the 16th century were locatives. Locatives were often used with the
preposition de (“of”), although there are examples where
the name is used by itself (for example, Alonso León).
- Other: The other types of bynames are uncommon enough to
be grouped together. These include descriptive nicknames (Calvo,
“bald”, el Rojo, “the red”), occupational
names (Scribano, “scribe”), and titles (Caballero,
Spanish names typically came in the following forms:
- <given name> de <locative>
- Ex.: Juan de Palencia, María de Recalde. Almost
half of the names from the Catálogo are of this form.
- <given name> <patronymic>
- Ex.: Bartolome Gómez, Catalina González,
Juan Martín. About a third of the names from the Catálogo
were of this form.
- <given name> <other>
- Ex.: Pelagio Calvo, Francisca la Roja, Isabel Alemán.
About 5-10% of the names from the Catálogo were of this
- <given name> <patronymic> de <locative>
- Ex.: Juan Martínez de Palategui, Diego López de Olivares.
About 5% of the names from the Catálogo were of this form.
There are other forms of names (such as Hernán Sánchez Alemán),
but they each consist of less than 1% of data.
The rest of this article contains the elements found so far in the Catálogo.
Bermúdez Plata, Don Cristóbal, Catálogo de Pasajeros
a Indias Durante los Siglos XVI, XVII, y XVIII (Sevilla: Imprenta de la
Gavidia, 1946), vol III.
R.P. Gonzalo Diez Melcón. Apellidos Castellano-Leonese (Siglos IX-XIII,
ambos inclusive). Granada: Univeridad de Granada, 1957
Romera Iruela, Luis, and Ma. del Carmen Galbis Díez, Catálogo
de Pasajeros a Indias, Siglos XVI, XVII, y XVIII (Sevilla: Archivo General
de Indias, 1980).