This Spanish name FIGUEROA was a topographic name for someone who lived by a fig tree, or a metonymic occupational name for a grower or seller of figs, originally rendered as FIGA, from the Latin FICUS. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. The name has many variant spellings which include FIGUERAS, FIGUIER, FIGUIERE, FIGUERES, HIGUERAS, FIGADERE, and FIGURA. Spanish surnames are to be found from as early as the mid-9th century, as patronymics, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later than in England and France. In many cases the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian church were used, although many of the common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. A notable member of the name was Estanislo FIGUERAS (1819-82) the Spanish statesman, born in Barcelona. For taking part in republican plots in 1866, he was imprisoned; but after the expulsion of Isabella II he became a member of the republican government. On the abdication of King Amadeus I in 1873, he became president of the Spanish republic, but soon resigned.
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