This surname NICASTRO is an Italian, Spanish, Portugese and Jewish topographic name for someone living by a castle or walled town, originally rendered in the Latin CASTRUM (legionary camp) or a habitation name from a place named with this element. The name was taken to America by the Sephardic (Spanish-Portugese) group of Jews, and there ia an estimated 42,000 peoples of the name now in the United States in the form CASTRO. The name is also spelt De CASTRO and Lo CASTRO. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish derivatives. Notable members of this name are Inez de Castro (died 1355) the daughter of a Spanish nobleman. In 1340 she came to Portugal in the train of her cousin Costanca, the bride of the Infante, Dom Pedro (the future King Peter I). Her beauty captivated him, and after Costanca's death in 1345, he made her his mistress; in 1354, his wife, but on the orders of his father, Alfonso IV, she was stabbed to death. Joao de Castro (1500-48) was the Portugese naval commander, born in Lisbon. He volunteered against the Moors at Tangiers, accompanied Charles V to Tunis. He was appointed Portugese Viceroy, but died before he could take the post. Guillen de Castro (1569-1631) the Spanish dramatist, born in Valencia. He commanded a Neapolitan fortress, but later lived in Madrid and died in poverty. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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