This surname of NORIEGA is a Spanish habitation name for a place in the province of Oviedo, whose name is akin to the Spanish word NORIA, meaning water-wheel. The name also perhaps applied to a miller. The mill, whether powered by water, wind or (occasionally) animals, was an important centre in every medieval settlement; it was normally operated by an agent of the local landowner, and individual peasants were compelled to come to him to have their corn ground into flour, a proportion of the ground corn being kept by the miller by way of payment. 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. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most 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 General Manuel Antonio Morena NORIEGA, born in 1940. He is the Panamanian soldier and politician, born in Panama City and educated at the university there and a military school in Peru. He was commissioned in Panama's National Guard in 1962, and rose to become head of intelligence (1970) and chief of staff (1982).
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