This surname of NUNEZ is a Spanish and Portugese surname from a medieval given name, which is first attested in the Latin form NUNNIUS and NONNIUS. The name is of uncertain origin, although connected with the name MUNO which means 'protection'. The name is also spelt NUNO and NUNES. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'. 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 Gaspar DE ARCE NUNEZ (1834-1903) the Spanish poet, dramatist and statesman, born in Valladolid. He held office in the government in 1883 and 1888 and in 1894 received a national ovation at Toledo. As a lyric poet he may be styled the 'Spanish Tennyson'. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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