This Italian surname of PERALEZ was an occupational name for a grower or seller of pears, or a topographic name for someone who lived by a pear tree or pear orchard. The name was also sometimes applied as a nickname for a companion, from the Latin PIRUM, meaning peer, equal. The name has variant spellings which include PEREDA, PEEAR, POIRER, PERALES, PERER, PARERA, PARES and PEREIRA, to name but a few. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian. Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World. Latin America was the original destination for these early settlers but as the economy strengthened in the United States, North America became more popular. Jose Maria de PEREDA (1833-1906) the Spanish novelist, born in Polanco near Santander. His novels give a realistic picture of the people and scenery of the region where he was born and where much of his life was spent. His finest novel was 'Penas Arriba' (1895).
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