The surname of VILLARREAL is a habitation name from any of various places, for example in the province of Badajoz, so called from the Spanish word VILLA (settlement) + REAL (royal). The name was rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form REGALIS. These places were sometimes so named from having some particular connection with the Crown. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. 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. In 1964, The United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Social Security Administration made a report of the 'Distribution of Surnames of the Social Security Account Number File'. It was found that there were 1,091,522 different surnames in the file. This name VILLAREAL is ranked 1,291st and there is an estimated 21,855 persons of the name throughout America.
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