The surname of PORTINGALE was a name given to an immigrant from Portugal. The name was rendered in early documents in the Latin form of PORTUCALE, originally referring only to the area around the trading base of Oporto. In some cases the surname may be no more than a nickname for someone who had business connections with Portugal. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Walterus filius Portingalliae, who was documented in Suffolk in 1201. William Potagal was recorded in 1214 in Leicestershire, and Symon Petingal appears in Oxford in 1278. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.The acquisition of surnames in Europe during the past eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in neighbouring cultures, and indigenous cultural tradition. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another. But as societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another reliably and unambiguously. Later instances of the name mention John Portingale of Youghall, who was documented in 1569, and John Portingale was baptised at Prestbury Church, County Chester in 1574.
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