Last name: Amaya

This is a Spanish and Portugese locational surname. Recorded in the spellings of De Amaya and more recently since the 18th century as Amaya without a prefix, it is locational. It originates from villages called 'Amaya' in Castille and Portugal, of which the original meaning is believed to be a 'pleasant place' or similar. The surname is ancient being one of the earliest recorded in the church registers of the Iberian Peninsula, Cristobal de Amaya appearing in the register of the Ronda, Guipuzcoa, Espana, on July 1st 1581, whilst Pedro de Amaya and his wife Maria Benglas, were recorded at the church of Nuestra Senora de la Antigua, Valladolid, Espana, on March 19th 1589. Whether these people are from the same family who were granted a coat of arms in Castille circa 1650, is not proven but seems likely. Locational surnames derive from two possible origins. The first is that the name refers to estates or manors owned by the nameholders, as with the prefix 'de' or the German 'von', a derivation which would seem to apply with this surname. The second possibility is that the name indicates a place where a person came from. It was often the usual practice in medieval times to call strangers by the name of their home city, town or village as easy identification. Manuel Amaya who married Maria Mascarena at Cadiz on March 4th 1871 is an example of a later recording, which could have originated from either source.

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