Last name: California

This interesting and unusual name is of Spanish origin, and a regional name given to a former inhabitant of California, as a means of identification, or even a nickname for a prospector in the Gold Rush in 1849/1850, which took on epidemic proportions after Captain Sutler and Mr. Marshall discovered an abundance of the precious metal in 1847. The derivation of this surname, and state name, is from the Spanish 'Caliente Fornalla', meaning 'hot furnace', in allusion to the climate. The place is thought by some to have been discovered by Cortez in 1537, and by others, Cabrillo in 1542, and was admitted into the United States in 1850. Unfortunately, compulsory birth registration did not start until 1908 in California, so there is a severe lack of name recordings in that state or neighbouring states of Arizona and Nevada. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of James Raymond California (marriage to Claire Frates), which was dated April 22nd 1916, Sacramento, during the reign of King George V, 1910-1936. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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