Last name: Garcia
Recorded in the spellings of Garcia, Garci, Garza, and Garces, this is a surname of Spanish origins, whose 'roots go back into the very mists of time. It is believed to be the most popular surname in the region, and this is not perhaps surprising as it derives from the word 'artz' meaning 'the bear'. The origins of the name are pre-historical, which is to say before any known writings, probably two thousand b.c., and relate to the times when man lived by hunting and fishing. In consequence these 'hunters' often became known by the names for the animals they hunted, and particularly when these were associated with strength, bravery and power. The bear possessed all these qualities, as did the wolf and the lion, and all at one time or another found their way into the mythology and the later heraldry, of the different regions, and their surnames. Perhaps not surprisingly this surname was one of the first into the New World of the Americas. Examples of these recordings taken from civil and religious registers include Christabal Garcia at Asuncion, Districto Federal, Mexico, on November 14th 1645, Felipe Santiago Garcia at Mission San Carlos, Borroreo, California, on December 13th 1777, and Lopez Garcia at Santa Catarina, Mexico, on June 26th 1778. The coat of arms has the unusual blazon of a silver field charged with a flying bird of prey, inside a blue border, charged with a semee of saltires in gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Diego Garcia, which was dated August 29th 1624, at San Pablo Apostal, Mexico, during the reign of King Phillip 1V of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1621 - 1665. 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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the meaning of Garcia deriving from "the bear" via a basque artz is incorrect. Garcia takes its name from the heron (another great fisher but not a bear) or in spanish Garza. Its earliest origins are found in Galicia North-west spain. Its coat of arms includes a black heron, bloodied but still rising. The name goes back to the iberian-celts. Visigoths also used the name for them it held the meaning of "prince who rules with grace". Garcia as a name expands with the expansion of the county of Castilla, taking re-conquered territory off the moors from the Galician- Leones border to the cantabrican coast and basque fringes. Castilla-Leon gaining in size and influence would become the most dominant kingdom in Spain. The name Garcia spread throughout the territories they conquered and then beyond, due to the influence of the Castilian court and spanish expansion in the americas(which was a purely Castilian venture. The basque country at the time were a grouping of separate counties with ancient privileges under the Castilian crown).
I assume that "artz" is a basque or celtic word as it is certainly not Spanish/Latin/Romance.
For myself, my last name Garcia was originated from Spain. My ancestors traveled on "El Camino Real," in 1655 through the port of Vera Cruz which was then the NEW SPAIN, not Mexico. At that time, my ancestors settled in California and New Mexico, which at that time, were territories of New Spain. My Garcia roots did derive from Basque.