This surname is recorded in most European countries in the spellings of Cortes, Courtois, Courtes, Cortez, Curtis, etc. However spelt, and from whatever country, the derivation is from the Old French "Corteis" or "Curteis" meaning "refined" or "accomplished" and was originally given as a nickname to a man of good education. One Curteis de Capella appears in the 1130 Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire, England, whilst Fernando Cortez of Spain, conquered Mexico and much else in 1519 - 1521. The surname is first recorded in England in the 12th Century (see below), and early recordings have included William le Curetis of Devonshire, England, in 1168, whilst in Spain Benito de Cortez was born in Ciudad on May 1st 1515, and Antonia Cortes, at Asuncion, Mexico, on February 6th 1662. An interesting recording is that of Henry Curtis, aged 27 yrs., who on May 15th 1635 embarked from London on the ship "Elizabeth and Ann" bound for New England. He was one of the earliest recorded English namebearers to enter the New World colonies of America. The coat of arms has the blazon of a paly of eight, gold and red, on a blue border, eight silver cross crosslets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Curteis, which was dated 1166, in the pipe rolls of the county of Bedford, England, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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