Recorded in the spellings of Almeida, d'Almeida, and de Almeida, this is a famous Portugese and Iberian surname. It derives specifically from the town of Almeida in the province of Beira, Portugal, or from one of the several other villages so named. The origin of Almeida is arabic, the word dates back to the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula in the pre 12th century. It translates loosely as "The family (Al) which lives on the plateau (ma'ida)". The Almeida family nameholders have three coats of arms awarded to them, two in Portugal and one by the former Kingdom of Sicily. The arms follow a similar pattern and include gold torteau or besants on a red field. This style is associated with wealth (gold) and power (red). Recordings in Portugal are erratic, nethertheless we have been able to trace the development from the 16th century. In its early recordings the name is nearly always found with the aristocratic "de" a form borrowed from France. These recordings include Manoel Gonzales de Almeida, christened at Braga, on July 1st 1694, Maria Almeida who married Domingos Sousa at Rabo de Peixe, Ponta Delgardo, on March 31st 1768, and Antonio Jose D'Almeida, who married Juliana de Jesus, at Boaventura, Funchal, on May 18th 1860. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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