This famous Spanish and Portuguese surname recorded in the spellings of De Moreno, Moreno, Moreni, Moreinu and Moreinis, is of two possible medieval origins. The first is that it was a name originally given to people with dark skin or dark hair, the development being from the original Latin 'maurus'. In a country where people tended to fit that description in anycase, this seems illogical, and we consider that the original meaning (as a surname) was obviously much more specific. Our research suggests that the name referred to a 'Moor', a former inhabitant of Morocco. The Moors conquered much of Spain in the 11th century, and it would seem that whilst the majority of 'Moors' returned to their homeland, many settled in Spain. These people were 'nicknamed' Moreno by the local inhabitants, as an easy means of identity. The surname can also be Ashkenazic, the development being from the Hebrew 'morenu', meaning 'our master', and as such was possibly an introduction by 12th century crusaders, returning from the Holy Land. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic civil and religious registers include Maris de San Nicholas de Moreno, at San Pablo Apostal, Spain, on February 27th 1673, and Maria Gertrudis Guadalope Moreno, christened at San Gabriel, Los Angeles, on June 6th 1783. The coat of arms has the blazon of a gold field, charged with a tower proper, in chief two flying blackbirds. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andreas de Moreno, which was dated January 1st 1538, christened at Chiclana, Cadiz, Spain, during the reign of King Charles 1st of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1516 - 1556. 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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