Recorded in several spelling forms including Menendez, Menendes, Mendez, Melendez, and Mendes, this famous Spanish and Portuguese surname is of German origins. The German tribe known as the Vizigoths occupied Spain for three centuries from about 410 a.d., and left behind many names which are now found world-wide as surnames. In this case the development is from the compound personal name of the pre 5th century 'Hermenegild', from the elements 'ermen' meaning 'entire' and 'gild', a present. This name it is said, was born by an original member of the Visigoth royal family, who converted to Christianity, and was subsequently canonised. As a result of the ensuing publicity, the name became even more popular in the Middle Ages. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic church and civil registers include Pedro Valdes Menendes, who married Josepha de Santiesteban, at San Miguel, Arcangel, Mexico, on March 28th 1706, and Jazinto Menendez, christened at the same place, on February 2nd 1773. Antonia Mendez was an early recording in California, being christened at Mission San Carlos de Borromeo, Monterey, on July 9th 1868. The coat of arms granted in Spain has the blazon of a silver field, a blue lion rampant, collared in gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Pedro Francisco Menendez, which was dated December 29th 1642, at Plasencia, Caceres, Spain, during the reign of King Phillip 11 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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