Recorded in the spellings of Noriega and Nobriga, a transposed variant form, this is a locational or habitational surname of Spanish origins. It derives from the word 'noria' meaning a wheel or possibly a water wheel, itself from an ancient Arabic word which meant 'to squeak'. This is an amusing reflection on the mechanical standards of the pre - medieval period. Habitational surnames are the most popular of all European surnames. Originally when prefixed, as in this case with the prepositions 'de or di', they implied both nobility and most importantly, land ownership. All habitational surnames are a means of identity. When a person moved to a different place, it was an easy form of identification to call him or her by the name of their former home, be it a village, province, or country. In this case early examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic church and civil registers, include Maria Manuela Noriega, christened at San Cosme, Districto Federal, Mexico, on June 16th 1782, Jose Maria Rafael Villafuerte Noriega, christened at Santa Ana, Mexico, on October 28th 1872, and Jessie Nobriga, daughter of Jose, christened at Oakland, California, on October 1st 1917. The coat of arms granted in Spain has the blazon of a silver field, with a black spoked wheel. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maria de Noriega, which was dated Augsut 24th 1613, christened at Santa Maria Magdalena, Valladolid, Spain, during the reign of King Phillip 111 of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1598 - 1621. 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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