This old Spanish surname is locational. It derives from any of the villages so named in the provinces of Burgos, La Coruna, and Jaen. The meaning is lost in the mists of time, but there is some evidence to suggest that it may derive from the ancient word 'ortiga' itself from the Roman (Latin) 'urtica', and meaning nettles. These weeds were greatly prized in ancient times for their medicinal qualities, and may have been deliberately harvested as a crop. However there is also a logical alternative in that the name could derive from 'hortus' meaning an orchard or walled garden, the Romans in particular being very keen on fruit growing. Spain was occupied by the Romans fro several centuries, and many Spanish and Portuguese place names and surnames have their origins deep in this period at the very beginnings of Christianity. Early examples of the surname taken from authentic registers in Spain and Mexico include Christobal Ortega, christened at Asuncion, Mexico, on August 6th 1672, Chrisanto de ortega, who married Martina Digo at San Gabriel, Arcangel, on March 19th 1749, and Concepcion Ortega, who married Mariano Trigos, at San Cosme, on September 20th 1860. The coat of arms granted in Spain has the blazon of Quarterly, blue and gold, in one and four a gold fleur de lis, in two and three, a black wheel. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Phelpa de Ortega, which was dated March 2nd 1570, christened at Santa Maria Magdalena, Valladolid, Spain, during the reign of King Phillip 11 of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1556 - 1598. 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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