Historically, it is Spanish tradition for an individual to be known by both the paternal and maternal surnames in that order. (In Portugal or Brazil that order is reversed). When the parents also have compound names, the surname passed down to the children would be the first one, derived from the children’s grandfathers. These compound surnames often use a y, a dash (-) or a preposition (de, del, de la), as in your de la Vega Martínez ancestor or names such as Rosa María Muñoz y Rodríguez; Or even in multiple compounds such as Juan José Ríos-Prado y León.
Until the mid-1800s, women didn’t take their husbands’ surname upon marriage. More recently, a woman who married a Martínez would attach the married surname de Martínez to her first single (paternal) surname. So a woman born María Josefa Torres Sepúlveda would become María Josefa Torres de Martínez once she married.
What surname should you use in family trees?
You may have to override your genealogy software to enter these names correctly, especially if it automatically supplies children’s surnames. If Alexandre Manuel and María Josefa in our examples had children, their last names would be Vega Torres—different from either parent’s compound surname.
Pin this article for later: