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Portuguese Naming Conventions

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Surnames/tags: portuguese portugal Brazil
Profile manager: Nuno Silva private message [send private message]
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Name Field Guidelines


Portuguese Naming Conventions

Here is a short practical guide on how Portuguese names should be dealt with on WikiTree.

However, for a comprehensive background briefing on Portuguese names, one may look at Wikipedia and also at this free-space page dedicated to Naming Conventions. Remember, "We should use their conventions instead of ours."

Currently, in Portugal, the civil registration maintains a list of allowed first names that Portuguese can give to their children. This list can be consulted here:

Proper First and Middle Name

Most Portuguese people have two names but many treat them as one composite name. Thus for them the right thing to do on Wikitree would be to put BOTH of these names into the “Proper First Name” box. You will get a yellow warning message. Click 'Save anyways.'

The Middle Name field should not be used unless the person migrated and changed their name to conform to the new countries naming conventions. Check the radio button under that field 'no middle name.'

Last Name At Birth

The most common case is for Portuguese people at birth to take two surnames (family names).

The surnames can be one or two from the mother and one or two from the father, so can include the last surname of both. Thus:

  • the first part is their mother’s last surname (which may be her father’s);
  • the second part is their father’s last surname (which may be his father’s).

You can choose whether to use just the father's Current Last Name as registered in the baptism record, or you can use the full name possible from both parents, as listed in the baptism. Please leave the 'de' 'da' 'dos' from the Last Name At Birth field as it can cause search errors, creating duplicate profiles.

Example: Ana Rosa dos Santos Silva

  • Proper First Name: Ana Rosa
  • Preferred First Name: Ana
  • Middle Name: (No middle name)
  • Last Name at Birth: Rodrigues Silva
  • Alternate Last Name at Birth: Cruz Santos Rodrigues Silva
  • Other Last Names: da Cruz Santos de Rodrigues da Silva
  • Current Last Name: dos Santos Silva
  • Her father’s name was António Rodrigues da Silva
  • Her mother’s name was Maria Rosa da Cruz Santos

It is therefore suggested that, on WikiTree, that the father's surname(s) (family names) should be put into the “Last Name at Birth” box. If you would like, you can put the mother's and the father's surname(s). Otherwise, place the full combination of mother's and father's surname(s) in the Other Last Names field.

Sometimes Portuguese surnames (family names) are connected by “e” (and), thus joining them and effectively making them one name. Portuguese names are counted as one name even without the 'e.' Per Wikipedia "the words constitute a single logical unit."

In addition, some names have more than one part, having a descriptor which takes the form “of the…” or “from…”. Example: Gomes dos Santos. This is an accepted form, and "de", “da”, “do”, “das”, or "dos" should not be used in the Last Name At Birth field, due to the increased chance that a profile will be duplicated on WikiTree. Instead, use the full surname in the Other Last Names field including the "de", “da”, “do”, “das”, or "dos."

In order to maintain consistency as we often don’t know how the parents decided to combine the names it is recommended that the father’s surname(s) should be used in the Last Name At Birth field, and the combination of the mother’s and father’s surnames should be used in the Other Last Names field.

Current Last Name

A woman in Portugal rarely took her husband’s surname(s). It is therefore recommended that the husbands surname(s) not be used unless records are found showing she took his name(s). In rare cases a woman did take her husband's surname(s), for example:

  • Helena Maria Ribeiro Pacheco da Silva

In practice, however, she may call herself one of the following:

  • Helena Pacheco da Silva
  • Helena da Silva
  • Helena Silva

Generally, women tend to keep using their maiden name:

  • Helena Pacheco

In some cultures, the Current Last Name field is used for the woman’s married surname. As most Portuguese women don’t take their husband’s name, this field should be used for her name used on her marriage record, or the baptisms of her children. This may be a family name or a ‘devotional’ name such as de Jesus.

An example of a Descendant tree is (TO BE REPLACED BY A BETTER EXAMPLE):

Note that Portuguese names had no had no set order by law as to which names had to be used or in what order they had to be in. Portuguese names were flexible in that the parents could decide which names to use, as well as the order. When the child became of age they decided which name to carry through adulthood.

Will you join me? Please post a comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag portugal, or send me a private message. Thanks!

Comments: 8

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Hi Nuno. Just found this page. Looks great and does explain very well Portuguese naming especially before the 1950's. I do have a question though re: the way WT displays the name. I like to see the full name as the individual used in full in WT. If we use the LNAB for all the surnames, does it not affect possible surname project studies as the WT ID is then an hyphenation? For instance the name Bartolomeu Gonçalves Leques (both father's surnames and always used fully in his records) would have a WT ID of Gonçalves_Leques-1. So then it would be difficult to find it in include in a name project for the surname Leques. If I use Other Last Names field, WT doesn't display the full name in search. Because of this I ended up entering a duplicate profile a couple of times. Of course I will from now on follow the suggestion above and use the fathers's surnames in the LNAB and full surnames combination on OLN field, but wondering what impact this will have on possible surname studies on WT.
posted by E Paulo
No anwer received, I still question the whole "all my surnames" in the LNAB from a Portuguese perspective. It limits surname projects. while I have been following the convention, I am wondering if there is a better way. Anyone?
posted by E Paulo
Most of my findings are In the old hand written registers for baptism in Portugal.

The father's names are mentioned before the wife's name. Is it possible that just the first and middle names of the husband are mentioned and then his last name written after the wife's name?

posted by Myrna Figueiredo
Hi Myrna, excellent question, especially when you are facing father names that look like First + Middle Names. However, you will often see names as Surnames (that happens even nowadays). Can someone clarify this doubt?

From reading my ancestors' registries as well as other people's registries, in the process of finding them, I would say the name of the father is always complete, the mother's name, however, might or not be complete.

Also when tracking a specific family you will find interesting things, like the mother's maiden surname being given to daughters, but not the father's surname, even when kids are legitimate.

In short, this is the reason why Nuno says "As most Portuguese women don’t take their husband’s name, this field should be used for her name used on her marriage record or the baptisms of her children. This may be a family name or a ‘devotional’ name such as 'de Jesus'"

In the XIX century, appeared the first name convention. After 1912 State records were created. In the 1930s was created the concept of the father's surname coming after the mother's surname, as a rule, and in 1987 other aspects were ruled and only recently the husband was allowed to adopt the wife's surname

posted by Rui Almada Barão da Cunha
edited by Rui Almada Barão da Cunha
Looks great! I personally don't add the 'de' in the LNAB field, like the French profiles don't have the 'dit' in that field. I like having the parental surnames for the children, as they don't have surnames in the baptism records.
posted by Mindy Silva
Looks good, very similar to Spanish naming conventions. I believe that there might be a conflict with the Euro-Aristo project not allowing de in the LNAB. You might want to get their input on this since there will be trees linking to the Portuguese nobility
posted by Brett Bayely
Excellent point, as we will soon be creating a load of duplicates, as soon as more and more portuguese speakers will arrive (Portugal, Brasil, African Countries and East Timor, India plus Macau)
Hi! Is there a project that oversees this page?
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett