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It is interesting to study how surnames came about. In Europe people started using surnames from around the 12th century but it took several more centuries before most Europeans had one. The main purpose of surnames was of course, to distinguish one person from another. People started identifying themselves with a relationship to another person, a place, a profession or a nickname eg. John son of David, John from the river, John the Builder or John Young. In time, the articles and prepositions were dropped resulting in John David, John River and John Builder.
We are however, not sure if the surname Cordeiro refered to the occupation of our ancestors as shepherds. The surname traces back to medieval Spain. While surnames derived from the father or mother are the most common forms of a hereditary surname in Spain, occupational surnames also emerged during the Middle Ages when the jews were persecuted. According to many historical references, the Jews in Spain were forced to flee during the war. To protect themselves, they changed their real surnames to names of animals or trees. This would explain how the Cordeiro surname came about.
Spelling variations include: Cordero, Cordeiro, Cordera, Cordeira and others.
The name was first found in Asturias, an important Christian kingdom of medieval Spain.
While on a trip to Portugal in 2007, Robert, Francoise and family stumbled across a village called Cordeiros. It was very small consisting of a few houses and no central nucleus. This was the highlight of our trip.