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Hernandez: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

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Hernandez: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

Hernandez is one of the most common last names, or surnames, in the United States, and the number of people with this last name has increased in recent decades. In 2000, Hernandez was the fifteenth most common surname in America. However, it became the eleventh most common last name just ten years later. It is highly likely that you've either met someone, are related to someone, or have the family name Hernandez.

If you are researching this family name, we will share what online resources reveal about the Hernandez family history. We will also recommend best practices and websites for genealogy research. Finally, we will note some of the most successful people named Hernandez.

Origin and Meaning of the Hernandez Family Name

Hernandez originated as a family name in Spain and Portugal. It was first recorded in the 4th century in Castile, located in the kingdom of Leon in Spain. As with most of the oldest names in Spain, Hernandez is a patronymic name, meaning that it usually means “son of.” In the case of this surname, Hernandez means “son of Hernando” or “son of Fernando.”

The name is also found in southern Italy as a result of the expulsion of Jews in the 15th century from Portugal and Spain. Many Jewish people with this name moved to Naples and Palermo as a result of persecution. The Hernandez family were some of the first Spanish settlers to arrive in the New World, where they established settlements throughout Mexico and Central and South America.

Today, the name is widely found in Mexico, the United States, and Spain. While the majority of people named Hernandez are Hispanic, census data reveals that other ethnicities for this surname include American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, and White.

Historical Records for the Hernandez Family Name

Ancestry has nearly seventeen million records for the Hernandez family name. When your family name is this common, it is imperative to talk to family members and gather as much information as you can before embarking on an online search. If you need help figuring out how to start, this 50-question questionnaire is a great way to begin interviewing family members.

Once you have enough information to begin your online research, census records and voter rolls are a great place to start because they are helpful in locating where family members live. Additionally, census records include the number of family members, their ages, and occupations. For instance, in the 1940 American census, Laborer and Maid were the top two occupations for people named Hernandez.

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Interviewing family members and gathering family stories is the best way to start genealogy research.


Researching Hispanic Family Names

Researching Hispanic last names comes with its own set of challenges. In Spain and other Hispanic countries, children receive two family names, one from each of their parents. From the father, they receive their middle family name, whereas their last family name comes from their mother. While not as common as it once was, these names are occasionally separated by a “Y,” which means “and.” To make it more challenging, in modern-day Spain, the placement of the two surnames is reversed, meaning the mother's last name becomes the middle surname, and the father's last name is the final surname for the child.

Additionally, in Hispanic cultures, many women choose to keep their father's last name and replace their mother's last name with their husband's surname. Occasionally, “de” is placed between the two names. Some women choose to keep both of their parents' surnames and add their husband's family name, resulting in three last names. So, family research may get complicated. For example, you may encounter something like this.

Wife's Name: Sofia Hernandez Chavez (Hernandez is her father's surname, Chavez her mother's)
Husband's Name: Manuel Garcia Pérez
Wife's Name After Marriage: Sofia Hernandez Pérez or Sofia Hernandez de Pérez

Here are some great websites for researching the Hernandez family name.

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Some universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin, have huge genealogy collections.

©ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

Fun Facts About the Hernandez Family Name

Now that you know more about the history and origins of the Hernandez family name, here are some interesting facts you may not know.

  • Some historians believe that the Hernandez family in Spain has a French-inspired Coat of Arms because they may be related to the French royal house of Valois.
  • According to 23andMe, thirty-one percent of people named Hernandez have misophonia, which is when the sound of chewing or yawning bothers people.
  • Additionally, thirty-seven percent of Hernandez family members are allergic to cats.
  • One in every forty-seven people in Mexico have this last name, making it the most common family name in the country.
  • In the 1956 Supreme Court case Hernandez v. Texas, the court unanimously ruled that Mexican-Americans have equal protection under the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment.
  • This name has many variants, including Fernandez, Hernando, Hernandiz, and Fernandes. These variations are primarily found in Brazil, Portugal, and Spain.
  • Some sources suggest this family name also means “brave journey” or “bold voyage.”
  • During the 16th century, the Hernandez family was one of the richest families in Spain.
  • Hernandez Reservoir is a man-made lake in San Benito County, California.

Famous People Named Hernandez

Many people with the last name Hernandez have reached the top of their fields. Here are a few names you might recognize.

  • Daniel Hernandez – Better known as 6ix9ine, he is an American rapper from New York City.
  • David Hernandez – American singer who was a finalist on the twelfth season of American Idol.
  • Jay Hernandez – An American actor and model best known for the television series Friday Night Lights and the films Suicide Club and Hostel.
  • Keith Barlow Hernandez – Former MLB player who later became an on-air commentator.
  • Laurie Hernandez -A member of the “Final Five” at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Hernandez is a gold and silver medal-winning American artistic gymnast.
  • Melissa Hernandez – Considered one of the greatest female boxers of all time, Hernandez is a retired boxer who won four championships during her career.
  • Monica Hernandez – Mexican-American television news anchor who has worked for both NBC and Telemundo.
  • Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada – Shortening his stage name to Oscar Isaac, Isaac is a Golden Globe-nominated actor best known for his films Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year.
  • Peter Gene Hernandez – Better known by his stage name Bruno Mars, Mars is a singer/songwriter best known for the songs “Uptown Funk” and “Just the Way You Are.”
  • Rafael Hernandez Colón – This politician served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1973 to 1977 and 1985 to 1993.
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Hernandez is the most common family name in Mexico.

©Moy Ortega/Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Hernandez is one of the world's oldest and most common family names today. While it originated in Spain and Portugal, this last name is now common worldwide, including in America, Mexico, and Italy. Census data reveals that the number of people with this surname is increasing in America. As of the 2010 census, it was the eleventh most common surname in the United States.

Researching a family name with a long history may be challenging because of the sheer number of records available. To research effectively, we recommend starting with family members and gathering as much information as you can to cross-reference with online databases.

Hispanic family research has its own unique set of challenges, too. However, the challenge is part of the fun when it comes to genealogy. With determination and perseverance, you never know what fascinating piece of family history you might discover.

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