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Re: Mejia as a Sephardic name.
Posted by: Vicente Mejia (ID *****0233) Date: November 28, 2003 at 12:25:18
In Reply to: Re: Mejia as a Sephardic name. by Jose Mejia of 320

"The etymology of a word does not mean that a surname is Jewish. A good example is Mejia, my surname. It could come from Mesías that is a Jewish name, but because Spain is Catholic, we use many word from the Bible including Messiah."

The area that is now known as Spain was not always Catholic. And when this last name came into being, the majority of the people did not read, therefore they could not pick-up the Bible and say “Hey I like this word; it’s going to be my last name.” It is historical fact that many Jews took up last names that had religious meanings in order to show that they had truly converted to the new faith. If you look up the history of the Mejia last name you see that it did not come into being until the late 1400’s when the Jews were expelled from Spain.

"Do I carry Mejia because a Catholic took Mexias a surname (the kind of invented or ornamental surnames), or because I had an ancestor that was a Jew? It is the same with my first name Jose. Of course Jose is a Jewish name, but I carry it because my mother wanted to honor San Jose, not because I am Jew."

I do not know why you have the last name Mejia, but if you can trace your ancestors back to Spain, then very likely they were Jewish. Using the example of your first name is incorrect because first names are always random.

"Mejia could also come from Megia an ancient word in Spanish meaning "medicine" or drug. Was the first Mejia a "pharmacist" a "boticario" as we call it? The surname could be a trade name. Or it could be a corruption of "Matías" a first name. It is interesting that the more common surname is Mejias not Mejia."

I think you are incorrect about Megia having once meant “medicine.” G was once pronuced as “sh” which is equivilante to “x”, “j.” I am not sure if the most common version is “Mejias” but it still says “Mesías”

"Moreover, do I descend from a Sephardic Jew that came to the Americas with Mejia or Mexia as surname, or from an Indian who was forced to baptize and given a Spanish surname by the priest? Or maybe from a slave that also was forced to baptize and take a Spanish surname, a "Christian" name."

It all depends on your ancestors; some of us can actually trace our ancestors to the Spanish Conquest and then some. While you are correct that some got their last names from the Priest or Masters.

"In colonial times in my country, Nicaragua, there was a “de la Cerda” owner of three slaves that carried the “de la Cerda” surnames just because there were part of the “family” meaning the people part of the house, but not related by blood."

Actually, they could have been related by blood. It was very common for the owners of slaves and their sons to have sexual relations with their slaves.

"Many family accepted children to be reared as “hijos de casa” (children of the house) who were working as maids or helpers without being paid for the work. The “parents” provided them with food, cloths, medicines, gave them basic education, etc. Many of them adopted the family surname and were known later in life by that surname, even though they were not blood related."

Like I said before, many of those “hijos de casa” where usually the children of the male owner, while his wife might not have accepted the children as legitimate they would usually work in the house.

"The same applies to many other etymologies like Dagoberto, Alberto, Roberto, etc. all names with German etymology. But that is not enough to say that I have a German ancestor."

You keep switching between first and last names. They are not the same, please stay focused .

"My son-in-law is a white American with a German surname. He told me that really his family does not have German ancestors. They took the surname after a German family that protected Indian mix blood from deportation from Florida to Oklahoma. His ancestors were able to pass as whites under a German surname."

Yes, true there are different ways of getting last names. But you seem to imply that I’m totally wrong in my earlier statement, even though I’m not.

"The litmus test of the Jewish origin of any surname should be the family tradition or the cultural practices of the family like foods or ceremonies including burial practices."

Not always, because many who came to the New World had to get rid of many of the traditions and cultural practices for fear of the Inquisition. And besides, the Christian faith itself is based on the Jewish Faith.

I enjoy your statements, but you obviously do not know much about the historical background of the name Mejia or history of the Spanish people in general, as a matter of fact you are lacking in general history.

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