Medeiros Family History & Genealogy

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Medeiros Surname History

The earliest recorded Medeiros was Rui Gonçalves de Medeiros ("of Medeiros") from Évora, Portugal.


King Joao I of Castilla occupied the town of Évora, installing his "alcaide" (governor/commander of a Portuguese fort) Álvaro Mendes de Oliveira in the castle of Évora. Leading the conflict against Castillian occupation was the Order of St. Benedict de Avis, a religious military order of the Knights of Portugal. The order was likely formed in Portugal in the 12th century by D. Afonso Henriques, the founder and first king of the Kingdom of Portugal.


Rui Gonçalves helped the Master of the Order of Avis expel the Castillian-installed Oliveira, after riots rocked the city in the 1383-85 crisis there. Medeiros was rewarded with the governorship of the castle at Évora after the Castillian governor was evicted.


A branch of the Medeiros family lived in the southern Portuguese region of the Algarve during the 15th century and in the same period, another branch lived on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Both branches came originally from the principality of Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal, in the region of Guimarães.


In the early 15th century, Rui Vaz de Medeiros - a contempoary of Rui Gonçalves - left the family in Ponte de Lima and emigrated to the Portuguese island of Madeira, during it's first colonization.  There, he married a nobleman's daughter, and eventually moved his family to the Azorean island of Sao Miguel. Together they had a son who they named Vasco de Medeiros. Vasco eventually settled in the village of Lagoa (or Alagoa).


Supposedly, most Azoreans with the surname Medeiros descended from the line of Vasco de Medeiros.

Medeiros is a Portuguese surname originating in mainland Portugal at or earlier than the 14th century. The only common variation is "de Medeiros".


The name appears regularly in both Portuguese and Brazilian cultures. It can be found all around the world, owing to the breadth and duration of Portugal's colonial period.

Medeiros Country of Origin, Nationality, & Ethnicity

Medeiros is a Portuguese last name, likely originating from mainland Portugal - though the name Medeiros has spread around the world through Portugal's widespread colonial presence. The ethnicity/nationality of most Medeiroses is overwhelmingly Portuguese, though there are a significant number of Brazilians bearing the surname. In the Azores islands, an autonomous Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic, the name Medeiros is found most-often in the island of São Miguel (San Miguel, "Saint Michael"). In the United States, the last name Medeiros is found in most areas with a heavy Portuguese presence, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Rhode Island, and Massachusettes. Most Medeiroses are ethnically Portuguese or Brazilian. The nationality of Medeiroses is predominantly Portuguese and Brazilian, though many Medeiroses have immigrated to the United States in the last 100 years.

Medeiros Meaning & Etymology

There are a number of theories about the origin of the last name Medeiros. The Medeiros Web speculates last name Medeiros is of toponymic origin, meaning it comes from the name of the place where the first bearer lived or owned land. By this assumption, the surname Medeiros must derive from a place named "Medeiros" which is the name of numerous locations in Portugal. Therefore, the initial bearer of the community as "one who came from Medeiros". If this assumption is true, then researchers must look into how these places got their name. Here is a map of places named Medeiros. The meaning of the last name Medeiros may originate in the Portuguese word "meda" which means "stack" or "pile". If this were true, the transformation in Portuguese from "meda" to "Medeiros" would imply that Medeiros meant "one who worked with stacks" or "one who is associated with stacks". This could mean that people bearing this name either worked with stacks/piles (as in porters, dockworkers, lumberers) or that they lived near things identified as stacks/piles such as mountains, hills, or other natural formations that could be colloquially so named. In this vein, there is also a town called "Meda" that is part of the Portuguese city of Guarda which may have been named for a nearby mountain. The meaning of the last name Medeiros may therefore be "person from Meda" (Source: Diccionario Encyclopedico da Lingua Portugueza, 1927 & The Medeiros Web). According to the Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, the last name Medeiros may originate from the word 'medeiro', meaning "the place where shocks of maize are gathered".

Medeiros Family Tree

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Famous People named Medeiros

While not famous, Carlos Filipe Medeiros is a founder of AncientFaces.

Maria de Medeiros is an actress, known in the United States for her role as Bruce Willis's wife in Pulp Fiction.

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