Search for content in message boards

The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

Josian Quiles (View posts)
Posted: 27 Dec 2000 10:11AM GMT
This is a research article that I hope will bring you knowledge, enjoyment and pride in the Quiles surname.

The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname
Author: Josian Quiles, Ph.D. (© All Rights Reserved, 2000)

It is always exciting to find out about those
individuals that share our surnames.
Genealogical or heraldic research is always
a-work-in-progress, seldom finished because
there is so much to learn about our
ancestors. In particular, heraldic research
often brings new leads and insights about
other possible avenues of inquiry. Finding
accurate and reliable information can often
be the Coup de Grace, the crowning achievement
of one's research efforts.

Heraldry is as much a science as an art
and in different countries, different aspects
are important and emphasized. While conducting
this research, at times it was disappointing
to find that for many sources the "experts"
provided leads to information and offered
general search rules to follow, they were
wrong and not applicable to the tradition of
Spanish heraldry. Heraldry usually refers to
the Coat of Arms for a particular surname
pertaining to a specific locality. However,
in many cases, particularly with more common
surnames (for example, Martínez, my second
surname), there are several different Coats
of Arms for the same surname, each pertinent
to a different lineage and locality. Coats of
Arms may also vary according to generations.
In Spain, the original Coat of Arms was handed
down to the oldest son. Hence, each succeeding
son's Coat of Arms was slightly modified or
altered. This has resulted in several
different Coats of Arms for descendants of
the same surname, which may have developed
over a period of several generations of an
extended family for the same locality.

Assumptions: I started my heraldic research
into the Quiles surname with the assumption
that if I found a coat of arms listed
somewhere for my surname, by choice, I would
consider myself a relative of the original
owner. Another assumption that I made was
that I would be entitled to use the Coat of
Arms with respect and reverence. These
assumptions were based on the knowledge that
I did not have good criteria on which to
reject the Coat of Arms I may find. The
criterion guiding my search for a Quiles
Coat of Arms and, if found, accepting it as
my own was the uncommon nature of the Quiles
surname. So, as it happened in this search,
I feel entitled to the blazón I found and
have claimed the shield emotionally and will
use it proudly. I feel strongly that this
Quiles Coat of Arms is a symbol of my
cultural heritage and it represents meaning
and purpose of my ancestral family. I am
hopeful that as enough people with the Quiles
surname read this information, they will
find it useful, will enjoy the shield, and
will help to expand its meaning and legacy.
I invite every person with the Quiles surname
to take ownership of the Quiles Coat of Arms
as documented in this article.

Quiles Surname: Origin and Meaning: One
important source of information used
regarding the origin and meaning of the
QUILES surname is the New Dictionary of
American Family Names by Elsdon C. Smith
(1st ed., 1956, Harper Row), who is
considered an authority on Onomatology
(the science of the origin of names) in the

The surname QUILES is a comparatively rare
name and its meaning seems to indicate a
location (territory) or region, associated
with some place of Spain. It has been
described as "a place of ferns" {Spanish
traslation:"un lugar de helechos."
Technically defined, ferns represent
numerous types of cryptogamous plants, the
majority of which produce seeds hidden on
the reverse side of their leaves}. Therefore,
a person that comes from a place or location
named QUILES will be called Quiles or coming
from Quiles. For example, a person named
María or Pedro from the region of Quiles,
would be named, María de Quiles or Pedro de
Quiles. It is quite possible, that through
time as commonly has happened to other
surnames, the possessive preposition "de"
(of, from) in the name was dropped to become
just Quiles.

Several locations in Spain have been
identified as possible places for the
origin of the Quiles surname. Specifically,
records from the small town of Albacete,
current population of 145,000 inhabitants
(as of December, 2000), located in the
southeastern agricultural area of La Mancha
region, provide support that the town might
be one of the places for the origin of the
Quiles surname. As also documented in the
archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day-Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah,
the earliest Quiles family members identified
in Spain were related to Juan Quiles
(b. 1513, d. 1560) and Esperanza Reyes Quiles
(b. 1515, d. 1554) inhabitants of Albacete.
The second earliest records found indicate
that people using the Quiles surname also
lived in Valencia, Spain's third largest city
with a current population of 745,000
inhabitants (as of December, 2000), located
on the Gulf of Valencia, an important
southeastern Spanish Mediterranean seaport.
Specifically, the family of Baltolomé Quiles
(b. 1519) and Ysabel Marín de Quiles
(b. 1521) were inhabitants of Valencia. Other
Spanish records of later dates indicate the
presence of Quiles families in Cordoba,
Granada, and other areas across Spain.
Although the Canary Islands have also been a
location where the Quiles surname was found,
it has been assumed that the surname Quiles
came to the islands from the Spanish
Peninsula through migration. To date, no
record has been found documenting the
existence of the Quiles surname in Spain or
elsewhere that predates the year 1513. The
QUILES surname has been spelled in different
ways overtime, such as Quilez, Quile, and
Quilas, but the most common spelling of the
surname found in Puerto Rico, Latin America,
Spain and the USA has been Quiles.

Quiles Surname: Spanish Heraldry History:
Heraldry first appeared in Spain during the
beginning of the 11th Century and its origin
was the same as other European countries: the
need for Knights and Nobles to distinguish
themselves from one another on the battle
field, in jousts and tournaments. There
really was no other reason, although there
are multiple and varying opinions. One
explanation highlights the fact that Knights
wore armor from head to toe and were often in
a leadership position, this made it essential
to be able see who was where on the battle
field. Originally, a Coat of Arms was a light
tunic wore over the battle armor extending
down to the knees, decorated with symbols
selected by the Knight. The design of symbols
served to identify the wearer (whose face
might be covered by the visor of his helmet)
as the member of a particular family or group.
The design itself made by the symbols
eventually became known as a Coat of Arms.
Except for the rules of Heraldry followed by
everyone, the design of the shields
themselves, were pretty much up to the whim
of the owner. Sometimes the design had a
specific meaning or symbolism and just as
often it did not. Traditionally, anyone
could bear (display) a Coat of Arms.
Later, it became more of a practice for
the nobility. In Spain, however, it was not
difficult to be ennobled, that is, for some
to be made a member of the nobility class.

The Quiles Coat of Arms: Since the 14th
Century, a Coat of Arms for QUILES has been
identified in the heraldry records of Spain.
The QUILES Coat of Arms is officially
documented in Nobiliario Español: Diccionario
Heráldico de Apellidos Españoles y de Títulos
Nobiliarios {Spanish Nobility: Heraldic
Dictionary of Spanish Surnames and Titled
Nobility.} by Julio de Atienza Navajas,
Madrid: Aguilar, 1948. The entries in this
dictionary offer a compact description of
each family's blazón, may indicate where
and how the family began to be important,
what individual was responsible for the
upgrade, and it may include the more recent
rise of the family. The original description
of the Quiles blazón (shield) as found in
Atienza's is as follows:
"Escudo cortado; 1ro, en campo de oro;
un león al natural, echado al que ataca
un avestrúz; y 2do, en campo de plata,
dos águilas volantes de sable".
(Translated: The shield (blazón) is described
with its colors as: "Divided horizontally;
1st, gold, a naturally colored lion, lying
down, being attacked by an ostrich naturally
colored; 2nd, silver; two black stripped
eagles flying").

Until the end of the middle ages, only the
paternal Coat of Arms were used (those of
the father), but overtime both the paternal
and maternal Coat of Arms were displayed.
Often the arms of the maternal and paternal
grandfathers were impaled (the shield cut
in half either horizontally or vertically),
showing the respective arms on each half.
As described above, the Quiles Coat of Arms
cut horizontally in half represents a very
good example of both the maternal and
paternal shields typically used during the
14th Century: (A copy of the Quiles Coat
of Arms is available upon request from the

Top half: The arms of the Paternal
Grandfather ["En campo de oro; un león al
natural, echado al que ataca un avestrúz"]

Bottom half: The arms of the Maternal
Grandfather ["En campo de plata, dos águilas
volantes de sable"]

During the 18th and 19th Centuries, shields
divided in four quarters came into use by the
nobility (the Coat of Arms were cut into four
parts and the design of the arms of each
grandparent was placed in each quarter) The
order of display would be as follows:

Top left quarter: Paternal grandfather
Top right quarter: Maternal grandfather
Bottom left quarter: Paternal grandmother
Bottom right quarter: Maternal grandmother

The Spanish nobility (Hidalguía), unlike
their European counterparts, was based almost
entirely on military service. Few families of
eminence came from the law, commerce or
the church. The great families of Spain
fought their way to their nobility rank.
This may sound primitive on the surface,
but it was actually quite fair as it allowed
commoners to eventually join the ranks of
the nobility by loyal and successful military
service. Indeed, many poor families came to
prominence and wealth quickly as a result of
their successful military exploits. General
Franco's commoner family rise to social
nobility is an excellent example, his
daughter married the deposed King of Spain
and Franco restored the power of the Spanish
Monarchy before his death. In Spanish
heraldry, a Coat of Arms is a symbol of both
one's lineage and family social status as
well. Traditionally, a Spanish Coat of Arms
is inheritable as any other forms of property.

Inheriting Spanish Arms: The descent of
Spanish arms and titles differs from much of
Europe in that they can be inherited through
females. Also, illegitimacy is no bar to
descent of arms and titles. The great Spanish
families believed that a family pedigree
could be more damaged by misalliance than by
illegitimacy. Indeed, the patents of nobility
of many Spanish families contained
bequeathals to illegitimate branches in case
no legitimate heirs were found. Illegitimacy
in Spain was divided into three categories.

1. Natural Children (Hijos Naturales): Those
born of single or widowed parents who could
be legitimized by the marriage of their
parents or by a declaration by their father
that they were his heirs.
2. The Spurious (Hijos Espurios): Those whom
parents, for whatever reason, were not in a
position to marry. These hijos had to be
legitimized by a petition of royal
3. Incestuous (Hijos Incestuosos): Those
born of parents too closely related to marry
or who were under a religious vow. These
hijos required a papal dispensation in order
to inherit their parent's arms or property.
These papal dispensations were granted so
often that every diocese in Spain had signed
blanks ready to affix the appropriate name.

Evolution of Spanish Heraldry: The symbols
shown on Spanish armorial bearings can
depict historical events or deeds of war.
They are also characterized by a widespread
use of orles and borders around the edge of
the shield. In addition to borders, Spain's
Coat of Arms represents varying conventional
designs, but more and more, the ideal
profile of nobility (Hidalguía) has become
the shield divided in four quarters.
Spanish heraldry allows words and letters on
the shield itself, a practice which is
considered incorrect in northern Europe.
The Spanish shields are also adorned with
elaborate crests and mottoes that surround
them. Historically, Spanish heraldic practice
has gone through several evolutionary stages.
The original style was simple and elegant.
Later, especially around the end of the 16th
century, Spanish heraldry went into a
decline. The art was commercialized and
served more the egos of those seeking social
status and to show family alliances than any
other purpose. The art became quite elaborate
and rather unpleasant to the eye. This
decline began to end around the 19th century.
Presently the art of heraldry is in a sort
of re-birth. Again, the tendency in the art
is to favor simplicity and elegance of

Chronicler King of Arms (Cronista-Rey de
Armas): The office of the King of Arms
originated in that of the Heralds (Heraldos),
whose job was to determine the arms each
noble family was entitled to use, and arrange
tournaments. The functions and duties of the
King of Arms were clearly defined by the
declarations of several Kings and are still
in force today. The post of King of Arms
took several forms and eventually settled on
a Corps of Chronicler King of Arms (Cuerpo
de Rey de Armas) which was headed by an
Elder or Dean (Decano). It usually
consisted of four officers and two
assistants or under-secretaries who usually
acted as witnesses to documents. The entire
corps wore a distinctive uniform. The corps
was considered part of the royal household
and under the authority of the Master of the
King's stable (an important position in the
Middle Ages). Appointments to the Corps of
King of Arms were made by the King or
reigning Queen. These appointments were for
life and while not intended to be hereditary,
often went from father to son or other close
family member. The Spanish Heralds had other
duties that pertained to matters of protocol
and often acted as royal messengers and
emissaries. In modern times, the Corps of
Chronicler King of Arms has gone through
several changes. Important reviews and
modifications to the standards and procedures
were made in 1915. In 1931, the Corps was
abolished by General Franco's regime and
restored in 1951. There are now two
Chronicler Kings of Arms and at least one
undersecretary: Don Vicente de Cadenas y
Vicent (Decano), and Don Alfonso
Ceballos-Escalera y Gil, Márques de la
Floresta (Chronicler of Arms for Castilla
and León). In Spain, the Ministry of Grace
and Justice is the regulatory agency that
approves everything that the Spanish Heralds

Numbers of Quiles in the USA: The 1990 US
Census identified about 519 Quiles households
on the Mainland, for a total of about 1,944
Quiles men, women, and children on the USA.
[Source: CBN: Quiles is the 6,474th most
popular last name (surname) in the United
States; frequency is 0.002%; percentile is
66.267 ].These figures do not include the
Quiles households on the Island of Puerto
Rico. At this moment, there are no accurate
data of the total number of people in
different countries of the world that are
named Quiles or who are descendants of people
using the Quiles surname.

Hopefully this information about the QUILES
surname provides for all of us a good point
of reference about the origin of this
surname, its meaning, and a starting place
from where to continue this dialogue. It is
my wish that we all contribute information
and facts to this information about our
Quiles surname. This article is now in the
public domain and it can be shared with
others who you think would be interested
in learning more about the Quiles surname.
Permission is hereby granted to reproduce
and distribute this information. If used for
research, please credit the author using this
citation: Quiles, Josian, (2000). The Origin
and Meaning of the QUILES Surname.
Unpublished paper: Author's personal achieves.
(© All Rights Reserved).
Contact: 1 Rocky Brook Road, Cranbury, NJ
08512-3031; e-mail:

These bibliographical sources can be useful
to conduct heraldic research:

· Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente. Diccionario
Heráldico [Heraldic Dictionary]. © Ed.
Hidalguía. 1954.
· Atienza Navajas, Julio de. Diccionario
Heráldico de Apellidos [Heraldic Dictionary
of Spanish Surnames]. © Ed. Aguilar. Madrid.
· Riquer, Martín de. Heráldica Castellana
[Castillian Heraldry]. © Ed. C. Cremá.
· Enciclopedia ilustrada [Illustrated
Encyclopedia]. © Ed. Planeta DeAgostini,
S. A. Madrid 1992.
· Fox-Davies, Arthur C. Complete Guide to
Heraldry . © Wordsworth Editions. 1996.
· García Carraffa, Alberto y Arturo.
Enciclopedia heráldica y genealógica
hispano-americana [Heraldic Encyclopedia
and Hispanic America Genealogy]. © Alberto
y Arturo García Carraffa. Madrid. 1935
· González-Doria, Fernando. Diccionario
Heráldico y Nobiliario de los Reinos de
España [Heraldic and Nobility Dictionary of
the Kingdoms of Spain]. © Ed. Bitácora, S. L.
· Historia de España [History of Spain]. ©
Prom. y Ed. Club Internacional del Libro,
S. A. Madrid 1984.
· Menéndez-Pidal de Navascués, Faustino.
Heráldica Medieval Española [Medieval
Spanish Heraldry]. La Casa Real de León y
Castilla. © Editorial Hidalguía. Madrid. 1982.
· Messía de la Cerda y Pita, Luis-F.
Heráldica Española [Spanish Heraldry]. ©
Aldaba Ediciones. 1990.
· Mogrobejo, Endika. Diccionario
Hispano-Amerícano de Heráldica, Onomástica
y Genealogía Hispanic American Dictionary
of Heraldry, Onomatology and Genealogy].
© Ed. Mogrobejo-Zabala. Bilbao. 1996.
· Pardo de Guevara, Eduardo. Manual de
Heráldica Española [Spanish Heraldry Manual]. © Aldaba Ediciones. 1987.
· Souto y Feijoo, Alfredo. Diccionario y
ciencia heráldica [Dictionary and science
of heraldry]. © Ed. Siler. 1957
· Vicente Cascante, Ignacio. Heráldica
General y Fuentes [General Heraldry and
Sources]. © Ed. Salvat. 1956.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About

Q). I found a Coat of Arms for my surname,
am I related to the owner of those arms?
A). In all probability, you are not
related to the individual or the family of
the individual who was granted those arms.
There does exist a small possibility,
however, especially if your surname is not
common, that you are a relative. It is
important to do the research to be sure.

Q). Am I free to display or bear the arms
for my surname?
A). No, generally you cannot bear those
arms legally, unless you can prove to the
satisfaction of the Spanish Ministry of
Justice (if the Coat of Arms comes from
Spain) that you are a direct descendant of
the original owner of those arms. People may
adopt a Coat of Arms already documented for
their surname as long as the surname is rare
and the historical evidence shows that the
shield was granted hundreds of years ago.

Q). There is no coat of arms for my surname.
Can I still legally bear (display) arms?
A). The short answer is a resounding YES,
but you have to be wary of the laws of the
country in which you live. The USA has no
heraldic authority so anyone can design a
set of arms and display them legally, unless
those arms are copyrighted or trademarked.
From the point of view of common sense and
respect for the Heraldic traditions, it is
best to have the arms designed by a Heraldic
artist, registered with the Spanish
authorities and copyrighted in your home
country if it has no heraldic authority.
If your country has a heraldic authority,
you may choose to register your arms there
instead of in Spain. It is a common practice
to register ones arms in more than one
country in order to reduce the chances of

Submitted by the author, December 27, 2000

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

MiriamMaldonado (View posts)
Posted: 19 Aug 2001 1:02AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 16 Apr 2003 11:32PM GMT
Surnames: Quiles
Josian, thanks for sharing the information on the Quiles surname. My husband has Quiles on his mother`s side. Your article is very informative and well documented. The bibliography is useful when researching other surnames as well. Excellent work! Un millon de gracias.

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

Josian Quiles (View posts)
Posted: 20 Aug 2001 9:47PM GMT
Classification: Query
Miriam: I am glad that the article is useful for your research. Hope you check the Quiles Coat of Arms that has been posted with my help on this web-board by Maggie Quiles and other material about the Quiles people I have been including in this site. Best wishes and saludos to your Quiles family!
Josian Quiles

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

melissa imburgia (View posts)
Posted: 30 Jan 2003 9:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: quiles
Where can I find the quiles coat of arms and info on the quiles?

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

melissa imburgia (View posts)
Posted: 30 Jan 2003 9:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: quiles
Where can I find the quiles coat of arms and info on the quiles?

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

Josian Quiles (View posts)
Posted: 31 Jan 2003 1:12AM GMT
Classification: Query
Melissa: You may find the Quiles Coat of Arms on this site. Just recently, Allen Quiles posted the Coat of Arms very much enhanced from the original version I provided to Maggie Quiles, who was able to posted on this site first. You will also find much information about the Quiles people in my many posting from my research. Good luck and I hope that Jose Quiles from Ciales turns out to be your relative. Saludos and stay warm in Chicago, if I am in Chicago in April attending the AERA Annual conference, I will let you know, perhaps we may have coffee and chat about the Quiles surname.

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

melissa imburgia (View posts)
Posted: 31 Jan 2003 7:17PM GMT
Classification: Query

I am very impressed by your research. I couldn't get away from the computer. I am in awe that there are so many quiles people out there. I am hoping to make the coat of arms in stain glass if I could find a good copy. Thank you for sharing your research of the quiles name. I am so proud and happy to find out that there are more quileses out there. I hope to meet you soon! Please let me know if you decide to come to town. I don't know where you are from but bring a warm coat!

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

Josian Quiles (View posts)
Posted: 1 Feb 2003 3:29PM GMT
Classification: Query
Melissa: Thank you for your feedback about my research. I am hoping that by sharing it, other Quiles people will not only feel proud about their surname, but would also become motivated to learn more about their own Quiles clan and engage in research to document and preserve their genealogical history. Yes, when I am in Chicago I will make sure to bring a very warm coat, although this winter in Cranbury, NJ where I live the winter has been quite cold. If you want to learn a little more about me, besides what you already know from my research postings, check the website for, at the site click Student academic programs, then click PhD Education, then click Faculty profile, then look for Quiles, Jose (Josian is my nickname) in the directory. There you will find my picture and a brief professional bio-sketch. At least you will have an image of how I look if we meet in Chicago, I think my hair is now grayer! Hope you start your own research on your Quiles family. Just an anecdote: A year ago I met via this message board another Quiles fellow, Carlos Oscar from Villalba, PR. He lives in Binghamton, NY.During a trip I made to Buffalo, NY with my family, he and I coordinated a meeting in Binghamton. We met his family and his family met our family. We decided that we are without doubts Quileses. I gave him a paper copy of the Quiles Coat of Arms because it was not yet posted on this site. We had a good time together, we've continued to write and keep in touch and he has started to research his side of the Quiles family. He even got me in contact with another person with the last names of Quiles-Martinez (my two last names), Carlos last names are Quiles-Miranda. This message got longer than expected. Saludos.

Re: The Origin and Meaning of the QUILES Surname (Article)

lquiles (View posts)
Posted: 27 Feb 2005 11:16PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi my name is Linda Quiles, my father is Jose V. Quiles DeJesus, he was born in Arecibo, PR in 1948. His parents are Jose Quiles (PapaPipo: DOB Mar 18, 1912) and Angelina DeJesus. Does anyone know them or recognize their names? I know they have family in "El Coto" in Arecibo.

I was looking for the Quiles Coat of Arms and can't find it, could you please provide me with the link?

Thank you!

Quiles Coat of Arms

Josian Quiles (View posts)
Posted: 27 Feb 2005 11:56PM GMT
Classification: Query
Linda--You can find the Quiles Coat of Arms posted on this Quiles Board. There are two attachments: Under a posting by Allen Quiles on 24 Jan 2003 (this version has been improved in terms of clarity) and also in a previous posting by Magda Quiles earlier (I do not recall the date). The link shoudl look as attached below:

(209 KB)

Regarding your father and grandfather from Arecibo, I do not know them. Hope other people can recognize them. There someone named Gilbert Quiles that wrote to me in the past, he is from Arecibo. Look for his e-mail address on this Quiles Board and write to him with your questions.

Thank you for reading my posting. I hope that the material was useful or at least informative about our Quiles history.

Best wishes! Josian Quiles
per page

Find a board about a specific topic

© 1997-2014 |  Privacy |  Terms and Conditions