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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish, Spanish

Cortes is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. Cortes is a name that comes from refined or educated person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old French word curteis, which means refined or accomplished. [1]


The surname Cortes was first found in Warwickshire but the name was scattered throughout Britain since early times. By example, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: William le Curteis in Cambridgeshire; Walter Curteys in Oxfordshire; Osbert le Curteys in Essex; Henry Corteys in Devon; and Richard le Corteys in Oxfordshire. [2] Over one hundred years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists Adam Curtase and Johannes Cartas. [2]

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Cortes family name include Curtis, Curtiss, Curtyss, Curtys, Curtess, Curtes, Cortes, Cortis and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cortes research. Another 321 words (23 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1130, 1168, 1531 and 1534 are included under the topic Early Cortes History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Cortes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Cortes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Cortes family to immigrate North America:

  • Alonso Cortés, who emigrated to America in 1513
  • Pedro Cortés, came to New Spain in 1535
  • Alonso Cortés, traveled to Hispaniola in 1537
  • Hernán Cortés, conquistador of Mexico. Born in Medellin, Extremadura in 1485 he studied law at the University of Salamanca. In 1504 he first voyaged to the New World, journeying to Hispaniola, then later to Cuba. In 1519 Cortés landed in Mexico and within the space of two years had consolidated his control over the new territory. King Charles V named Cortés governor of Mexico, and in 1529 the King created the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca in recognition of Cortés' accomplishments. Eventually Cortés returned to Spain and participated in other military ventures of the Spanish crown, notably an expedition against Algerian pirates in 1541. After an eventful military career, he died near Seville in 1547
  • Juan Cortés, went to Peru in 1594

Cortes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • John Cortes, who landed in Virginia in 1637

Cortes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Joanes Cortes, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1727

Cortes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Alonso Cortes, who landed in America in 1812
  • Juan Cortes, who arrived in America in 1813
  • P Cortes, aged 50, landed in New Orleans, La in 1825
  • Pero Cortes, who arrived in America in 1827
  • Marichino Cortes, aged 22, arrived in New Orleans, La in 1829


  • Carlos Cortés, American university professor
  • Erlinda Cortes (1924-2015), born Mary Boone, Filipina actress, known for Isinanlang pag-ibig (1951), Hagibis (1947) and He Promised to Return (1950)
  • Hernán Cortés (1485-1547), Spanish conquistador who led to the fall of the Aztec Empire
  • Fernando Holgado Cortés Ph.D., Spanish Professor of Mathematics at the University of Madrid
  • Fernando Cortés, Mexican surgeon and educator


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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)

Other References

  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  8. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

The Cortes Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Cortes Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 9 May 2016 at 15:55.

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