Surname Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
Europe has been the place of birth of many surnames in history, some of them indicate the name of the father of its user, others his or her profession and others are derived from a nickname. A surname that can be found in many countries today is Rivera, and it belongs to a category of surnames that are created after a certain location. Rivera is derived from the Spanish word “ribera”, which means “riverbank”, so it was originally carried by people who used to live near a river or on a riverbank. It was also used by people who lived in places with the name Rivera. Thanks to the origin of this last name, the total of its users are not necessarily part of the same family, because Rivera is related to a place, not to a certain person. Because of that, there are several branches or different families that carry the surname Rivera.
This last name is originally from different places, the first one is in Italy, where Rivera can be found in the north of the country. Rivera is a variation of the southern name Ribera, more specifically from Sicilia. The other origin is in Castile during the war to reconquest Spain from the Muslims. In fact, according to the “Instituto Genealógico e Histórico Latinoamericano” the first record of this surname, belongs to Gonzalo López de Rivera, Lord of the Castle of Rivera in Galicia during the 1200’s.
As with other last names, Rivera has some spelling variations thanks to several reasons. During the Medieval Era, there weren’t grammatical rules like we have today, and this caused that the same words, in this case, a surname, were written in different ways. During this same period, words, in general, were written as they sound, and not everyone pronounced them on the same form. Another reason was the mix of languages that occurred in Europe during the middle age, many different cultures were colliding at the same time and place. Finally, Rivera hast the feature of counting of two different places of birth, which caused some spelling variations thanks to the different languages spoken in those areas. So the most common spelling variations for this last name were: Ribera, Riva, Rivero, Riviere, Riba, Ribeiro, Ribeira, Ribero, and many others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
Rivera is a popular surname in the word of today, and thanks to its origin it can be found in a lot of Spanish-speaking countries. It is the 260th most common last name in the world and it has approximately 1,826,183 bearers. It is most prevalent in Mexico and the highest density of Rivera is in Puerto Rico. The second country with the biggest amount of Rivera is the United States and the third one is Colombia. All this information is taken from the census of 2014.
Early Bearers of the Surname
There are records of some old bearers of this surname or its spelling variations, such as Ruy Páez de Ribera, a poet from Spain during the 15th century, Suero de Ribera, another Spanish poet also from then 15th century, Diego de Rivera, a servant of the Princess Isabella from England, José Ribera, a Spanish painter who was born in 1591, Francisco de Rivera y Frita, who became a nobleman in 1672 in Guissona, Spain, Pedro de Rivera, a Spanish architect born in 1683 and Melchor de Rivera, ruler of Valencia during 1758.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
There are not many records of the genealogy of families that carry the surname Rivera. However, there is a high detailed record of two Rivera families from Chile. The first one began with Antonio Rivera who was born in La Serena in 1587 and got married to Juana Tobar. They had four children, the first one was Juan de Ribera y Tobar, who became a lieutenant in the army and got married, for the first time, to Catalina de Rojas Carabantes y Sánchez, who was the child of Juan de Rojas Carabantes y Mundaca and Marcela Sánchez. Then, Juan de Ribera got married for a second time to Lorenza Morales. Juan de Ribera had four children.
The first child of Juan de Ribera was Francisco de Ribera y Rojas who was a captain in the army and got married twice. The first time he married Bernarda Jorquera Valencia, daughter of Agustín Jorquera and Marcela Valencia y Fernández. The second time Francisco got married to Fabiana Serrato Coello. From these two marriages, Francisco had two children the first one was Bernarda Ribera Jorquera, from his first marriage and Francisco Ribera Serrato from the second. The second child of Juan de Ribera was Damiana de Ribera y Rojas, who was born in La Serena in 1672 and got married to Alfonso Díaz Meneses. Alfonso also was born in La Serena in 1670, and with Damiana, he had one son, Alfonso Díaz Rivera. The third child of Juan de Ribera was Isabel de Ribera y Rojas, who was born in La Serena on August 3, 1699. She married Juan Robledo y Escobar, son of Gabriel de Robledo y Ramos de Torres and Leonor Flores de Escobar y Alvarez de Tobar. The last child of Juan de Ribera was a daughter, Josefa Ribera y Rojas who was born in La Serena and got married to Gregorio de Sanhueza y Robledo.
The second child of Antonio Rivera and Juana Tobar was Alonso de Ribera y Tobar, who married Juana Manzano, there is no record of their offspring. The third child of Antonio and Juana was José de Rivera y Tobar who became a butler and had no children. The last child of Antonio Rivera and Juana Tobar was Francisco de Ribera y Tobar who was born in La Serena in 1625 and got married to Lorenza de las Cuevas Riberos, daughter of Nicolás Cuevas Mendoza and Catalina Riberos Rojas. They only had one son, Francisco Rivera de las Cuevas who got married the first time to Magdalena Riberos Niño de Zepeda, daughter of Agustín Riberos Rojas and Mariana Niño de Zepeda. Francisco then got married for a second time to Rosa Aguirre Barambio, daughter of Fernando Aguirre y Hurtado de Mendoza and Leonor Barambio. The children of Francisco Ribera de las Cuevas were: Andrea Rivera Riberos, who married Tomás Mundaca, they had not children. Then there was Gregoria Ribera Riberos, who married Juan Antonio Rodríguez. Francisco had six children outside his marriages: Santiago Rivera y Carmona, Juan Rivera y Carmona, Juana Rivera y Carmona, the mother of these three was Francisca Carmona, the next were Mateo Carmona, his mother was Petronila Carmona, Diego Rivera, and María Magdalena, there are not records of the mother of this last two.
The other line of Rivera in Chile started with Francisco Antonio de Rivera y Vera who was born in Spain in 1715 and moved to Chile in 1740, he was a Sargent Major. He married Manuela de Puga y Girón, daughter of José Puga y Ordóñez de Pineda and Manuela Jirón de Esparza. Francisco and Manuela had three children. The first one was Camilo Timoteo Ribera y Puga who was born on January 23, 1755. The second child was Francisco José Tadeo Ribera y Puga who was born in Concepción, he grew up to become a Lieutenant Coronel and married María Josefa Freire de Andrade Rioseco, daughter of Diego Freire de Andrade y Sotomayor and Rosa Viterbo de Rioseco y Espinosa Velarde. The children of this last marriage were Isabel Rivera y Freire de Andrade, Josefa Rivera y Freire de Andrade, who was born in 1780 and Juan de Dios Rivera Freire de Andrade, who became a soldier in the army and married Rosario Serrano Galeazo de Alfaro, daughter of Manuel Serrano Arrechea and Francisca Galeazo de Alfaro Henríquez. The children of Juan de Dios and Rosario were: Dorotea Rivera Serrano, who married Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez, Sor Isidora Rivera Serrano, Matilde Rivera Serrano who married the first time with Ramón Manzano Alemparte and the second time she got married to José Enrique Campino Landa. Then there were Pastora Rivera Serrano who married José Enrique Campino Landa, Ursula Rivera Serrano who married Eduardo Boonen von Baerlem, Avelina Rivera Serrano who got married a first time to José Ignacio Palma Barriga and a second time to Jorge Petit and Elena Rivera Serrano who married Felipe Correas.
The fourth child of Francisco José Tadeo and María Josefa was Manuela Ribera y Freire de Andrade who married José María Riose y San Cristóbal and the fifth child was María Mercedes de Rivera y Freire de Andrade who married José Miguel de Ojeda y de la Arriagada.
The next in line is Fermín José Rivera y Puga, third son of Francisco Antonio de Rivera y Vera and Manuela Puga y Girón. Fermín married Manuela de Isasi and had only one child José Antonio de Rivera Isasi who married Manuela Donoso Cienfuegos. José Antonio and Manuela had eleven children, they were: José Manuel Rivera Donoso, Angel Rivera Donoso, Quintelio Rivera Donoso, Benjamín Rivera Donoso, José Antonio Rivera Donoso, Diego Second Rivera Donoso, Juan de Dios Rivera Donoso, María del Carmen Rivera Donoso, Clorindo Rivera Donoso, Sabina Rivera Donoso, and María Antonia Rivera Donoso.
José Manuel Rivera Donoso got married to Eleuteria Valenzuela Padilla and only had one daughter, Ismenia Rivera Valenzuela, who married Pedro Juan Ojeda Ojeda. Angel Rivera Donoso married Rosa Carrasco Lastarria and didn’t have children. Quintelio Rivera Donoso married Francisca Echegoyen Cerda and had one daughter, María del Carmen Rivera Echegoyen who married José Ramón Second Rojas Sierralta. Benjamín Rivera Donoso married Clementina Labarca Ojeda and their children were Alberto Rivera Labarca who married Juana Rosa Barañao Gazmuri and didn’t have any children, and Gonzalo Rivera Labarca who married Sabina Rivera Gazmuri and had nine children.
The children of Gonzalo Rivera and Sabina Rivera were: Benjamín Rivera Rivera, who married Marta Rouret Lira and had two children. The first child was Luis Rivera Rouret, who married Graciela Letelier Ruiz and had two children: Sonia Rivera Letelier and María Angélica Rivera Letelier. The second child of Gonzalo Rivera and Sabina Rivera was Gonzalo Rivera Rivera who married Elena Pinedo Newman and didn’t have any children, then there were Clementina Rivera Rivera, who died single, Alvaro Rivera Rivera who also died single, and Raúl Rivera Rivera who married Iberia Barrientos Díaz. From this last marriage would be born Silvia Rivera Barrientos, Mónica Rivera Barrientos, María del Pilar Rivera Barrientos and Isabel Margarita Rivera Barrientos.
The sixth child of Gonzalo and Sabina was María Rivera Rivera who married Hernán Baeza Gajardo, then there was Rosita Rivera Rivera, Héctor Rivera Rivera and Ofelia Rivera Rivera who married Juan Armstron Ariztía.
There are not records of a family from José Antonio Rivera Donoso. Diego Second Rivera Donoso married Malvina Ojeda Ojeda, Juan de Dios Rivera Donoso married Adolfina Ojeda Ojeda and his children were Lucinda Rivera Ojeda, Juan de Dios Rivera Ojeda, Olga Rivera Ojeda, Raúl Rivera Ojeda who married Ana María Mardones Restat. From this marriage would be born twelve children Berta del Carmen Rivera Mardones, Raúl Rivera Mardones, Francisco Javier Rivera Mardones, Ana María Rivera Mardones, Juan Manuel Rivera Mardones, Jorge Rivera Mardones, Alejandro Rivera Mardones, María Elena Rivera Mardones, Carmen Rivera Mardones, María Olga Rivera Mardones and Paulina Rivera Mardones.
The fifth and last child of Juan de Dios Rivera Donoso and Adolfina Ojeda Ojeda was Pedro Rivera Ojeda who married Gaby Aguero Briones and had four children, Pedro Rivera Aguero, Juan de Dios Rivera Aguero, Felipe Rivera Aguero and Soledad Rivero Aguero.
The rest of the Rivera Donoso brothers died single or had an offspring that belong to the family of their spouses.
The last son of Francisco and Manuela was Javier de Rivera y Puga.
Early American and New World Settlers
After the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America, many Europeans decided to travel to the new continent, and look a new life. Some of the Riveras that did the journey were Jacob Rodrigues Rivera, who landed in New York in 1746, Hipolito Rivera who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1803, Carlos de Rivera who also arrived in Puerto Rico in 1816, Manuel Rivera who landed in New Orleans in 1827, Cosme de Rivera, who arrived in America during 1828 and Felipe Garisa Rivera who landed in New Orleans in 1829.
We were unable to locate any documented mottoes for the Rivera family.
We were unable to locate any documented grantees for the Rivera family.
Some of the carriers of the last name Rivera have played a major role in some fields, such as Chita Rivera (b. 1933) an American actress, dancer and singer who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, Michael Rene Rivera (b. 1976) an American professional baseball player, Gianni Rivera (b. 1943) a football player from Italia, Jerry Rivera (b. 1973) a salsa singer from Puerto Rico, Jorge Rivera (b. 1972) a retired MMA fighter from America, José Eutasio Rivera (1888-1928) a Colombian writer and many others.