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Saturday, June 17, 2006

The De Fonseka Surname

When the Roman Legions overran the Jewish nation, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the IBERIAN peninsula. The area became known by the Hebrew word SEPHARD meaning "far away". The JEWS in SPAIN and PORTUGAL became known as SEPHARDIM or SEPHARDI, and those things associated with the SEPHARDIM including names, customs, genealogy and religious rites, became known as SEPHARDIC. Many of the names were of Hebrew derivation. A much lesser number were composed of a first name and a geographic location, many times the result of conversion.

The 'de Fonseka' surname (spelled da Fonseca in Portuguese) is a Jewish (Sephardic) name. The name is listed in a well researched website as a Sephardic name and was confirmed by the creator/researcher of the site Harry Stein as such.

The names listed on this site have been identified as Sephardic by civil and religious records and creditable authors. Many of the names have been changed in the course of migration from one country to another, such as Pena to Penha. This could be the reason why the spelling has changed from 'da Fonseca' to 'de Fonseka'.

THE PIECE THEN GOES ONTO EXPLAIN THE NAME IN THE SRI LANKAN CONTEXT:

“The arrival of the Portuguese in the island and the subsequent events led to the spread of Christianity in the island. Members of the clan (now known as the Varnakula Additiya Arasanilayitta) embraced the religion and took on different names of Portuguese origins. The name most probably would have been the name of the 'sponsor' who took part in the baptism ceremony, or would have been a name assigned by the Portuguese Authorities…..Who lent the name 'de Fonseka'. Was he a military officer, a Priest or some other. It remains a mystery to date. The genealogical history we have traced so far has brought us much closer to the Progenitor, but the question remains unanswered. How and why the name 'de Fonseka' was chosen, is lost in history, but it can be said with certainty that the name was adopted on conversion to Christianity.

SOURCE: http://www.defonseka.com/pe0008.htm

BLOG OWNERS COMMENTS: WAS A JEWISH IDENTITY RETAINED BY THE ‘PORTUGUESE’ SPONSORS – EVEN IN A COVERT WAY? WE KNOW THAT THE PORTUGUESE MISSIONIZING WAS FAIRLY RUTHLESS TOWARDS OTHER CHRISTIANS AND OTHER SO CALLED ‘HEATHENS’

1 comment:

Fazli said...

Please see the Sri Lanka Genealogy Website at:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~lkawgw
for possible links to Jewish families from within the Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher and even Colombo Chetty family trees contained within its pages.