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The Quiles People of Puerto Rico: Their Early Arrival and Dispersion

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The Quiles People of Puerto Rico: Their Early Arrival and Dispersion

Posted: 1253134226000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1405515381000
The Quiles People of Puerto Rico: Their Early Arrival and Dispersion
by Josian Quiles, PhD, © September, 15, 2009

The main purpose of this research has been the exploration to determine the earliest dates of the arrival of the Quiles people to Puerto Rico. The results reported in this article represent four years of inquiry using diverse genealogical and historical sources (see the References & Websites sections).

It is safe to assume without hesitation that the Quiles people arrived in Puerto Rico from Spain, though some might have gone from Spain to the Canary Islands and then came to Puerto Rico from the Canary Islands. Although records documenting the arrival from Spain of the first Quiles people to Puerto Rico are incomplete, there is ample historical evidence that supports the origin of the Quiles surname as coming from the region of Castilla-La Mancha. Specifically, the largest numbers of Quiles people have been located in the Province of Albacete using birth records. Quiles people have lived in different towns of the Province such as Caudete, Almansa, Lazuza and the city of Albacete proper. The city of Albacete is the capital of the Province with a population of 160,000 and is situaded on a wide plain at 2,260 ft (685 m) above sea level. The city links the Meseta Castellana with Andalucia and Levante within the Province with which it shares its name. The Province of Albacete covers 14,858 Km2 of territory and has a population of 380,000 (data from 2006). Historically, the city was given different names, Abula by the Romans and Al Basit, meaning the plain, by the Moors. After about 500 hundred years of occupation by the Moors, Albacete was reconquered in 1241 by Fernando III, known as "the Saint". Regarding the early presence of Quiles people in Spain, there are anecdotal stories about historical records that may be found in Jaca, Spain, which could confirm that Quiles people fought against the Moors as soldiers in the Spanish army under the King Sancho Ramiro de Zalamanca in1172. One of these anecdotal stories tells that it was during those times that the Quiles Coat of Arms came into use. As exciting as those stories sound, until concrete historical evidence is found that can confirm these accounts, these anecdotes must remain legend. There is no enough historical information to determine which version of the Quiles Coats for Arms came first, Castilla or Aragon or the the Five Moor's Heads? However, in my current research of the Quiles people in Spain, I found the earliest record for a Quiles person, Juan Quiles, who was born in Caudete in the year 1513 AD. We can assume the presence of other Quiles people in Caudete, Albacete, and elsewhere in Southern Spain, but more specific historical information must be found to offer as proof of the lives of these Quiles people.

Overview of the Quiles & Quilez surnames in fact & fiction
The most common spelling of the name is Quiles, and the Quilez surname found in Aragon have been certified by the genealogist don Bizén d´O Río Martínez in the book, "Diccionario de Heráldica Aragonesa", that Quilez/Quiles families that were found in the localities of Adahuesca (1626) and Ibdes (1726) came from Castilla-La Mancha. In Aragon, the spelling of the surname changes from Quiles to Quilez, following Castillian language rules to indicate the “son of” Quiles. It is a fact that by 1580, records indicate that Juan Quílez, was born in the town of Paracuellos de Xiloca in the Province of Zaragoza, who was a well known writer and scholar under the tutelage of the prominent humanist Lucas Agesilao. Documents also indicate that in the town of Ibdes, José Quílez was born in 1726. Records show that Manuel y Miguel Quílez, Gregorio Quílez Aguilera and Gregorio Quílez Donoso, were all born in the town of Ibdes, between 1730 to 1788.

The meaning of the Quiles surname
The meaning of the Quiles surname has been documented in difference sources, but a conclusive agreement on its meaning remains elusive. For example, one source of information is the New Dictionary of American Family Names by Elsdon C. Smith, who is considered to be an authority on Onomatologists in the USA. Clearly, the surname Quiles is a comparatively rare name (see Appendix A for more information) and its meaning seems to indicate a location (territory) or region, associated with some place of Spain. So a person that comes from Quilez (described as "a place of ferns", will be called Quiles (or de Quiles). According to this source, the Quiles name has been spelled in different ways, such as Quilez, Quile, Quilis and Quyles, but the most common spelling has been Quiles.
Another source, the Dictionary of Spanish Surnames (Faure, 2001) describes the etymology of the Quiles surname as relating to a person. According to the Spanish linguist Gutierre Tibon, the Quiles surname derives from a personal Latin name of “Quiricus” or “Quirici”. Quiricus seems to come from the Greek name “Kuriakos” or “Kirios”, which means sociable or gentle man. Overtime, the surname “Quirici evolved into Quilcene and Quilici where the “r” was altered into the “l”, to the present form of Quiles and Quilez.

The Quiles Coat of Arms
As mentioned above, historical records describe in early 13th Century, a Quiles Coat of Arms in the heraldry traditions of Spain. The Quiles Coat of Arms is officially documented in Atienza' Diccionario Nobiliario. The original description of the arms (shield) as found in Atienza's is as follows: "Escudo cortado; 1ro, en campo de oro; un leaon al natural, echado al que ataca un avestruz; y 2do, en campo de plata, dos aguilas volantes de sable". (Translated, the blazon is described with its colors as: "Divided horizontally; 1st, gold, a naturally colored lion, lying down, being attacked by an ostrich naturaly colored; 2nd, silver; two black eagles flying." This Quiles Coat of Arms has been used in both regions of Albacete and Aragon.

The arrival of Quiles people to Puerto Rico
According to the genealogical record, the early arrival of Quiles people to Puerto Rico clustered in three main places. The town of Yauco, located in the southwest of the Island, emerges as the place where Quiles people first arrived in1783 (This is the earliest year found in the records thus far). The town of Cidra, located center east on the Island, is the second place with early arrival of Quiles people in 1804. Next, the town of Morovis, located in the center on the Island, ranks third with the arrival of Quiles people in 1838. The town of Penuelas, which is located near Yauco, is four in order with Quiles people arriving in 1846. Documentary records indicate that Jayuya (center of Island) and Lares (northwest of Island) had Quiles people arriving to both in 1850, while Las Marias, located in center west of Island (including the sectors of Bartolo & Espino), had Quiles people arriving in 1859. The town of Naranjito (located center east) had Quiles people arriving in 1862, the town of Orocovis (located center of Island) had Quiles people arriving in 1864, and the town of San German (located southeast of Island) had Quiles people arriving in 1869. The genealogical records also indicate that other towns across the Island follow a similar arrival pattern as Camuy (located in the northwest of the Island), which had Quiles people present after 1884. Researching the internal mobility patterns of Quiles people within the Island was not part of the scope of this inquiry. (See Appendix B for the distribution of Quiles people among the towns of Puerto Rico).

Once again, I invite you to send your feedback about this research. Most of all, I hope that this article serves to motivate other Quiles people to engage in their own research to explore and learn about when their relatives arrived in Puerto Rico. Although doing this type of research in Puerto Rico is difficult because of limited documentary information, enough new knowledge can be elucidated and exposed to the light of history for all to enjoy! The history of the Quiles people in Puerto Rico is in the hands of the Quiles people of Puerto Rico to document, no one else will do it for us. Let’s get to work!


Julio de Atienza Navajas. Diccionario Heraldico de Apellidos Espanoles [Heraldic Dictionary of Spanish Surnames]. © Ed. Aguilar. Madrid.1959.

Bizén d'o Río Martínez. Diccionario de Heráldica Aragonesa.. Editorial PRAMES Heráldica de Aragón (1998). Websource:

Elsdon Coles Smith. New dictionary of American family names. (1972) Websource:

Roberto Faure, Maria Asuncion Ribes, & Antonio Garcia. Diccionario de Apellidos Espanoles. Editorial Espasa Calpe, S.A., 2001, (ISBN: 84-239-2289-8) Websource:

Martin de Riquer. Heraldica Castellana [Castillian Heraldry]. © Ed. C. Cremi.
Barcelona. 1986.

Fernando Gonzalez-Doria. Diccionario Heraldico y Nobiliario de los Reinos de
Espana [Heraldic and Nobility Dictionary of the Kingdoms of Spain]. © Ed. Bitacora, S. L. 1994.

Faustino Menendez-Pidal de NavascusHeraldica Medieval Espanola [Medieval Spanish Heraldry]. La Casa Real de Leon y Castilla. © Editorial Hidalguia. Madrid. 1982.

Heraldica Aragonesa:
Family Search: A Service of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Utah, USA.

Appendix A
1. Quiles is the 6,474th most popular last name (surname) in the United States, with a shared population of around 4,800 individuals.
2. Quiles is the 748th most popular last name (surname) in Spain, with a shared population of around 3,500 individuals.
3. Quiles is the 452nd most popular last name (surname) in Central & South America, with a shared population of around 20,000 individuals.

Appendix B
Quiles people in the Municipalities of Puerto Rico at present

A review of the phone directory for all the municipalities of Puerto Rico was conducted between January 15 and March 15, 2006 seeking to identify phone ownership by the Quiles surname. Only phone numbers listed by Quiles surname as the first last name were included in the review. Therefore, Quiles households with the Quiles surname listed as the second last name in the directory were not counted. The review yielded a total of 522 Quiles households in 45 of the 78 municipalities, which were converted into 2080 Quiles individuals using the approximate number of four family members per household. The phone directory review produced no Quiles surname households in 33 municipalities of Puerto Rico. It is likely that the total number of Quiles people in Puerto Rico is much higher than the sample included in this review. See Table 1 below for the results of the phone directory review by municipality.

Limitations of this review
The results of the phone directory review for the municipalities of Puerto Rico regarding the identification of households with the Quiles surname present various limitations to take into account. First, since there is an increasing use of cellular phones by households in Puerto Rico, Quiles people in different municipalities would have not been accounted for by the data collection method employed by the researcher, because those Quiles people using a cellular phone service only would not have been listed in the landline phone directory for each municipality. Second, perhaps there is also a significant number of Quiles people with unlisted private phone numbers that will not appear on the phone directory for each municipality. Third, there are probably some Quiles people who do not have a phone at all. And four, the decreasing use of landline phones may contribute to lack of inclusion or accuracy in the information printed in the phone directory for each municipality. These limitations should be considered when interpreting the results reported in this review. These limitations not withstanding, the researcher considers these findings to be preliminary steps in the process to better identify and account for the Quiles people in the municipalities of Puerto Rico.

Table 1
QUILES surname individuals in the towns of Puerto Rico
The households or [individuals] were identified only by phone ownership and by the use of the Quiles surname as their first last name (2006 data from phone directory). Therefore, Quiles individuals using the Quiles surname as the second last name or the Quiles surname in any other order in their ancestry were not counted.

[Total n=2080 of individuals from N=522 households; average number of 4 individuals/family] Towns listed in alphabetical order.

Town #Households[Individuals] % Households N=522
1. Adjuntas 7[28] 01.34%
2. Aguada 4[16] 008%
3. Aguas Buenas n/a (none available)
4. Aguadilla 8[32] 01.53%
5. Aibonito n/a
6. Anasco 2[8] 0038%
7. Arecibo 27[108] 05.20%
8. Arroyo n/a
9. Barranquitas n/a
10. Barceloneta 2[8] 0038%
11. Bayamon n/a
12. Cabo Rojo 1[4] 0019%
13. Caguas n/a
14. Camuy 11[44] 02.10%
15. Canovanas 5[20] 0095%
16. Carolina n/a
17. Catano n/a
18. Cayey n/a
19. Ceiba 2[8] 0038%
20. Ciales n/a
21. Cidra n/a
22. Coamo n/a
23. Comerio 10[40] 01.91%
24. Corozal 11[44] 02.10%
25. Culebra n/a
26. Dorado 4[16] 008%
27. Fajardo 4[16] 008%
28. Florida n/a
29. Guanica 4[16] 008%
30. Guayama 2[8] 0038%
31. Guayanilla n/a
32. Guaynabo n/a
33. Gurabo n/a
34. Hatillo 8[32] 01.53%
35. Hormigueros 7[28] 01.34%
Town #Households[Individuals] % Households N=522
36. Humacao 3[12] 0057%
37. Isabela 12[48] 02.29%
38. Jayuya 9[36] 01.72%
39. Juana Diaz n/a
40. Juncos n/a
41. Lajas n/a
42. Lares 11[44] 02.10%
43. Las Marias 7[28] 01.34%
44. La Piedras n/a
45. Loiza n/a
46. Luquillo 2[8] 0038%
47. Manati 6[24] 01.14%
48. Maricao 3[12] 0057%
49. Maunabo 1[4] 0019%
50. Mayaguez 19[76] 03.63%
51. Moca 2[8] 0038%
52. Morovis 2[8] 0038%
53. Naguabo 1[4] 0019%
54. Naranjito 10[40] 01.91%
55. Orocovis 2[8] 0038%
56. Patillas n/a
57. Penuelas n/a
58. Ponce 18[72] 03.44%
59. Quebradillas n/a
60. Rincon n/a
61. Rio Grande 3[12] 0057%
62. Sabana Grande 1[4] 0019%
63. Salinas n/a
64. San German 3[12] 0057%
65. San Juan 223[892] 42.72% [See note*]
66. San Lorenzo n/a
67. San Sebastian 41[164] 07.85%
68. Santa Isabel 3[12] 0057%
69. Toa Alta 1[4] 0019%
70. Toa Baja n/a
71. Trujillo Alto n/a
72. Utuado 6[24] 01.14%
73. Vega Alta 7[28] 01.34%
74. Vega Baja n/a
75. Vieques n/a
76. Villalba 1[4] 0019%
77. Yabucoa n/a
78. Yauco 6[24] 01.14%

*Note: Includes Viejo San Juan, Puerta de Tierra, Miramar, Condado, Ocean Park, Santurce, Isla Verde, Puerto Nuevo, Hato Rey, y Rio Piedras [78 municipalities: 45 with Quiles, 33 w/o Quiles]

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
JosianQuiles 1253134226000 
Mvega22 1390120571000 
JosianQuiles 1390142853000 
Jeffrey Perez 1433193538000 
JosianQuiles 1433200147000 
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