Korōnē (starry_diadem) wrote in little_details,

Form of address to married Spanish-Mexican woman, 1870s California

I'm writing something set in 1870s California, where the Spanish-Mexican traditions are still very strong and many of the people living and working in the towns/ranches are Mexican. 


I need to understand how a married woman is addressed and I'm hoping that those of you who are/speak Spanish can help here.  From what I've been able to grasp from the on-line searches that I've done, the naming conventions are broadly unchanged for generations, so I think that modern practice would (in general terms) apply. 


I've googled and wikied "Spanish surnames" and "forms of address for married Spanish women" and found some darn interesting sites on Spanish family names.  I've not got a problem with how Spanish family names are constructed as the Wiki article on Spanish naming conventions and several other sites are very helpful, but I'm a little unclear about how, exactly, a married woman is addressed.

What I think is clear:  (just so I don't send you off on wild-goose chases!)

(i) generally the format of a name is first name/father's surname/mother's surname (the modern flexibility on whether mother or father's name comes first isn't relevant to my time period, so we go with the classical format)


So, as an example, a girl might be called Maria Martinez Garcia.


(ii) addressing her verbally before marriage and casually, she would be addressed as Senorita Maria Martinez, but writing to her someone would use the full form of address: Senorita Maria Martinez Garcia, Morro Coyo, California etc. etc.

Where the confusion is - when Maria marries

 Most of the sources I've read say that a woman doesn't change her name on marriage.  So if Maria marries Cipriano Villanueva Morales (that is, Senor Villanueva), she doesn't take the Villanueva name, but she does become Senora, to mark her married status. 


Question :  so she'd be Senora Maria Martinez?


(and their son would be Juan Villanueva Martinez, another Senor Villanueva like his father, right?)


BUT a couple of sources – one is an on-line etiquette book that gives advice on forms of address to dozens of non-US countries (Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands, Morrison and Conaway) says this on marriage, "the woman would traditionally add her husband's surname and be known by that…"


Question : So if this is right, it would seem Maria becomes  Maria Martinez Garcia Villanueva and is addressed as Senora Villanueva?



I am confused.  Is there anyone out there with a better understanding of Spanish culture  who could tell me which of these  two opposing  views is the correct one?  And if you could confirm the applicability to 1870s Mexico or California, that would be a bonus!

Thank you!

Edited to add :  Thank you, everyone for your help.  de Villanueva, it is.


Tags: ~languages: spanish, ~names
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