FAMILY NAME HISTORY & ORIGIN
The Araneta family dates back from the early times when aristocracy was still prevalent. The family traces their ancestral roots back to ancient times in Aragon, Spain and from there, are scattered all over the world. According to the historian, "Baron de Cobos" of Belchite, Aragon one branch of this family established their household in Gipuzkoa, one of the three provinces of Euskal Herria, the name given to the home of the Basque people, which today forms the Communidad Autónoma del "Pais Vasco" or "Euskadi" in Basque, and the Chartered Community of Navarra (Nafarroa). The Basques, first known to history as natives of modern-day Navarra and Aragon in the first century BC, are now predominantly found in an area known as the Basque Country. They mostly live by the western end of the Pyrenees Mountains in the Iberian Peninsula, down to the Bay of Biscay.
The family dwelled mostly near the mountains, which are surrounded by valleys, hence the name Araneta, the etymology of which is derived from the Basque term "aran" meaning valley, and the locative suffix "eta", which denotes a "place of". Thus, the initial bearer of the surname Araneta would have been someone who dwelled in a valley.
During the Middle Ages, and before the hereditary family name system was instituted, it was a practice to adopt a second name to be able to differentiate one individual from other with the same personal name. Surnames, as with languages in general, undergo spelling changes over time. This can be the result of exchanging letters which sound similar, or of scribes altering a name as it is recorded.
From the diverse unity which characterizes Spain, comes the distinguished Araneta family surname. Historians have studied the available records and it revealed that the original family ancestral seat first originated in Aragon, an ancient kingdom of Spain. One of the earliest record bearing the name Araneta is that of Martin de Araneta, who came from an aristocratic family of Basque origin. His name was recorded in a Castilian document dated 1227. Martin de Araneta was a Knight during the era of the Reconquest. He served and escorted Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon, in the conquest of Cordova, Murcia, Jaen, and Seville, from the Moors in 1217. He was granted innumerable amounts of lands when Ferdinand divided the conquered territories between his knights, the Church, and the Nobility, whom he enfeoffed with great latifundias.
According to Alberto and Arturo Garcia Garaffa, Basque writers and historians, the Aranetas had ancestral homes in the valleys of Gainza and Andoain in Gipuzkoa. A notable member of this household, Juan Francisco de Araneta, was ennobled in Gainza, circa 1683.
While the use of hereditary family names began in the Iberian peninsula in the thirteenth century, it was not until the sixteenth century that the practice became firmly established among the general populace. The Basque Country is filled with families of aristocratic and noble origins who, in the ancient times of shields and swords, earned their nobility by protecting their king and country from foreign invaders. The Spanish Crown, in granting the family a decree of the coat-of-arms, recognized the nobility of the Araneta family. It is found in the compilation of the land of " Basque and Navarres" (Vol 10 page 91 Enciclopedia Heraldica y Genealógica Hispano - Americano by Alberto and Arturo Garcia Carraffa).
National Historical Archive & Research Center. Enciclopedia heráldica y genealógica hispano-americano (por Alberto y Arturo Garcia Garaffa).