The Portuguese surname Pereira, found in Galicia in northwest Spain, is a topographic name from the Portuguese term pereira meaning “pear tree,” or an habitational name from a place named with this word in Portugal and Galicia.
The progenitor of the Pereira family of northern Portugal is believed to be Don Mendo “ Irmao” of Desiderio, the 8th Century King of the Lombards. After a great storm at sea, five of his knights arrived at a port in Galicia, Spain in 740 ad.
One of the earliest records of the surname is of Don Alvaro Pires de castro, who, in 1177 was given lands in Palmeira in the province of Entr Douro by King Sancho I
The name is first recorded in the New World in 1555 when Simon Pereira arrived in Chile from Portugal.
Pereira is a common surname in the Portuguese and Galician as well as Sephardic languages, namely in Portugal and Galicia. It was originally a noble Christian toponym of the Middle Ages, taken from the feudal possession of Pereira (Barcelos), which in Portuguese means ‘pear tree’. The name also exists in variations such as Pereyra, Perera, Perreira, Pereiro and others.
In Portugal there are some families with variations of the name although Pereira is by far the most common. The variants of this name are more commonly found in other countries such as Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, India (specifically Goa), and Sri Lanka. Pereire, for example, is a French variant. Many Portuguese immigrants to the United States, especially Massachusetts, chose to “Americanize” their surname to Perry.