GENEALOGY - MEXICAN/JEWISH. THE ANSWER
Monique Susskind Goldberg
This letter was received two years after the question.
Rabbi, this is regarding a question to you by Rene Conriquez a resident of California, about the possible origin of the name Conriquez.
Conriquez is a derivation of Cohen-Henriquez and I also know that all the people in California or Nevada with that name are descendants of my Great great grandfather Isaac Conriquez (aka Isaac Cohen-Henriquez) who married four different women. My Great- great-grandmother was his first wife and a Sefaradita (Sephardic) woman named Mena (another typical Sephardic Last Name). Wives numbers two and three were Catholic sisters by the name of Cabello. His last wife was a non-Jew from Guadalajara but I don't know the last name. His first three wives were from La Piedad, an area that spreads across a corner of three Mexican States: Jalisco, Guanajuato and Michoacan . My Great- great grandparents lived in Zinaparo, Michoacan (part of La Piedad). Isaac Cohen-Henriquez had seven male children with my Great- great grandmother. I am not certain how many children he had with his other wives but I know he had children with all of them.
Most of the people I have been able to find in California and Nevada descend from a couple of young men descendants of Isaac's marriage with wives 2 and 3 and there is a smaller group located largely in the San Diego and Los Angeles California area, which are from the fourth and last marriage. I have called most of them but not surprisingly they know little about their paternal roots.
The roots of the Cohen Henriquez family were relatively easy to find for me with the help of genealogists from Israel (Jerusalem and Haifa) because compound names are practically non existent among Spanish or Portuguese surnames. The family has one branch which I have been able to trace back to the late 1630's in the Island of Curacao in the Caribbean. A few members of that family left Curacao in the mid 1600s for Providence Rhode Island and New York City or New Amsterdam as it was called then. Isaac came to Mexico most likely from the USA, although there is a slim possibility that he may have come from England or Curacao but in any event he is from that same family that lived in Curacao. Nevertheless, after finding members of the family in Curacao where some have retained the original name Cohen Henriquez it is clear that all the people in the western USA with the name Cohen Henriquez descend from my Great-grandfather. Isaac Cohen Henriquez. He had a brother, Aharon but I don't know much about him.
Incidentally, I neglected to explain how the combined name Cohen Henriquez came to be. It seems that in the 1600's when a man married a woman of greater social standing or lineage, it was common for him to adopt her last name rather than her taking his. This was done to preserve the lineage of the children. The Henriquez family was well known even back then as a rich and influential family among the Sephardim, so when a lady from that family married a Cohen, a descendant of priestly lineage, the husband would not simply adopt his wife's surname, but rather the two would be combined to Cohen- Henriquez.