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Surnames of 6002 individuals from a mixed population of Bahia State in Brazil were studied. Out of 448 surnames identified .50 (11%) were devotional in origin. The frequency of devotional surnames increases with Negro admixture and is higher in females. The five most common devotional surnames account for 31% of the population. Documents from the XVIII and XIX centuries revealed that the majority of slaves remained without a surname after getting free. However, among those who acquired a surname the preferential method was to take a devotional surname different from the master’s family name. This finding fits well with the observed effect of race on the frequency of devotional surnames. Nevertheless, there is also some evidence that at the time of abolition the slave behavior in respect to acquiring surnames had changed in favor of the master’s family name. Finally, the simplest explanation for the observed effect of sex on the frequency of devotional surnames is that a substantial number of individuals bearing a devotional surname did not inherit it but adopted it.