William R. (William Robert) Shepherd.

Guide to the materials for the history of the United States in Spanish archives. (Simancas, the Archivo historico nacional, and Seville) online

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judicial, financial, and commercial matters, in which the topographical
element in classification is sometimes quite obscure or non-existent.
Under such circumstances the only recourse left to the investigator is to
examine the legajos according to their dates, or according to those names
of persons with which, he has reason to believe, documents of historical
interest may be associated.

Archives of the Indies. 5P

The Archives of the Indies are open during most of the year from
11 a. m. to 4 p. m., except on Saturdays, when they close at 3 p. m., and
in the summer months from 8 a. m. to 12 m. only. As in Simancas the
rules are liberally construed. Responsible persons may use the manu-
script guides freely. No limitation is placed upon the number of legajos
which an investigator desires to examine at a time, provided that other
workers are not inconvenienced thereby, and that the contents of one
legajo are not confused with those of another. The shelf-numbers may be
written on any available slip of paper and handed directly to one of the
porters. In the library and workroom, also, a collection of books dealing
with the history and administration of the Spanish colonies is at the
service of the investigator.

No adequate account of the Archives of the Indies exists in print, nor
has any guide to them been published. Sketches of the collection, how-
ever, will be found in a booklet by Villa-amil y Castro, a former director,
entitled Breve Resena Historico-Descriptiva del Archive General de
Indias, y Noticia de algunos de sus principals Docnmentos (Seville,
1884) ; in Archives des Missions Scientifiques et Litter air es, second series,
vol. II., p. 367; and in Nouvelles Archives des Missions Scientifiques et
Litteraires, vol. VI., p. 613.


This great mass of documents emanating from the Council of the Indies
and from the various colonial authorities covers the period from the first
quarter of the sixteenth century to about the middle of the nineteenth.
Its chief mode of classification is the topographical one by audiencias.
The papers included under each audiencia are then arranged according as
they concern the entire district subject to the jurisdiction of that body of
magistrates (distrito de toda la audiencia), or the specific provinces or
localities within it. As a rule the documents classed in this way by
audiencias are in turn divided into three so-called "branches" (ramos),
namely: secular (ramo secular), ecclesiastical (ramo ecclcsidstico), and
secular and ecclesiastical (ramo secular y ecclesiastico). Especially in the
case of the documents of later date, the contents of the secular "branch"
are sometimes arranged according to the governmental departments of
administration (gobierno), war and marine (guerra y inarina), and finance
(hacienda); but the distinctions among them, as well as between the
secular and the ecclesiastical branches, are not closely observed.

In no sense, however, must this topographical classification by audiencias
be taken to mean that the documents solely, or even generally, deal with
transactions in which those courts of justice and administration were con-
cerned. On the contrary the Crown, the Council of the Indies, the House
of Trade, and other agencies of government in Spain, the colonial officials,

60 United States History in Spanish Archives.

secular and ecclesiastical, of all ranks, and private individuals are alike
represented. In fact the individual papers and the various groups of them
(expedientes) are of almost every conceivable description.

To ascertain the general contents and the shelf-numbers of the legajos,
an inventory in two volumes, entitled, "Indice general por Audiencias,"
must be consulted. The first volume lists the older class of documents in
two main forms, first as they came from Simancas, and second, as they
came directly from the offices of correspondence with the colonies in North
America and the West Indies (Secretaria de Nueva Espana), and with
those in South America (Secretaria del Peru), belonging to the Council
of the Indies. No such distinction between the two sets of consignments,
however, appears either in the second volume of the inventory, which lists
the later class of documents, or in the actual collocation of the legajos on
the shelves by estante and cajon. Furthermore, the dates of the legajos
cited in both volumes overlap in a manner too confusing to enable one to
fix a precise line of demarcation between their respective contents. In the
description of the materials relating to the United States, therefore, appro-
priate reference will be made to the separate volumes. The various entries
under each heading of the description, it should be said, are, for the most
part, free translations of those in the inventory.

A special inventory, also, in the form of loose sheets, is available. It
concerns only the legajos arranged under the caption of the Audiencia of
Santo Domingo. The chief point of difference between this and the regu-
lar inventory consists in specifying the inclusive dates of each individual
legajo, instead of assigning such dates to a group of legajos, the contents
of which may refer to a single subject.


/ i. "St. Augustine in Florida."

Secular Branch:

1. Letters and expedientes of secular persons, 4 legajos, 1539-1699.

2. Id. of royal officials, 2 legajos, 1560-1700.

3. Id. of governors, 5 legajos, 1568-1700.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Letters and expedientes of ecclesiastical persons, 1 legajo, 1573-1700.

a. "Province of Florida."
Secular Branch:

1. Letters and expedientes of secular persons, 2 legajos, 1619-1759.

2. Expediente concerning appointments to office, civil and military,

1 legajo, 1637-1756.

3. Id. concerning the maintenance of the garrison at St. Augustine, 1

legajo, 1654-1705.

4. Letters and expedientes of the governors, 8 legajos, 1655-1759.

Archives of the Indies. 61

5. Letters and expedientes of royal officials, 1 legajo, 1668-1759.

6. Expedient e concerning the subsidy, 2 legajos, 1692-1746.

7. Id. concerning the dispatch of colonists to Florida and other prov-
inces in New Spain, 1 legajo, 1673-1741.

8. Letters from Seville, Cadiz and other towns in Spain referring to
Florida, 1 legajo, 1682-1759.

9. Expediente concerning the invasion of Florida by pirates, and con-
cerning also "the sentence of death pronounced by the governor
upon Andres Barzon, an Englishman, from which the victim
escaped because of the breaking of the cords of the garrote," 1
legajo, 1684-1702.

10. Testimony in legal proceedings relative to the collection of the sub-

sidy, 1 legajo, 1702-1710.

11. Expediente concerning the official trial (residencia) of Jose de

Zufiiga y la Cerda by Francisco Corcoles y Martinez, governor of
Florida, 1 legajo, 1703-1710.

12. Id. concerning an investigation (pesquisa) into the official conduct

of Jose Pedraso and Juan de Ayola, 1 legajo, 1713-1728.

13. Id. concerning the conversion of the Cayo Indians, 1 legajo, 1715-


14. Legal proceedings (autos) in reference to an accounting by the offi-

cials of the treasury for the 40,000 pesos appropriated for the main-
tenance and repair of churches, 1 legajo, 1731-1732.

15. Expediente concerning an investigation into the official conduct of

Francisco del Moral y Sanchez, governor of Florida, and concern-
ing also his subsequent trial, 1 legajo, 1734-1747.

16. Id. concerning supplies for the troops in Florida, and concerning

also the establishment of the post at Apalachee Bay (St. Marks), 1
legajo, 1742-1747.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Letters and expedientes of ecclesiastical persons, 1 legajo, 1642-1745.

2. Expediente concerning the election of a suffragan bishop of the dio-

cese of Cuba who should reside in Florida, 1 legajo, 1661-1734.

3. Id. concerning the missions of Florida and their subsidies, 1 legajo,


4. Id. concerning the disturbances caused by two meetings held by

Franciscan friars, 1 legajo, 1720-1739.
Secular and Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Minutes of reports, dispatches, and papers of the Secretariat of New

Spain, 5 legajos, 1648-1759.

2. Original reports and decrees, 1 legajo, 1668-1759.


Secular Branch of the Entire District:

1. Expediente concerning the examination and fortification of the Bay

of Espiritu Santo on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, 3
legajos, 1684-1705.

2. Id. concerning the French settlements on the Gulf of Mexico, 1

legajo, 1701-1719.

6^ United States History in Spanish Archives.

3. Expediente concerning the "colonization and pacification of the coast
of the Gulf of Mexico," 5 legajos, 1736-1775.


Secular Branch:

1. Expediente concerning the conquest of New Mexico, 5 legajos, 1639-


2. Id. concerning the taxation of gold and silver mines worked in New

Mexico, 1 legajo, 1712-1722.

3. Expediencies relative to the colonization of Texas, 1 legajo, 1732.

4. Expedience concerning silver found in "Pimeria Alta" (Arizona), 1

legajo, 1737-1740.

5. Id. concerning the transference of the fort of San Javier in Texas to

La Sava, and concerning also the increase of its garrison, 1 legajo,


i. Santo Domingo.
Secular Branch:

Various expedientes in reference to the dispatch of colonists from the
Canary Islands to Santo Domingo and Florida, 1 legajo, 1764.

a. Cuba.
Secular Branch:

1. Expediente concerning the settlement at Matanzas of emigrants from

Florida, 1775.

2. Reserved expediente concerning relations with the Americans. This

comprises the correspondence of the captain-general at Havana, of
the governor of Louisiana, of Rawlins Lowndes, governor of South
Carolina, of Alexander Gillon, commander of a South Carolina
squadron, of Oliver Pollock and others, together with a variety of
royal orders, bearing upon (1) the missions of Eduardo, Miralles,
Raffelin, and La Puente to gather information about the course of
the American Revolution, and to examine the situation of the Eng-
lish in the Floridas; (2) the sending of supplies to the American
agents at New Orleans and elsewhere; (3) the favors shown to
American shipping in the port of Havana; and (4) the possibility
of regaining the Floridas from the English. 1 legajo, 1776-1779.

3. Correspondence of the captain-general and the adjutant-major at

Havana concerning (1) the payment for tobacco imported from
Louisiana; and (2) the treatment of American vessels in the port
of Havana. Part of 1 legajo, 1778-1781.

4. Expediente concerning an increase in the size of the regiments sta-

tioned in Havana and Louisiana, their clothing, equipments, etc.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Three expedientes relative to the request of certain Franciscans in

the Floridas and Louisiana for the erection of convents in various
towns in Cuba, 1 legajo, 1776.

2. Three expedientes emanating from the superior of the Franciscans at

Archives of the Indies. 63

Santa Helena in East Florida, concerning his retirement, the ren-
dering of his accounts, and the coming of a number of Spanish
friars, 1 legajo, 1786.

3. Expediente in reference to the feasibility of separating Louisiana and
the Floridas from the diocese of Havana, and of founding a bish-
opric in those provinces, 1 legajo, 1793.

3. Louisiana and Florida.

Secular Branch, Administration:

1. Registers of royal orders and appointments directed to officials and

private individuals in Florida, 1 legajo, 1570-1604.

2. Royal decrees concerning rewards and pensions, 1 legajo, 1598-1818.

3. Administrative matters and reports (catenas gobernativas e infor-

mes), 1 legajo, 1602-1818. The inventory puts the inclusive dates
as 1742-1818. Among other things the legajo contains (1) a
report on the condition of Florida in 1602; and (2) a manuscript
book bound in parchment and entitled "Demostracion historiogra-
phica del derecho que tiene el Rey Catholico del territorio que oy
posee el Rey Britanico con el nombre de Nueva Georgia en las
provincias y continente de la Florida, en la que se prueba el Domi-
nio Poscitivo que tiene el Rey de Espana hasta la Latitud septen-
trional de 32 grades 30 minutos Ynclusive, en que se halla la Barra
de la Ysla de Sta. Elena, termino por el qual se deven arreglar los
limites de las respectivas posceciones en est aparte de mundo entre
la Florida y la Carolina. Havana, y Marzo 20 de 1742." The book
seems to be largely a compilation from Barcia, Ensayo Cronologico
para la Historia General de la Florida (Madrid, 1729, 2 vols.).

4. Commissions to officials (titulos varios), 1 legajo, 1613-1818.

5. Official correspondence with the governors, 6 legajos, 1717-1819.

6. Expediencies and pleas (instancias de partes), 7 legajos, 1720-1808.

7. Matters referred (remisiones) to the Council, Chamber, and Ministry

of the Indies for special consideration, 1 legajo, 1721-1824.

8. Bestowments (provisiones) of offices, rewards, and favors, 5 legajos,


9. Reports of the Council of the Indies, 2 legajos, 1731-1817.

10. Expedicntes concerning the expulsion of the English from the lands

usurped in Florida, the determination of the boundaries between
Georgia and Florida, etc., 3 legajos, 1733-1743.

11. Letters and depositions (testimonios) sent by the viceroy of New

Spain, concerning the measures taken to prevent the entrance of
Frenchmen from Louisiana into Texas, 1 legajo, 1757.

12. Expcdientes relative to matters of administrative routine (expe-

dientes diarios), 3 legajos, 1760-1787.

13. Letters and expedientes, 7 legajos, 1761-1822.

14. Two expedientes concerning (1) the establishment of Spanish power

in Louisiana; and (2) controversies between the French and the
Spaniards regarding the conduct of the bishop in allowing the
Capuchins to administer the sacrament of confirmation. 1 legajo,
1769-1771. The inventory puts the inclusive dates as 1765-1773.

64 United States History in Spanish Archives.

15. Expedientes relative to a census of the population in Louisiana, 1

legajo, 1766-1770.

16. Reserved expedient es and orders concerning relations with the Eng-

lish and the Americans, 1 legajo, 1776-1779. Besides royal orders,
these groups of documents contain correspondence from the cap-
tain-general at Havana, the governor of Louisiana, the comman-
dant at St. Louis, the English governor of West Florida, English
officers, naval and military, American officers in charge of bands
operating against the English settlements on the lower Mississippi,
George Morgan, Charles Lee, Patrick Henry, and the members of
the Virginia Committee of Safety. Among the topics treated in
the correspondence are :

Measures for gathering information about the course of the Amer-
ican Revolution, and for determining the strength of the English in
West Florida.

The strained relations between the English and the Spaniards due to
the favors shown by the latter to the Americans.

The proposal for closer commercial connections between Virginia and

The expedition of George Rogers Clark to the Illinois towns.

17. Duplicates of the correspondence of the governors and intendants,

25 legajos, 1776-1818. Many of the originals of these are diffi-
cult to find elsewhere. Sometimes the "duplicates" are merely
indexes of letters.

18. Correspondence of Miralles and Rendon, 2 legajos, 1779-1787. The

correspondence proper of the two Spanish commissioners falls
within the period 1779-1784. A few letters dated between 1784
and 1787 are from other persons, and refer chiefly to the services of

19. Duplicates of the correspondence of ministers and private individ-

uals, 1 legajo, 1780-1821.

20. Financial accounts of the Spanish royal hospital in the Floridas, 1

legajo, 1781-1800.

21. Expedientes concerning (1) the cession of Louisiana to the United

States; (2) the determination of the boundaries of that province
and of those of the Floridas; and (3) other matters arising out of
the cession. 2 legajos, 1802-1837. One of these legajos happens
to contain nothing but miscellaneous statements of a financial char-
acter dated in 1802. The other includes among its papers some
correspondence of Casa Calvo, Yrujo, and Wilkinson, more or less
in reference to Burr (1805).

22. Expediente relative to the burning of the royal warehouses at Pen-

sacola, 1 legajo, 1808-1819.

23. Id. concerning grants of land to the Duke of Alagon and others, 1

legajo, 1818-1850.
Secular Branch, Finance:

1. Royal orders for payment drawn upon the treasury of Florida, 1

legajo, 1593-1721.

2. Measures (providencias), reports, and other documents relative to

Archives of the Indies. 65

seizures and attachments of property (comisos), 1 legajo, 1724-

3. Matters and reports concerning the royal treasury, 1 legajo, 1752-


4. Expedientes and pleas, 9 legajos, 1761-1831.

5. Accounts of the royal treasury in Louisiana, 4 legajos, 1769-1792.

6. Accounts and expedientes in reference to the tobacco industry, 2

legajos, 1776-1793.

7. Duplicates of the correspondence and other papers of the intendants

of the army and the royal treasury, 19 legajos, 1780-1813.

8. Accounts of the royal treasury in Pensacola and Mobile, 1 legajo,


9. Accounts of the royal treasury in the Floridas at large, 2 legajos,


10. Expedientes of the governor of Louisiana concerning the seizure of

11 vessels engaged in forbidden trade in the Mississippi, 1 legajo,

11. Expedientes of the royal treasury, 4 legajos, 1788-1808.

12. Accounts of the excise taxes (alcabalas) in Louisiana, 1 legajo,


13. Correspondence with the intendants of the army and the royal treas-

ury, 3 legajos, 1790-1813.

14. Certificates of service (hojas de servicio) of the officials of the royal

treasury, 1 legajo, 1793-1804.
Secidar Branch, War and Marine:

1. Military warrants and commissions, 2 legajos, 1592-1815.

2. Royal decrees concerning the subsidies for ramparts, forts, etc., 1

legajo, 1615-1763.

3. Documents relative to fortifications, munitions of war and subsidies

for the troops in Florida, 3 legajos, 1740-1787.

4. Accounts of the commissary (guardaalmacen) of munitions and pro-

visions in Florida, 1 legajo, 1757-1763.

5. Matters referring to war, and military expedient es, 2 legajos, 1767-


6. Expedient es relative to freedom of commerce with Spain, and to

other maritime affairs, 5 legajos, 1768-1817.

7. Documents concerning fortifications, munitions of war, and subsidies

for the troops in Louisiana, 2 legajos, 1771-1787.

8. Accounts of the commissary of munitions and provisions at Pensa-

cola, 1 legajo, 1781-1783.

9. Expediente relative to the regulation and extension of the commerce

of Louisiana and the Floridas, 1 legajo, 1788-1808.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Royal decrees concerning alms, wine, candles, and oil, 1 legajo, 1598-


2. Ecclesiastical matters and reports, 1 legajo, 1680-1808.

3. Letters and expedientes of bishops, chapters, and ecclesiastical per-

sons, 1 legajo, 1784-1806.

4. Ecclesiastical reports, and assignments of bishoprics and prebends, 1

legajo, 1790-1807.

66 United States History in Spanish Archives.


Secular Branch, Administration:

1. Statement in reference to the missions and the military post near the

Trinity River in Texas, 1 legajo, 1755-1760.

2. Expediente concerning invasions of the Apaches, the submission of

those Indians, and the establishment of missions and military posts
in Texas, 1 legajo, 1763.

3. Statement of Juan Manuel Zembrano concerning the failure of the

authorities in Texas to obey the laws, 1 legajo, 1821.
Secular Branch, Finance:

1. Accounts relative to the expedition against Pensacola, 1 legajo, 1781-


2. Expedientes concerning the provisions supplied from Louisiana and

other provinces for the fleet commanded by the Marquis of Socorro,
1 legajo, 1793-1798.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Expediente relative to the missions in San Diego and elsewhere, 1

legajo, 1790-1819.

2. Id. concerning the satisfaction of accounts and the sale of estates of

the pious fund of the missions in California, 1 legajo, 1805.


Secular Branch, Administration:

1. Administrative matters and reports, 1 legajo. 1555-1819. Among

the items contained in this legajo are papers relating to the services
of various officers in the conquest of New Mexico (1603), and
relating also to plans for the colonization of Texas and Upper Cali-
fornia (1817-1818) ; and a printed map of the Californias (1770).

2. Correspondence with the governor-intendants of Coahuila, Durango,

and Texas, 1 legajo, 1738-1821.

3. Expedientes and pleas, 21 legajos, 1732-1826. Among the items in

one of the legajos may be mentioned papers relating to a census of
the Californias taken in 1805, and to the career of Baron de Bastrop
in Louisiana and Texas up to 1810.

4. Correspondence with the commandant-general of the Internal Prov-

inces, 6 legajos, 1760-1821.

4a. Duplicates of the correspondence of the commandant-general of the
Internal Provinces, 28 legajos, 1761-1821.

5. Documents relative to an overland expedition to Monterey in Upper

California, 1 legajo, 1768-1772.

6. Expediente concerning an Indian insurrection in "Pimeria Alta"

(Arizona), 2 legajos, 1775.

7. Reports of the commandant-general in reference to the conditions

prevalent in the Internal Provinces, 2 legajos, 1781-1782.

8. Papers belonging to the section of administration and industry : polit-

ical business, 1 legajo, 1801-1821. Among the items are docu-
ments concerning a project to stimulate colonization in the neigh-
borhood of Monterey (1801-1 807 ), and the arrival of Russian
war-ships in the harbor of San Francisco (1821).

Archives of the Indies. 67

Secular Branch, Finance:

1. Accounts of the royal treasury in the Internal Provinces, 1 legajo,


2. Duplicates of correspondence of commandant-general of the Internal

Provinces in regard to financial matters, 4 legajos, 1786-1813.
Secular Branch, War:

1. Documents relative to fortifications, military stores, the maintenance

of troops, and the appointment of officers in the Internal Provinces,
11 legajos, 1760-1832.

2. Expediente concerning the establishment, transference and regulation

of military posts in the Internal Provinces, 1 legajo, 1779-1782.
Ecclesiastical Branch:

1. Documents relative to the establishment and regulation of missions

in the Internal Provinces, 1 legajo, 1774.

2. Expediente concerning the establishment of a bishopric and a con-

ciliar seminary at Santa Fe in New Mexico, 1 legajo, 1812-1817.

(Yndifercntc General.)

The documents of this section are comprised in upwards of 3,000 lega-
jos, the contents of which either did not coincide readily with the topo-
graphical arrangement by audiencias at the time when the bundles were
made up, or came to the Archives of the Indies after the inventories of
certain other sections had been completed. Indeed, the "General Miscel-
laneous" papers may be regarded as a comprehensive supplement to all the
sections of historical material in that repository. They are listed by lega-
jos in a bound volume, entitled "Indice del Yndiferente General," which
resembles those forming the inventory of the papers of the "Audiencias."

In view of the defective classification that appears in the inventory, how-
ever, due, of course, to the miscellaneous character of the subject-matter
itself, the items in the following description of the materials relating to the
United States are arranged merely in chronological order. Doubtless
there are many other references to the United States hidden away in the
thousands of legajos belonging to the division of "General Miscellaneous" ;
but, as is so often the case with the collections in the archives of Spain,
unless the inventories, indexes, and the like afford some fairly direct inti-
mation of the existence of such references, only a scrutiny of each paper
can determine how far the supposition may be true.


1. "Registers: General record books (libros generalisimos) of royal
orders, appointments, favors, etc.," 15 legajos, 1492-1717. Three
of the legajos contain a number of documents of special interest
bearing upon the career of Juan Ponce de Leon in connection with
the discovery of Florida, and a few of less interest relating to Lucas

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryWilliam R. (William Robert) ShepherdGuide to the materials for the history of the United States in Spanish archives. (Simancas, the Archivo historico nacional, and Seville) → online text (page 7 of 12)