Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spanish Emigration Question

Aviso: el post hoy esta en ingles, porque yo recibí las preguntas en ingles. Para leerlo en Español usa Google Translate o mandeme una traducción y la pondré en mi blog.

Today I received an email from Oscar who asked the following questions:
  1. Did people to whom permits were given to set sail to Spain’s overseas territories have to register anywhere at their port of arrival, or did they have to show their permit when they disembarked or anything else?
  2. Are there any archives which one can search for people arriving from the old world in the new world, just like one can search the PARES database for people leaving the old world?
  3. I understand that illegal emigration from Spain to Spain’s overseas territories was widespread. I remember having read somewhere, but I cannot remember where, that up to half of all people who emigrated to Spanish America did so illegally – so without getting a permit. What are your thoughts on this figure?
  4. Finally, could you recommend any books on emigration from Spain to the Americas during colonial times in general?
My responses - trying to be brief...

  1. The answer largely on which century or centuries in question. Before about 1820 (about when Spain started losing it's empire to various countries in Latin America), there are no 'port of entry' records. I don't know what the process was (if paperwork had to be shown, etc.), but there really aren't any immigration records during the colonial period. To find ancestors' places of birth you will want to check parish records (especially marriages, and pre-marriage investigations), Notary records, and land records (often times kept with notary records).
  2. Not to sound like a broken record...but the answer to your question depends on the century.
    1. Colonial Period - nothing of significance as far as passenger lists or passenger arrivals are concerned, however archives such as AGN de Mexico, or Archivo General de Centroamérica might have other record sources such as Notary records that might be helpful.
    2. 19th and 20th centuries - IAP (BYU Immigrant Ancestors Project), Most national archives (Peru has some good records for 20th century). Most of these records have not been microfilmed - hardly any - but I would begin with national archives.
  3. Illegal emigration was pretty rampant. I really don't dare to put an actual number/percentage on it, but I would guess that you are in the ballpark with 50%. Keep in mind that during the colonial period Spanish Jews were falsifying documents to get away from the Inquisition...many came to Latin America. See: Sephardic Genealogy by Jeffrey S. Malka for more information.
  4. Books - there are many books. I'll list a few, but I recommend doing a keyword search in the Family History Library Catalog to find more (search for emigración or Spanish emigration).
    1. La emgiración castellana y leonesa al Nuevo Mundo, 1517-1700 by Maria del Carmen Martinez Martinez
    2. La emigración murciana a América durante el siglo XVI: catalogo de pasajeros by Lucio Provencio Garrigos
    3. Patterns of Spanish emigration to the New World (1493-1580) by Peter Boyd-Bowman
    4. La emigración española al Río de la Plata durante siglo XVI by Richard Konetze


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lynn, for your kind answers. Thank you also for the recommended reading.

I have always found the level of illegal immigration intriguing. There must have been tens of thousands of people who made the trip illegally over the centuries. I try to imagine how this would have worked. How did they get to the Americas? They weren’t just able to go to the port of Seville and take a ship from there in broad daylight, like all the legal travellers did, unless they travelled with false identities, I expect. Did they take ships that embarked from other ports, maybe out of Portugal? Or did they travel in small boats from some beach in Andalusia at night and switch to a larger seaworthy vessel that would be waiting for them off shore and which would then take them to the other side of the ocean? Where did these ships come from? If one-in-two made the trip illegally, there must have been a considerable fleet to carry the illegal travellers. These ships had to be built somewhere. Were they built in the open — in the harbours and on beaches of Andalusia — and, if so, would this not have raised suspicion? Or were they built somewhere else and just sailed in for the occasion? This must have been quite an operation in terms of organisation, finances etc. And upon arrival in the Americas would they just sail into one of the Spanish ports and disembark there? The coastline of the Americas is long, so I guess they could have disembarked anywhere and this is what they probably would have done. Would they then travel by land or by small coast vessels to the Spanish ports and try to mingle in with the rest of the population, at some stage registering their marriages and new born at the local parochial church? Wouldn’t this have raised suspicion? Or would they set up illegal communities of their own?

I am not asking you of course whether you can answer these questions, they are just a style to show how amazed I am about this phenomenon. I have got to find a book that can give some answers.

Thanks again, Lynn, for your answers and your nice work on the blog in general.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lynn,
Do you have an estimated timeline for re-enabling the collections just disabled this week (Mexico Census and Lima Peru Vital Records? Thanks.

Arturo said...

Is a very, very interesting topic because most of our Ancestors came on these kind of ships from Spain to America and we do not have any source of information (except, of course, "pasajeros de Indias"). If someone can help Oscar Leal with his questions that person is Lynn Turner. I mean, Lynn can help us giving some clues and sharing his own experiences in this kind of research.