The following are ordinances regarding the orphan maidens [Translation]

Bibliographic Information

Alvarez, Diego and Cabello, Francizco, Siguense las ordenancas de las donzellas huerfanas (January 7, 1597)

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Title: The following are ordinances regarding the orphan maidens [Translation]
Funding from: Funding for the creation of this digitized text is provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • Alvarez, Diego
  • Cabello, Francizco
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  • Creation of digital images: Center for Digital Scholarship, Rice University
  • Creation of translation: Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson, Americas Studies Researcher, Humanities Research Center
  • Conversion to TEI-conformant markup: Roxana Loza, Student Researcher, Humanities Research Center
  • Parsing and proofing: Humanities Research Center, Rice University
  • Subject analysis and assignment of taxonomy terms: Robert Estep, Cataloger
Publisher: Rice University, Houston, Texas
Publication date: 2010-06-07
Identifier: aa00154tr
Availability: This digital text is publicly available via the Americas Digital Archive through the following Creative Commons attribution license: “You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; to make commercial use of the work. Under the following conditions: By Attribution. You must give the original author credit. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.”
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Translation: This document is an English translation of the "Siguense las ordenancas de las donzellas huerfanas." Translated by Lorena Gauthereau-Bryson. The language of the original document is Spanish.
Provenance: Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. James Lanier Britton, 1971.
Description: 8 handwritten leaves. The last will and testament of Diego Alvarez, describing ordinances related to Diego Alvarez' planned provisions for orphaned women and beneficiaries.
Abstract: This document establishes a donation of 1,000 pesos for the dowries of two orphaned maidens, per year. It specifies that each maiden is to receive 500 pesos and that this money is to be administered by the St. Agustin of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. The funding for the dowries is to come from the leases paid by various persons on property owned by Diego Alvarez. The names of the persons paying these leases and the amount they are charged is listed in the document. In addition, the document describes the manner in which these maidens should be selected, their order of preference, and the qualities and conditions that must be met to qualify for the dowry.
Source(s): Alvarez, Diego and Cabello, Francizco, Siguense las ordenancas de las donzellas huerfanas (January 7, 1597)
Source Identifier: Britton Collection of Early Texas and U.S. Civil War documents, 1597-1903, MS 009, Box 1 folder 1, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. (preferred citation). Contact info:
Description of the project: This digitized text is part of the Our Americas Archive Partnership (OAAP) project.
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Languages used in the text: English
Text classification
Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Legal documents
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Alvarez, Diego--Estate
  • Fighueroa, Ysabel de
  • Nuñez de Fighueroa, Diego
  • Pineda, Hieronimo de
  • Urdanivia, Pedro de
  • Alonzo, Martin
  • Medina, Cipriano de
  • Monasteries--Endowments
  • Private masses
  • Religious education of girls
  • Peru (Viceroyalty)
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • South America (continent)




¶ IN THE NAME Of the Holy Trinity– Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Three persons and one single true God– and of the glorious Holy Virgin Mary of Grace, who is my Mother and Intercessor:~

¶Let it be known– To all those whom this concerns, how I, the honorable Diego Alvarez, a neighbor of the very noble and very [Illegible: loyal] city of León, in the province of Huánuco, [Illegible: in the]Viceroyalty of Peru, state the following on the seventh day of the month of January in the year 1597, before the notary and witnesses mentioned below. Considering that, among the works of mercy and charity in which our Lord God is served, the marrying of poor and orphaned maidens is very meritorious– given that they could reach the point of offending Our Lord and make others offend him due to necessity, while marriage provides these necessities and the possible remedy so that similar offenses are not made against the divine majesty– with the grace and in the service of God and his Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Grace, I order and mandate the following:~

[Annotator's Note: Guerra
[Illegible: Origin] ]

Ordinances .1.

[Annotator's Note: That they marry in this city.]

First– that in the aforementioned city of Leon, two poor and orphaned maidens be married each year, perpetually, from now on.


Each one should be given five hundred pesos de a nueve reales [2] each year to help with their dowry and marriage, and the order that they are to receive this salary, and the timeframe in which they are to be given the said five hundred pesos to help with their dowry, and the [Illegible: qualities] that said maidens should have, and the diligences that should be [...] , and what should to be completely [Illegible: observed], are in the following [Illegible: chapters].


[Annotator's Note: To the prior and to the patron of the [...] that there is no said patron, nor is one noted, but rather to one that is not from the [...] [...] [...] ]

¶ [Illegible: line illegible because of damage] [Illegible: priest prior] of [...] Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery and the patron of said monastery should keep a book that shall be stored in said Monastery’s deposit box; in it, they shall write and record the names of the poor and orphaned, Spanish and Mestiza, honest and devoted maidens, who will have received notice that they are to marry, with the month, date, and year in which they were placed and the names of their parents and the neighborhood and house in which they live and what region they are native to and [...] be recorded and written all those that present themselves and make a request for it, and [...] them of what they should be [Illegible: given] notice of, without omitting any of them. :~ : ~.


[Annotator's Note: Conditions that the chosen maidens must meet~]

Iten [3], that the said priest prior and patron make a secret report of the maidens who have been written and recorded in said book, being very careful [Illegible: solicitous] and [...] informing themselves, for this situation, about all the people [...] could know in which neighborhood they could have lived and had lived and all that is convenient to know about their good life, reputation, and customs, and who were or are their parents and the latter’s fate and quality, if they are legitimate or not, their apparent age, the possible people with whom they could stay and live, and the relatives they have and which ones could possibly aid them, and anything else that seems pertinent regarding the aforementioned inquiring and procuring in order to know, in the same way, if they have had or have some flaw in their reputation or a tarnished name. These informed people must entrust their consciences and secrets under oath and tell the truth and everything they know, regardless of what was asked, so that there will be no fraud or deception in the selection of said maidens and so that


the most suitable for the service of Our Lord God and remedy of his poor can be better and more easily chosen :~


[Annotator's Note: That an investigation [...] of the [Illegible: maidens] be made a year after the established [Illegible: sum] [...] .–]

Iten that one or two times a year, they conduct a careful and diligent, secret investigation into the life and customs and honesty and age of said maidens and their means, which they shall carry out with so much secrecy and warning that it is not felt. And everything discovered must be recorded and signed in said reception book (which is theirs) that contains the abovementioned content. And if they find some defect in a maiden that makes her unsuitable to receive a dowry, they should remain silent and write that it is not convenient to visit her anymore or give her a dowry in accordance with the visit that has been made, which should be recorded in said book, according to the aforesaid :~ :~.


[Annotator's Note: That they prefer the orphans of father and mother over those of father or mother [Illegible: only] if they are equal in virtue, poverty, and other conditions, otherwise, the prefer the orphans of father or mother over those of father and mother]

Iten regarding the selection and naming of said maidens and the preference given to them, I mandate that the following order be obeyed. It is important to know that the orphans who have lost both parents, who have less help, are more virtuous, and have a better life and reputation, and are the most comely, are preferred over those orphaned by either their father or mother, even if they have these same qualities; orphans who lost either their father or mother should be preferred over those who had a father and mother, even if they have those same, said qualities, however, it is permitted for those who have a father and mother, if they are at an advantage over all the rest in age, virtue, comeliness, necessity, and poverty– especially if their parents were of little means, such that they could not favor or help them, and if they had no relatives that could do so– should be preferred over orphans of father or mother, but also over the orphans who have lost both parents. The conscience of said priest prior and patron is entrusted with this selection, so that it may be


made with God in mind as well as the idea that there is no place for favor, friendship, relationship, gifts, promise, hate, enmity, or any other human relation, so that they avoid doing what is most appropriate and provide justice to whomever deserves it, since they are doing the Lord’s work and that of his poor: ~:~.


[Annotator's Note: Among equals, the daughters of Conquistadores should be preferred and if they are equal in all aspects, they should cast lots. –]

¶ Furthermore, I order and mandate that upon making the selection, if the same qualities occur among the orphans of father and mother, or among orphans of father or mother, or among those who had parents, those who are and would have been daughters or granddaughters of conquistadores and settlers of this Viceroyalty should be preferred and the most noble should be preferred over those who are not as noble, but when said equality occurs in everything among them, they should cast lots and the winner should be considered selected:~


[Annotator's Note: The clause only mentions legitimate and illegitimate daughters. And these must be so poor that they have no other recourse. Do not admit adulterous or sacrilegious daughters- ]
[Annotator's Note: This is an absurdity and I signed it [...] . [Illegible: Brother] Juan de Luzuriaga ]
[Annotator's Note: This clause, regarding the exclusion of adulterous and sacrilegious daughters written above, is contradictory to the Patron’s mentality, because first, it implies that illegitimate daughters should be admitted and after saying that illegitimate daughters should be admitted, it says once more that those who are daughters of illegitimate marriages should be admitted, and we should not exclude those whom the Patron would not exclude from this benefit; and even if the clause were to admit an explanation, it would not explain itself as explained above since it is penal law and penal law should always be favorably expanded and since it is so, I sign it, and have freed some dowries that were being detained by this barbaric intelligence. Brother Juan de Luzuriaga PtrPatron.]

Iten, I order that, if among said poor maidens that exist in this city, there were to be some that were illegitimate and legitimate daughters born of a legitimate matrimony, the legitimate daughters of the same grade of virtue, customs, good life, and reputation, should be preferred over the poor maidens that are illegitimate daughters not born of a legitimate matrimony. Yet, if these illegitimate daughters– even if they are daughters of Indian women– were to exceed the legitimate daughters or any others in virtue and customs and good life and reputation, as long as their fathers were Spaniards, then they should be given the five hundred pesos, preferred over the legitimate daughters that were not so honorable in virtue, customs, good life and reputation as the latter, because I want said qualities to prevail always. And it should be understood that no daughter of a black woman should be admitted, even if her father is Spanish. Nor that of a slave woman: ~


Iten, that in the selection of said maidens, much attention be paid so that they always choose the poorest and most virtuous, the eldest, the comeliest, and the one that will be or will have been in this [Illegible: situation] the longest, and the one that has the least number of people who can help her and [Illegible: look] after her; and in this I entrust the [...] to said priest prior and patron.



Iten, that in the case of equality of virtues and qualities among said maidens, lots be honestly cast among those who are equals so that she who [...] luck is understood to be the one selected and if there are others, they are to wait until the next year, understanding that one is not better than the other in virtue and qualities because the one who is, shall be preferred:~


[Annotator's Note: Maidens that are the Patron’s and his wife’s relatives]

¶ Furthermore, I order and mandate that if it were to happen that one of the maidens was of my lineage or my wife, Doña YsabelRegularized:Isabel de Fighueroa’sRegularized:Figueroa, God rest her soul, that she ask for the aid of the said five hundred pesos (which have been designated to help with the dowries of said maidens, who must be virtuous and must conform to the other qualities, according to what has been ordered in these chapters).This maiden or maidens of my or said Doña YsabelRegularized:Isabel de Fighueroa’sRegularized:Figueroa, lineage should always be preferred and are preferred over all the other maidens against whom they would compete and [Illegible: ask] the help of the said five hundred pesos to aid their dowry and ¶marriage. Regarding those said maidens of my or my wife, Doña YsabelRegularized:Isabel de Fighueroa’sRegularized:Figueroa, lineage, I reserve that neither they nor their husbands shall be obligated to the dowry contracts and documents that require the dowry they received to be returned if they die childless– which the rest of the maidens and their husbands are obligated to– but rather, that they liberally keep it for themselves or their heirs, although they are not their children, because I want them to be preferred over the other maidens that are not of my or my wife, Doña YsabelRegularized:Isabel de Fighueroa’sRegularized:Figueroa lineage: ~


Iten, I want the said five hundred pesos to be given to each one of said maidens and their husbands


[Annotator's Note: that the dowry be given to them before a notary public ] before a notary public on the day they are married or afterward, when they like, [...] first by testimony of the priest that would have married them, as they are married ¶ and before it is given to them or they are married, on the day in which this city’s said Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery said maidens celebrates the feast day of Our Lady of Grace (said monastery’s patron saint), said maidens (who are supposed to receive said dowries) should attend high mass, which should be celebrated in said monastery’s major chapel, in the place and part chosen by the priest prior, whose grace I ask to [Illegible: try] hard [...] .


[Annotator's Note: That the dowry be returned. ][Annotator's Note: Prior key holders]

Iten, that the persons, who marry the said maidens of the five hundred pesos, should provide a document and contract, in writing, of the dowry to the notary public regarding the manner in which it was received. In it, they must also bind themselves and said maidens, their wives, to return said dowry to said priest prior and patron if their wives die childless, for the remedy of other maidens; these documents and contracts regarding the dowry should be stored together in said box, where said book and the money for said maidens’ dowry should be kept. And in said book they must write the aforementioned reason so that it can always be found and since said documents are in said box and the [...] [...] keys the priest prior and the key holders of said box :~


[Annotator's Note: the dowry cannot be delivered until after the profession of faith]

Iten, I order that, if a maiden is given said dowry for her marriage (after being visited and found to have the qualities that are required according to the contents of the previous chapters), but is moved by Christian zeal and inspired by the holy spirit and wishes to become a nun, she still be given said dowry as if she were marrying, attentive to the fact that religious will is the most excellent and more perfect than that of matrimony. The dowry should be given to her after the date of her profession of faith and confirmed by a notary public’s testimony of her having done so in any


monastery of nuns in this Viceroyalty; this testimony should be placed in said deposit box and recorded in said book:~.


[Annotator's Note: Petitions must be made before the first of January ]

¶ Furthermore, I order and mandate that any maiden who seeks to receive said dowry, or anyone who does so in her behalf, must petition to be admitted before the first day of January of each year. In her petition, she must state the names of those who were or are her parents, where they live or lived, and her age and place of origin, so that what is most appropriate can be provided at that time and so that there will be sufficient and enough time to become informed and determine what is most appropriate pursuant to what is ordered in these chapters. And any petition that is not in accordance with this order or is given after said first day of January of each year shall not be read or accepted. And if it is read and accepted, it is understood that the visit that must be made will not be for the petition year, but rather for the following year, unless the said priest prior and patron thinks otherwise, in which case I allow them to do what they deem most appropriate ~.


[Annotator's Note: Important. If, after becoming widows again, they misbehave, they do not receive the dowry–][Annotator's Note: Important= Continues to misbehave even if she is settled down, loses the dowry, &]

¶ I order and mandate that, at the time the announcement and notice of the selected maidens is made (so that they may go to high mass, which shall be celebrated in the Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery, as ordered above), said priest prior or patron should advise and encourage said chosen maidens to live with devotion and honesty from that day forward until they marry, as he will be informed of their lives and customs; he must make sure they understand that she who is known to live without said devotion will not receive anything for the dowry for her marriage, she will lose her right to it, and she will not to receive anything or be helped in any way,


even if she attended said high mass on said date :~.


[Annotator's Note: In Lima, from the Property of Diego Nuñez de Figueroa and Diego de Auguero 285,6
Geronimo de Pineda and Dr. Lucio- 0 50, Pedro [Illegible: Vidanibia] and his wife sixty-four and two tomines and three grains 64, 2=3. From the property of Martin Alonso de Ampuero and his wife 85,6 each year- 85,6 From the property of Dr. SiprianoRegularized:Çipriano de Medina, his wife, and his mother-in-law two hundred fourteen, two tomines and three grains collected 219,23 Total1000.]
¶ And to pay said dowries of five hundred pesos de a nueve realesannually to the said two maidens, I designate and name and appropriate a thousand pesos of income that I have in leases in the City of the Kings [4], which, at the time this was written and executed before a notary, were imposed in the following manner:~
  • V • From the Property of Diego Nuñez de FighueroaRegularized:Figueroa and Diego de Agüero, both in solidum, two hundred eighty-five pesos and six Reales each year. – 285 pesos -6.
  • V • From the Property of HieronimoRegularized:Geronimo depinedaRegularized:de Piñeda and Doctor Lucio in solidum, fifty pesos each year – 050-
  • V • From the property of Pedro de [Illegible: Vidanivia] and his wife, one hundred sixty-four pesos and two tomines and three grains [5] 164-2-3
  • V • From the property of Martin Alonso de Ampuero and his wife, two hundred eighty-five pesos and six Reales each year. 285 pesos – 6.–
  • V • From the property of Doctor Çipriano de Medina and his wife and mother-in-law, two hundred fourteen pesos, two tomines, and three grains each year- 214 pesos, 2 tomines, 3.
  • V • All the aforementioned sums up to and totals the said one thousand pesos in rent; the records of said leases are passed on [Illegible: to] Diego Martinez and Alonso Hernandez; notaries public of the said City of the Kings. ~


¶ Furthermore, I mandate that if the aforementioned [...] [...] persons, or anyone else who pays, were to pay and discharge said leases, in part or in full, that the amount that they pay or discharge be collected, in turn, in the [Illegible: above-named amounts] from [Illegible: said] persons on good, definite, and substantial property in which the rent is definite and completely paid; and the same should be done each time this occurs:~


[Annotator's Note: That the collection for the dowries be entrusted to the [Illegible: priest] prior]
[Annotator's Note: Important. That the dowries be collected and distributed by the monastery’s prior in accordance with said clause. ]

¶ Furthermore, I mandate that, after my death, the collection of said one thousand pesos in rent, for the said effect of paying the said two dowries, be entrusted to the said Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery, to which I give, as is necessary, full power, the format required in such a case


by law and shall be granted; as the said thousand pesos charged a year are collected, either in part or in full, they are to place them in said deposit box, kept in said monastery as they are collected and the money should remain there until the dowry is presented on the said marriage date or afterward, whenever the married couple would like, to the said maidens, or to any of them, or to them and their husbands, before a notary public, before whom said dowry contract and document will be presented, in the manner and order mentioned above. Neither part nor all of the said thousand pesos will or can be taken out of the said deposit box except to give it to said maidens and their husbands on said day, in accordance with the aforementioned :~ :~


[Annotator's Note: Given before Diego MartinesRegularized:Martinez, Alonso HernandesRegularized:Hernandez, public notaries, of the City of the Kings =]

Iten, I mandate that, when the aforementioned persons or anyone else, pay or were to pay the said rent and lease, paying and discharging said leases in part or in full, the very reverend provincial fathers, defenders of the order of Señor St. Agustin, should send the money, as it is being collected for the leases, to be placed and deposited in their deposit box located in the Señor St. Agustin Monastery of said City of the Kings; the leases, in turn, shall be collected there for the purpose of marrying said poor maidens. This I implore and ask for the love of God; their paternities ask for this to be fulfilled with the care that it deserves, which should not allow or bring about part or all of said money’s removal from said box for any other reason and this form and order must be kept and maintained every time that the sellers of said leases pay them and they must give warning and notice to said priest prior and patron of the said Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery of said City of Huánuco regarding everything they do and everything that occurs in this matter


as they are the persons in charge of the marriage and dowries of said maidens :~:~


¶ Furthermore, I mandate that, once again, said leases be imposed on the properties and that they are obligated to pay the rent on them to the said Señor St. Agustin of Grace Monastery of this city. And the document, which they must agree to, should specify and declare that the rent they are obligated to pay is for the two dowries of said poor maidens, who are to marry in said monastery each year, according to the signature and aforesaid order, which orders and mandates that they marry; and every time a deed for said leases is renewed, in the said signature and order, a copy of it should be sent to the priest prior and patron so that it can be placed in the deposit box at the Señor St. Agustin Monastery in the City of Kings, so that the prelates and priests of this sacred order, whom I trust, since they are religious and blessed persons, who always practice pious and charitably deeds, may have it at their disposal whenever it is needed. They will ensure that the abovementioned is fulfilled therefore, and for the love of my Lord, God, I ask that it be done: ~ : ~.


Iten, I mandate that when all or some of said leases have been paid, during the time that it takes to collect the lease money, which would have been collected between the time a lease is paid in full and the time it is purchased, when no rent whatsoever was accrued, whatever amount received from the said rent of said thousand pesos, despite the lesser amount, should be divided between said dowries in said year:~


Iten, I order that, if it were to happen that there were no two poor maidens in this said city to give the said five hundred pesos each to, in order to help their


dowries and marriage, in the year and or years in which this were to happen, it is my will and mandate that said thousand pesos of rent be donated to the confraternity and brotherhood of charity and mercy in the City of Kings, so that its treasurers and brothers can spend it on marrying poor maidens, while maintaining the order that said confraternity and brotherhood must follow with the maidens they marry each year and that the said one thousand pesos be given to two maidens that said confraternity and brotherhood marry each year. Each should be given no less than five hundred pesos; this I ordered to be done and fulfilled every year in which there are no poor maidens in said city to marry. Said thousand dollars of rent shall not be saved in part or in full from one year to the next, but rather, must be spent on said dowries, and in order to do so, they must be turned over to the said treasurers and brothers.


¶ And, since it is possible that no more than one poor maiden marry in this said city in some year or years because there are no others, the five hundred pesos that are to be given to a poor maiden (if there is one) should be given to said brotherhood of charity and mercy for said effect of marrying a poor maiden. I entrust said priest prior and patron of said monastery with the aforementioned charge, so that this clause and its contents be maintained and punctually fulfilled, without exceeding what I have ordered in any way. Through them, Our Lord God is served, and I entrust their conscience with this.:~


¶ And so that the said treasurers and brothers of said charity and mercy know and have notice of the aforementioned content contained in the two said clauses and procure its execution and fulfillment [Illegible: I mandate] that the two said clauses, under testimony,


must be sent by the testamentary executor to said treasurers and brothers when I pass from this present life to the next. I thereby entrust them with this and if they do not do it, I kindly ask the priest prior or patron carry this out as I order and mandate here :~


¶ Furthermore, I mandate that a copy of these said authorized chapters, in the form and manner that said notary transcribed them in his document record, should be sent to the very reverend fathers of the Señor St. Agustin Monastery of said City of the Kings, so that their paternities can make [...] order them to be placed in the deposit box in said monastery:~


¶ Furthermore, I reserve the right to edit, abridge, expound, or revoke these said chapters and their order, in part or in full, at my will, as many times as I please and for any reason. And I want and consider it appropriate for said notary to legally provide any person who requests one, with a copy of these chapters from the record in which they are kept.

These chapters were executed in form before the notary public, Francisco Cabello, of the municipal council, on the seventh day of the month of January, one thousand five hundred and ninety-seven 1597:~

[...] the very noble and loyal city of Leon in the province of Huánuco in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on the eleventh day of the month of March 1597. Diego Alvarez, Esq., neighbor of the [Illegible: loyal] city [...] a notary public etcetera [...] who wished and ordered what is written and contained in the aforesaid chapters; they should be obeyed [...] to the letter, as written [...] , which occurs [...] understanding and if their contract


is executed before Mr. Francisco Cabello, notary public of this [...] council [...] can see [...] written about what is contained in the chapters written in this book. Anything that is more or less similar should not be observed or fulfilled, but rather, only that which is written in this [...] book of whatever [...] . And I mandate that they be ordered from [...] in the execution of the fulfillment of the [...] priest prior and patron [...] that [...] his last and final will that he signed as [...] that comes [Illegible: from leases] from all [...] . Don Francisco de Cordova, Francisco Gonzalez and Pedro Tendrios [...] resident and granddaughter of the widow [...] grant that the notary has power to certify that I know

Diego Alvarez, Esq. [...] Juan de Orueta Notary public



[Note: free from the [...] ]

on the [Illegible: eighteenth] of September of [...] six eleven of [...] [Illegible: Juan Castaneda] prior of Huánaco to [...] with [...] , originally from the [Illegible: pesos] that they [Illegible: would win] ________ [Illegible: Juan Castaneda Prior]


Translator's Notes

Jesus Christ.
Pesos worth 9 reales each.
Latin, “also.”
“granos” in Spanish.

Rice University
Date: 2010-06-07
Available through the Creative Commons Attribution license