July 22, 2017

Manumitted Enslaved People in Puerto Rico

Most people do not realize that slavery still existed on the island of Puerto Rico well after the United States had freed those enslaved.  In Puerto Rico, slavery ended in 1873 by the Spanish National Assembly.  However, those enslaved were not exactly freed, they had to work for an additional 3 years for those that kept them captive. Those who claimed ownership were compensated at 35 million pesetas for each enslaved person.

Any person that was 60 or older and children under 10, were allegedly set free immediately. I state this as we all know that not everyone was willing to release what they considered their property. This is covered in detailed in many history books covering Puerto Rico. You can search in Google Books to locate free copies of history books online and that have been transcribed to English.

A quick search in PARES, I came across 10 enslave people being manumitted, sometime between 1871 and 1872. I found them by searching for records on Toa Alta. If you do not know what PARES is, I have posted links to many of my pages for different islands. I provide instructions on how to use the website. The source of the record of these 10 enslaved people is: ES.28079.AHN/,5100,Exp.57

To make it more understandable. The breakdown of where to find the record is as follows:

Título de la unidad: "Relación de esclavos emancipados de la isla de Puerto Rico"
Archivo: Archivo Histórico Nacional
Signatura: ULTRAMAR,5100,Exp.57
These individuals were living in Toa Alta in Puerto Rico.  Their names and ages found in this record that were freed are as follows:

Teresa 4 years old
Luisa 5 years old
Maria Cruz is 11 years old
Joaquina is 18 years old
Francisco is 23 years old
Sandalio is 33 years old
Mariano is 38 years old
Wencesla is 38 years old
Patricio is 41 years old

It is quite disheartening to see people forced into slavery. The man that held these people was Juan Pedro Cintron. I went ahead and downloaded the documents and provided the images below.  Note that you can also download the images and zoom in to see if any of them can be ancestors you are searching. These are not the only people you will find in PARES. All you need is Google Translate to be able to review the documents.

I even found licenses of purchasing of African slaves going back to 1519.  Any island under Spanish rule at some point in the past will find records in PARES for their island.

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  1. Can you remind me what Pares means again? I assumed it mean anyone of color. It doesn't necessarily mean those enslaved, right? Because usually the enslaved had their own separate book of records.

    1. If you mean Pardos, the definition of it is brown. However, in the books it references an individual that is mixed. So anyone who is Native American, White, and African. It was used freely. If you had anyone in a relationship identified as Pardos, their children were reference this way too. Anyone they classified as not appearing White European. I have seen pardos listed as libre or "pardos libres". However, I have seen negro libres, negro esclavos, and of course mulato esclavo. It seems that the designation was given based on the person taking the information.


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