Don Manuel Valdivieso y Carrión Protests the Marriage of His Daughter to Don Teodoro Jaramillo, a Person of Lower Social Standing, (Quito, 1784-5), pp. 224-235.
Until the mid-eighteenth century, the church regulated the institution of marriage in Spanish America, emphasizing the freedom of individuals to marry according to their will and, if necessary, independently of their parents consent. However, on March 23, 1776, the Spanish Crown introduced its own legislation, the Royal Pragmatic (Real Pragmática), to assert control over this important social institution. By 1778 the Crown had applied the Pragmatic to all of its colonies, and in subsequent years it issued a series of explanatory guidelines and supplementary decrees. The Royal Pragmatic sought to protect families from socially unequal marriages and thus to preserve the traditional hierarchical social order. It required that children now obtain permission to marry from their father, or in his absence, from their mother, grandparents, or nearest adult relative or guardian. In cases where they married without parental authorization, the law allowed for disinheritance.
The Royal Pragmatic resulted in a groundswell of lawsuits that contested its new regulations on legally acceptable marriages. The records of these lawsuits constitute a rich documentary source, one that offers important insights into contemporary views of inequality and the hierarchical ordering of regional social structures
The following document excerpts are part of a lawsuit tried before the Audiencia of Quito in 1784 and 1785, just six years after the Royal Pragmatic was promulgated in the Americas. The suit was initiated by Manuel Valdivieso y Carrión, a vecino (citizen) of Loja, a city located in the southern highlands of the audiencia district. In April 1785, Valdivieso wrote a letter to the audiencia president [p. 225] asking him to intervene in a dispute he had with Juan Teodoro Jaramillo; Valdivieso argued that Jaramillo, also a vecino of Loja, was of low social standing and had seduced his daughter Baltasara into marriage. For Valdivieso, such a marriage was clearly an offense under the Royal Pragmatic and would greatly dishonor his family; it had to be prevented at all costs.
In October 1785, drawing extensively on the points made by Jaramillos attorney, the fiscal argued that the court should rule against Valdiviesos opposition to the marriage of his daughter with Jaramillo
In the following excerpts, the two parties present their opposition points of view. The first section contains a summary of previously recorded testimony prepared for the court on behalf of Valdivieso y Carrión. The summary condenses the depositions of ten witnesses who had responded to a lengthy set of questions designed to elicit testimony that would prove Jaramillos social inferiority.
18.1 Court Summary of a Questionnaire, with Recorded Testimonies, Presented by Manuel Valdivieso
[Asked] if they know or have heard publicly that it is well known and well recognized that don Manuel Valdivieso and his ancestors have been of distinguished nobility and have obtained in Loja and other provinces the most honorable offices, they all confirm [that this is true].
[Asked] if they know that doña María Aguilera, don Manuel Valdiviesos wife, and her ancestors have enjoyed an equivalent reputation, without any reduction of noble privileges. All of them confirm.
[Asked] if they know publicly that don Juan Teodoro is of low birth, very inferior in origin and calidad to don Manuel Valdivieso and his wife. Don José Vivanco says that he has not heard anything about it, either publicly or privately, that he is ignorant of the calidad of the parents of don Teodoro, that he has seen [Teodoros] mother wearing ladys clothing, dressed as a beata (lay religious woman), and that he has heard in public that Jaramillo was inferior in descent to don Manuel Valdivieso and his wife. Don Mariano Pedra [says] that he considered don Juan Teodoro a plebeian man and of low birth, but that he regarded him as neither mean nor ignoble, and he knows Jaramillos origin is very much inferior to that of don Manuel and his wife. Don Agustín Vásquez [says] that he has heard that he is not of noble birth, [but] that he has also heard that he is the grandchild of a distinguished gentleman. Don Bernardo Aguirre [says] that he knows that the [honorific] ‘don was not given to Teodoro at first, but not because he was ignoble or mean; and he has considered him [Teodoro] a white man, and he has heard he descends from the Jaramillo family, which is reputed to be noble. No one can doubt that [the family] of Valdivieso and his wife is of the most illustrious kind. Don Mateo Vásquez [says] he has considered Jaramillo neither ignoble, mean, nor plebeian, [and] that he has known him as a Spanish man, but it is certain that he is not equal to don Manuel and his wife. Don Francisco Moreno [says] that he has no considered on Juan Teodoro a mean and ignoble man, and [p. 227] he does not know anything about his lenieage; he has judged him to be a man not of the highest distinction but also not contemptible since he has seen him held in esteem and high regard. He also knows that he [Teodoro] is not an equal of don Manuel and his wife, and that during this lawsuit he has heard [things] in favor and in disfavor of the calidad of Jaramillo. Don José Murillo [days] that he has considered on Teodoro a white man and of inferior calidad to that of don Manuel. Doña Micaela Castillo [says] that she does not know if don Teodoro is a mean or ignoble man and that she has regarded him as a white and decent man.
[Asked] if they know that Jaramillo was a silversmith by profession, like his uncle Esteban Ureña, Don Mariano Piedra [says] that he has seen him in the silversmiths shop in the company of Esteban Ureña, but he is not sure if he was practicing this craft [though] he has heard this in public on the occasion of this lawsuit. Don Agustín Vásquez does not know if he was nor was not [a silversmith]; he says that [Jaramillo] has led caravans of mules owned by Miguel Carrión, getting paid a salary for his work. Don Mateo Vásquez [says] that he saw [Jaramillo] as a child learning the silversmiths trade in the company of his uncle Ureña, and after a short time he left it [the craft]; [don Mateo Vásquez says] that [Jaramillo] ran the fábrica of the house of don Miguel Carrión at the rank of steward, and he led the mules of don Miguel and his son, earning a salary. All the witnesses agree that Jaramillo served in the business and led Carrións mules
[Asked] if they know or have heard etc. Don Bernardo Valdivieso [says], concerning the paternal ancestors, he knows and has heard that the sons of don Juan Jaramillo and Margarita González were regarded as plebeians, as were the maternal [ancestors] of Teodoro, and they did not hold any honorable offices. [Don Bernardo Valdivieso says] that Francisco Jaramillo is the great-uncle of don Juan Teodoro, and that the descendants of don Francisco have served, because of their family branch or line, in the top occupations. Piedra [says] that he does not know [if] the ancestors of Jaramillo had obtained honorable occupations or manual ones, but that since his grandfather they have been reputed to be plebeians. Aguirre [says] that he does not know anything regarding [Jaramillos] maternal [ancestors], but that the Jaramillos have served in honorable occupations. Don Mateo Vásquez [says] that he [has] heard that don Teodoro is related to and descends from Jaramillos, noble persons
[Asked] if they have heard or known that don Juan Jaramillo etc. Don Francisco Riofrío [says] that on this same occasion he has heard in various conversations that don Juan Jaramillo married Margarita González, reputed to be the daughter of an Indian woman from Saraguro. Don Mateo Vásquez [says] that he has only heard that don Juan Jaramillo married badly and unequally for his noble station. The other [witnesses] do not know.
[Asked] if they know that Juan Jaramillo and González etc. Vivanco [says] that he only knows that the mother of Jaramillo had a son called José, and as a widow she married Bartolo Gálvez, a humble man who due to his poverty works as a truquero. Don Mariano Piedra [says] that he did not know if María Regalado was a plebeian, but that he has regarded her as such
Don Manuel Vásquez adds that María Regalado was a white woman, and that he never saw her in the clothing of a plebeian. Moreno [says] that he did not regard María as a plebeian. He know that as a widow she had conceived José, the son [p. 228] of Tomás Aguirre, and Francisca, the daughter of another father, and that María married Barolo Gálvez, and because he was a truquero [Moreno] considered him a man of low rank
[Asked] if they know that José Aguirre etc. Don Bernardo Valdivieso testifies that Francisca, sister of Teodoro, is the wife of Mariano Riofrío, bastard son of an Indian woman. Piedra [says] that Riofrío is the son of an Indian woman. Don Agustín Vásquez [states] that it is said in public that Riofrío is the son of a gentleman of distinguished nobility; although [Vásquez] has heard talk that [Riofrío] is a mestizo, he does not know anything about his mother. Aguirre [says] that he has heard it said that [Riofrío] is the son of an Indian woman and a gentleman
18.2 Petition Submitted to the Court by Ramón Jaramillo, Attorney for Don Manuel Valdivieso.
[The attorney argues that the court must not permit the marriage because although he has wealth, he is of low birth, because his ancestral lineage is not racially pure, and because Jaramillo ad many of his family members have engaged in servile occupations.]