During the three centuries of colonial rule, more than 200,000 African slaves were brought into Mexico.1 Historians and social scientists have paid relatively scant attention to the fate of the black man in either the colonial or modern period of Mexican history. And although it is generally known that considerable racial mixing, loosely described as mestizaje, took place in Hispanic America, scholars have not attempted a detailed analysis of the extent and direction of this miscegenation in terms of actual marriage patterns of persons of African descent. Despite the voluminous colonial marriage records available in the numerous Mexican church archives, few scholars have attempted to delve into such interesting questions as the following:

  1. To what extent did Negro slaves tend to marry other Negro slaves rather than persons of other ethnic groups or legal status?

  2. Did free Negroes and others of African descent tend to marry within or outside their racial groups and from which racial groups were mates chosen by those who married outside their own groups?

  3. What were the marriage patterns of persons having only a little African blood? Did such persons tend to marry within their group or marry upward into the Spanish group?

  4. Were interracial marriages between Spaniards and persons having Negroid blood rare, and if so, how rare?

This pilot study of marriages involving persons of African descent deals with these basic questions.2 The author, utilizing the colonial records of the parish of Santa Veracruz (Mexico City), analyzed most of marriages in which one or both persons were of African descent.3 The marriages studied covered the period 1646-1746, or, say, five generations.

The parish church of Santa Veracruz was founded in 1526 by Hernán Cortés. In 1568 it was finally completed and officially dedicated by the Archbishop Alfonso de Montúfar.4 Prior to 1781 the western boundary of the parish extended to Atzcapozalco, including the pueblo of Tacuba, and the southern area of the parish embraced the pueblos of Tacubaya, Mixcoac, San Angel, Coyoacán, Natívitas, and San Agustín de las Cuevas (Tlalpan). The parish church was located in the heart of Mexico City, opposite the Alameda.

The basic statistical information for this study was taken from the records on Casamientos de Castas (marriages of persons of mixed blood). During the colonial period, the Church usually recorded all marriages, births, and baptismals in two separate parochial books—one for Spaniards and the other for the castas (persons of mixed blood). In the parish of Santa Veracruz, Spanish marriages were recorded in the Casamientos de Españoles, and casta marriages, including persons of African descent, in the Casamientos de Castas.5 Marriages listed in the Casamientos de Españoles of the parish of Santa Veracruz are not, however, exclusively limited to marriages involving Spaniards or whites. One can find in these volumes numerous examples of Spanish men marrying mestizo and castizo women, and a few marriages between Spanish men and mulatto women are similarly to be found there.6 In a few remarkable instances, marriages involving only Spaniards are recorded in the Casamientos de Castas of the parish of Santa Veracruz.7

The colonial priest, in recording marriages, was required to list the ethnic status of the couples. An elaborated racial classification scheme, called casta, was established by the Spanish authorities and applied by the priests. In the parish of Santa Veracruz the following racial classifications were used in the marriage documents:

  • Negro (tended to denote a pure black man)

  • Mulato (Spanish and Negro)

  • Mulato blanco (Spanish and Negro, usually called a mulato)

  • Mulato prieto (Negro and parda)

  • Mulato lobo (Pardo and Indian, commonly called a lobo)

  • Morisco (Spanish and mulato)

  • Mestizo (Spanish and Indian)

  • Castizo (Spanish and Mestizo)

  • Indio (an Indian)

  • Indio ladino (an Indian who had adopted Spanish customs and spoke the Spanish language)

  • Lobo (same as mulato lobo)

  • Coyote (usually used to denote a mestizo)

  • Chino (Negro and Indian, or a person born in the Philippines)

  • Pardo (Negro and Indian)

  • Moreno (euphemistic term for a person of African descent)

  • Español (white)

There are many difficulties surrounding the exact meaning of these terms. Take, for instance, the elastic term chino. Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, the leading authority on the Negro in Mexico, maintains that the term was used to denote the offspring of a Negro-Indian couple and that during the 17th and 18th centuries the terms mulato and chino were synonymous.8 But Professor Joaquín Roncal asserts that the word chino indicated a child born to an Indian-lobo couple.9 On the other hand, Nicolás León, who made a detailed study of the colonial caste system, defines a chino as a person having twenty-five per cent Indian and seventy-five per cent Negro blood.10 In the parish records of Santa Veracruz, the term chino sometimes denoted a person of Asian descent, born in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the church records do not always show the place of birth of the chino, and without an extensive genealogical investigation it is frequently impossible to know whether a given chino was of African or Asian descent. Because of the confusion in regard to the use of the term chino in the parish of Santa Veracruz, I have only included chinos in the analysis of marriage patterns when the chino married a person of African descent.11

The term español also requires explanation. In colonial Mexico, the term español or bianco did not necessarily indicate purity of blood. Angel Rosenblat, in his classical study of mestizaje, warns that the term

. . . at no time in the history of America implied purity of blood. A mestizo crossed with a Spaniard was called castizo; the castizo with a Spaniard was known as an español; that is to say, one was white who had one-eighth Indian blood. In a similar manner, the crossing of the mulatto with white produced a cuarterón; the cuarterón with white a quinterón; the quinterón with white produced a white; that is to say that one was white who had one-sixteenth Negro blood.12

The student of interracial marriages must also contend with the fact that the priests did not always record the ethnic status of both persons in the marriage records. Frequently the terms “vecino” and “natural” were the only designations used in the parish records of Santa Veracruz to describe one of the partners of a marriage. Frequently the term vecino merely meant a resident of a particular city or town, e.g., ‘Francisco Joseph Flores, mulato libre, vecino ãe esta ciudad.” On the other hand, a given individual simply might be described as a “vecino de esta ciudad,” without indicating the casta of the person. The vecino, whose racial status was not recorded by the priest, is included in this study only when the other party to the marriage was of African descent.

A further complication arose in those instances where the priest used the term natural, but did not specifically indicate the race of the party. Generally speaking, the Spaniards regarded the Indians as naturales. Professor Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán describes the Spanish view of the Indian by pointing out that “The Indians were classified as naturales, without reason. Their culture kept them submerged in nature.”13 But the term natural, as used in the Casamientos de Castas of Santa Veracruz, did not necessarily mean an Indian. The priests often described individuals as “mulato natural,” “morisco natural,” “indio natural,” “lobo natural,” “castizo natural,” etc. In other instances, the term natural was simply employed to indicate the place of birth, e.g., “Ana Neña, española, natural y vecina desta ciudad.” Undoubtedly many of the naturales married to persons of African descent were Indians, but on the basis of the marriage records, one can only speculate as to the race of those who were simply described by the term natural.

In the parish records of Santa Veracruz, the ethnic status of approximately three per cent of the persons marrying individuals of African descent was not indicated. The term vecino was used to describe nine males and eleven females; thirty-one males and twenty-seven females were listed as naturales; and the remaining twenty-one were unclassified by the priests of Santa Veracruz. Apparently the priests had difficulty in assigning a casta classification to these ninety-nine persons and resorted to vague terminology or simply ignored racial groupings. As all of this group of individuals married persons of African descent, it was logical to record these marriages in the Casamientos de Castas.

The focus of this paper is on legitimate unions, recorded and performed by the priests of the church. It must be pointed out, however, that many Negroes and mulattoes, especially slaves, would have had difficulty in securing money for the expense of marriage, unless they had masters willing to assume this cost. As a consequence of this financial difficulty and for other reasons, a large percentage of the persons of African descent did not get married. The increase of the Negro population of colonial Mexico was, to a considerable extent, due to the frequency of extra-legal unions and the resultant birth of many illegitimate children. A spot check of the baptismal records of the castas indicated that illegitimate births also were common in the parish of Santa Veracruz.

Marriage records of the castas are of special interest since the Spanish rulers of colonial Mexico discouraged Africans from marrying outside their racial group. In 1527 the king of Spain declared:14 In so far as possible, Negro men who marry should endeavor to marry Negro women. And we declare that these, and the others who are slaves, do not become free because they have married, even though this be the will of the master.

In view of the fact that the Spanish brought to Mexico three times as many Negro males as females, it would have been difficult to have required that all Negroes marry within their racial group. Numerous efforts, however, were made to keep Negroes from marrying or living with Indian women. Negroes and persons of African descent, with some exceptions, were prohibited from living in Indian villages. An elaborate, but none too successful, scheme was established to separate the Indians from the whites and Negroes. But unlike the case in the British colonies, the Negro in Hispanic America was not specifically forbidden to marry outside his racial group.

During the period 1646-1746, the priests of the parish of Santa Veracruz married 1,662 couples, of whom one or both parties of the marriages were persons of African descent.15 In terms of the ethnic status of the 3,324 persons involved in these marriages, 2,378 (71.5%) of the individuals were of African ancestry, 847 (25.5%) were of non-African origin, and ninety-nine (3.0%) were not given a casta classification by the priests. The overwhelming majority, approximately 98%, of the persons listed in the marriage records as having Negroid blood were classified by the priests as Negroes, mulattoes, or moriscos. Specifically, 1,748 persons marrying during the period covered by this study were reported to be mulattoes (996 males and 752 females), 329 were Negroes (207 males and 122 females), and 234 were moriscos (118 males and 116 females). The remaining persons of African descent included the following: eight mulatos prietos; thirty-two lobos, five pardos, five morenos, and seventeen chinos.

One of the remarkable features of the marriage patterns of persons of African descent in the parish of Santa Veracruz was the fact that 847 individuals of non-Negroid ancestry married persons of color. The non-African partners of these marriages included 522 mestizos, 126 castizos, 116 Indians, 6 indios ladinos, and 77 españoles. Among the non-Negroid groups, mestizos displayed a greater tendency to marry persons of African descent than did Indians and Spaniards. It is interesting to note that 126 castizos, who in view of the harsh restrictions imposed on persons having African blood normally would have been expected to marry other castizos or Spaniards, chose instead to marry persons of African descent. In choosing spouses having Negroid blood, these castizos lessened the social mobility of the children resulting from such unions. Likewise, the marriage of seventy-seven Spaniards to persons of African ancestry represented a departure from the expected Spanish norm.

The marriage record of the parish reveals that in the case of 52.2% of the marriages involving persons of African descent either the husband or the wife did not have any Negroid blood, and only in 47.8% of the 1,622 marriages were both parties of African descent. It is obvious that the efforts of Spanish officials to encourage persons of African descent to marry within their casta group was not a marked success in the parish of Santa Veracruz.

The Negroes of Santa Veracruz exhibited a marked tendency to marry either Negroes or mulattoes. In the case of the 207 male Negroes marrying during the period covered by this study, approximately 46.3% (96) married Negro women and 25.1% (62) selected mulatto mates. The remaining forty-nine Negro males married non-African women. Among the Negro males of the latter group, twenty-three married mestizas, fifteen wed Indians, seven chose moriscas, one took a Spanish wife, one selected a loba, one elected to marry a castiza, and one married a woman whose casta status was not shown in the marriage records.

The 122 Negro women of the parish who married demonstrated an even greater propensity to select a Negro or mulatto spouse. Nearly 78.6% (96) of the Negro females married Negroes, and 16.4% (20) selected mulattoes. Only six Negro females opted to marry other than mulattoes or Negroes. Among the latter group of female Negroes, two married mestizos, two wed chinos, and two selected mates of unlisted casta.

The marriage patterns of the male and female mulattoes was more diversified than that of their Negro counterparts. Male mulattoes of the parish were only slightly more prone to choose a woman of African descent than one of non-African ancestry. During the period 1646-1746, 996 male mulattoes married, and of this number 532 chose wives from the African casta groups, whereas 464 selected wives outside of the Negroid castes. The male mulatto, in selecting a non-Negroid bride, gave first preference to mestizas, some 284 marrying women of this casta, and second perference to castizas, with eighty-six men marrying women from this group. Approximately 42.3% (421) of the male mulattoes chose mulatto wives. Male mulattoes, however, were not apt to marry Negro women. A mere 2.1% (20) of the male mulattoes of the parish elected to marry Negroes. In terms of the general tendencies of the mulatto males, about 70.8% (705) elected to marry either a mulata or a mestiza, with 42.2% selecting mulata wives and 28.6% choosing mestiza wives.

The marriage patterns of the female mulatto were not very different from those of the male mulatto. Of the 752 marriages involving female mulattoes, 73.5% married either a mulatto or a mestizo. The female mulatto showed a slightly greater tendency to marry Negroes, in that 8.3% (62) took their husbands from this casta as compared with 2.1% for the male mulattoes. On the other hand, forty-one mulatto women married men whose casta status was not indicated in the marriage records. A majority of women of this group married men who were listed as naturales, probably Indians.

The 234 male and female moriscos of the parish displayed an intertesting pattern of marriage which, to a considerable extent, defied the norm that one could have expected to characterize this group. Because of their fair complexion, the moriscos were in a favorable position to pass for white.16Moriscos had only one-fourth Negro blood, and if they married Spanish or castiza women, the children resulting from such unions would be in an even better position to emerge from the castas altogether. To be sure, approximately 16.9% (20) of the 118 male moriscos of the parish were able to wed Spanish women and 12.7% (15) found castiza mates, while none of the male moriscos entered into wedlock with Negroes, mulata prietas, lobas or chinas, and only three chose Indian brides. On the other hand, about 18.6% (22) of the male moriscos did select mulatto women as their spouses, and the children of these couples remained among the Afromestizo population of Mexico City. And 46.5% of the male moriscos, avoiding this tendency toward mulataje, chose either a mestiza or a morisca wife. Specifically, twenty-three moriscos selected morisca brides and thirty-two wed castizas.

The 116 morisca women of the parish exhibited a predisposition to seek a mulatto, mestizo, or morisco husband. Approximately 75.0% (87) of the female moriscas chose husbands from the above three groups, with 40.2% (35) selecting mulatto mates, 33.3% (29) marrying mestizos, and 26.5% choosing moriscos. Only seven moriscas of the parish of Santa Veracruz married Negroes, and a mere three were wed to Indians. It is rather surprising to note that female moriscas were not as apt as males to attempt to cross the color line by marrying persons with higher percentages of white blood. In the case of the moriscas, a mere 8.6% (10) chose castizo husbands and only one married a white man. The female moriscas in no instance married mulatos prietos, pardos, or morenos, but two did wed chinos.

The Casamientos de Castas revealed that during the period 1646-1746, only thrity-two lobos, seventeen chinos, eight mulatos prietos, five morenos, and 5 pardos were married by the priests of the parish of Santa Veracruz. The persons of these five groups numbered only sixty-seven, consisting of thirty-seven males and thirty females. In view of the small number of marriages involving these five castas, no detailed attempt has been made to analyze their marriage patterns. A few interesting facts, however, were observed regarding these groups. Only in three instances did persons in them marry Negroes. Indians also avoided marrying into these groups. A majority of the marriages of lobos and chinos involved free persons of these two groups who married free individuals of other groups.

The marriage records of the parish of Santa Veracruz also provide the social scientist with an interesting opportunity to study the marriage patterns of slaves and free persons. During the period 1646-1746, a majority, approximately 74.6%, of the 2,378 persons of African descent who married were free individuals, and only 21.2% were slaves. The slaves married by the priests of the parish consisted of the following: 159 male Negroes, 88 female Negroes, 188 male mulattoes, 65 female mulattoes, 2 female moriscas, 2 mulatos prietos, 3 chinos, and a moreno. Priests of the parish of Santa Veracruz, however, failed to record the legal status, free or slave, of 4.2% of the individuals of African descent. It would be logical to assume that the ninety-nine individuals of this group were free, or that the priests had valid reasons to doubt the status of such persons.

An analysis of the marriages in terms of the legal status of the couples reveals that in the instance of 1,120 marriages both the husband and wife were free. Mulattoes constituted 54.6% of this marital group. The free male mulatto’s first choice for a wife was a free mulatto woman, while his second and third choices were mestizas and Indian women respectively. Only two free mulatto men elected to marry free Negro women. In contrast, some thirty-nine free mulatto males increased their social mobility by marrying free Spanish women. A majority of the free mulatto women, 291 out of 516, chose mulatto mates; forty-five married castizos; twenty-two wed moriscos; and 122 selected mestizos. Surprisingly, only thirteen free mulatto women married free Negro men. The marriage patterns of the free mulatto, especially the men, definitely revealed the tendency of this group to favor interracial marriages.

The number of marriages involving free Negroes was very small. In the cases of the nine free Negro women so identified, all but one married either a free Negro or free mulatto male. The marriage patterns of the thirty-three free Negro males were more varied, in that they selected mates from all of the casta groups except mulatas prietas, lobas, chinas, pardas, and morenas. However, in only two instances did a free Negro man marry an Indian woman.

In view of the fact that almost all of the moriscos of the parish of Santa Veracruz were free, one is not surprised to find that the moriscos perferred not to lower their social status by marrying slaves. During the period of one hundred years covered by this study, only two marriages were recorded of moriscos marrying slaves. One of these marriages involved a free morisco choosing a morisca slave as his wife, and the other marriage was between a free mulatto male and a slave morisca. Free moriscos, male and female, studiously avoided marrying persons having dark skins.

Despite the fact that the slaves of colonial Mexico were subjected to numerous discriminatory laws, it was possible for the slave, as a consequence of marriage, to improve the status of his children.17 In view of the fact that the black slaves were not required by law to marry a slave, it was logical for these individuals to prefer free spouses if they could find them. This was particularly true of the male slave, because by marrying a free woman he would ensure that his children would be born free. The status of the child was dependent on the legal status of the mother. In the parish records of Santa Veracruz, 508 persons of African descent and listed as slaves married during the years 1646-1747.

The 253 mulattoes constituted the largest group of slaves whose marriages were recorded. A majority of the male mulatto slaves, 151 out of 188, sought to improve their lot by marrying free women. However, they avoided marrying free Negro women; only three male mulatto slaves elected to wed such women. On the other hand, sixty-eight of the male mulatto slaves married free mulata women, forty-three chose mestiza wives, seventeen wed Indians, eleven picked castiza brides, five selected Spanish spouses, two elected to marry lobas, and two decided in favor of moriscas. The male mulatto slave clearly tended to favor marrying free mulatas, mestizas, or Indians.

Mulatto female slaves encountered slightly more difficulty than male mulatto slaves in marrying a free spouse. Approximately 38.5% (25) of the slave mulatto women were able to find free husbands, with sixteen marrying free men of African descent and nine being wed to husbands outside of the Negroid casta groups. One of the mulatto women slaves was even able to marry a Spaniard.

The Negro slaves of the parish of Santa Veracruz apparently encountered more difficulty in trying to marry free persons. Slightly more than one-third of the 247 number of male and female Negroes listed by the priests as slave were able to marry free individuals. In the case of female Negro slaves, only ten found free husbands, and, with one exception, their husbands were either free Negroes or mulattoes. The Negro male slaves was slightly more successful than the Negro female slave in being able to marry a free person. Seventy-six male Negro slaves (48.4%) did find free wives. Approximately 78.9% of these Negro male slaves chose to marry free mulattoes, mestizos, or Indian wives. Only 15.7% of the male Negro slaves elected to wed free Negro women.

Relatively few free men of the parish married slaves. Specifically, only thirty-seven men listed as free elected to marry slaves, and a majority of the free persons of this group were mulattoes, twenty-one out of the thirty-seven men of this marital group. A mere ten men of non-Negroid blood (eight mestizos, one castizo, and one Spaniard) chose to marry slaves.

Most slaves, of course, married other slaves. Approximately 6.7% (113) of the marriages of persons of African descent in the parish of Santa Veracruz during the period 1646-1746 involved male slaves wedding female slaves. The women of this group, with one exception, were either Negro or mulatto. A majority (67) of these women were Negroes. In the case of the male slaves of this marital group, 112 were Negro or mulatto and one was a chino. The eighty Negro male slaves of the above group, however, represented 50.3% of the male slaves marrying during the period of this study. Negro male slaves, therefore, tended to marry other slaves of African descent. The above pattern was even more pronounced for the female Negro slave, in that 84% of this group of slaves married either Negro or mulatto slaves.

The legal status of one of the parties was not indicated in 159 marriages involving persons of African descent. This category of marriages was distributed as follows: in the case of 64 marriages the husband’s legal status was not indicated and the wife was free, in 5 marriages the husband’s legal status was not shown and the wife was a slave, in 49 marriages the husband was free and the wife of unknown status, in 8 marriages the husband was a slave and the wife’s status was not listed, and in 33 marriages neither husband’s nor wife’s legal status was revealed in the marriage records. The most conspicuous fact to be drawn from the marriage patterns of this group is that only five men and eight women of African descent, whose legal status was not indicated, married slaves.

The priests, in recording marriages, were required to indicate the place of birth of the couples. Negroes in colonial Mexico were classified as either criollos (bom in America) or bozales (African born). In the case of the 207 Negro males marrying in the parish, 59 were born in Africa. The marriage records listed these African-born Negroes either by area of origin (Congo and Angola) or by tribes (Malinke, Malemba, and Mandingo). A majority of the bozales (41) were from Angola. This fact is not surprising, since a large percentage of the African slaves in colonial Mexico were brought from this area of Africa.18 As might be expected, the bozales, most of whom were slaves, tended to marry Negro slave women.

Scholars have tended to take the position that few Spaniards in colonial Mexico married persons of African descent. For example, the famous Mexican historian Lucas Alamán claimed that it was rare for a Spaniard to marry a person having African blood.19 But no one has attempted to ascertain precisely the rarity of such marriages. During the period 1646-1746, 4.6% of the marriages in the parish of Santa Veracruz involving persons of African descent were Afro-Spanish weddings. The seventy-seven Afro-Spanish marriages taking place in the parish of Santa Veracrus were as follows:

As indicated above, the greater number of Afro-Spanish marriages involved free mulatto males marrying Spanish women. In all but five of the Afro-Spanish marriages, the Spanish partner was a woman. One would have expected more moriscos than mulattoes to have married Spanish women, but this was not the case.

Five mulatto slaves wed Spanish women, and one Spaniard married a female mulatto slave. One can only imagine what reasons and circumstances would have led Spanish women to elect to marry slaves. In any event, the marriage records do not suggest that the mates chosen by these Spanish women were not their personally owned slaves.

As noted earlier, the Afro-Spanish marriages listed in this study, however, do not represent the total number of such marriages in the parish during the one hundred year period. All marriages studied by the author were taken from the Casamientos de Castas of the parish of Santa Veracruz. A spot check of the Casamientos de Españoles of the parish revealed that some marriages of Spaniards to persons of African ancestry were recorded in the registry of Spanish marriages. The total number of Afro-Spanish marriages, therefore, probably was slightly greater than indicated in the Casamientos de Castas.

This analysis of marriages of persons of African descent represents a pilot study. Theoretically, it would be possible, based on available records in the other parishes of Mexico City, to ascertain the marriage patterns of almost all persons of Negroid blood marrying in the colonial bishopric of Mexico. It must be realized, however, that this type of study sheds fight on only one aspect of interracial contacts. In view of extensive concubinage and other types of illicit sexual intercourse among the three races of Mexico, it is obvious that marriage was not the sole or even major basis for the process of mestizaje and mulataje.


Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, Cuijla: Esboza etnográfico de un pueblo negro (México, 1958), p. 8. Dr. Aguirre Beltrán has calculated that during one period, 1595-1640, 88,383 African slaves were introduced legally into Mexico. La población negra de México, 1319-1810: Estudio etno-histórico (México, 1946) p. 220.


Other types of studies are being made of parish records. La Academia de Genealogía e Heráldica of Mexico City, for example, is currently engaged in a study involving the use of parish records.


The author is deeply indebted to Rev. Ernesto Santillán Ortiz, pastor of the parish church of Santa Veracruz, for granting permission to use the archival records of his parish.


Parroquia de la Santa Veracruz, Ligeros apuntes histórieos de la parroquia de la Santa Veracruz de México (México, 1926), p. 11.


The Casamientos de Españoles was established in 1568 and the Casamientos de Castas in the year 1646.


A typical example is the marriage of Carlos de Vayesteros, español, to Anna María de Chávez y Rodríguez, mulata, March 21, 1730. (Archivo de la Parroquia de la Santa Veracruz, Casamientos de Españoles, vol. 9, fol. 101).


See, for example, the marriage of Francisco Xavier de Casabajal, español, to María Manuela la Pinto, española, April 15, 1721. (Archivo de la Parroquia de la Santa Veracruz, Casamientos de Castas, vol. 5, fol. 108).


Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, La población negra de México, p. 178.


Joaquín Roncal, “The Negro Race in Mexico,” HAHR, XXIV:3 (August, 1940), 533.


Nicolás León, Las castas del México colonial o Nueva España (México, 1924), p.20. León also indicated that the term can mean as well a person from the Philippines.


In view of the fact that there were a small number of marriages involving chinos recorded in the Casamientos de Castas, the adoption of the cited criteron would have an insignificant effect on the delineation of the marriage patterns of persons of African descent.


Angel Rosenblat, La población indígena y el mestizaje en América (2 vols., Buenos Aires, 1954), II, 137. Rosenblat was referring to the legal definition for white and Negro. Passing was a common practice in colonial Mexico, and some fair-skinned mestizos were able to pass themselves off as white.


Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, Medicina y magia: El proceso de aculturación en la estructura colonial (México, 1963), p. 76.


Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias mandadas imprimir y publicar por la magestad católica del rey don Carlos II (3 vols., 4th ed., Madrid, 1943), ley 5, libro VII, tít. V.


All of the statistics of this study are based on the Archivo de la Parroquia de la Santa Veracruz, Casamientos de Castas, vols. 1-7.


Moriscos who were slaves were in an inferior position, “since their master found ways to make their situation evident, branding them with hot irons in places where the insignia of servitude could not for a moment be hidden. The faces of many of them were completely covered with brand legends saying: ‘I am the slave of señor Marqués de Valle,’ ‘I am the slave of doña Francisca Carrillo de Peralta.’ ” Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, “Races in Seventeenth Century Mexico,” Phylon, VI:3 (1945), 215.


A description of the repressive legislation against the Negro can be found in William H. Dnsenberry, “Discriminatory Aspects of Legislation in Colonial Mexico,” The Journal of Negro History, XXXII:3 (July, 1948), 284-302; and Edgar F. Love, “Negro Resistance to Spanish Rule in Colonial Mexico,” The Journal of Negro History, LII:4 (April, 1967), 89-103.


Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán maintains that in seventeenth century colonial Mexico, a majority of the African-born slaves were from the Congo and Angola. La población negra de México, p. 245.


Lucas Alamán, Historia de Méjico (4 vols, 2nd ed., México, 1968), I, 25.

Author notes


The author is a Professor of Political Science at El Camino College, Torrance, California.