The present article summarizes some of the demographic studies contained in my five-volume IGB (Indice geobiográfico de 40,000 pobladores españoles de América en el siglo XVI). The first two of these appeared, respectively, in 1964 and 1968; the other three, though completed, are still unpublished.1 The fifth and final volume, dealing with patterns of emigration in the sixteenth century’s last two decades, actually brings the total number of listed emigrants to about 55,000.2

In each of the five volumes that correspond to the twenty-year segments into which I have arbitrarily divided the century, there appear listed by province and town, and within each town in alphabetical order, the colonists of certain or near-certain origin who emigrated for the first time during that twenty-year period. The biographical data, systematically abbreviated, normally includes the names of the emigrant and of his or her parents, the town in which he or she was born or domiciled, the year of departure for America, and his or her New World destination. In many cases additional information is provided on the emigrants’ social and marital status, occupation or profession, kinship with other emigrants from the same town, principal voyages and activities in America, and year and place of death. To facilitate its use, each volume is furnished with an index of surnames, another of destinations, and yet another of social ranks and occupations. Although this work, possibly the first of its kind, lays no claim to being complete or entirely free of defects, we trust that it will prove a useful reference work to all historians, sociologists and linguists interested in the peninsular origins of American Spanish society.

Both the IGB and its related research project LASCODOCS (Linguistic Analysis of Spanish Colonial Documents) have as their primary objective establishing a firm historical basis for determining the origins of the different dialects found in American Spanish today. Originally computer-assisted, LASCODOCS is a linguistic data bank based on a broad sampling of dated colonial documents—e.g. legal, commercial, ecclesiastical, official, private letters, diaries—representing every region of the New World. This wealth of organized linguistic data, the gathering of which was initiated at Buffalo in 1967, has made possible a number of interesting studies, including several doctoral dissertations. Our lexical and syntactical reference work, the Léxico hispano-americano del siglo XVI, published in Madrid in 1971, records the vocabulary, often coarse and earthy, of the early Spanish settlers of the New World.3

A Word of Caution

Because of several serious lacunae in the Archivo General de Indias’ extant passenger lists for the sixteenth century,4 gaps which we were able to fill only partially with information derived from miscellaneous colonial sources—wills and other legal documents, chronicles, church records, private and official correspondence—the reader is cautioned not to draw conclusions about the relative volume of emigration in different periods from the mere fact that IGB I (1493-1519) identifies no more than 5,481 emigrants, IGB II (1520-1539) 13,262, IGB III (1540-1559) only 9,044, IGB IV (1560-1579) 17,587, and IGB V (1580-1600) only 9,508. Records simply proved more abundant for some years than for others. The reader should also bear in mind that because the basic aim of this undertaking was to shed light on the relative contributions of the peninsular dialects to the development of those of the New World today, we purposely excluded from our statistical computations certain expeditions that clearly did not affect this development, such as Columbus’ first voyage, Magellan’s circumnavigation, and (except in Vol. V) all declared emigrants to the Philippines on the grounds that they were merely in transit. Similarly omitted were all individuals born in the New World and returning there, regardless of parentage, even though we noted the passage of such individuals with increasing frequency as the century drew to a close.

Overall Patterns of Emigration

In the early years of exploration, conquest and settlement of America, choice of destination was naturally limited. Emigrants were predominantly young male recruits in expeditions led by adelantados, governors and other important officials. Notable exceptions were the ship captains, merchants and sailors (mostly Andalusians), who shuttled back and forth across the Atlantic with a tendency to establish residence in one of the major Caribbean ports or in Mexico City, Panama, or Lima. The few women and children were also mostly from Andalusia, particularly from the city of Seville. There was a noticeable but understandable tendency for women and children to shun remote, dangerous areas like Florida or Chile in favor of cities considered safe and civilized, such as Santo Domingo, Mexico City and later Lima.

By the middle of the century (1540-1560) the composition of the emigrants had clearly changed. With virtually no rich lands left to conquer, we now find fewer military adventurers and an increasing number of women and children going out to join their kinsmen, often para hazer vida maridable with husbands who had emigrated several years earlier. Professional men and artisans were leaving Spain in increasing numbers to earn their living in the more affluent colonies, while numerous others sought passage and economic security in the households of powerful government and ecclesiastical officials. Unskilled young men were no longer encouraged to emigrate, indeed, by 1560 the colonies were embarrassingly full of them already. Seldom did a man now emigrate without a reasonable idea of what his occupation or employment was going to be when he reached America. Furthermore, new decrees had made it illegal for a married man to emigrate without his wife or to remain in the colonies without sending for her.5 Other regulations, aimed at preventing the less attractive and poorer colonies from losing their settlers to richer ones like New Spain and Peru, required some emigrants to post bond to ensure that they would reside in one of the less desirable colonies for periods ranging up to eight years.

Information on the flow of emigration is more abundant for the period 1560-1579 than for any two previous decades. For each of the earlier periods the passenger registries extant in the Archive of the Indies contained serious lacunae which made it necessary to rely for certain years primarily upon colonial sources (wills, genealogies, chronicles, probanzas, interrogatorios, and so on). By contrast the passenger lists for 1560-1579 are reasonably well preserved, which accounts for the apparent increase in the tide of emigration. Once again it must be emphasized that our statistics do not purport to compare the volume of emigration in one time period with that of any other, but are instead designed to reveal patterns of emigration, in any given year, from different places in Spain to different regions in America.

The most striking facts about Spanish emigration to America between 1560 and 1579 are that roughly three out of every four emigrants hailed from the southern half of the peninsula and that 28.5 percent of all emigrants were women. Equally striking, over half of all the emigrants came from just four adjacent provinces: Seville, Badajoz, Toledo and Cáceres! The period was also characterized hy an increasing variety of destinations and by a large number of returnees (who as such were not included in our statistics). As in the preceding period (1540-1559), ever fewer persons sailed for the New World as lone adventurers, while more and more went out as professional men, government or ecclesiastical functionaries (or as part of the latter’s elaborate retinues), as skilled craftsmen, or as members or servants of large households. As for destinations, though the number of possibilities had by this time risen considerably, by far the favorite goal was New Spain, which attracted two out of every five new emigrants, thereby easily recapturing the first place it had yielded to Peru in the period immediately preceding.

In the last decades of the sixteenth century (1580-1600) the patterns of emigration just noted were intensifying. Our analysis of the age, sex, occupations and regional origins of 2,304 Spanish emigrants during the four-year period 1595-15986 showed that at this time roughly one-sixth of all the women and well over half (58.2 percent) of all the men were emigrating as servants! And to judge from the dominant theme of over 600 extant letters from New World colonists writing home in the late sixteenth century, that of persuading relatives and friends to join them in America where living conditions were depicted as incomparably better than in Spain, a growing proportion of other late sixteenth-century emigrants were escaping Spain’s severe economic troubles with the aid of relatives already established in the more affluent colonies.7 The idea of seeking economic relief through settlement in the New World was of course taken more seriously in those regions of the peninsula which had already established a pattern of successful emigration to the Indies, notably Andalusia, whose inhabitants had from the beginning been favored by easy access to the Casa de Contratación and to the ports of embarkation, as well as by ready communication with the bankers, merchants and ship captains who could expedite their passage to the Indies.

Regional Emigration (1493-1600)

The accompanying cumultative chart (see Table I) shows that among the 54,881 sixteenth-century Spanish emigrants for whom we could find birthplaces, the proportion of Andalusians only once dropped below a third (to 32 percent) and that occurred during the remarkable two decades (1520-1539) that encompassed the conquests of Mexico, Peru, New Granada and the first settlement of the River Plate region. Accounting for roughly 40 percent of all emigrants in the Antillean period (1493-1519) and also for the sixteenth century as a whole, the Andalusian contribution climbed steadily back from its brief low of 32 percent to 36.1 percent between 1540 and 1559, to 37.2 percent between 1560 and 1579, and to 42.2 percent in the sixteenth century’s closing two decades (see Figure 1).

Though we do not propose to carry our analysis beyond 1600, there are indications that the tidal wave of Andalusians had by 1600 not yet crested, for between 1595 and 1598 their percentage of the total was running at 47.5 percent, the highest ever. Moreover we can observe a highly significant accumulation of Andalusians in the Caribbean area (see map), where by 1600 Andalusians had accounted cumulatively for 33.8 percent of all emigrants to Cartagena, 40.6 percent of those to New Spain, 44.4 percent of those to Cuba, 48.8 percent of those to the Isthmus of Panama, and 49.8 percent of all emigrants to Santo Domingo. These facts, coupled with the well-known linguistic (especially phonological) correlation between present-day Caribbean Spanish and Andalusian, lend credence to the theory, suggested by Boyd-Bowman (1956) and developed by Menéndez Pidal (1962), of a transatlantic maritime empire dominated, both commercially and linguistically, by Seville.8

Let us now examine in turn the other major sources of emigration. Old Castile, which in the Antillean period ranked second after Andalusia, declined slowly in numerical importance in each of the periods following (from 18.0 percent originally to 10.2 percent by 1600), while New Castile showed a steady rise over the same time span (8.8 percent to 19.2 percent). Indeed by the end of the sixteenth century, New Castile had not only overtaken both Old Castile and Extremadura but seemed about to surpass the latter two cumulatively as well. Extremadura ranked third in all except the period 1540-1559 when it briefly held second place. In 1600, however, it still outranked New Castile (by a small margin) for second place cumulatively. León and the Basque region, with cumulative contributions of under 6 percent and 4 percent respectively, showed relatively little fluctuation throughout the century, while the combined cumulative contributions of the other nine regions (only 4.6 percent) were virtually insignificant. The remaining 2.8 percent of our 54,881 counted emigrants were 1,522 foreigners, of whom the majority were Portuguese and the remainder mainly Italians.

Cumulative Emigration by Provinces (1493-1600)

Of the fifty Spanish provinces, only thirty had by the end of the sixteenth century sent 300 or more identified colonists (see Table II), but these thirty together accounted for 50,831 emigrants (92.6 percent), with the other twenty provinces contributing 2,528 (a mere 4.6 percent). The remaining 2.8 percent were, of course, the 1,522 foreigners.

As always, Seville ranked first by a very wide margin. Badajoz came second followed by Toledo, Cáceres and Valladolid each with well over 2,000 colonists. It is an astonishing fact that by 1600 these five provinces alone had furnished over one-half of all our 54,881 European emigrants to the Spanish Indies since 1493! Next after these came eight other provinces, each with between 1,000 and 2,000 emigrants: Huelva, Salamanca, Madrid, Cádiz, Córdoba, Burgos, Ciudad Real and Jaén. Map 2 shows all the above-mentioned provinces to form a compact area comprising roughly all of southwestern Spain, but with Salamanca, Valladolid and Burgos forming a spur around the western end of the Sierra de Guadarrama (Avila and Segovia). The map also shows quite clearly how the settlement of the New World in the sixteenth century (and probably well into the seventeenth as well), was virtually monopolized by colonists from the former kingdoms of Castile and León. Provinces located in Galicia, Asturias, Navarre, Aragón, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Murcia, the Canary Islands (not shown) contributed virtually nothing. The two Basque provinces of Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa, though the home of numerous ship captains, merchants and sailors who played important roles in the conquest and commercial development of the New World, were peripheral nevertheless, as were the two mountainous provinces of Málaga and Granada which until recently had formed part of the Moorish kingdom of Granada. It is also worth noting that the Canaries, although they were a usual port of call for ships outward bound to the Indies, failed to make any significant contribution to the settlement of the New World, at least not in the sixteenth century. It has been suggested that perhaps Canary Islanders, because of the fact that they already lived on the route to the Indies, were disinclined to make the long voyage back to the mainland merely to obtain the proper papers, and that many probably preferred to enter the New World colonies illegally. Unfortunately this theory has little to support it, for Canary Islanders failed to show up in any appreciable number even in the colonial sources of the time.

Emigration from Cities (1493-1600)

No less than thirty-two Spanish towns and cities, all located in the Kingdom of Castile, had by 1600 each sent 200 or more identified colonists to the New World (see Table III). Seville, with its sailors’ quarter of Triana just across the Guadalquivir, clearly dominated the entire population flow by sending more colonists (10,638) than the next sixteen cities in descending order combined (10,478). How very pervasive the influence of Seville must have been on the sociological growth of Spain’s New World colonies can be appreciated when we consider that by the year 1600 the single city of Seville had been the place of birth, roughly speaking, of every fifth colonist (nineteen percent), every third woman (thirty-nine percent), and every second merchant (fifty percent), and that its numerical influence was still clearly rising at the point where our studies end.

Far below Seville, we find Toledo in second place with 1,278 colonists, Trujillo (Cáceres) in third with 913, Salamanca in fourth (900), and Madrid in fifth (846). The first four cities—Seville, Toledo, Trujillo and Salamanca—with a combined total of 13,729 identified colonists, accounted for exactly twenty-five percent of our total to the Indies since 1492. Adding to this total the contributions of Madrid, Córdoba, Granada, Valladolid, Jérez de la Frontera, Palos and Talavera de la Reina, we arrive at 18,466, or over one-third.

Of the five cities with from 600 to 800 colonists apiece, all but one (Valladolid) were in Andalusia. It is interesting to note the geographical distribution of our thirty-two towns (see Map 3), with only seven of them located north of the Sierras of Guadarrama, Gredos and Gata that divide Spain into north and south, and with none located in the eastern half of the peninsula or in the far north. As for the Andalusian port of Cádiz, its eventual preeminence in transatlantic commerce was certainly not yet in evidence.

Merchants (1520-1600)

The patterns of merchant emigration underwent significant change during the sixteenth century. Among 13,262 emigrants of the period 1520-1539 we were able to identify 179 as merchants. Because merchants traveled frequently, the testimony of surnames reveals a lower relationship between place of residence and place of birth than for the population as a whole. For example there appeared described as vecinos of the city of Seville, which alone accounted for 64 or over one-third of the merchants, Rodrigo Nuñez de Illescas, Lope Sánches de Uclés, Simón de Burgos, Diego de Toledo, Pedro de Soria, Gómez de Llerena, Francisco de Plascencia, Fernando Navarro or Martín Alemán, whose surnames clearly betrayed their non-Andalusian origin, and others like Francisco and Gonzalo de Baena, Antonio de Córdoba, Pedro Fernández de Carmona and Pedro Fernández de Utrera who very probably hailed from other parts of Andalusia. That many resident merchants were, however, also native-born we can infer not only from names like Rodrigo López de Sevilla, Fernando de Sevilla or Juan Pérez Sevillano, but also from typically Sevillean family names like Herrera, Guerra or Morales.

Since the very beginning of the conquest of America, important colonies of Basque sailors and captains, many of them merchants, had settled in Seville, Triana, Huelva, Palos, Sanlúcar and other southern ports in order to engage in transporting passengers and merchandise between Spain and the New World.9 It is worth noting that the Basques, although they represent only 4.5 percent of all the colonists of the period, contributed 14 percent of the merchants, proportionately more than any other region in Spain. Some of these merchants, like Nicolás Sánchez de Aramburu and his son Juan, or Martín de Orduña and Domingo de Zornosa, were clearly stated to be Basques domiciled in Seville. Following our usual practice we classified such individuals as Basques and not as sevillanos.

Until 1529 the trading centers in America appear to have been Santo Domingo and Mexico City, to judge by the statistical evidence of the destination or domicile in America of the merchants we identified. Between 1520 and 1529, forty merchants appeared in Santo Domingo, thirty in Mexico City (eleven more emigrated to New Spain but it is not certain where they settled), eight in Cuba, six in Puerto Rico and only three in Tierra Firme, while for sixteen others the exact destination was unspecified. But with the conquest of Peru and the discovery of rich silver mines at Taxco, Mexico in 1534, the Antilles began to lose much of their relative importance. Between 1530 and 1539 only three new merchants gave their destination as Santo Domingo (none as Puerto Rico or Cuba), while six went to Panama and fourteen to Peru. One Genoese merchant arrived in the Rio de la Plata in 1538. But Mexico was now clearly in the lead with forty new merchants, of whom at least thirty settled in the new viceregal capital after 1535.

Of the 179 merchants, 89 (49.7 percent) were born or domiciled in Andalusia (especially Seville), 25 were Basques (14 percent), 25 were Old Castilians (14 percent), 8 were New Castilians (4.5 percent), 9 were Genoese (5 percent) and 23 (12.8 percent) were from other areas. The provinces which furnished the largest number of merchants were Seville (73), Vizcaya (14), Burgos (11), Guipúzcoa (8), and Segovia (7). Genoese trading houses established in Seville, like the Catagni, Grimaldi, Centurioni, Vivaldi, Spíndole, Salvagi, Basignane and Pineli, who helped equip many of the earliest expeditions, continued to show interest in the commercial development of the New World. Many of them sent out members of their families to represent their interests. Among the Genoese who went out to the Indies at this time were the merchants Benito (Benedetto) Centurión, Jácome Espíndola, and Juan Bautista Pinelo, plus several others who were probably merchants such as Esteban de Basiñana, Juan Pedro de Vicaldo (for Vivaldo?), Bernardo and Melchor Centurión, and Esteban Salvago.

In the period 1540-1559, the proportion of new merchants and factores (agents) arriving in America rose considerably: 494 identified as merchants out of 9,044, or better than one in every twenty. Of these merchants 306 (67.4 percent, or over two-thirds) were Andalusians, with Seville alone contributing 233. The remainder consisted of 45 Old Castilians (9.9 percent), 35 New Castilians (7.7 percent), 19 Basques (4.2 percent), 17 Extremeños (3.7 percent), 10 Leonese (2.2 percent), 8 Catalans and Valencians and 2 Aragonese (2.2 percent), 1 Asturian, 1 Canary Islander, and only 8 foreigners (a marked decline). The principal provinces were Sevilla 233, Huelva 29, Burgos 18, Cádiz 17, and Valladolid and Toledo 15 each. There was a significant change in destinations: Peru now attracted most with 179 new merchants, Mexico counted 108, Panama 96, Nueva Granada 25, the Antilles only 17, Chile 13, Honduras 10, Nicaragua and Guatemala 1 each, while 4 merchants gave no destination. It will be noted that Panama and Peru were gaining greatly in commercial importance. Indeed Panama, with an overwhelming preponderance of Andalusians, numerous merchants, and almost no foreigners, was well on its way to becoming the prosperous two-way trading center described by the oidor Dr. Alonso Criado de Castilla in 1575.10

In the period 1560-1579 almost one out of every sixteen male emigrants was either a merchant or a factor. Merchants, though exempted from the regulation forbidding married men to sail without their wives, had to post bond, if crossing alone, to ensure that they would return within a specified length of time, sometimes with the same fleet. Many of them crossed repeatedly on these terms. It is highly significant that of 665 new merchants and 100 factores of known origin, over sixty percent were Andalusians and most of these from Seville, while the most frequently named destination was the Isthmus of Panama. Indeed of the 665 who identified themselves as merchants, 348, or well over half, gave as their New World destination either Tierra Firme alone (132) or Tierra Firme and Peru (216). Mexico attracted less than half this number (147), while Peru alone was the destination of only 77. Other merchants went to New Granada (22), Santo Domingo (16), Honduras (16), Cartagena (11), Cabo de Vela (6), Cuba (6), only 2 each to Puerto Rico and Chile, and one each to Venezuela, Isla Margarita, Jamaica, Santa Marta, and Nicaragua. One merchant sailed merely “to the Indies.” If we add Cartagena, Cabo de Vela and Santa Marta to Tierra Firme, this boosts that region’s total number of new merchants to 366.

We counted 273 merchants traveling to the Indies for the first time during the period 1580-1600, most of them going to Tierra Firme and Peru. As in the previous twenty years, most of them were born in Andalusia (199, or 73.0 percent). Indeed an astonishing 166 (60.8 percent) of these 273 merchants were natives of the single province of Seville, a further index of the city’s undisputed monopoly of trade with the New World colonies. The only other regions that participated even to a minor extent in this lucrative commerce, at least to judge by actual passage to the Indies of new merchants and factors from these regions, were New Castile with 17 merchants (6.2 percent), Old Castile and the Basque provinces with 12 merchants (4.4 percent) each, and 19 foreigners (7.0 percent) most of them Portuguese temporarily subject to the Spanish crown. The only provinces worth noting were Seville (166), Huelva (11), Cádiz (10), Toledo (10), Córdoba (7), Valladolid (6), and Vizcaya (6). The merchants’ New World destinations, in descending order of preference, were Peru 115, Tierra Firme (including Cartagena) 81, New Spain only 43, New Granada 10, Chile 8, Honduras 3, Isla Margarita 2, Cuba 2, Buenos Aires 2, Tucumán 1. All other colonies, including Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Quito and Florida, attracted no identified merchants at all, at least not directly from Spain.

Emigration of Women to the Indies

Prior to the conquest of New Spain the women tended to come chiefly from large cities, with all but a handful going to Santo Domingo which was at that time the safest and most civilized Spanish colony. Except for the few cases of a wife’s going out alone to join her husband, most of the women traveled in parties, generally in the company of their husbands, family, parents, or relatives. A few single women, mostly from Seville, went out as criadas, a term which may have been a cover for something else.

Of a mere 308 women we counted between 1509 and 1519, the city of Seville alone furnished over half. If we include the rest of the province the percentage rises to 57.5 and, with the rest of Andalusia, to 67 percent. The province of Badajoz contributed another 11.5 percent, Toledo 5 percent, Huelva and Salamanca 3 percent each, all others together 10.5 percent.

By regions, the breakdown is as follows: in the period 1509-1519 Andalusia contributed 37 percent of all colonists but a staggering 67 percent of the women, Extremadura 16 percent of all colonists but only 12.5 percent of the women, Old Castile 19 percent but only 8 percent of the women, New Castile 9 percent of all colonists and 7 percent of the women, León 8 percent of all colonists but only 3 percent of the women. Except for a woman from Guipúzcoa in 1512, the Basques, with 4.5 percent of the colonists, yielded no women at all.

Continually surrounded as they were by the Indian servants of their households, and no doubt lording it socially over the native wives and concubines that the majority of Spanish settlers had taken, these Spanish women of the initial colonial period must have exerted a linguistic influence far in excess of their numbers. Women have traditionally tended to play a conservative and stabilizing role in the history of a language. Spanish women, of whom over half were sevillanas, must have played an important part in the development of the first Antillean dialect, envied and imitated as they were, both in speech and in conduct, by the more numerous Indian women of the island settlements.

The period 1520-1539 yielded the following statistics: among 13,262 emigrants we counted 845 women (6.3 percent), the majority of them headed for Mexico and Santo Domingo. Of these, 252 (30 percent) were married women emigrating with their husbands, 85 (10 percent) were married women going out to join their husbands, 457 (54 percent) were unmarried women and girls, while 51 (6 percent) were widows or women whose marital status is difficult to determine. By regions, the 845 women distribute as follows: Andalusians 493 (58.3 percent); Extremeñas 98 (10.4 percent); Old Castilians 98 also (10.4 percent); New Castilians 76 (9.2 percent); Leonese 36 (4.3 percent); Basques 12 (1.4 percent); Portuguese 8 (0.9 percent); Catalans and Valencians 6 (0.7 percent); Flemish 5 (0.6 percent); plus 3 Aragonese, 2 Murcians, 2 Canary Islanders, 2 Galicians, 1 Navarrese, 2 Greeks and 1 Italian. In this second period 16 of the women were foreigners; in the first period, none.

The proportion of women among the Andalusian emigrants was double that of any other region. Twelve women among 600 Basques is only 2 percent. Among 1,004 Leonese, 36 women represent 3.6 percent. Among 2,337 Old Castilians, 98 women are 4.2 percent. Among 2,204 Extremeños, 98 women constitute 4.4 percent. Of the 1,587 New Castilians, 76 were women (4.8 percent). But of the 4,247 Andalusians 493 women constitute 11.6 percent, of the 2,445 sevillanos (city and province) 391 women represent 16 percent, while of the 1,721 emigrants from the city of Seville itself 287 (16.6 percent) were women, in other words, one out of every six.

To summarize, Andalusia continued to outrank easily the rest of the country in the matter of emigration of women to the New World, but not by the same proportion as the previous period. While the Andalusian contribution to the total number of emigrants dropped from 39.7 percent to 32.0 percent, the Andalusian contingent among the women declined from 67 percent to 58.3 percent, that of the province of Seville from 57.5 percent to 46.3 percent, and that of the city itself from 50 percent to 34 percent.

With the increasing security and comfort of urban life in the period 1540 to 1559, more and more colonists began sending for their wives and daughters or seeking status through marriage to Spanish rather than to native girls. At the same time royal edicts made it more difficult, if not impossible, for a married man to emigrate without his wife, or to remain in the New World without sending for her. Accordingly, in our third period we see the proportion of women jump from 6.3 percent to 16.4 percent, with no less than 1,480 of 9,044 identified emigrants being women or girls. Of these, 675 (45.6 percent) were either married (599) or widowed (76). By regions, the breakdown is as follows: Andalusia 742 (50.4 percent), Extremadura 218 (14.8 percent), New Castile 212 (14.5 percent), Old Castile 172 (11.7 percent), León 70 (4.7 percent), the Basque provinces 21 (1.4 percent), the Canary Islands 12 (0.6 percent), Valencia 7 (0.4 percent), Murcia 6 (0.3 percent), Navarre 4 (0.2 percent), Catalonia 3 (0.2 percent), Galicia 3 (0.2 percent), foreigners 10 (0.3 percent).

Though the ratio of women to men emigrants rose overall, statistical evidence suggests a positive correlation between this ratio and proximity to southern ports, especially Seville. This no doubt reflected in part the hardships of travel for women in sixteenth-century Spain. Thus in this period while women accounted for 22.7 percent of Andalusian emigrants (from the province of Seville it was 24.1 percent and from the city itself an astonishing 30.3 percent), they represented only 16.3 percent and 15.4 percent respectively of the contingents from New Castile and Extremadura, 12.5 percent and 12.4 percent of the emigrants from more distant León and Old Castile and a mere 5.4 percent and 4.1 percent from the Basque country and Galicia in the extreme north. Asturias, Aragón and the Balearic Islands sent no women at all.

Andalusia alone claimed over half of all women who emigrated to the New World between 1540 and 1560 (one in every three was from the city of Seville itself). Linguistically as well as socially, the importance of this continued preponderance of Andalusians among the Spanish women of the colonies cannot be overemphasized.

Economic distress at home and the increasing security and comfort of urban life in the colonies attracted an even greater proportion of women in the period 1560-1579. Of our 17,580 identified emigrants, fully 5,013 (28.5 percent) were women or girls. Of these female emigrants (at least one for every three males), 1,989 (roughly 40 percent) were either married (1,904) or widowed (85), the remaining 3,024 (60 percent) being single. By regions the breakdown is as follows: Andalusia 2,780 (55.4 percent), New Castile 872 (17.4 percent), Extremadura 668 (13.3 percent), Old Castile 384 (7.5 percent), León 172 (3.4 percent), the Basque provinces only 45 (0.9 percent), the Canaries 13 (0.3 percent), Galicia, Navarre, Murcia and Catalonia 10 each (0.2 percent), Valencia 9, Asturias 8, Aragon 8, and foreigners (chiefly Portuguese) 14 (0.3 percent).

If we compare female emigration with total emigration from the same region, we find that women and girls accounted in this period for less than 6 percent of the Galicians, roughly 9 percent of the Basques, 20 percent of both Old Castilians and Leonese, 20.3 percent of the Extremeños, 26 percent of the New Castilians, 42.4 percent of the Andalusians, exactly 50 percent of those from the province of Seville, while from the city of Seville itself, the women actually outnumbered the men!

Individual provinces each contributing more than 100 women or girls were:

It will be noted that Andalusia alone continued to claim well over half of all women who emigrated to the New World; the majority of these came from the single city of Seville. The comparative percentages among female emgirants are as follows:

In the last two decades of the sixteenth century the percentage of female emigrants fell off slightly, though it was still over one in four. Out of a total of 9,508 new colonists, 2,472 (or 26.0 percent) were women and girls, and of these, 1,476 (59.7 percent) were Andalusian. By marital status, 905 (36.6 percent) were married, 97 (3.9 percent) were widows, the remaining 1,470 (59.5 percent) single women and girls.

By regions the women emigrants break down as follows:

It is a striking fact that better than four of every five white women who made their way to the New World in the sixteenth century were from Andalusia, New Castile and Extremadura (the South) and that better than one of every three was born and raised in the city of Seville itself. The importance of Seville therefore in forging the character of Spanish colonial society (speech, manners, attitudes, fashion) can scarcely be overemphasized, particularly when we consider that Andalusia and Seville were the birthplaces of a high proportion of the men also.

By the number of their female emigrants between 1579 and 1600 the major provinces rank as follows:

The women’s favorite New World destination was once again Peru (954), with New Spain attracting 784. A surprisingly large contingent (173) sailed for Cartagena, with an additional 117 continuing to the interior of New Granada. Panama, Nombre de Dios and Tierra Firme drew 99, but it must be borne in mind that by Tierra Firme some of these may have meant Cartagena also. As for the Antilles, Santo Domingo and Cuba attracted 78 and 69 women respectively, but Puerto Rico a paltry 3, and Jamaica none. The 32 who gave as their destination Charcas, Chuquisaca or Alto Pem (modern Bolivia) might properly be added to the total for Pem. Quito drew 32 women, and distant war-torn Chile 23, practically all of them sevillanas. Among the 96 emigrants to Espíritu Santo, 21 were women. Another 20 women, all Andalusian, gave as their destination Guatemala, while 18 more Andalusian women sailed for Honduras. Of the 18 women traveling to the Philippines (via New Spain), every one was from Seville. Other colonies attracted few women or none at all.

Comparing female emigration with total emigration from the same region, we find that during the last two decades of the century women and girls accounted for only 6.7 percent of the Basques, 9 percent of the Galicians, 14.1 percent of the Asturians, 14.2 percent of the Old Castilians, 15.6 percent of the Leonese, 20.6 percent of the New Castilians, 25.3 percent of the Extremeños, 29.8 percent of the Murcians, and 37.0 percent of the Andalusians. These regional percentages of women, when contrasted with the figures for the previous twenty years, show a gain for all other regions at the expense of Andalusia, but not enough to challenge its supremacy. The province of Seville, whose 1,144 women and girls comprised 42.2 percent of its total of emigrants for the period 1579-1600, fell from the 50 percent of the period immediately preceding, but is still impressive.

Destinations in America (1493-1600)

We have tabulated by periods over 50,000 sixteenth-century destinations (see Table IV). Maps 4 and 5 present the provincial origins of all those identified emigrants who settled in Mexico and Peru, the two most frequently named destinations in the New World. The statistical breakdown by period is as follows:

It will be noted that of these two rival destinations Mexico was clearly favored between 1520 and 1539 and again between 1560 and 1579, while Peru was preferred (but by a lesser margin) between 1540 and 1559 and between 1580 and 1600. The figures for the first, or Antillean period (1493-1519), are without significance inasmuch as the conquest of Mexico only began at the very end of the period and that of Peru several years later. They represent identified conquistadors who were already present in America before the respective conquests began.

What is significant is that a cluster of four Spanish provinces (Seville, Badajoz, Toledo, and Cáceres) accounted for over half the total number who settled in Mexico (8,491 or 51.8 percent), and for slightly under half (5,650, or 47.6 percent) of those who settled in Peru. Maps 4 and 5, showing only provinces whose cumulative contributions to the settlement of Mexico and Peru totaled 200 or more emigrants, would have perhaps demonstrated this even more graphically had our second densest shading identified the provinces with over 700 emigrants instead of 1,000. In the first of these two maps we must draw attention to the exceptionally large contingent that settled in Mexico (especially Puebla) from the textile-weaving towns of Guadalajara, while among emigrants to Peru the province of Cáceres owes its prominence in third place to the powerful influence of the Pizarros and their clan from Trujillo and other towns in the same province.


By the middle of the sixteenth century a distinctly new pattern of emigration had begun to form, one which was to become more and more pronounced as the century progressed. Whereas the flow of emigration from most parts of Spain tended to be irregular, occurring mainly in connection with the passage of some high-ranking governmental or ecclesiastical functionary and his entourage, emigration from Andalusia, particularly from the city of Seville itself, went on year in and year out without interruption. For the sevillano, living as he did at the very nerve center of Spain’s commerce with her American colonies, travel to and from the Indies must have seemed a rather routine undertaking.

Overseas, meanwhile, the picture was emerging of a vast maritime empire, the ports of which were linked by sea to Seville (and to each other) along trade routes controlled and maintained predominantly by Andalusian sailors and merchants. It is our opinion that this fact will in the end prove to be an important clue to the enigma that has long puzzled linguists, namely the phonetic division of American Spanish into two broad varieties, coastal versus highland, and the resemblance of the former, particularly in the Caribbean, to the phonetic features of andaluz.


Peter Boyd-Bowman, Indice geobiográfico de 40,000 pobladores españoles de América en el siglo XVI. Vol I: 1493-1519 (Bogotá, 1964); Vol. II: 1520-1539 (México, 1968); Vols. Ill: 1540-1559, IV: 1560-1579 and V: 1580-1600 are typescripts ready for publication. In addition he has published several articles on the same subject, both in English and Spanish: “Regional Origins of the Earliest Spanish Colonists of America,” Publications of the Modern Language Association, 71 (Dec. 1956), 1157-1172; “La procedencia regional de los primeros colonizadores españoles de America,” Mundo Hispánico, 10 (Oct. 1957), 23—28; “La emigración peninsular a América, 1520—1530,” Historia Mexicana, 13 (Dec. 1963), 165-192; “La procedencia de los españoles de América, 1540-1559,” Historia Mexicana, 17 (Sept. 1967), 37-71; and “La emigración española a América, 1560-1579,” in Studia Hispanica in Honorem R. Lapesa (Madrid, 1974), Vol. II, 123-147. Four of these articles, including the last, are now available in English under the title of Patterns of Spanish Emigration to the New World, 1493-1580 (Buffalo, 1973).


Our five statistical analyses for the sixteenth century yielded a grand total of 54,881 colonists, but there are in our files the names of and pertinent biographical data for at least 300 additional sixteenth-century emigrants whose birthplaces came to our attention too late to be included in our statistical counts.


Thanks to two sizeable grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are happy to report progress on similarly titled reference works for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also.


For example, the Archivo General de Indias’ passenger records for our Antillean period (1493-1519) do not begin until 1509 and even then are fragmentary for most years. In our next period (1520-1539) the lists for 1520-1525 are totally missing and those for 1529-1533 merely fragmentary. As for our third period (1540-1559), it is curiously lacking in passenger lists for virtually the entire period prior to 1554 (i.e., for the important years of civil war in Peru). And lastly there is another serious gap in passenger records at the end of the century (1595—1607).


Only merchants were exempted from this regulation and even they had to post bond that they would return within a reasonable time, usually set at two or three years.


Boyd-Bowman, “Spanish Emigrants to the Indies 1595—1598: A Profile” in Fredi Chiappelli, ed., First Images of America: The Impact of the New World-on the Old (Los Angeles, 1976).


Several years ago Dr. Enrique Otte of the Freie Universitat, Berlin, discovered 666 such letters among the documents submitted, in support of their applications for emigration permits, by would-be emigrants with relatives in the Indies. These fascinating letters, all paleographically transcribed in the Archivo de Indias in Seville by Srta. Guadalupe Albi, are located passim in AGI, Indiferente General, Legajos 1209 ff., 1374 ff., 2048-2074, and 2077-2107. Prof. Otte, who had already based two articles on these letters—“Cartas privadas de Puebla del siglo XVI,” and “Die europäischen Siedler und die Probleme der Neuen Welt,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, 3 (1966), 10-87 and 6 (1969), 1-40—was kind enough to make available to us a microfilmed transcription of the entire collection for use as additional source material for LASCODOCS, our Linguistic Analysis of Spanish Colonial Documents. Though we have used these letters to good advantage for their linguistic content (“A Sample of Sixteenth-Century ‘Caribbean’ Spanish Phonology,” in William G. Milan, et al., eds., 1974 Colloquium on Spanish and Portuguese Linguistics (Washington, D.C., 1975), pp. 1-11), we have also found in them some material pertaining to our 1GB. For a comprehensive report on the entire question of Spanish emigration to the New World prior to 1810, see the major article with that title by our good friend Magnus Mörner, director of the Institute of Latin American Sudies in Stockholm, an article likewise due to appear in Chiapelli, ed., First Images.


Boyd-Bowman, “Regional Origins,” pp. 1157-1172 and Ramón Menéndez Pidal, “Sevilla frente a Madrid,” in Estructuralismo e Historia: Miscelíánea homenaje a Andre Martinet, 3 vols. (La Laguna, 1957-1962).


Los vizcaynos (más que otras naciones) son ejercitados en las cosas de la mar.” Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, Historia general y natural de las Indias, José Amador de los Rios, ed., 4 vols. (Madrid, 1851-1855) IV, 462.


M. M. de Peralta, Costa Rica, Nicaragua y Panamá en el siglo XVI (Madrid, 1883), pp. 527-539, gives a “Sumaria descripción del Reyno de Tierra Firme, llamado Castilla del Oro, que está subjeto a la Real Audiencia de Panamá, por el Dr. Alonso Criado de Castilla, Oidor decano de la misma. Nombre de Dios, 7 de mayo de 1575,” which reads in part: “la çiudad de Panamá . . . tendrá quatrogientas casas . . . en que habrá quinientos vezinos, y de hordinario asisten ochogientos hombres poco más o menos. Es la gente muy política, todos españoles y gran parte dellos originarios de la çiudad de Sevilla. Es gente de mucho entendimiento; su ofiçio es tratar y contratar, eçepto quinçe o veynte vezinos que tratan los campos y viven de los ganados y haçienda que en ellos tienen. Es por la mayor parte gente rica . . . . En este pueblo está la gente con poco asiento y como de camino para passar al Perú o venir a España. Es mucho el comerçio y trato desta çiudad, ansí de las cosas de España como del Perú por estar en medio de las dos mares del Norte y del Sur, y muy acomodada para las contrataçiones.”

Author notes


The author, Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at the State University of New York, Buffalo, wishes to acknowledge the support of the Guggenheim Foundation, the ACLS, and the Research Foundation of the State University of New York.