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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: February 2015

Chapter Nine - Women and Slavery


I declare that when I married doña Margarita Mexia, she brought with her as her dowry 1,000 pesos and a black slave named Catalina de la Cruz, and that the said slave has produced seven other slaves [piezas de esclavos y esclavos] named Nicolasa Ramos, a twenty-year-old black woman; Alfonso José, a suckling child; José Ramos, an eighteen-year-old black man; Antonio Lugardo, a mulatto boy, 14 to 15 years old; Ignacio José de Ramos, a dark mulatto boy, 4 to 5 years old; and Margarita Ramos, a fair-skinned mulatta girl, between 2 and 3 years old. I declare them all to be slaves, subject to service.

Inventory taken at San Miguel de Almolonga, 1 July 1699: Among other property belonging to Don Nicolas Ramos de Bustos, we take inventory of the following slaves:

Catalina, 38-year-old black woman, married to Manuel de Rueda, free mulatto

Nicolasa, daughter of the abovementioned Catalina, 18 years old

José, 14-year-old black, son of Catalina

Antonio, a 12-year-old mulatto, son of Catalina

Margarita María, 8 years old, daughter of Catalina

Ignacio José, 5-year-old mulatto, son of Catalina

Margarita de Guadalupe, a mulatta girl, daughter of Catalina, between 2 and 3 years old

Alfonso José, 8 months old, son of the abovementioned Nicolasa [Catalina’s grandson]

Just as the women of the conquered pre-Columbian Indian populations found their lives changed forever as a result of the coming of European conquerors, the position and role of African women were permanently altered by their enslavement and transportation to the New World. Far from their communities of origin and torn from their cultures, slaves were forced to re-create a new social and religious world. They did this by accepting Hispanic forms while maintaining parts of their African heritage. Although they were viewed as legally inferior to the indigenous population, most slaves probably had closer day-to-day contact with their masters than did Indians. This was particularly true of enslaved women.

Capitaine, Fernando Winfield, ed., Esclavos en el Archivo Notarial de Xalapa, Veracruz (Xalapa, Veracruz: Universidad Veracruzana, 1984), 102
Mannarelli, , Pecados públicos: La ilegitimidad en Lima, sieglo xvii (Lima: Ediciones Flora Tristán, 1993), 291–292
Hünefeldt, Christine, Paying the Price of Freedom: Family and Labor among Lima’s Slaves, 1800–1854 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 21
Russell-Wood, A. J. R., The Black Man in Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Brazil (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982), 40
Socolow, Susan M., The Merchants of Buenos Aires, 1778–1810: Family and Commerce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 218
Bowser, Frederick P., The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524–1650 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974), 189