First Blacks in The Americas

The African Presence in The Dominican Republic

Glossary

This glossary describes the meanings of some of the words in the manuscripts of this website that present an old Spanish spelling or may be no longer in use in standard contemporary Spanish.

**Alarde – inspection or review of troops, usually with an official present

**Albañi – see Albañil

**Albañil – a mason or artisan specializing in the construction, repair, and alteration of buildings made with materials like bricks, stones, mortar or cement

**Alcaide – a warden; person responsible for a garrison in a fortress or prison. The alcaide swore in his position by oath or tribute

**Alcalde Mayor – a judge or magistrate in lands/districts of secular or ecclesiastical dominion

**Alguacil – judicial official with policing functions such as arrests, surveillance, patrolling and the inquiries about complaints and reports

**Almojarifazgo – a type of tariff on imports generally collected by a private individual who rented it out from the government

**Almojarife – an official in charge of collecting the almojarifazgo. Sometimes this post could be bought from the crown through an advanced payment

**Amancebado, a – person who cohabitates with another in an intimate fashion without adhering to civil or ecclesiastical matrimony

**Amancebamiento – concubinage, a relationship between two individuals without being married

**Apelación – an appeal, a request to amend a decision made by a higher court or tribunal

**Apelar – to appeal, to request an amendment of a decision made by a higher court or tribunal that was considered to be unjust

**Armada - navy, fleet, group of vessels sailing together

**Asiento – 1) a contract between the Crown and an individual or group (guild, company, etc.) in which that individual or group is granted economic privileges and exploits, like a semi-exclusive right to ship and sell large quantities of enslaved people within a period of time; 2) a transaction in which international bankers allowed the crown to establish credit by issuing a short-term loan, transferring funds from the Spanish crown to another European entity, and changing the currency to verify business with another country

**Azote – a form of corporal punishment or discipline done by whipping or lashing

**Bachiller – during the sixteenth century, the first degree awarded by universities of arts, theology, canons, law, medicine, etc., after five years of study

**Barragán – a man who cohabitated intimately with a woman without the sanctioning of official matrimony

**Barragana – a woman who cohabitated intimately with a man without the sanctioning of official matrimony

**Batel - small sailing vessel

**Bozal – a black person with no familiarity with the Iberian cultures and languages, typically brought to La Española straight from Africa

**Brasil – wood from a homonymous tree that was used to produce a dye

**Cabildo – a city council or local legislative body

**Cabildo y Construcción – an ecclesiastical institution that supervises the construction of a Cathedral

**Cajas Reales – local royal treasury; office where monies and other assets of the monarchy or state headed by the king or queen are held, including all taxes collected

**Calafate – a carpenter that patches or caulks holes in a ship hull

**Calafatear – to close the seams of wood in a vessel’s hull with tar or another substance so that water cannot enter the hull

**Cañafístola – (Cañafistula) a deciduous tree with yellow flowers and pods that contain a pulp used for medicinal purposes, especially as a laxative

**Capellán – a priest with a set of specific functions or responsibilities within a local church

**Capellanía – foundation established by a person who ascribes some of his or her property to pay in advance a priest’s salary for the long-term celebration of Mass or other forms of worship in a particular chapel

**Capitán General – the supreme military authority of a colony or one of its districts or regions; sometimes they were also designated governors of their jurisdiction by the Crown

**Cargo – 1) accusation, illegal behavior of which a person is accused; 2) section in an accounting record from colonial times where monies and items recieved or collected were listed

**Carpintero de ingenios – carpenter who specialized in the building of a sugar mill’s premises

**Carretero – a cartwright or wagoner, someone who drives or builds wagons or carts

**Casa de la Contratación – the governing body within the Spanish empire that oversaw the trade between the Iberian metropolis and its colonies in the Americas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries; it was first located in the city of Seville and was later moved to city of Cadiz

**Casa de molienda – section of a sugar making estate or ingenio where the molienda or machine that milled or crushed the canes was located

**Casabe – a thin flatbread made from cassava or yucca root; its origins trace back to the Arawak and Carib peoples

**Cédula – document containing an order dispatched by any competent authority of the Spanish empire (monarch, viceroy, vicereine) in the exercise of their duties

**Cimarrón – Maroon, a runaway enslaved person who hides in an isolated location and fights against slave owners or the authorities that support slavery

**Cimarrones – maroons

**Cirujano – surgeon

**Congo - one of the African ethnicities that arrived in the Americas during colonial times

**Congos de Villa Mella - group from the community of Villa Mella in the Dominican Republic that for generations has practiced and preserved songs and music of African origins

**Consejo de Indias – advisory body that assisted the King of Spain with recommendations in all major decisions of government, also acting as final tribunal for disputes in Spain’s colonial territories

**Contador – one of the main royal officials of the local royal treasury of a colonial city or town in charge of the accounting of all the monies and resources deposited at those offices

**Corte – 1) court or tribunal; 2) the network of bureaucrats and servants working for the monarchs and in close physical proximity to them

**Cuatro Calles – during the sixteenth century, the square-like space formed by the four streets surrounding Santo Domingo’s Cathedral

**Cura – a priest

**Daga – a dagger

**Data – the section of the document of an accounting report during colonial times where expenses and payments were listed by the person responsible for them. Also mentioned were the receipts issued by those receiving the payments

**Deán – oldest member of a church, ecclesiastical or secular community

**Depositario – a religious official in charge of the chest or treasury of the church and its key and who kept a ledger of all transactions to and from the chest

**Dobla – a type of coin

**Doctor – doctor; title granted by the Catholic Church to some of its members most appreciated for their religious scholarship

**Eje – an axle of a cart or machine; each of the rollers of a sugar mill’s machinery in between which the canes were crushed

**Escribano – an official dedicated to notarial activity within certain administrative agencies or corporations

**Escribano de la Audiencia – the notary of an Audiencia or local colonial tribune

**Estrados – 1) a tribunal or judicial court; 2) plaftform or stage

**Estupro – (Estrupo) rape or sexual assault, generally of a minor

**Factor - one of the three royal officials working at the local royal treasury in a colonial Spanish city or town in charge of managing the monies and assets owned exclusively by the Crown

**Fiscal – prosecutor; state or government lawyer who prosecutes crimes

**Fornicación – sexual relations between two unmarried persons

**Fornicar – to have sexual relations out of wedlock

**Gente de a caballo – people or soldiers riding on horse

**Governador – (gobernador) the highest authority designated by and representing the Crown in a province or region and entrusted with most judicial, administrative, and military duties

**Grumete – a cabin boy, employed to serve a ship’s officers or passengers 

**Guanin – a type of low carat gold produced by the native Indians

**Hato – a herd or the land occupied by a herd

**Herido – wounded; injured

**India – indigenous woman of the Americas

**Indio – indigenous man of the Americas

**Ingenio – 1) sugar estate or farm; 2) the premises within a sugar estate where sugar canes were milled, their juice boiled and the resulting thick syrup stored and crystalized into sugar

**Jubón – a doublet, a men’s garment that cover the torso, sleeved or sleeveless

**Lealdado – one of the types of cane sugar resulting from certain amount of boiling

**Licencia – license; official permission given to a person to engage in certain transactions; official document that contains this permission

**Licencia de esclavos - official document that certified a permission given to an individual to transport enslaved people to the colonies in the Americas

**Maestre – the man in charge of the economic management of a merchant ship

**Maestro de azúcar – the official or technician that directed the sugar making process in an ingenio or sugar estate

**Mancebía – a brothel

**Mandador – one of the overseers in a sugar estate during colonial times

**Maravedí – unit of currency and type of coin of gold used in Spain during colonial times

**Maravedíes – plural of Maravedí

**Marinero – a sailor

**Mascabado – (mascabada) one of the types of sugar resulting from simple boiling

**Memorial – a writing in which a person or institution asks for a favor citing relevant merits or suggests certain steps to government authorities

**Mercader – a merchant

**Miel – honey

**Nao - ship or vessel of certain size that was used to travel long distances

**Notario – literate official or professional responsible for drafting public or private documents and attesting to their authenticity

**Oidor – judge or magistrate of an Audiencia or colonial courtwithin the Spanish empire

**O diz – phrase in a document that means “where it says”

**Pataj, Pataje - small military vessel

**Pan de la tierra – casabe or cassava considered the equivalent of Iberian wheat bread by Spanish colonists in their diet; literally, “bread of the land”

**Peso de oro – coin made of gold

**Petición – a request or solicitation for something, or the document conveying such a request

**Poder – power of attorney

**Preñada – pregnant

**Presbítero – a type of priest in a church

**Probanza – document containing testimonies or depositions to prove or support a claim in a colonial court or authority

**Procurador – an attorney, someone who represents another person in court and makes decisions in the other person’s name

**Provisión – see Real Provisión

**Real Cédula – a type of government document containing a royal order

**Real Provisión – a type of government document containing an order from an authority, frequently the King or a viceroy

**Receptor – a judicial official assigned to hold a property or evidence in a judicial or government process

**Registro de navío – an official document where all the crew, passengers, and cargo of a ship had to be listed

**Relación – a written account or description of events

**Remiñón, (pl. Remiñones) – one of the tools employed in boiling the sugar cane syrup in the sugar estates, resembling a large frying ladle and used to collect residues from the syrup

**Rescatar – to barter; to exchange goods for other merchandise

**Rescate – 1) bartering; the trade consisting of exchanging of goods without the use of currency; 2) money or items paid as a ransom or resulting from the plundering of a ship or community

**Resgatar – see Rescatar         

**Resgate – see Rescate

**Resoca – the third crop of a sugar cane plant after its second cutting

**Rueda – 1) wheel of a vehicle; 2) water wheel moved by a current that propel the milling machine of an ingenio or sugar estate

**Sarna – scabies, a contagious skin disease in which a person can experience itching and small raised red spots, caused by small itch mites

**Señor de hato – lord or owner of a cattle ranch or estate

**Señor de ingenio – lord or owner of an ingenio or sugar estate

**Sisa – a type of tax or tribute on certain goods

**Soca – the second crop a sugar cane plant after its first cutting

**Subidor – a worker in a sugar estate, usually a slave in charge of carrying something from a low place to a higher place

**Templador – a worker in a sugar estate, usually a slave, in charge of stirring the cane syrup until the right thickness was achieved

**Teniente – lieutenant

**Tesorero – 1) treasurer; 2) one of the three royal local officials in charge of overseeing the public finances of a province or region

**Traslado – 1) transfer; 2) full copy of a document’s original version

**Vaquero – cattle herder; cowboy

**Viuda – widow

**Viudo – widower

**VM or Vuestra Majestad  Your Majesty

**Ynsolidum (Insolidum)  Referring to two or more individuals associated in a business or transaction, done together, as one

**Yerro (hierro)  Iron, steel

**Yuca – a plant from the Americas with thick edible roots that, when grated, were used to make cassava

**Yr – (Ir) to go

**Zedula – (cédula) document or letter issued by a high authority like the King or Queen, usually ordering something