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Bardales, Juan  

Robinson A. Herrera

who lived in Trujillo, Honduras, an important Caribbean port during the colonial period, which is today an area with a substantial population of Garifuna people, the descendants of Africans and indigenous peoples from St. Vincent. Juan’s origins are unknown, as no documents indicate where he was born. He was married and was the father of several children, but the names of his family members are also unknown. In accordance with the Spanish pattern of naming African slaves, Bardales likely received his surname from a former owner. Juan’s origins and years of birth and death remain unclear, although the evidence indicates that he was likely born in the early sixteenth century and lived past 1565.

In 1544 and again in 1565, Bardales sought a royal reward for his services to the Spanish Crown. As a necessary step in requesting royal favors, Bardales had a probanza de méritos proof ...


Mexía, Francisco  

Santa Arias

Iberian-born free black or mulatto, conquistador, and settler in San Juan de Puerto Rico, probably from Andalusia, best known for his supposed relationship with the Taíno female chief Yuisa (Luisa or Loaiza). Along with his parents, Anton Mexía and Violante García, he was one of the first black conquistadors to arrive in the Americas. In 1502 the new governor of Hispaniola, Nicolás de Ovando, brought with him a number of free blacks as unarmed auxiliaries who assumed military responsibilities in the defense and settlement of the territories. Francisco’s father acted as Ovando’s assistant crossbowmen (ballestero), and later received an encomienda (royal grant of indigenous laborers). Francisco decided to venture away and joined Juan Ponce de León in what became the challenging “pacification campaign” of Puerto Rico in 1508 Although writers like Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo Juan de Castellanos and Íñigo Abbad y Lasierra chronicle much of Francisco ...