abogado: Advocate; a man formally schooled in law (also known in Spain and
Spanish America simply as a letrado, ‘‘lettered one’’). Such men resembled the
barristers of the English legal system. As legal scholars, they were adept at
forming arguments based on civil and canon law; they knew Latin, and might
own relatively large libraries of legal texts. Their services were expensive
enough that many in the colonial Andes sought out a cheaper alternative—such
as a procurador—when they needed a petition or other legal writing to present
before a judge.
escribano: A general term for a public notary (as distinct from notarios). These
men held public o≈ces, and belonged to what might be called, following C. W.
Brooks, ‘‘the lower branch’’ of the Spanish legal system, operating at a less
prestigious level than the letrados. Escribanos prepared legally binding docu-
ments of an extrajudicial kind for their clients (e.g., contracts of various kinds;
wills), and also produced many types of judicial records (e.g., confessions;
witnesses’ depositions). They learned their job through informal apprentice-
ship with one or more active notaries. Of the many specific kinds of escribanos
at work in colonial Spanish America, those most frequently encountered in
Andean archives are escribanos públicos y del número, escribanos reales (or de Su
Majestad), and escribanos públicos y de cabildo, all varieties of public notaries.
escribano de cabildo: In the Andes, an indigenous notary who held his post for
life in a particular indigenous pueblo or town, maintaining records of the ac-
tions of the local mayor (alcalde) and town council (cabildo). These men were
not royally appointed holders of public o≈ces, and should not be confused
with the escribanos públicos y de cabildo.
escribano público y de cabildo (or de consejo): A notary public holding the o≈ce
of notary to the municipal council (cabildo) of a specific Spanish or Spanish
American town or city. These men were responsible for keeping records of the
council’s actions and decisions (actas) and maintaining its archives. They might
simultaneously practice locally as escribanos públicos y del número or escribanos
Previous Page Next Page