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Ro y al Tribunal General.


MADRID, 1783.


By a Letter of the twenty-fourth of December, 1771, my Viceroy of New Spain represented to me, among other things, that in order to ameliorate the condition of the Miners of that kingdom, to correct effectually and suitably the mischievous abuses which have been introduced among the Mine-Proprietors,* and persons working in the Mines, and to obviate the mutual complaints resulting therefrom, he considered it a matter of extreme importance that a new Code of General Ordinances should be framed for the said esta blishment (of Miners), in such manner as to render the government thereof more uniform and complete : proposing, at the same time the means which he judged most likely to secure a right method in the execution of so importont a work. From his information, and from what my Supreme Council of the Indies laid before me upon this subject in a Consult of the 13th of June, 1773, I thought fit to enjoin and command my said Viceroy by Royal Let ter, (Cedula) of the 20th of July next following, among other things, that there should be formed the new Ordinances as above proposed, with explanations and additions of all that might seem necessary with a view to the actual state of affairs; and after consultation with the Mine-Owners, and a certain number of Surveyors (Peritos“) keeping in view all the documents referred to in his said Letter, and also the collection of Laws and Statutes of my said dominions, and especially those which are referred to by my said Royal Letter. Afterwards, conformably to a Report which was laid before me on the 7th of August of the said year, 1773, by a Junta of Four Ministers, formed under my Orders, and with my entire approbation, it was commanded to my said Viceroy, by a Royal Order of the 12th of November then instant, that in the Ordinances which, in consequence of the said Royal Letter, were about to be formed for the Government of the Miners, they should be regulated and established in an United Body, upon the model of the Consulates,t in such manner as to secure to its members the necessary encouragement, permanency, and support: afterwards, by a Letter of the 26th of September, 1774, my said Viceroy represented to me that the Miners of those my dominions had petitioned, in a printed representation, dated the 25th of February of the same year (and accompanying his Letter,) not only to be established in a body, similar to the Consulates, as already or dained, but that a Bank of Supplies (Banco de avios) should be instituted for the encouragement of the Mines ; that a College of Metallurgy should be erected for improving the construction of machinery ; and for other scientific purposes; and that a new Code of Ordinances should be framed for the Mines, proposing to derive the funds necessary for the support of these establishments from the amount of the double seniorage duties payable on the metals, from which they hoped to be relieved, by reason of what they had stated in their said representation ; and upon all these points my said Viceroy suggested what he considered most expedient. Wherefore, and after considering the Report laid before me thereupon by my Supreme Council of the Indies, on the 23d of April, 1776, I was pleased to determine, amongst other things, and to command by my Royal Letter of the 1st of July of the some year, that the important Society of the Miners of New Spain should be erected into a Corporate Establishment, similar to the Consulates of Commerce in my dominions, giving them, for that purpose, my Royal Consent and necessary Permission ; and granting them the power of levying upon their silver one half, or two third parts, of the double duties, payable before that time to my Royal revenue in the way of seniorage ; but from which I relieved them by the said Royal Letter: in consequence of all which, by a Public Act or Sitting (Acta) of the represesentative Deputies of the said said Society, held on the 4th of May, 1777, they proceeded to incorporate themselves, accordingly, to determine the offices of which their Tribunal should consist, and to appoint the proper persons to fill those offices. Their proceedings were laid before the Viceroy, who approved of them in my Royal Name, by his Decree of the 21st of June of the same year; permitting to the said Tribunal until my Sovereign Pleasure should be known concerning it, the exercise of all the powers of administration, direction, and management, as enjoyed according to law by the Consulates of the Monarchy in all respects in which the exercise of all the powers of administration, direction, and management, as enjoyed according to law by the Consulates of the Monarchy in all respects in which the exercise of such powers should be conformable to my Will, restraining them only from the exercise of judicial authority, which is permitted to the tribunals of the said Consulates of Commerce, and that restriction only to operate till the said new Ordinances should be framed and approved of by me. And the Viceroy having informed me of all this by letter of the 27th of the said year 1777, I thereupon thought fit to confirm the same by my Royal Order of the 29th of December then following, addressed to the said Viceroy, commanding him thereby, and again by another Royal Order of the 20th of January, 1778, that if the New Tribunal of Miners had not as yet formed their Ordinances, and laid them before him, he should cause the same to be done with the utmost despatch : this having been completed on the 21st of May of the said year, they were transmitted to me by the Viceroy, with a letter of the 26th of August, 1799, in order that, after considering them, and the representations made concerning them by the Fiscal of the Royal Audiency* (Real Audiencia), and by the Assessor-General of the Vice-Royalty, I might express my Royal Approbation thereof. Lastly, having consulted with Ministers of approved zeal and probity, and considered the best means of reconciling most justly the true interests of the State with the particular welfare of the said important body of Miners, I have, for the direction, regulation, and government of that body, and of their Tribunal, commanded the publication of the following ordinances.

* The Spanish word here is Mineros ; it has been found necessary to translate this word occasionally by " Mine-owners, or Mine proprietors," and occasionally by "Miners," i. e. all per. sons working in or having any connection with mines.

* Peritos, literally “skilful persons ;” but in order to make it consist with the duties which are afterwards appointed to such persons, I have translated it surveyors.

† Consulates of Commerce. These are courts consisting of a judge and assistants, for the hearing and determining, in a summary manner, causes arising out of commercial transactions. * Royal Audiency. These were courts of justice, eleven in number, established by the Spaniards, and extending respectively over the eleven districts, into which their American dominions were divided.- See Robertson's America, Vol. IV. p. 16. and seq.




SECTION I. THE New Tribunal of Miners shall be styled “ The Royal Tribunal General of the Important Body of the Miners of New Spain,” and shall be esteemed

and considered by all other Tribunals with that respect which is conducive to the important purposes for which my Royal Pleasure has credited it.

SECTION U. The Tribuual shall be perpetual, conformably to the act of its creation approved by me, and shall at all times be composed of an AdministratorGeneral, who is to be its President; a Director-General; and three DeputiesGeneral; which latter persons may, in case of necessity, be reduced to two, but never be increased.

SECTION III. The said offices are to be filled only by practical and intelligent Mine-Pro. prietors (Mineros), qualified for the office by an experience of more than ten years in the operations of mines; this qualification is to be strictly observed ; and these persons must be real American or European Spaniards, of unmixed descent, sons and descendants of ancient Christians, and born in lawful matrimony, with preference always, under these circumstances, to such persons as may have been Judges and Territorial Deputies of the mines, or may have been much experienced in them.

SECTION IV. The Administrator and Director General of this New and First Creation, in consideration of their extraordinary merit in having suggested and promoted the reform of the mines, and the establishment of the body of Miners, by having directed their attention for many years past to the means most conducive to that end; and in consideration also of their especial knowledge and experience in such concerns, of the length of time during which they have followed the mining profession, their families having pursued no other since their first settlement in New Spain ; and lastly, in consideration of the time which is necessary to accomplish such a project, and that no persons can be more likely to succeed in its accomplishment than those with whom it has originated, shall hold their said offices for their lives; but the DeputiesGeneral, now first appointed shall only hold their offices for the time regularly allotted to them, according to the rule that shall be laid down for their alternative succession, over and above the time already elapsed since their appointment.

SECTION V. For the elections of Administrator and Director General, after the death or failure of the present, and for those of Deputies-General at all times henceforward, there shall be held in Mexico, in the beginning of the month of December, once in every three years, commencing from the present time, a Meeting, consisting of one Deputy from each mining district, provided with sufficient powers from the Miners of such district; and if any such Proprie

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