ing them always in their full vigour, and causing others to do the like. And the Territorial Deputations of Miners shall also observe, and carry into effect, whatsoever relates to them in these Ordinances, and shall cause them to be observed and executed with the utmost punctuality and correctness ; and they shall not, any more than the Royal Tribunal General, act, or permit others to act, in contravention of their real tenour and meaning, in any manner whatsoever ; and I only allow, in case of any point arising, which is not comprehended herein, or provided for in the Royal Orders which I have issued upon this subject, that both the one and the other (the Royal Tribunal General and the Deputations) should regulate themselves, in the decisions thereof, according to the form and practice of the Consulates of Commerce of my European and Spanish Dominions, as far as the same shall be practicable in such cases; but all doubts which may at any time arise, as to the true meaning of any one or more of the Sections of these Ordinances, shall be proposed by the Royal Tribunal General to the Viceroy, in order, that he, after obtaining the necessary information thereupon, may transmit them to me for my Royal determination.

SECTION XIII. Finally,- I order and command, the Governor and persons composing my supreme Council and Chamber of the Indies, the Royal Audiencies and Tribunals of New Spain, the Viceroy thereof, the Captains and Commandants General, the Governors, Intendants, linisters, Judges, and all other persons whatsoever whom these enactments may in any degree concern, to conform themselves precisely to these Ordinances, observing and fulfilling them, each in his respective department, with the most rigid exactness; regarding their contents, as positive and perpetual Laws and Statutes, and maintaining them, and causing them to be maintained inviolably, notwithstanding any other laws, ordinances, observances, customs, or practices, which might militate against them ; since, if any such there be, I revoke them expressly, and declare, that they shall be of no effect, prohibiting, as I hereby prohibit, that they (the present Ordinances) should be explained or interpreted in any manner whatever, since it is my will, that they shall be understood literally, as they are written. And, in like manner, I most strictly enjoin all Tribunals, Magistrates, and Courts, comprehended in this and the preceding Section, to give their most effectual aid and assistance to the provisions and enactments of these my Royal Ordinances; preventing, as far as it is possible, all kinds of disputes and contentions, which will always incur my Royal displeasure, as being prejudicial to the administration of justice, and to the good government, tranquillity, and happiness of the important body of Miners of those my Dominions; for which purpose, I have commanded the dispatch of this present Decree (cédula), signed by my Royal hand, sealed with my private

seal, and countersigned by my underwritten Secretary of State, and of the general Department of the Indies, and which shall be entered in the General Office for the dispatch of the affairs of the Indies, and in the several offices in New Spain, which it may concern. Done at Aranjeuz, the twenty-second day of May, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.



Entered in the General Office of the Indies, Madrid, the twenty-fifth day of May, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.

A true Copy,





18th Title of the “ Novisima Recopilacion”


With Translations from the "Commentaries on the Mining Ordinances of Spain."





Laws 47 and 48, tit. 32 of the ordinamiento de alcalá.

LAW I. The right of the King in mines of gold, silver, and other metals, salt springs

and wells, and the prohibition to work them without royal licence. All minerals of gold, silver, lead and every other metal whatsoever in our realms belong to us ; therefore no one shall presume to work them with out our especial licence and command; and in like manner salt fountains, reservoirs and springs, which are for the manufacture of salt, belong to us ; wherefore we command that the rents derived therefrom be paid to us and that no one presume to intermeddle with them, except those to whom former kings our predecessors, or we ourselves shall have granted the privilege or who shall have acquired them by immemorial possession. (Law 3, tit. 13, book 6, R.")


Don John I. at Birbisca in the year 1387. Concerning the right of searching for mines by a person in his own lands

and those of other persons, and to work them, with the premium which is assigned.

Inasmuch as we are informed that these our kingdoms abound and are rich in minerals ; therefore as an act of grace and favor to our said kingdoms and the inhabitants and residents of the cities and incorporate villages and other places and to persons connected with the church, notwithstanding that by ourselves and our royal ancestors in those privileges which have been granted as a matter of favour there has been reserved by us minerals of gold, silver, and other similar metals ; it is our pleasure that henceforth all said persons and all others whomsoever, of these our said kingdoms, may search for, examine, and may excavate their said lands and estates and remove from them said minerals of gold, silver, quicksilver and tin, stone and other metals; and that they may search and excavate for minerals in all other places whatsoever, not prejudicing in their searches and excavations, the rights of other persons, and acting with the permission of the owner; and all the minerals which shall be thus found and extracted shall be divided as follows: First, there shall be delivered and paid therefrom to the person who extracted the mineral all expenses of excavating and extracting, and of the remainder, the said expences having been deducted, the third part shall belong to the person extracting the mineral, and the other two parts to ourselves.—(Law 3, tit. 13, Book 6, R.)

* This reference and subsequent similar ones are to a previous compilation of Spanish law entitled “ Nueva Recopilocion" also called the “Collection of Castile,” (T.)



Don Philip II. and during his absence, the Princess Donna Joanna at Valladolid, January 10,


Concerning the incorporation of mines of gold, silver, and quicksilver in the

Crown, as Royal Patrimony, and the mode of working them. It being very well known and understood, that great benefit and advantage as well to ourselves and our royal patrimony as to our subjects and native citizens, and the public good of our kingdom has followed the discovery, opening and working the mines of gold, silver and quicksilver and other metals in which these our kingdoms, as we learn from very ancient periods, are very rich and abandant; and although by the law which was enacted by king John First (see previous law) the right was granted to all persons to seek for, excavate and work the said minerals and metals, and by the same law is designated the mode of apportionment, yet experience has shown and we now perceive that there are very few mines which have been or will be discovered and worked ; and yet it is said that there are some persons who have knowledge of rich mines, and for gain keep them concealed and will not make known their discovery, which, as we are informed, has arisen, among other causes, from the fact that the greater part of said mines have been and are sold to noblemen and other persons in the kingdoms, and from the grants by bishoprics and archbishoprics and provinces, so that in relation to said mines almost the whole kingdom has been thus distributed and divided up. And considering that the mines were granted to particular persons, and that no others should interfere with or embarrass them in the discovery or working of them, and especially that in many of the said grants it is expressly and particularly provided, that without the licence and consent of the first grantees, no one could seek for or work them, and the noblemen and persons who hold the said property so purchased, either in order to avoid the expence and labor, or to relieve themselves from attention to the business, have bestowed, and now bestow very little care and diligence in the discovery, occupying and working said mines; and as very little advantage has followed to them or is now received from estates so purchased, and the benefit which we ourselves and our subjects and citizens might receive has been and continues to be generally impaired; and it being represented that others will not engage in the discovery, occupation and working of said mines, because although by the said law of King John, the portions which each party is to have are designated, yet, as it is so ancient and has been so little in use and practice, and as neither in that nor in other laws of the kingdom have the many doubts and difficulties which may occur been determined, and which have thus occasioned disputes and lawsuits, they are apprehensive and fearful of expending their money and labor in such discovery and working of the mines; and principally having doubts whether the said law and its provisions is to be understood to embrace the mines which were rich, and from which great and excessive interests might have been expected and obtained ; and in order in relation to all the matters aforesaid, to make such provisions that the obstructions and difficulties aforesaid may come to an end, and effectually to secure the rewards and advantages so that many persons of wealth may invest their property in the discovery, occupation and working of the mines, by whose diligence and labor God will permit the developement of the riches and bounties which are hid and covered up in the earth, and our own royal patrimony will be increased, the condition of our subjects ameliorated and our realm enriched; and having commanded some of our principal accounting officers (contadores) to confer with some of the members of our council, and in a matter of so great importance, we having ourselves conferred with and been consulted by them ; it was resolved that we should direct the issue of this our ordinance, and adopt the provisions hereinafter written ; and we have approved of the same, and will that it shall have the vigor and force of law in the same manner as if it had been done and agreed to in the Cortes on the petition of the representatives (Procuradores*) of the cities and villages of these kingdoms.

First, we reclaim, resume, and incorporate in ourselves and in our crown and patrimony all mines of gold, silver and quicksilver in these qur kingdoms in whatever parts or places they may be or be found, whether the estates of the crown or of the nobility or clergy, or belonging to the public or the town

* The general meaning of the term "procurador” is the agent or representative of another in the execution of a power entrusted to him. Anciently the “Procurador de Cortes" was a person deputed by the cities or villages baving a vote in the Cortes to represent them and to agree in their name to the services asked by the king. (T)

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