I love to read the diligencias matrimoniales (prenuptial investigation) of my ancestors. These records, as transcribed by Fray Angelico Chavez in his series "New Mexico Roots, Ltd." are a treasure trove of information. Not only can a researcher get marriage information that can not be found anywhere else, but sometimes one can get an interesting story or two. Such is the case for the prenuptial investigation of Antonio Duran y Chaves and his intended Juana Baca, that was conducted on 7 March 1718 in Bernalillo, New Mexico.
The first piece of information that I found interesting is that Juana Baca is listed as being of "unknown parentage". Through other sources, I know the situation of her birth: she was the illegitimate daughter of another Juana Baca. Although the record states that her parentage is unknown, it also mentions that Juana Baca (the younger) and her fiancee Antonio Duran y Chaves were related in the 3rd degree of consanguinity. How would they have known the two were related if her parents were unknown?
The story gets more interesting, though. It seems that Antonio Duran y Chaves had a little fling with one of Juana's unnamed relatives. He was seeking dispensation so that he could get married to Juana because he was related to Juana's cousin by the second degree of affinity, and also his own 4th degree of consanguinity.* Other reasons for the request: Juana was poor and feared for her reputation if her relatives were to die. Antonio was also charitable in taking her in, and was very fond of her. How sweet!
The couple was given their dispensation and were allowed to be married. However, Antonio was to pay penance for his sin. The groom's punishment for was to do manual labor at the church once a week for 4 months, beg alms for poor souls, donate 1,000 adobes each for the Albuquerque church and the Bernalillo cemetery, and personally make 100 adobes each for the Albuquerque and Bernalillo churches while working one whole week at each church. This punishment was to be warning to others who might commit the same sins as he.
Antonio Duran y Chaves and Juana Baca were my 6th great grandparents on my mother's side.
* Affinity means that he is related by marriage, or in this case intended marriage. Consanguinity means that he was related by blood. 2nd degree usually means 1st cousin, 3rd degree is often second cousin, and 4th degree is usually 3rd cousin. However, other relationships such as 1st cousin once removed, and second cousin once removed can be the basis for the 3rd and 4th degrees, respectively.
Fray Angelico Chavez, New Mexico Roots, Ltd.: A Demographic Perspective from genealogical, historical and geographic data found in the Diligencias Matrimoniales or Pre-Nuptial Investigations (1678-1869) of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. (Santa Fe, New Mexico: typescript, 1982), volume 2, p. 305.
Fray Angelico Chavez, Origins of New Mexico Families: A Genealogy of the Spanish Colonial Period: Revised Edition (Santa Fe: Museum of New Meixco Press, 1992), Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 6151-6156).