Historical and Geographical Report

About Panamα In 1640

Torre de la Catedral de San Anastasio 

By Don Juan Sacedo, Maestre Escuela and Deputy of the Holy Cross in Panamα.
The original manuscript is in the Museum-Library, Sevilla, Espaρa
 Translated by Alice E. Westman in 1947
This is not intended to contain all of the document. I am only including some of the most interesting parts of the manuscript. If you are interested in reading the entire manuscript, contact 

W. G. Guy
425 Harbor Drive, South
Venice, FL  34285
e-Mail:   panama9@comcast.net

Section 1
The Founding and Origin of the Cathedral of Panama

    This church was begun in the year 1510 (according to Herrera in his General History of the West Indies, Chapter II, Book 8, Page 269 of Volume I) and developed as follows:
    Bachelor Enciso, having just lost his brigantine, set out in his remaining vessel with 100 men, among whom was Vasco Nunez de Balboa. This Vasco Nunez stated that he remembered having seen a village near a large river which the Indians called Darien while on a journey of exploration with Rodrigo de Bastidas.
    They prayed to Our Lady for victory, promising to reward Her benevolence by naming the site Saint Mary of Antigua because of their devotion to that place in Seville, and further promised to adorn the sacred chapel of its church with jewels, gold and silver. Enciso, as governor, saw to it that these promises were fulfilled.
    In confirmation and fulfillment of these agreements, when the victory over the Indians was won, a village called Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien was founded at the site by common accord. Enciso was removed from the governorship and replaced by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Zamudio, and a group of councilors. A chapel of the same name that they had given to the village was constructed in fulfillment of the pledge made to Our Lady.
Alonso Martins was the first to discover the South Sea, and he sailed upon it in a canoe which he found upon the beach. Blas de Atienzo was the second, and Vasco Nunez de Balboa entered the surf up to his waist and with his sword and shield in his hands, took possession of it on 29 September, St. Michael's Day, in the year 1513, in the name of the King and Queen of Castile and Leon (Chapter II, Book 10, Page 33 of the same History of Herrera).
    In this same year, it appears that the Apostolic Brief for the elevation of the aforementioned chapel to the cathedral was dispatched by His Holiness, Leon IX, who at that time headed the Roman Catholic Church, in accordance with a petition from Their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and his daughter, Juana, mother of our Emperor Charles (V), the Great.
By means of this Brief, the Revered Father Juan de Quevedo was named as bishop of the new diocese and came to the territory with the newly appointed Governor of the province, Pedro Arias de Avila. The latter was known as "The Tilter" for his being an outstanding leader during the conquest of Granada.
    Antonio de Herrera makes mention of him in his work on the Pontifical Life of Clement VII in Book 6, Page 533, as does Father Prudencio de Sandoval, in his History of the &~perorCharles V, Book 13, Page 398. This church is the oldest in Tierra Firme and the provinces of Peru; thus if it has been elevated to an archbishopric, it would have been the primary of all in the kingdom.
Due to the death of the aforementioned Father Juan de Quevedo, Vincente de Peraza of the Order of Santo Domingo was elected as the Second Bishop of Darien. It was he to whom His Holiness had entrusted the details of the elevation of the church (in Panama) to a cathedral. This he did, while in Burgos in the year 1521, the report indicated that the original elevation took into consideration only the Church of Our Lady of Antigua of Darien (Chapter 5, Book 10, Page 330).
    Upon the death of Father Vincente de Peraza, Father Martin de Vexar (Bejar), of the Order of San Francisco and a native of Seville, was named Bishop of Darien in 1527 (Chapter 9, Book 1, Page 21, Volume II).
This city of Panama was founded by Pedro Arias de Avila, Governor of Castilla de Oro, so-called because of the great wealth taken from it, said by the old residents to exceed that of today (1640), which is still a great amount. In Spain rumors circulated that the gold in the country was obtained by fishing, with the result that those who came with Governor Pedro Arias asked where this fishing site was located.
    This city of Panama was founded contrary to the wishes of the citizens of Santa Maria La Antigua del Darien, in the year 1519, and shortly afterwards, the cathedral was transferred here (Chapter 15, on the district and its Audiencia, and description of the Indies on Page 39).
Father Tomas de Berlanga of the Order of Santo Domingo was named Bishop of Santa Maria de la Antigua of Darien in the year 1531. He was a resident of Panama and its second bishop (Book 10, Chapter 5, Page 269). (Note: Apparently both Panama and Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien were used following the bishop's title. The reasons for this are not clear.)
Father Pablo de Torres, of the Order of San Geronimo, succeeded him at the time that the Contreras attempted to tyrannize Panama in the year 1560.
I have not found anything further regarding the succession of other leading ecclesiastical figures of this church beyond the following:
    Hernando de Luque was Maestro Escuela of this Cathedral and the person who originally persuaded Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro to go on a voyage of discovery to the Indies and Peru in 1524. He entered into a partnership and assisted them financially, and in order better to confirm his friendship and partnership with them, he said mass for the leaders and their men in three parts-two of whom he served with the Holy Eucharist and received their Confirmation before a large audience (Chapter 13, Book 16, Page 255, Volume II of said "History").
    As a reward for his efforts, His Majesty proposed to His Holiness that he should be given the bishopric of Tumbes; and among other papal orders issued to him-was that making him Protector General of the Indians with an annual salary of 1,000 ducats as long as there were tithes from which to pay the amount. This occurred in 1529 (Chapter V, Page 13, Book 6, Volume II).
    Diego Alvarez Ossorio, Cantor of the Cathedral in Panama, was in 1531 elevated to the Bishopric of Nicaragua. He had formerly been Protector of the Indians of that province (Chapter 5, Book 10, Volume II, on Page 269). It was indicated by the old Cabildo Book of this church dated 1566, that at the end of March 1565 he occupied the Bishop's Throne vacated by the death of Father Juan Vaca, sixth Bishop of Darien and the fourth of Panama.
    In addition, the above-mentioned book indicated that by 1569, Francisco de Abrego had taken possession of_the cathedral, and began naming the body of judges in accordance with the decree of the Holy Council of Thirty. These judges had not previously been named because of the existing vacancy of the Episcopal Throne. Abrego died on 26 July 1576.
    According to the same book,--Father Manuel de Mercado was enthroned as Bishop at the beginning of January 1578, and on 16 October of the same year, he proposed to the Cabildo that thirty judges be named for the proceedings     against Canon Rojas. Father de Mercado died in 1580.
    Bartolome Martinez was the next to present his credentials to the Cabildo and take possession. He was the eighth bishop of Darien and sixth of Panama. Having visited the Cabildo and its priests, he brought 25 charges against them and rendered judgment against them for these.
    Sentence was imposed and made public on 10 August 1590, and the offenders were suspended from the ranks of the clergy for a period of three years-half of them specifically and the remainder voluntarily. However, His Majesty went beyond this and fined each of them Z50 ensayados and costs. They refused to accept this judgment and appealed the case to the Archbishop.
    Martinez was promoted to Archbishop of the New Kingdom of Granada and in 1596, Pedro Duque de Rivera was named to the bishopric of this church. He died in Cartagena whence he had gone to pay his respects to Martinez, who went there on 16 March 1595.
    Antonio Calderon was received on 26 March 1599. He left two chaplaincies, one of Our Lady on Saturdays, and another on Passion Friday. He was the tenth bishop of Darien and the eighth of Panama. In the year 1600, he made known to the chapter members a Royal decree which denied them certain ecclesiastical duties which they had annexed.
    He brought 15 charges against the Chapter Members and fined them each 20 pesos ensayados and the obligation of restoring the tithes for the tile, stone, and brick, which pertained to the construction fund. (Apparently there had been mismanagement of that portion of church funds which were earmarked for construction of a new cathedral.) Sentence was pronounced on 29 May 1602. In 1607, he was transferred to Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
    Father Augustin de Carvajal of the Order of Saint Augustin was the eleventh bishop of Darien and ninth of Panama. He was received and took possession in the year 1608. He consecrated the bells of this church, instituted St. Augustin's School with six associates, and founded it for the service of said church in accordance with instructions from the Holy Council of Thirty.
He was assisted to this end by the Cabildo, who allowed him one-thirtieth of the tithes, and as a result, no cuadrante (a square board put up in churches pointing out the order of the masses to be celebrated) or hymn board was installed in the choir loft. Later, they were placed in their proper site in spite of the inadequacy of the tithes.
    Francisco de la Camara, a teacher of Holy Theology of the Order of Santo Domingo, was the twelfth bishop of Darien and the tenth of Panama. He took possession of this church on 28 June 1616 and died on 18 August 1626. He was of medium height-neither fat nor thin-and had large bushy eyebrows. His period of office was characterized by lack of ostentation and extreme simplicity, for he never replaced his Dominican habit during his period in office with the Bishop's robes in accordance with Pontifical Procedure.
    He was keenly interested in guarding his rights and those of his clergy. He visited the chapter members and transferred some of them to Lima and dispensed with the minor services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption because of the expenses involved, stating that he would fulfill his obligation by saying masses at four o'clock in the afternoon.
    He was a learned and praiseworthy man, a teacher of Holy Theology, and left an income to sustain two associates in Saint Augustin's School for the church's service, and for two chaplains to assist in the choir at the canonical hours. His last testament stipulated that 50 masses be said each year for the repose of his soul, for which service he left an income of 200 patacones, further stipulating that these masses should be offered by the associates serving the church school.
    In addition, he left an income of 300 patacones for a teacher in the Convent of the Company of Jesus to read cases of conscience, and 4,000 patacones for the Cathedral's continued construction. He called an important ecclesiastical assembly of the diocese in August 1620, with the prior permission of Santo Domingo (Father Andres de Lissou) and the Guardian and Custodian of San Francisco (Father Juan de Fonseca).
    He was elected as Examiner General as well as judge in the proceedings of the assembly, Master of Ceremonies, and Chairman of the Consultations for Choral Direction. The documents of this assembly are held by the Council of the Indies where they were sent, as an eye-witness affirms, but there is no indication that any other such assembly has been held in Panama since its foundation.
    Cristobal Martinez de Salas,-Premonstratensian Canon and a member of the Order of San Norberto, succeeded the bishop's throne as the thirteenth bishop of Darien and the eleventh bishop of Panama on 7 July 1626. He was a quiet, peaceful man who adopted measures for and derived great satisfaction from piety during divine rituals. To this end, he gave much personal attention with such pontifical ceremony that on solemn feasts his clergy was outstanding.
    Matters of the divine cult continued improving during this time but are now in a different condition from what they were when I came to this church as a canon in 1619 because many innovations and corruptions have been made to the Pontifical, Missal and Roman Ceremonials.
     About this I will say no more, as I do not want to appear too bold, as His Roman Grace (the Bishop) gives much of himself in the discharge of his religious duties, and has many virtues. He hopes to leave an income to this holy church for the advance of its priests, upon whose deaths many eulogies and commendations have been written, setting them as examples to their successors.
     Thus, things progress daily in this holy church, and because of his efforts, two masses are sung each month: one on a Wednesday to Saint Christopher and another, on a Saturday, to Our Lady. In addition, he has given 1,000 patacones for the construction of a lateral chapel which is practically completed.
    During the vacancy of the Bishop's Throne following the death of Francisco de Camara, the Cathedral was torn down because of the instability of its ancient wooden walls. Its services were transferred to the Church of the Company of Jesus on 20 August 1626 and a substitute temple was consecrated by the Archbishop of Mira. In it one can still see the stains of the red ` ~crosses made by the oil during the consecration service.
    On 29 September 1626, on St. Michael's Day, the anniversary of the discovery of this South Sea, we returned to the new church which had been rebuilt in stone and brick. The Holy Sacrament was carried to it in a solemn procession and with much ritual, and since the exact date of the dedication of this church is not known, this day may be considered as such.
    I do not feel that the (religious) government during the vacancies (of the bishop's throne) need be mentioned as the bishops themselves made inquiries and eliminated the evil which they encountered. However, in praise of the present dignitaries, it should be stated that during the inquisition conducted by Bishop Cristobal Martinez de Salas, no charges of abuse of office were found against the Cabildo or the priests.
    This cathedral, the first in these territories and province of Tierra Firme
of Peru, has at present seven chapter members and priests; five honorary
an two canonicates=originally three in accordance with the Apostolic issued by His Holiness and by order of His Majesty. But one was abolished by the Incumbent sent to assist in the Inquisition of Cartagena.
    They only enjoy the privileges of parish priests of the city, with two delegates serving in this capacity, because the extremely small tithes are not sufficient to sustain these dignitaries for such work. To this end, His Majesty issued a special decree in Madrid on 31 March 1595 authorizing the cathedral priests to serve in the this capacity, which they have done since the city's foundation.
    In said decree, mention is made of another issued in the year 1592 to the same effect, as well as to a second dated 4 February of the same year. There are two choir chaplains to assist the officials of divinity, whose income is 20 pesos, paid by Francisco de la Camara. There was also an organist composer for the feasts, whom they proposed to pay from the proceeds of the sale of the house in which the Bishop formerly lived. This house belonged to the church, and was vacated because it was about to collapse and funds were not available for its complete renovation.
    It was agreed between the Dean and the Cabildo that it should be sold for 8,000 patacones, and, however useful these funds might have been to the church, in the end they were for naught because 15 days afterwards, the house collapsed in. In conformity with a Royal decree dealing with the returns from their own resources for the benefit of the choir as he had shown himself to be well qualified for the purpose indicated.
    There is a Chief Sacristan who also is a sub-chanter as well as administrator of funeral offerings pertaining to the parish. He receives one eighth of these offerings or should receive that amount, but today only receives one seventh to the detriment of the canonry. But, he enjoys the offerings of the vacancies of two priests as well as other non-pertinent commodities. This is in spite of the fact that I have pointed out the impropriety of such a procedure. He has two minor sacristans for the administration of the sacraments and funerals, and pays them from his funds.
    There are six associates who serve the College of Saint Augustine, founded for the service of the church, which, incidentally, is responsible for supplying them with robes, tippets and shoes, as well as food and surplices for their services. Two more-have been added to their number by Bishop Francisco de la Camara, who left a dowry for that purpose. Expenditure of the latter fund is in process, but since the Bishop is the administrator, we do not know how much expenditures are made.
    There is an organist who, in addition to his salary of 250 pesos, receives 40 pesos from the Brotherhood of Our Lady and another 40 from the Brotherhood of the Sacrament.
    This cathedral has a baptismal font which is the only one in the city, the capital of the kingdom. As such, in conformity with the new Royal Ordinance regarding church courtesy, the members of the ecclesiastical and secular cabildos-made up of "Twenty-fours"-are called "Your Lordship" by special dispensations of the Emperor Charles V-as are those in Seville.
    Within the limits of this city for the care of the priests, there are 3,000 communicants in 750 houses including those of the following nearby towns: Chepo, Chame, Capira, Perequete, Caymity, Cerro de Cabra, Rio Grande, and King's Island. In the district administered by this Royal Audiencia, there are 20 baptismal fonts, with 24 clergymen for priests and one from Santo Domingo-all residents of this city. In all, there are approximately 35 clergymen not counting those in transit.
    There is a Chief Sacristan who also is a sub-chanter as well as administrator of funeral offerings pertaining to the parish. He receives one eighth of these offerings or should receive that amount, but today only receives one seventh to the detriment of the canonry. But, he enjoys the offerings of the vacancies of two priests as well as other non-pertinent commodities. This is in spite of the fact that I have pointed out the impropriety of such a procedure. He has two minor sacristans for the administration of the sacraments and funerals, and pays them from his funds.
    There are six associates who serve the College of Saint Augustine, founded for the service of the church, which, incidentally, is responsible for supplying them with robes, tippets and shoes, as well as food and surplices for their services. Two more-have been added to their number by Bishop Francisco de la Camara, who left a dowry for that purpose. Expenditure of the latter fund is in process, but since the Bishop is the administrator, we do not know how much expenditures are made.
    There is an organist who, in addition to his salary of 250 pesos, receives 40 pesos from the Brotherhood of Our Lady and another 40 from the Brotherhood of the Sacrament.
    This cathedral has a baptismal font which is the only one in the city, the capital of the kingdom. As such, in conformity with the new Royal Ordinance regarding church courtesy, the members of the ecclesiastical and secular cabildos-made up of "Twenty-fours"-are called "Your Lordship" by special dispensations of the Emperor Charles V-as are those in Seville.
    Within the limits of this city for the care of the priests, there are 3,000 communicants in 750 houses including those of the following nearby towns: Chepo, Chame, Capira, Perequete, Caymity, Cerro de Cabra, Rio Grande, and King's Island. In the district administered by this Royal Audiencia, there are 20 baptismal fonts, with 24 clergymen for priests and one from Santo Domingo-all residents of this city. In all, there are approximately 35 clergymen not counting those in transit.
    There seems to have been a marked laxness in the maintenance of records, for the old Baptismal Books are missing from the time of the foundation of the church until 1565, and from that year until 1603 there are not more than 1,666 names entered as persons baptized.
    This can be credited to great carelessness on the part of the old priests and chapter members, for they state that since the books had gotten damp they were placed in the sun that they might dry. But some goats playing in the main plaza ate them and thus the only names which could be transferred to the new records are the entries as indicated above.
    From the year 1606 until 20 June 1638, the entries in the new books indicate that in the cathedral 13, 158 persons, including adults, have been baptized by its priests or chapter members.
    The dead which have been buried by said priests and chapter members from 1 May 1613 to 26 April 1638, number 8,910 residents or transients. This does not include those who expired in the hospital or were buried therein. But their number must be large, and the records of the hospital's religious brothers would confirm that figure just as those of the cathedral have revealed the statistics contained in this report.
    There are eight brotherhoods in this cathedral: the principal ones are of Spaniards-those of the Holy Sacrament, Our Lady of Antigua, Saint John (Sebastian), and Our Lady of the O (Octave), all with well-appointed chapels and altars. Their feast days and anniversaries are observed with the greatest ostentation and celebration of which the priests are capable. There are 18 others in the convents for a total of 26 brotherhoods.
    The Holy Sacraments of the Eucharist (the Visticum) are taken among all the people of the town with great majesty, with torches carried by four negro members of the brotherhood with purple damask cassocks. The canopy and crucifix have silver staffs and there are two large maces of the same metal adorned with gold.
    These are very well made and pleasing to the eye, and with the cross between them, they are carried in the most prominent position in the processions. The processions are as large as any I have seen in Spain, even those of Seville and Madrid, because here everyone regards the Holy Sacrament with the highest of reverence.
    The President of this city and kingdom has ordered that upon the ringing of the bells, a squadron of soldiers shall leave the garrison with their arms and accompany the procession as guard of honor. Six or eight priests wearing surplices support the canopy and another from the brotherhood wields a silver incesay, and its mayordomo carries his scepter and insignia of office.
    There are beautiful and ornate mucetas (part of the vestments worn by bishops when officiating), three large lamps filled with oil which burn in front of the Reserved Sacrament, eight silver candelabra and a fine hanging used for adorning the main chapel on festive occasions. The expenses for candles borne by the church are for the services on Corpus Christi Day and its Octave, on the third Sunday of each month, when the wealthiest and most devout townspeople make their communion by turns. This service is very costly because there is much music and many candles are burned in the main chapel.
    Candles are also heavily used at the Celebration of Holy Communion, which is held every year by order of His Majesty on 29 November. The chief priests are very exacting in their duties. On Thursday of each week, the chapter members officiate at a sung mass, during which the Reserved Sacrament is consumed, and new hosts consecrated and again reserved.
    Memorial Services are held for the deceased on the Octave of all Saints, and the pertinent expenses are met by the alms of the faithful of this city because the income of the brotherhood does not exceed 236 patacones and its alms surpass 900, more or less, but during the years 1635 and 1636 they did not reach 600.

. . . . . 

Section 2
Pertaining to Geographical Matters

    This City of Panama is on the coast of the South Sea at nine degrees latitude and 82 longitude of the meridian of Toledo, from which its direct distance is 1650 leagues. As previously stated, it is a town containing 250 houses within its confines, and has a population of 8,000 confessing souls according to the polls taken by the priests of this Cathedral in 1638.
    The greatest part of these people are merchants and dealers, and the principal business at the present is that concerned with herds of beasts of burden and boats to carry merchandise from Porto Bello to this city, barking and carrying the same to Porto Bello for shipment to Spain. Brigantines in the nearby sea and islands engage in fishing for pearls which abound in the nearby waters and islands, and many large ones are found, some of them being worth 1,000 or 2,000 patacones.
    There are smaller ones as well. As mentioned, portage is the principal means of profits in this city because all types of merchandise from many different places are imported. From Guayaquil comes cocao, which is plentiful and cheap. Here I have seen on it a price of a mere seven pesos, whereas in Mexico it costs from 40 to 50---sometimes even 60 or more, as I have personally seen in the past years of 32 and 33-whereas here it has been sold as cheaply as three or four pesos.
Much Pisco wine is brought from Lima, and from Nasca sacks of sugar. Jars and boxes of preserves of all types and in great quantities come from the valleys of Sana and Trujillo; and from the province of Nicaragua comes biscuits, flour and other staples as well as fruits such as apples, pomegranates, and quince. They may will also send grapes if they grow during the present experimentation. All of these things supply the tremendous needs of this town during the periods between the arrivals of the fleets from Spain.
    The Audiencia is made up of a President who is also the Governor as well as Captain-General in military matters. There are four judges who are also Alacaldes de Corte and thus carry corresponding emblems of authority. There is a Crown Authority, and a Chief Constable of the Court with two or three lieutenants. The officers of Finance and the Royal Exchequer, Treasurer, and Accountant also have residence here. The latter leave deputies and go to Porto Bello when a fleet is to be dispatched. There is also a Tribunal of the Holy Cross.
    There is a garrison of 100 paid soldiers who form the guard of the plaza. Another 100 were added a few years ago and divided to form squadrons at the Fort of la Natividad, which is the redoubt at the bridge at the entrance of this city (at the west). They are at the Royal Houses for the purpose of guarding the port (six pieces of artillery in each place), and at the Palace of the President.
    There is a Sergeant Major named by His Majesty with two assistants. In addition there are four companies of townspeople with their captains, one of negroes, and another of mulattoes, with about 100 men in each company.
    Ships cannot enter the port of this city at low tide, and the sailing vessels and brigantines that enter at high tide remain beached when the tide is out. This is about a distance of one-fourth league from shore. Those which wish to enter have to wait for the incoming tide.
    At the Port of Perico, two leagues from the city, the sailing vessels ride at anchor because of better port conditions than at the city. It might have been a better and more advantageous site for the trade of the South Sea and is no further away from the town called Ancon (than is the city).
    The majority of the houses are of wood, but many are of stone and brick, including most of the convents. Those of wood are very strong, as was clearly shown during an earthquake and its subsequent tremblers, which lasted for three and a half months from 2 May until 21 August. On the Eve of Saint Bartholomew, in 1621, there were many quakes felt daily.
    Since it was such a frightening event, I shall relate it from memory, as such matters have their place in history. It dealt severely with this place, but the buildings were strongly made of wood and stone. Such quakes would have left nothing but rubble from the adobe hoses of Lima or Trujillo. Nevertheless, it did great damage to the buildings made of stone, mortar and brick, cracking the walls and tearing down others, although the eldest houses of wood, termite eaten and supported by props, came through unscathed. It happened as follows:
    On Sunday, 2 May, on the feast of Saint Atanasie and Eve of the Invention of the Cross, in 1621, between nine and ten in the morning the first quake was felt while I was in the sacristy fully vested to say mass. We felt it keenly, but it did no damage. However, we did not know what was yet to come, for the first quake was short and passed quickly.
    At 4:30 or 4:45 in the afternoon, the second quake came and was so violent and shook the buildings so badly that it seemed that the earth would open and swallow us. The wooden houses made a great noise and shook violently, and it looked as though they would fall to the ground.
    People ran out into the street and plazas as quickly as they could during this movement. Its duration has been variously given, but to me it lasted long enough to come down from the room on the third floor (of the tower of the Cathedral) where I lived, intending to go out into the street. This I did not do, however, due to the danger from falling tiles, but instead began to say the Cree. I do not know if I finished it because of my excitement.
    The second time the damage was great, and although as an eyewitness I could say much of what I saw during these days, since Father Juan de Fonseca, preacher and custodian and guardian of San Francisco of this city of Panama, compiled a lengthy and exact report, I shall refer only to some of the things which I discovered in his work. Said Father stated that because this city and the surrounding area are not subject to earthquakes, its oldest citizens recall that its tremblers have been few and of short duration, doing no damage to the buildings or the townspeople.
    Another source affirms that the very warm provinces such as Egypt are not subject to quakes and gives as the reason that the vapors and exhalations are strengthened and increased by the excessive heat. This is precisely what occurs in Panama because it is very warm and at nine degrees North, according to Samorana and others.
    Sandy areas are seldom quake sites because they easily dissipate the vapors. There are areas with many marshes and mires subject to them because they lack the general causes for such. Panama and its surrounding areas have many plains (Sabanas), and near the sea the soil is sandy. The other parts of the land are marshes and mires.
    As a sign of the approaching quake, the breezes had ceased three or four days before, and there were no refreshing winds in the city, thus causing a scorching heat.
    And I add as a sign that in 1620 there were two complete eclipses of the moon-each lasting about four hours, and although they were not visible here, they could have been a warning of what was to come.
    (The next paragraphs are-taken up with data regarding eclipses of the sun and moon preceding this earthquake and their probable effect.)
    In describing this earthquake, the aforementioned Father Fonseca stated that the people in the open who watched the church buildings and their towers, saw the latter sway like reeds in a breeze. The clamor and outcry of the people added more terror than the earthquake itself. The men cried, the women wailed and moaned, and all prayed for mercy from Our Father in Heaven. Father Fonseca stated that the quake lasted about a quarter of an hour, which was computed by the space of time that some prayed and others fled, or during similar actions which took place during the period.
    When the earth stopped trembling, the plazas, street corners, the beach and other open spaces were found to be filled with groups of pale, hushed and frightened people who were unable to speak because each saw in the act the image of death from which they escaped.
    From the hour of this severe quake, which was between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, until nightfall, there were more quakes, but not as long or as violent. Altogether there must have been about eight, which continued all through the night; coming almost regularly at about 15-minute intervals. For this reason, there was no one who would venture under cover during the night.
    At this point I must add that there must have been about 12 quakes from the original one until nightfall. After the bad one, moved by the obliteration and dignity of my position, and having received word while I was that the Convent of the Nuns that the house of Judge Juan de Santacruz had collapsed, I dressed and went there. But before I reached my destination, two or three additional quakes occurred. They were of such strength that it seemed that two rows of houses moved together.
    Seeing that I could do nothing, and because of the danger from falling tiles, I went into the street and came to the plaza where I found the deeply grieved widow of Judge Santacruz, who was so choked at the loss of her husband that she was unable to shed a single tear.
    The quakes became less violent, but two more caught me before I left the street, and since everyone felt them, they all moved on to the plaza. The women were without their shawls, but some, having caught up short cloaks which were near at hand, were wearing these. The men were half-dressed and without hats, and none dared to enter his home. They begged mercy from God, and as there was no other Chapter Member except myself present-some being in the country with the Bishop and the others in their houses attending to matters there-the people gathered about me and urged me to bring the Holy Sacrament to the plaza.
    Since this did not seem decent to me, and would not have been proper without the approval of the other chapter members, to console the people, in the meantime, I had the bells tolled in Supplication, and the other convents imitated this. I also had a portable altar brought from the church, and they adorned it with linens and frantals, as well as devout figures which had been brought from the homes.
    With tears in their eyes, many soon begged me to hear their confessions. I had a chair brought and sat down in the middle of the plaza near the altar to hear confessions, and the deputy priest who was with me (and now dean of this church) and the other priest who by now had gathered in the plaza, sat on the stones which had been gathered there for the construction of the Cathedral. The religious members of all the convents who were there did the same, seating themselves on whatever was available, so that during the night, there was not a single person who did not receive absolution from his sins through the Penitential Sacrament.
    However, at sunset, a great wind sprang up and was followed by a heavy rain which forced us to leave the site. This rain and wind was so strong that all began to fear that a tidal wave would flood the city, as has happened in other places. This caused such anxiety that many left the city that night for the ranches, estates and farms nearby because they did not dare to sleep under roof, and others who were not as badly frightened went to San Cristobal Hill, which is about an arquebus shot from the city, to pass the night there.
    I spent part of the night with the Vicar General at that time, and with the Sergeant Major, who had a caja de guerra (a sonic box used for detection of distant canon fire and the marching of troops) placed on the ground at the plaza. This sounded throughout the night from the trembling of the ground, which could even be felt by one's feet.
    We went to the convent of the Nuns, whose church had collapsed; but miraculously none of them had been hurt. Vespers had just been said and the choir had just left when the quake came. All would have been killed had they been in the building.
    We entered the convent where we found the stricken nuns inconsolable, their eyes veritable fountains of tears because of the continuing quakes and the smallness of the patio surrounded by high walls where they had gathered. They were all on their knees with the Holy Sacrament in their midst and were tearfully and loudly pleading for mercy from God.
    Some of them wanted to leave the place and asked that they be taken away. But others were more reserved and prudent, and cautioned and calmed them saying, "Where is there to go? One must face God's anger and justice wherever she may be," and that the best thing to do was to control themselves and remain together where they were, asking for mercy for themselves and the town in which they were located.
    We left with this, and the Sergeant Major and I vigilantly watched the incoming tide while seated under the portals of the City Jail at the plaza. The thunderous noise of the waves preceding the subsequent trembler made us move out into the plaza until the quake had passed, when we again returned to our post, only to move out again when the same thing occurred. I am certain that there must have been about seventy such quakes that night.
    From Monday until Thursday, the earth shook with these quakes, although there were not many that were as regular and violent. From Thursday, the 6th of the month, until Tuesday, the 11 th, there were additional quakes, and until 26 May there were three or four of these quakes. Few dared to enter their houses.
    The plazas, beaches and terraces were filled with beds and tents in readiness for more quakes. I spent three days in the plaza and more than eight on the terrace without daring to go to my quarters, whose doors could not be closed until repaired by a carpenter.
    Regarding the terror which struck the people, Father Fonseca wrote that it was so great that after the quakes, the men and women ran around in the streets and plazas without any reason whatsoever; and like the delinquent who, having committed a crime, runs for the immunity of the church in his flight from justice. Now everyone ran to the feet of the confessors in search of the Sacrament of Penitence.
    "Immediately after the quake had ceased," says Father Fonseca, "I left my quarters and the Convent of San Francisco and, gathering all of the religious men I could find, went along the streets to the main plaza of this city, where most of the people had gathered. Seating myself on a stone which was among those assembled in the site for the construction of the Cathedral (as did the others participating), I heard the penitence of the people, which was so great that at almost all times there were two or three on their knees simultaneously.
    "By the time I arrived, some of the prefends and the priest were hearing the confessions of the faithful, as were other religious men and clerics in other parts of the plaza. All of the confessors were so devout that none came without tears and signs, and the confusion was so great that many did not even remember to make the sign of the Cross, and others did not even know how to make a confession of their sins.
    "Sunset came and then the night, and hearts were afraid and heavy with sadness, when suddenly a great wind came from the southeast, which carried away the roof tiles left by the quake and filled the sky with heavy black clouds. The wind moaned over the roofs and whistled around the corners of the houses, and the darkness was so foreboding that a greater disaster than the previous one was feared.
    "At this point, someone in the crowd cried out that a tidal wave would strike the city, as had happened on similar occasions at Arica and Callao de Lima. The quakes were still felt from time to time, and these, with the obscurity, the howling of the wind, and the fear of a tidal wave, all combined to kill the hopes of our city, and no one expected to see the dawn. The people began to run for the country, parents calling to sons and daughters, families calling to families, or at least neighbors calling to neighbors, because on this occasion, solitude was the greatest evil to be borne.
    "About a gunshot away from the city on a hill crowned by the tiny and poor Hermitage of San Cristobal, many people gathered, and others sought refuge in the straw huts near King's Bridge, as well as in the orchards, which are numerous and pleasant in this city. And thus all passed the night restlessly, for the continuing quakes kept them aware of the horrors which might befall."
    Said author next deals with the damage to the buildings, and says that the city fathers, who, because of similar experiences, or through lack of material or due to excessive heat, made the new buildings for their people, their churches and Royal Houses of wood. They are artistically constructed and well planned, with pillars and crossbeams of strong maria, cocobola, medlar and guaycan (which is a valuable-type of fine cedar which grows abundantly to the advantage of this city and Peru), set upon bases of stone.
    Upon these bases the floor boards and beams are fixed, and the entire house encased in two or three layers of special panelling. Various types of nails are used in different parts of the construction, but the finished buildings are strong and sturdy and have advantages over those of stone. At least, on this particularly occasion, they seemed better, and I must state, as a man who has seen all of Peru, that if any city therein had suffered this earthquake, the damages to buildings and person would have been much greater than here.
    Take for example the earthquake at Arquipa, where not a single stone remained intact; that of Trujillo, where not a stone, temple or private house remained and where many people were lost under the debris of the tumbled buildings. Those quakes were not as strong as the one suffered by this city.
    None of the houses of wood, although they shook and made much noise, and many of the tiles came loose and cracked to the ground, collapsed, and there are houses here which have been in existence since the time of the founding of the city. Their wood is eaten out by termites and worms, their pillars have rotted; and their panels have been eaten away by wood-borers, and they are supported only by the props which have been added. But, Great Power of God, not a single one of these fell-rather that was the fate of the new ones which were as solid as rocks, for practically all of the stone houses in the city were tilted and the greatest damage fell to them.
    Next, Father Fonseca discusses the ruin of the temples. As houses of God and sites where the people and officials of the town down through the ages have rendered their adoration of Our Savior Jesus Christ through his Glorious Body in the Sacraments, it would have seemed that they would be immune from catastrophe and suffer no injury. However, they were the most severely damaged, and I describe below the extent of this.
    The Cathedral, which had been made of wood since its first foundation, was still of this material and in poor condition. Bishop Francisco de la Camara had given great importance to its rebuilding in stone, so that at the time, the body of the church, the two Corinthian style doors, the main chapel, sacristy and other officers were well along in their construction. None of this building, by God's mercy, suffered any damage whatsoever, except that some pyramids of stone facing the plaza, crashed down with great force.
    It must be said, though, at this point, that the walls of the old wooden church, which was propped up with 20 wooden beams, inclined more than ever after the quake, until they were practically leaning on the newly constructed stone and mortar walls. There is no question but that they would have crashed to earth if they had not been thus supported.
    The Convent of Santo Domingo was not badly damaged. The damage to San Francisco cannot be repaired for less than 3,000 pesos. That to the Company of Jesus with less than 1,000 pesos.
    Father Fonseca has some strange things to say regarding the death of this gentleman mentioned above, because said Father insinuates that the punishment of these days was the result of the meager devotion of the townspeople, who should support and be present at holy celebrations and solemn feats, but that the public had not done so with the repose and veneration which was their due in rendering to God, in whose name they are celebrated, His just praises. The earth opened, and not one voice, but many, spoke out in an earthquake, wherein the noise of the rocks were the tongues denouncing the bold disrespect of rational creatures.
    Finally, the author quotes from the Scriptures regarding God's destruction of great cities with earthquakes when petty officials usurped the powers and offices of the priests, and even destroyed the leaders themselves.
    I must advise that at the time the relations between the President, the Judges and the Bishop were very bad. The Bishop was subjected to all kinds of indignities at their hands, and they frequently levied upon him fines which were promptly cancelled by His Majesty.
    When the President died, the Senior Judge took his place, and in the year before the earthquake, with a special commission from His Majesty, the latter left for Cartagena, and the next judge in line of seniority, Juan de Santa Cruz, filled the post together with another judge.
    The year following this, on the 8th of May, the Bishop was absent. It was customary for the procession held on that day to leave by the door leading directly to the main plaza from the Cathedral so that the procession might go from there to San Francisco by the most direct route. In this procession, it was also customary for the ecclesiastical Cabildo and clergy to carry and accompany the Holy Cross to the Convent of San Francisco.
    I do not know why, but without an order from the ecclesiastical Cabildo (nor giving them any consideration in spite of the fact that they were directors of the affairs who should have been consulted in regard to any charges in conformity with the regulations issued by the Council of Trent during its 25th session, Chapter 6), when the sacristan started out of said door with the Cross, the Judges who were present, contrary to all rule and reason, and with violence, ordered that it be moved three or four different times from one door to another so that the procession would start from one of these and follow along different streets than was customary.
    During all of this, they spoke very rudely to the ecclesiastical Cabildo members, and threatened to eliminate them. This caused much commotion among the people who were present, and finally, in the same overbearing manner, they guided the procession wherever the wanted, with the result that the nuns were taken to places where they had not been before and this in turn caused considerable confusion.
    All of this was done against the will of the clergy who, rather than the secular, are the sponsors of such things. The person who was outstanding during all of this was Presiding Judge, Juan de Santa Cruz, whose position seemed to have gone to his head, for he even went so far as to hand down a judgment in regard to a complaint concerning the Cathedral. Fearing that ` the Cabildo would not write to His Majesty regarding this matter, and as I had only recently arrived, it seemed best to me to remain neutral.
    Almost a year later to the day, on the evening of the day of the Cross, the earthquake came, and during the tremblers, the house of said gentleman was demolished, killing his wife and leaving his children orphans in strange homes.
    Although it is indicated that this misfortune was the result of his having rendered judgment against the Barefoot Priests of Saint Augustine in favor of the Cathedral, so that they had to demolish the building where they had trespassed on the territory of said Cathedral, it must be said that he took this action in poor faith and against the will of the founder of said convent and without permission from His Majesty. He thus received his retribution.


Pertaining to Geographical Matters

The name of this city was given because it was founded next to some large tress which, in the language of the natives, were called "Panama." The province is called Castilla del Oro and Kingdom of Tierra Firme, names which were given to it by Blasco Nunez Vela (the name appears in this form in the original manuscript) upon its discovery because it had been determined that it was not an island, but rather a continent and that there was an abundance of gold. These names were confirmed by the Catholic King Don Fernando.

The city of Panama is located on the edge of the South Sea at 8 degrees and 40 minutes North Latitude on that isthmus or narrow stretch of land with which the large Peruvian Peninsula is joined to the kingdoms of Guatemala and New Spain, and which divides the North and South Seas with a neck of land 18 leagues in width. It is the best place that has been found for the communication of Spain with Peru.

The city is very level because some large rocks were leveled off by hand. However, the site of the Cathedral is somewhat higher than the other parts. The city begins in the east as a small beach which is the port and extends to the west for a distance of 1,412 paces to the Convent of La Merced. It is 487 paces in width from the sea to the north.

The city is between two small rivers which have no names. The one at the north, whose source is a league and a half distant, grows with the tide. It is not navigable even by rafts, and a wooden bridge spans it. The other is to the west. It also begins a short distance inland. It dries up in the summer and is spanned by a stone and mortar bridge.

There are four streets which go from east to west, and seven from south to north. There is a large plaza and two small ones. Outstanding buildings are the Cathedral, five convents, a hospital, seven Royal Houses, the Audiencia Chamber, the Tribunals, the Cabildo, the City Jail, the Bishop's Palace, and two hermitages.

There are 332 houses, large and small, with tiled roofs and garrets, and the majority with balconies. There are more than 40 cabins and 112 huts without garrets, and the majority of these have thatched roofs. They are the homes of the free negroes and some poor Spaniards. There is a meat market and a slaughter house.
All of the buildings are of wood with the exception of eight made of stone. These are the Chamber of the Royal Audiencia, the Municipal Cabildo, and six privately owned establishments. There are three others whose lower sections are of stone and whose upper sections are of wood. The huts are located outside of the city proper. A more detailed description of the city is contained in the original report so that it seems unnecessary to repeat that information. There are no gardens or orchards except those in the convents.

The district of Panama is confined on the north by a chain of mountains whose waters flow into the North Sea. At the south, it is confined by the South Sea at whose edge it is located. On the east it is confined by some rugged mountains which are useless and practically inaccessible, and on the west by the Chiru River, which separates it from the Nata District.

Saint Philip of Port Bello is 20 leagues from Panama to the north, and Nata 30 to the west.

All of the region is very rainy, thus hot and humid, and has many rivers. During its winter, the rain is continual, and the earth becomes excessively wet and muddy. The temperature is continuously hot. Ordinarily, in mid-December breezes begin which somewhat alleviate the heat, and these continue until the end of April. This is considered to be the summer of the area. The other months are called winter because of the perpetual rains.

In spite of this abundance, the city is lacking completely in potable water because there is no convenient spring or river. That from the wells is brackish and not fit for drinking, cooking or washing clothes. It is used for other purposes and the animals drink it. Water is obtained from ravines about a league or more from the city. The townspeople buy it from negro water-porters who sell at half a real a jug, or they send their slaves for it.
This water from the ravines is also brackish, and in the winter muddy, and contaminated by the cattle. This causes no small amount of illness. The first settlers, since they were transients who thought only of accumulating wealth and returning as quickly as possible to Spain, did not concern themselves with finding or building a fountain. Necessity later forced the townspeople to consider various solutions for this, but nothing has been done. It is said that the reason for this is the poor financial condition of the city.

Most of the land is mountainous and unproductive. The mountains in the north are from one and a half to three leagues distant from the city. On the east is Pacota Plain, which is seven leagues long and two or three leagues wide. It is fertile land and well suited to grazing. On the west there are some good plains, but most of the land is craggy, with small hills and plains. The same is true of that part to the north of the city before reaching the mountains.

Corn usually sells at 100 or more per unit; rice and beans even more. There is an abundance of corn and plantain throughout the year, but no produce other than rice is harvested in quantities sufficient to enable exportation to other parts. Barley and wheat are not harvested because they are not suited to production here. Neither are there vineyards except for a few straggling vines, because the ants destroy the plants.

The city has to the east a small port which 25 years ago was capable of handling vessels of four or five thousand arrobas at half load. But because the river to the north of the city discharges therein and the water from the streets flows into this section, it has silted over in such a manner that it can only be used by boats at full tide.
In a short time, it will be entirely lost and convert into a beach. Two leagues to the south are the islands of Naok, and Flamencos. Each is less than a league in circumference, but all have good deep harbors. It is at the Port of Perico that the ships anchor. Its entrance is situated at the north, and it is open and exposed to the north wind; however, the most an noying wind comes from the southeast, but it causes no great damage.
   Since the port has been in use, only one vessel has been lost as a result of this wind. The port is two leagues distant from the city, but only one from that part known as Ancon. Sometimes the vessels ride at anchor outside of the port of the city about one league away. The small Ancon port is capable of handling 20 boats and the one at Perico can handle 40. The ships sailing this sea range from five to 18 thousand arrobas.

There is no established fishery.

There are no volcanoes or lakes in this region.

Because of the humidity and rains, there are many rivers in the area, and springs are the source of all of these. To the east of the city, there are the following:
   JUAN DIAZ RIVER. The river called Juan Diaz whose source is three leagues from the sea to the north and about two leagues distant from the city.
   PACORA RIVER. The Pacora River which runs from three leagues from the hills of Pacora and enters the sea four and a half leagues from the city. Two smaller rivers empty into it, and its swift waters are navigable for one league.
   FRANCISCO RIVER. The Francisco River begins in the same hills of Pacora and after flowing 20 leagues, it empties into the North Sea. It is navigable.
CHICO RIVER. The Chico River is one league to the east of that of Pacora, and is only one and a half leagues in length.
   BAYANO RIVER. A league beyond this is the Bayano River, which begins in the hills of the North Sea, and runs for more than 60 leagues (in other parts it is said to be 40), and is navigable for four of these. Its stream flows into the sea for eight leagues before mixing with the ocean. Its name is derived from the section through which it flows.
   MAMONI RIVER. Two other rivers enter this one. The one to the east is four leagues in length. The other to the north is called "Mamoni" and passes within a gunshot's distance of the village of Chepo, whose Indians travel it with canoes to the Bayano River and to the sea. At the mouth of this river is an island~named Chepillo. The source of this river is a little beyond Chepo. Both rivers, the Bayano and Mamoni, have many alligators and few fish.
   CHININA RIVER. A league beyond is the Chinina River, which is navigable for one league with the tide.
   PACIGA RIVER. Another league beyond is the Paciga River.
   ALLIGATORS RIVER. Another league beyond is Alligators River (Rio de los Lagartos).
   TEACHERS RIVER. Another league beyond this is the Teacher (Maestra). These four rivers are from one to one and a half leagues in length. Two leagues beyond the last named are two small rivulets.
   CHINAN RIVER. Another league beyond is the Chinan River, which originates in the hills of the north and runs for eight leagues.
   PIERCED STONE RIVER. Another league distant is a small river which is short in length which is called Pierced Stone (Piedra Horadada).
   LUIS TORRES RIVER. Another league beyond in the Luis de Torres River, which originates in the nearby hills and flows for six leagues.
   CONGO RIVER. Four leagues beyond flows the Congo, a deep and navigable stream. From the nearby mountains is obtained lumber used for shipbuilding.
   BUENAVISTA RIVER. Four leagues beyond, the Buenavista River flows for a distance of more than 10 leagues. It is not navigable.
   GULF OF SAINT MICHAEL AND INDIAN RIVER. Beyond this is the Gulf of Saint Michael (San Miguel) at whose center is located the Indian River (de los Indios). It is a deep river which originates in the hills of the North Sea and flows for more than 100 leagues-many of which are navigable.
   PAPAYAS RIVER. The Papayas River, which flows from ten leagues, enters the eastern side of this city.
   BOMBAS RIVER. The Bombas River also enters along the northern part. Its length is 12 leagues. This river comes to within half a mile of the settlement of San Miguel, which is also known by the name of Bayano. Although the river dries up in the summer, the people from Bayano travel up the Indian River and enter this one with the high tide, traveling on to their settlement or beyond if they so desire.
   CARDENAS AND RIO GRANDE RIVERS. The first river to the west of the city is about half a league distant and is called the Cardenas. It runs for nine leagues. The Rio Grande is two leagues distant and its 10 league length is navigable for two of these.
   RIVERS OF THE THIN FLAT STONES. Beyond this, three leagues more to the west, is the River of the Thin Flat Stones (de las Lajas), which flows from 12 leagues.
   CAIMITO RIVER. Seven leagues beyond is the Caimito River, which is deep and flows for 50 leagues.
   PEREQUETE RIVER. The Perequete River is 10 leagues from the city and flows for 50 leagues.

The region does not produce any of the woods common to Spain, but many native types are grown.
   HARD WOODS. These are guayacan, nispero, madra morada, cacique, quira, cocobola, guachapeli, and naranjo cimarron. All of the above woods last well underground.
   SOFT WOODS. The soft woods are cedar, cedro espinoso, madra de espavei, roble, madra de Maria, madera amarilla, laurel, jagua, cocabana, and haya, from which lances are made. There are mangrove swamps in which reeds called "mangle" (mangrove) grow, as well as agave (pinuela). The region produces other trees whose wood is not suitable for the construction of ships or houses.
Those which are used only for firewood are: palo perdido, higuerones, panama, palo jabon, membrillos de monte, zigua, zays, caimitos, zevio, quacima, azote caballos, zevis madrone, granados de monte, zevia que de habillas, hobo, matapalo, almacigo, copal, ciutra, palmas, cabima, which gives oil, mangroves cative, cacao, palo amarigillo, pimon, and mangrove of many types.
There are other trees which serve no purpose whatsoever, and the Spaniards have not named these. The woods listed in the first group above are very well suited for the construction of boats and houses.

In general, all of the trees listed above bear wild fruit which is eaten by the monkeys as well as by different types of birds and animals. The higuerones, membrillos de monte, caimitos, asota caballos and granados de monte supply fruits for the Indians and negroes. In addition to these there are palms real, palms de cocosos de Pacora, palma de cocosos de Guinea and palma de Pixival, which are trees (not shrubs) and bear wild fruit which is eaten by the Indians and natives.

Of the fruits of the territory, the most important is plantain, which grows in abundance. It is considered a staple and is eaten raw, cooked, baked and fried. There are pineapples and granadillas, which are edible plant fruits. The roots which are eaten are yucas, name, oto, and ginger (gengibre).
The fruits from trees are guayabas, caimitos, nisperos, guavas, anones, papayas, algarrobas, mamoyes, guanavanas, cocos, aguacates, urguelas, ajonjoli. The fruits of this region do not have the delicate flavor of those of Spain nor are they of medicinal use except for the guayava, which when green is binding and is given for dysentery.

The fruits of Spain which have been planted and which grow in the territory are oranges, lemons, limes, citron (cidras), pomegranate, figs, grapes, and watermelon. Other types have been tried without success locally, for either they were not suited to the earth and climate or the ants destroyed them.

The garden produce of the region is poor. There are large pumpkins which are called "calabrazas de Chile" and whichs have the same qualities as ours, but not the good flavor. They have a red skin and yellow meat. Those called "cyamas" are like round pumpkins with notched stripes like a melon. They are sweet and good boiled and baked. The vegetables of Spain which grow well in the territory are melons, peppers, pumpkins, lettuce, coles, rabanos, navos, puerros, celery, carrot, pastinacas, garlic, yerba-buena and watermelon.
SEEDS. The seeds which are planted in the district are corn, rice and beans. Ordinarily, 50,000 hanegas of each of these are harvested each year and this amount is sufficient to supply the needs of the townspeople. Corn brings 100 or more than this. Wheat and barley are not sown because they will not grow.
In order to sow the corn, mountain lands are cleared and burned off around March and April. After the first rains, when the earth is moist, holes are made every three or four feet with a sharp stick. Three, four or five grains are placed in each of these and covered over with soil.
Rice is also sown then in the borders of the mires, and beans are also sown at that time. The laborers for this work are the Indians. Ordinarily corn is planted for two successive years in the same clearing. The second crop is called "humble corn" (maiz de rastrojo) and is not as large as that produced the first year.

Of the medicinal herbs used in the preparation of drugs in Spain, the following are to be found in this region: polipodio, which is of poor quality and little used here, doradilla, culantrulla de pose, solatro, llanton, verdolaga, artomisa, salvia, carragaz, gramma, nepita, three species of tithimato, absinthio, scila, malvavisco, bledos, tribulo terrestre, centaura, ruda, albahaca, asolopenra, acalva, pastinaca, parietaria, cipero, calaminto, cardo santo, China, zarzaparrilla, siempre viva, scordio.
The herbs which have been brought from Spain are lettuce, celery, peregil, yerba buena azavila. There are numerous other herbs whose qualities and names are not completely known. Of these there is a knowledge of the following which are used:
   ESCOBILLA. Escobilla is a plant which grows about twice as tall as a palm. Its leaves are similar to those of yerba buena, but somewhat larger. It blooms three or four times with a small yellow flower. Its qualities are like those of malva but more effective. It is much used medicinally.
   CHINA AND ZARZAPARRILLA. China and zarzaparrilla are used for illnesses as they are in Spain, but china is seldom administered because the variety produced here is not good.
   BESUGO. Besugo is similar to smilazeleve. It is used as an anti-venom especially against viper bites.
   HABILLAS. The habillas produces clusters of fruits like grapes, which are black when ripe. Some doctors claim that these are a form of tamarind. Their juice is refreshing and is given to those with fevers. There are many fragrant herbs from which lotions are distilled.
   SHIELD GRASS. A plant known as shield grass is used as an antivenom.
   MALE FENNEL. Another is called male fennel (hinojo macho).
   WORM GRASS. Another is called "worm grass" because it kills these parasites when chewed. It must be from the pepper family because it burns.
   DWARF PEPPERS. Dwarf peppers (agies) are small trees which are found in three or four different types. Their fruits burn even more than common peppers.
   LITTLE FIGS. The fruit called "little figs" is the castor-oil plant of Dioscorides because in that region it grows as tall as a tree but its branches remain as soft as grass. Its seeds are boiled and the oil collected from the top of the water. An ounce of this given in broth acts as a gentle but effective laxative.
   TOBACCO. There is tobacco which is used as snuff in the nose as in other locales, and is also used for smoking.
   PINE NUTS. The seeds of certain trees are called "pine nuts" (pinones). These are of three different types. Four or five are given for purging, but they are not considered safe for using because some persons have died from their effect.
   MECHOCAN. A certain type of domestic and wild cane is used as a mild laxative. The root of the bind-weed plant (mechocan) is given in powdered form as a purgative, and it is an effective and non-violent medicine.
   THREE ANTI-VENOM ROOTS. Roots of three different kinds are known to be effective against and reused for the stings and bites of poisonous insects.
   OILS, GUMS AND SABINE OIL. Savine (sabina) is the liquid or gum obtained by tapping the trees of the same name. It is very useful for treating wounds. Another similar oil used for the same purpose is extracted from mangrove (mangle). It is called "captuyo de mangle" and is used also as a liniment.
   ANIME. Anime (a resin resembling myrrh) is used for inhalations. There is another gum which is administered for dysentery, and sucked to relieve thirst.

SHEEP GOATS AND PIGS. Sheep are not grown m this district as the country is not suited to that purpose. Neither are goats or pigs grown without difficulty. . A few pigs are kept in pens in the suburbs and a small number of goats are kept in the city and on the estates for the convenience of their 'Milk.
   CATTLE. Cattle grows and increases by a fourth each year. Great care and watchfulness is necessary with cloves, for soon after birth they develop worms in their navels which kill them if not removed. The bats also attack them, and worms which kill them develop in these wounds.
   HORSES. On the cattle ranches, breeding mares and stallions are kept and many horses are grown for ordinary uses and for
the needs of the ranches themselves. However, none are grown for carriage use.
   MULES. Mules are also grown, but the good ones used for the pack trams come from Nata and the collage of Los Santos, as well as Pueble Nuevo. The best type is obtained from Nicaragua.

There is good hunting with hounds and guns in all of the mountains, and more than 20 deer have been taken m a single day There are many of these as well as fallow-deer. Their meat is delicious and of the same type as those of Castile.
   RABBITS. There is more than one type of rabbit, but they are somewhat different from those of Spain.
   HERD PIGS. There are two types of pigs. One is called "herd pigs" (puerco de manada) and the other zahinos. The first are so-called because they always travel in herds of not less than 40 and at times 300 in the form of a squadron, m the middle of which are the young. They follow and obey a captain and what he does, all do. If he is killed, the squadron breaks up and all flee.
They sleep together in a circle which is patrolled all night by a sentinel in order to be alerted against~the tigers and lions which attack them in the darkness. Upon hearing a noise, the sentinel snorts and chomps his teeth together so loudly that he awakens the entire herd, which is immediately on the defensive facing the outside with bared tusks.
The meat from these is good and nourishing and not as greasy as the domesticated variety. The best are about the size of a six-month-old pig. They have on their loins round lumps which are called their navels, and it is best to remove these as soon as they are killed because they impart a bad odor to the meat if this is not done.
The other type of wild pig is just about the same size, build and appearance. They are called "zahinos"--because of their color. They travel alone or occasionally in pairs. They are cowardly, but if wounded they will attack viciously and can easily kill a dog. They live in caves, and their meat is not as good as that of the first type.
   MOUNTAIN COW. The animal called the "mountain cow" (vaca de monte, now known as the "tapir") is about the size of a yearling calf. It has hair like that of a cow, but coarser and of a lighter color. Their color is a grayish brown, and their bodies are very strong. They have no neck and the head is directly attached to the shoulders so that they cannot look around without bringing their entire bodies about.
Their head is as large as that of the javali, and the mouth is wide with strong teeth, with which they break off impeding branches when fleeing. Their feet have three toes, and their tails are short with a few strands of hair like those of a horse. They neigh as horses do. All flee from humans except the females with young, who are bold and will attack. They have no horns and their meat is good.
   ARMADILLOS. The armadillo was given its name because of the natural armor which covers it completely. It is about one-third vara (yard) in length and its meat is good.
   GUARDA TIHA.IA. The guarda tinaja and the tarabe are small animals whose meat is good.
   RODENTS. There are three types of rodents, one of whose meat is good.
   FOXES. There are foxes which are different from those of Castile. However, these are not eaten.
   POSSUMS. The possum is like a weasel of the size of a large rat, and kills chickens.
   MONKEYS AND NALU CATS. There are many types of monkeys and some cats called "nalu." These are not eaten.
   IGUANAS. The iguana is similar to an alligator but only two-thirds as long. It is light green in color with spots like those of a snake. They live in trees and are trapped in snares. Their meat is good and very similar to that of the rabbit.
   LIONS. The lions in this area are smaller than those of Berbdria. They are reddish brown in color and cowardly. However, they are very swift and kill young cattle.
   TIGERS. The tigers are spotted like those of Africa, and are also cowardly. They are swift and can jump for great distances. They are clever hunters and attack without warning. They will kill cattle and even men if they find them sleeping. These as well as the lions flee from the dogs and climb into the trees where they are easily shot. These animals, the lions and tigers, can be classified as the only vicious animals in this territory, and the only ones like those of Spain since they are like those of Castile. The deer, rats and rabbits are somewhat different.

Throughout the district in the hills and plains there are many types of birds which are killed with guns and by other means. The recognized types are: king turkeys, turkey gobblers and common turkeys. All are about the size of chickens, but of many different types and in great numbers.
   PERDICES. There are only a few perdices. One species is called Ucla perdice. These are almost like chickens, having a good flavor and large breasts, and are very much esteemed.
   PHEASANTS, PIGEONS, CORDORNICES AND TURTLE DOVES. There are pheasants (faisanes), cordornices, pigeons (palomas), turtle doves (tortolas), and thrushes (tordos). These six types of birds, because of their similarity, have been given the names of birds of Spain, but actually they are of different species and inferior in flavor.
   SEA DIVERS. The sea fowl are those which the Latins call "sea divers" because they duck underwater to fish below the surface of the sea. There are many of these.
   PELICANS. The pelicans (alcatraces) are large and have long beaks. They fish also by diving, but there are not so many as there are of the sea divers. They build nests on the islands, and from the chicks, medicinal oil is extracted which is sold for three patacones per small jug.
   RABIA-AHORCADOS. The rabia-ahorcados have small bodies and large wings. The live by stealing the catches from the other of this group. None of the three is eaten. The cocos, flamencos, serapiceos, gaviotas and martinpena are all birds which live off of shellfish. They are not eaten. The cucharetas and chiritos (of two types) are small birds which travel in large groups. They also live off shellfish but are good to eat. As many as a hundred or more have been killed by a single charge of bird-shot.
   HERONS. The herons serve no purpose other than that their head feathers are used for ornamenting helmets. There are eagles, falcons, sparrow-hawks, parrots, macaws and parakeets. The later three are species of parrots and have thick curved beaks. Their flesh is tough and injurious to the intestines. The magpies are pretty to look at, but serve no other purpose.
   BUZZARDS. There are two types of buzzards which sustain themselves off the flesh of dead animals. There are many other types of small birds which are unnamed and serve no known purpose.
   BATS. There are many bats which at night bite men on their feet and noses, and also bite slaves. In general, there are no native birds in the territory which are similar to any in Castile.

Many types of fish grow in the South Sea, and some of these are like those of Spain while others are completely different. The similar ones are lenguados, acedias, besugos, salmonetes (the latter two not exactly like the Spanish variety), majarras, corbinas, rovalos, parvos, agujas, rayas, cazones, jurel pesce rey, terranovas (like the shad in Spain), palometas, sardinas, roncadores, shad, pexe sapos, pulpos, anguillas, morenas, anchovetas, lizas, bonito, albacores, lobster, oysters, chuchas, cataras, crabs and gibas.
   The species different from those of Spain are the following: berrugates, cohinoas biejas, sierras, salmon, pece papagayo, corcobados, boquipenda, albacoras, boquituertas, pece puerco, pesce emperador, pesce barbero, pesce chapin, rabirubias, salpa, jurel, barbudo, pesce pedro, pardillos, catalinicas, media arroba, herreya, fires, macabies, tamboriles, peace jabon, pesce barrilete, bagre, aradas, bocardes, pesce caballo, marcas, corvas, meros, pesce espada, sharks, whales.
   Large water alligators which are also called "caymans" are like the crocodiles of Egypt. These live in the sea, in the rivers and on land. There are many of them and they kill cattle, beasts and sometimes men. The whales of this sea are smaller than those of the North Sea. They are not killed or used for any purpose. For a few years swordfish and sharks have been killed with harpoons and oil extracted from them.

Of the poisonous animals in this district, the principal one is snakes. There are five of these which vary in ferocity, size, and coloring and venomous effects.
   The first are about two varas (yards) in length and about as thick as a man's leg. They are of bright colors, among which is a dark brown. Their head is shaped like a small pomegranate with six fangs, each of which is about half a finger in length. These are twisted like a horn and taper to a fine point at which there is about an opening through which it is understood that the poison is secreted.
   Their bite causes severe vomiting with pain in the stomach and delirium. If counteractive measures are not taken, the victim dies within 24 hours. The remedy is for the victim to drink the juice of that plant called "hinojo macho" and for applications of it in crushed form to be made directly to the wound.
   The second type is red and black and not longer than three-fourths vara in all. These are slender and slow in their movements. Their bite causes fever and discharge of blood from all of the body openings as well as from scars even though they be old and closed over. Their victim dies within 24 hours and the treatment is the same as the first listed.
   The third are about one vara in length, thin and have fangs. They are multicolored with a shining gold predominating. Their bite causes swelling, decay of the flesh and great pain. Few of their victims survive even though treated, because the poison acts so effectively and quickly that the flesh falls away and nothing can be done about it.
   Those of the fourth type are about half a vara in length and dark brown in color with lighter brown spots. They have fangs and their bite causes fever and pain. Its bite is treated with the same juice and grass mentioned above.
   The fifth are small and are called field viperines. They are similar in color to the fourth. They do not kill, but their bite causes pain in the area` ~of the wound for several days.
   There are some snakes which are called boas which are three varas or more in length and as thick as an arm. They are not poisonous nor do they have fangs or bite. Some of these have been found with a half-grown deer in their bodies.

In the country there is a species of spider which grows as large as the palm of a hand. These are dark brown in color with thick hairy legs. Their bite is very poisonous and will cause death in a single day with fever and chills. Victims are treated by the slashing of the wound and sucking out the poison as well as by administering the juice of the hinojo macho by mouth and applying it mashed to the wound.
There is another smaller spider which grows in old houses and bites sleeping people at night. Its.bite causes terrific itching at the wound as well as a purple spot. If scratched it causes irritation which lasts for several days, but this is the only discomfort that it causes.

There are scorpions like those of Spain whose bite causes pain and stupor. If the scorpion is bearing young, it is said that the bite is worse. The discomfort is not of long duration because the region is so humid that it causes them to be less poisonous. There is another type of scorpion which grows in the mountains, under stones and decaying logs. They are large and thick but their bite is also only mildly poisonous.

There are many large frogs. They do not bite, but when struck, secrete on the surface of their skins a white liquid like milk. If this is drunk or eaten, it causes death.

In addition to poisonous animals, there is fruit which has the color and smell of an apple, but which, if three or four of them are eaten, is fatal. There are also many poisonous and fatal grasses whose names are not known.

In the district of Panama there are no silver, mercury or salt mines or saltpeter works. There were many gold mines during the early days of the conquest, but these are not worked because of the excessive cost involved. (So it is said, but mention is made of the value of a fifth of gold extracted in Veraguas.)

Section II     Part II
Pertaining to Moral and Political Matters

In addition, at the following holidays observed in this city, 32 pesos are spent for each, making a total of 192 pesos:
1. - 10 January, Day of Saint Paul, the Hermit, for the victory over the English.
2. - 25 March, Day of Annunciation.
3. - 23 April, Saint George's Day, for the victory over the Contreras.
4. - 25 July, Feast of St. James.
5. -21 November, holiday observed in commemoration of the earthquake which struck this city.
6. - 4 December, Saint Barbara's Day, for the victory over Rodrigo Mendez.
On the holy day of Corpus Christi, the city spends 150 pesos, and also has the following regular expenses.
1. - Repairs to the Cabildo Hall and the jail, which is now being reconstructed at a cost of approximately 7,000 pesos.
2. - Repairs to and maintenance of the Cruces Inn, Slaughter House, Meat Market, streets and bridges.
3. - Payment of soldiers against the cimaroons and payment of messengers during time of war.
4. - Receptions for viceroys and soldiers who come from Spain en route to Peru.
5. - Festivals on the births of princes and funeral demonstrations on the deaths of kings.
6. - Alms for the convents of friars and nuns and to the hospital.
7. - Salaries of representatives sent here by the court.
8. - Reception of the Bull of the Holy Cross and other incidental expenses which cannot be itemized.
The expenses generally exceed the income, so that during the last ten years the city debt has increased to over 10,000 pesos.

The number of townspeople in Panama increased so rapidly at the beginning that ordinarily 800 Spaniards on foot and 50 on horseback turned out for the reviews. They were all armed. Now there is not a third as many townspeople as there used to be. This decrease has resulted from the diminishing of commerce for the reasons previously set forth.

A census of the number and names of all the townspeople, their wives, children, slaves and value of their estates which were to be found in Panama was made in the year 1607. This information was given in detail on Page 19B to 65A in the report which the Audiencia sent.

SPANIARDS. On the whole, there appears to be
• • 495 Spaniards in Panama and
• • 53 foreigners or a total of 548.

FOREIGNERS. Of the foreigners,
• • 31 are Portuguese,
• • 18 Italian,
• • 2 Flamencan,
• • 2 French.
Of these 9 Portuguese and 6 Italians are compustos (means that they have paid a special immigration tax in proportion to their property and income).

There are
• • 42 townsmen living on ranches and estates within the district of the city and
• • 21 Spaniards at the Bayano Garrison.

TOWNSMEN. Of the entire number of townsmen:
• • 215 are married
• • 8 have their wives outside of the kingdom
• • 10 are married to quadroons
• • 12 are married to mulattoes
• • 4 are married to Indians
• • 5 are married to negresses
• • 8 are married to octoroons
• • 227 are bachelors
• • 56 are widowers
• • 16 of the townsmen are absent from the kingdom
• • 63 of the townsmen are Creoles.
• • There are 156 male children of townsmen from 1 to 16 years of age.

• • 22 priests and clergymen.

• • 45 friars and religious brothers:
• • 13 Dominicans
• • 11 Franciscans
• • 10 Mercedarios
• • 11 of the Company (of Jesus).

There are 303 townswomen in the city. Of these:
• • 56 are widows
• • 174 are married
• • 168 married to Spaniards
• • 4 married to mulattoes
• • 2 married to negroes
• • 12 elderly spinsters
• • 61 unmarried young ladies
Of these women,
• • • • 73 are Creoles.
• • There are 166 female children, 14 years of age or younger.

NUNS. There are
• • 24 nuns and
• • 3 beatas.

QUADROONS. Of the Quadroons townspeople:
• • 11 are bachelors
• • 20 are male children
• • 17 are women, of these:
• • • • 10 are married to whites
• • • • 2 are widows
• • • • 1 is a spinster
• • • • 4 are unmarried young ladies
• • • • 31 are female children.

MULATTOES. There are
• • 69 free mulatto townsmen. Of these:
• • 25 are married:
• • • • 15 to mulatto women
• • • • 4 to white women
• • • • 5 to negresses
• • • • 1 to an Indian woman
• • 44 are bachelors
• • 31 are male children
There are

• •
146 free mulatto townswomen in the city. Of these:
• • • • 12 are married to white men
• • • •
15 are married to mulattoes
• • • • 4 are married to negroes
• • • • 9 are widows
• • • • 49 are elderly spinsters
• • • • 17 are unmarried young ladies
• • • • 40 are female children.

OCTOROONS. There are
• • 38 octoroons townsmen in the city:
• • • • 16 are married
• • • • 9 are bachelors
• • • • 13 are male children
There are

• • 
26 octoroon townswomen in the city:
• • • •
11 are married
• • • • 2 are unmarried
• • • • 5 are widows
• • • • 8 are female children.

INDIANS. There are
• • 14 male Indians (married and bachelors) living away from their village in Panama.
• • 13 married and single Indian women.

ZAMBAIGOS. There are
• • 11 males and
• • 5 females of mixed Chinese and Indian descent (Zambaigos), married and single.

• • 148 free negro men.
• • • • 80 are married
• • • • 29 are bachelors
• • • • 17 are widowers
• • • • 22 are male children
• • 165 free negro women:
• • • • 94 are married
• • • •
33 are widows
• • • • 12 are unmarried
• • • • 26 are female children.

SLAVES. The townspeople have a total of roughly
• • 3,721 slaves, both male and female, as follows:
• • • • 10 mulatto men
• •
• • 15 mulatto women
• • 1,421 negro salves which the townspeople employ in services in their homes, ranches, estates, sugar mills and saw-pits
• • 320 in the mule-train service
• •
730 in the boat and barge service on the Chagres Rivers
• • 990 negress slaves in the service of the townspeople
• • 74 negro slaves of quadroons and mulattos
• • 58 negro slaves of free negroes
• • 9 negro slaves of octoroons
• • 14 negress slaves of octoroons
• • 3 negro slaves of Indians
• • 2 negress slaves of Indians
Total negro slaves
• • 2,558 are men
• •
1,163 are women

TRADES AHD CRAFTS. The report mentioned also contains information regarding the number of persons engaged in various types of work at the time, as follows:
• • 25
Royal Scribes
• •  4 Surgeons
• •  2 Druggists
• •  4 Silversmiths
• •  3 Goldsmiths
• •  4 Silk-mercers
• •  5 Master Tailors (Sastres Maestros)
• • 49 Tailor Craftsmen (Oficiales Sastres),
• •  9 Master Bootmakers (Zapateros Maestros)
• • 12 Bootmakers Craftsmen (Oficiales de Zapateros)
• • 32 Carpenters
• • 11 Calkers (Calsfates)
• •  2 Saddlers (Silleros)
• •  2 Smiths
• •  1 Cutlers
• •  1 Tinkers


In the 1640 census, the following towns were within the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Panama, that had baptismal fonts and regular priests to serve the community.

Las Palmas City in the province of Cocle. Town site of the old gold mines of Veraguas which are nearby. Is located in the mountains bordering the North Sea along the coast of Porto Bello.
Los Santos A village of Spaniards with a larger population than Natα. It is served by two priests and a hospital.
Natα A city of Spaniards
Nuestra Seρora del Prado An Indian village
Nuestra Seρora de los Remedies A town of Spaniards
Ola A native village. Two priests and a hospital serve Natα and Ola.
Puerto Bello A city of Spaniards. Has two priests and a hospital
San Bartolome de Jabaraba An Indian village in the jurisdiction of Veraguas
San Cristσbal de Chepa An Indian town containing a few Spaniards and mulattoes.
San Francisco A native village
San Felix An Indian village near Nuestra Senora de Remedies.
San Lorenza An Indian village near Nuestra Senora de los Remedies. Together with San Felix, it is served by a Dominican priest.
San Juan de Ponenome An Indian village in the jurisdiction of Veraguas
San Miguel de Atalaya An Indian village in the jurisdiction of Veraguas
San Pable del Plantanal An Indian village near Santiago de Alange. Its priest is a Mercedario friar
San Ysidro de Quinones A new Indian village of Coole
Santiago de Alange City of Spaniards
Santiago de Guabala An Indian village in the jurisdiction of Veraguas
Santiago de Veraguas A city of Spaniards
Santo Domingo de Parita An Indian village near Natα
Panama History Home

September 17, 2002
Bruce C. Ruiz