THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 141.
Letter from Pedro de Tarza, Governor of Trinidad, to the Iing.
Source :-Additional Mss. 36322. British Museum. Published
by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum. Tran7slatcd
from the Spanish.
TRINIDAD DE BARLOVENTO,
JANUARY I5TH, I719.
On May 8th of the year just passed I reported to Your
Majesty my diligent efforts to arrange that Fray Raymundo de
Billafranca, Prefect of the Missions whom Your Majesty
had been pleased to appoint to the Province of Guayana,
should leave two religiosos of his company in this Island to
take charge of the spiritual care of the Indians of Naparima
who had been reduced by the said Prefect and his Order.
They were in this Island as Missionaries sent by the order
of Your Majesty and were very necessary for the welfare
of these said Indians until these Missionary Fathers left the
Island having delivered charge of the Missions to the Ordinaries.
It was not possible to leave these two religiosos because
of the objections raised by the said Prefect as disclosed in
the minutes and letters sent herewith to Your Majesty in
It is my duty in this matter to bring to the sovereign
notice of Your Majesty that the said Prefect Father with
his companions went to La Guayana in accordance with
the Royal Orders of Your Majesty and also the twenty-five
families which, by order of Your Majesty, he had brought
from the Canary Islands. Ever since this date they have
proceeded with the education of the Indians of that province
and the settlement of these families.
Without leaving undone even the least thing, none the
less at the end of nine months it has not been possible to
produce any favourable effect from my efforts nor those of
the Missionary Fathers.
The Indians of the Guayana and Parigote nations are
the worst of all those in those provinces who are subject to
your realm. They are very stubborn in their wickedness,
very selfish and very unapproachable in the forests of
Guavana. The nearest settlement is 30 leagues away, others
are 40 and 5o leagues off; they are living like savages, in
each place four families and in some less ; often five and
six leagues between the places. In that country are many
rivers which flood over the land and other difficulties which
obstruct travelling in the rainy season. Moreover there are
few hills and poor sites for settlements.
It is these difficulties which these Missionaries have
experienced throughout the greater part of that country.
For these reasons they had considered it advisable and had
decided to go further amongst these Indians and to establish
a pueblo in the best site as near as they could to these Guayana
Indians and from it try to obtain the best results to contribute
to the poor efforts of this government.
Thev had selected three sites named Suay, Muruca
and Caroni where there were settled a few Indians of these
nations. No sooner did they settle at these places intending
to reduce the Indians further away and get them to also
settle there than the Indians who were there, at once left
to go elsewhere in the forests flying from the yoke of the Holy
Evangel. This revolt left the Missionaries very discouraged
and mortified. This was also my feeling since I was without
strength of arms which would be necessary in that province
to pacify and reduce these said Indians.
As a result of their difficulties which the Missionaries have
experienced in the Province of Guayana and from the lack
of good food, most of them are ill without having obtained
the objects rightly due to their great efforts. As another
serious difficulty, the Father Prefect points out that at Caroni
the Indians of the Carib nation are near and pass frequently
up and down. In this way the missions have suffered fatalities
from ihese barbarous savages just as happened a short while
ago in the Province of Cumana. This causes and will continue
to cause much anxiety in Guayana as this may incite other
Indians to similar murderous outbreaks.
With a view to considering what was best done, the said
Prefect and his two companions left the said place at Caroni
as the reports show and came across to this Island and reported
the impossibility of establishing missions in Guayana at the
As the conditions of the past year which made me beg
for two religiosos, still remained and as the Naparima Indians,
vassals of Your Majesty, arc still without spiritual aid, the
greater part of the inhabitants of the Island decided to plead
with the Father Prefect, to which I added my support, that
he should devote his services with those of the two other
religiosos to this great and pressing necessity which would
be very pleasing to Your Majesty and that they should
maintain this ministry until Your Majesty should be able
to decide what may be your pleasure without prejudice to
the Dioscesano who has not given any attention whatever
to these missions under his charge.
We asked for special attention to the two pueblos at
Guayria and Sabaneta which they selected as the attached
minutes show with the agreement of the Father Prefect who
will remain with the two religiosos in these two pueblos until
such time as Your Majesty may be pleased to give the necessary
I place before the sovereign consideration of Your Majesty
my opinion that the people of the 25 families which by order
of Your Majesty were sent to Guayana from the Canary
Islands are of no use in that province. Such people are
unskilled in the use of arms and are lazy ; they are vagrants
collected by forcible levy in the Canary Islands against their
will and as such will not apply themselves to any field work
nor to building houses and they will drift into misery and
hunger. This is happening already and will increase and
it is necessary to return and help in Guayana.
The Missionary who went to Santa Fe to collect the funds
which Your Majesty was pleased to allow for this place,
was unable to obtain anything neither for the families nor
for the mission. May Your Majesty direct as may be your
I consider it my duty to inform Your Majesty that if
such a pious and holy resolution of Your Majesty for the
conversion of the Indians of that Province is to succeed and
have good results, it is necessary to garrison La Guayana
with ioo armed soldiers from Spain and that they should
hold that place thus maintaining security for the town of
Santa Fe and dominating the Indians of that Province.
For want of this control, the Indians have done as they
pleased and as on this occasion have taken no notice of the
directions of the Missionaries of Your Majesty.
As a result of this garrison the Indian nations which
live on the banks of the Orinoco will give the respect due to
the royal forces of Your Majesty and will gradually cease
their savage and murderous ways. In default they could be
punished which is not now possible because of the few soldiers
of poor character in that garrison.
A similar objection lies against the soldiers sent from
the New Kingdom as our experience shows that most of
them are prisoners fiom jail who in the royal service of Your
Majesty are useless in the handling of arms.
May Your Majesty be pleased to send here the ioo soldiers
and also to order the Governor of the Province of Cumana
to send two vessels to this Island to transport to La Guayana
these said soldiers as there is in this Island no vessel suitable
for this purpose.
May Your Majesty direct as may be your pleasure in
May God preserve Your Catholic Imperial and Royal
Person as Christendom needs.
Trinidad de Barlovento, PEDRO DE YARZA.
15th January, 1719.