Crews aboard Spanish trade ships in the Pacific, 16th-17th century

May 2019
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Earth
I had a question about foreigners and colonial subjects working aboard Spanish ships in the Pacific during the 16th-17th centuries. I've heard that Spain made use of Filipino sailors to crew some of their Manila Galleons. Did Spain also recruit indigenous subjects from their other Pacific colonies to work on merchant ships in this ocean (e.g. Mexico, Peru, etc.)? And what about foreign sailors from outside the Spanish empire? I've heard that the captain of the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación y Desengaño (captured in 1709 by British privateers) was a Frenchman, although this was slightly later than the period I'm asking about...
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,765
Portugal
I had a question about foreigners and colonial subjects working aboard Spanish ships in the Pacific during the 16th-17th centuries. I've heard that Spain made use of Filipino sailors to crew some of their Manila Galleons. Did Spain also recruit indigenous subjects from their other Pacific colonies to work on merchant ships in this ocean (e.g. Mexico, Peru, etc.) And what about foreign sailors from outside the Spanish empire? I've heard that the captain of the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación y Desengaño (captured in 1709 by British privateers) was a Frenchman, although this was slightly later than the period I'm asking about...
Yes, there were people from the Philippines, Mexico and Peru, as well as from other countries.

See:

http://armada.mde.es/archivo/mardigitalrevistas/cuadernosihcn/01cuaderno/cuaderno01.pdf, p. 104 and following;

http://armada.mde.es/archivo/mardigitalrevistas/cuadernosihcn/01cuaderno/06vidacotidianaviajes.pdf, p. 118 and following.
 
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May 2019
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Yes, there were people from the Philippines, Mexico and Peru, as well as from other countries.
Thanks. I will try to run some of that through a translator, but in the meantime, do you know any examples of the foreign nationalities that were recruited? And as for the people from Mexico, Peru, etc., do you have any examples of what tribes/nations some of them came from?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,765
Portugal
Thanks. I will try to run some of that through a translator, but in the meantime, do you know any examples of the foreign nationalities that were recruited? And as for the people from Mexico, Peru, etc., do you have any examples of what tribes/nations some of them came from?
The discrimination of tribes or American nations is probably difficult, since usually all were labelled as “Indios” (the Filipinos were also labelled that way). We could find African slaves, Moors (broadly speaking), and men from many European Regions and Countries: Portuguese (at least until 1640’s) and Italians probably would lead in numbers, but I don’t have data. French, Flemish, Germans and I even recall one English in the Magalhães circumnavigation expedition (he died, if I recall correctly). I also even have the idea that I recall a Greek under Castilian service.
 
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May 2019
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@Tulius That Greek you came across might have been this guy: Juan de Fuca - Wikipedia

Thanks for the information in your last post. I understand the difficulty of identifying "indios" by tribe, but it's still interesting to know that there were some working on Spanish ships at this time. It's interesting what you said about the Filipinos also being labeled as "indios"; I seem to recall hearing that they were also sometimes labeled "chinos", at least by Spanish authorities in the Americas.

Regarding the European foreigners, it's also interesting to hear about that mix of nationalities. Portuguese and Italians I expected, but Germans and an Englishman are a surprise. I'd assume they were probably Catholics, since the Spanish seemed to be quite touchy about letting non-Catholics into their overseas empire. Would be interesting if any details were found about them...

I also have to wonder whether there were any Japanese sailors who made it on to Spanish merchant vessels at any point during this period. There seem to have been quite a lot of mercenary Japanese kicking around the Asia-Pacific at that time; I think there were even some Japanese soldiers in the attempted Spanish invasion of Cambodia during the 1590s...
 

Zip

Jan 2018
814
San Antonio
One day while using Google Earth to explore the old Spanish fortifications of Manila I came across this outwork which is now a shrine to our Lady of Guadalupe.

7BCD0BFB-B46C-4390-B219-6D4D89070104.jpeg

I once read that is was Filipino sailors who taught the Mexicans the art of distillation and the making of mescal.
 
May 2019
429
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I once read that is was Filipino sailors who taught the Mexicans the art of distillation and the making of mescal.
There were definitely plenty of Filipinos who worked Spanish ships between Manila and Acapulco, so I don't find it hard to believe that some ended up staying in Mexico and taught the locals some things. I believe they were especially common on the voyages from Asia to North America; attrition rates would usually whittle down the crews before they made port in Asia, so Filipino sailors were used to fill the gaps when sailing eastward back to Mexico. Some of the Manila Galleons were also originally built in the Philippines, so their baptismal crews would likely have included Filipino sailors too.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,765
Portugal
@Tulius That Greek you came across might have been this guy: Juan de Fuca - Wikipedia
No, I wasn’t thinking in that one, but that is a good example. I recall reading a document where was mentioned one guy nicked “El Greco”, like the famous painter.

But we can see also a Greek in the Magalhães Expedition:

Magellan's circumnavigation - Wikipedia

“Crew members of other nations were also recorded, including 29 Italians, 17 French, and a smaller number of Flemish, Greek, Irish, English, Asian, and black sailors.”

Magalhães’ slave was from the Molucas (Makuku), currently Indonesia.

Thanks for the information in your last post. I understand the difficulty of identifying "indios" by tribe, but it's still interesting to know that there were some working on Spanish ships at this time. It's interesting what you said about the Filipinos also being labeled as "indios"; I seem to recall hearing that they were also sometimes labeled "chinos", at least by Spanish authorities in the Americas.
Don’t know. There is the probably that those “Chinos” were actually Chinese, even from the Philippines, since that there was a significant Chinese community there.

Regarding the European foreigners, it's also interesting to hear about that mix of nationalities. Portuguese and Italians I expected, but Germans and an Englishman are a surprise. I'd assume they were probably Catholics, since the Spanish seemed to be quite touchy about letting non-Catholics into their overseas empire. Would be interesting if any details were found about them...
Yes, most probably all were Catholics, at least nominaly.

I also have to wonder whether there were any Japanese sailors who made it on to Spanish merchant vessels at any point during this period. There seem to have been quite a lot of mercenary Japanese kicking around the Asia-Pacific at that time; I think there were even some Japanese soldiers in the attempted Spanish invasion of Cambodia during the 1590s...
Officially the relations with Japan should be conducted by the crown of Portugal (due to the Treaties of Tordesilhas and Saragoça), and that led always to a strong rivalry between Macau and Manila. And there were Japanese on Portuguese ships.

But yes, the Spanish (also with Portuguese) intervention in Cambodia had Japanese mercenaries (but I think that were recruited in the Philippines were there were many Japanese pirates – probably you can check it in “History of the Philippine Islands”, by Antonio de Morga: History of the Philippine Islands by Antonio de Morga (it’s in English and is a main primary source for the Spanish expedition).

There were definitely plenty of Filipinos who worked Spanish ships between Manila and Acapulco, so I don't find it hard to believe that some ended up staying in Mexico and taught the locals some things. I believe they were especially common on the voyages from Asia to North America; attrition rates would usually whittle down the crews before they made port in Asia, so Filipino sailors were used to fill the gaps when sailing eastward back to Mexico. Some of the Manila Galleons were also originally built in the Philippines, so their baptismal crews would likely have included Filipino sailors too.
The designation “Manila Galleon” can be erroneous since it was a designation of the trade route. It wasn’t made necessarily by Galleons, and it was made by a fleet.

For reference: http://www.armada.mde.es/archivo/mardigitalrevistas/cuadernosihcn/66cuaderno/cap02.pdf (sorry, in Spanish again).
 
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