Puerto Rico, Records of Foreign Residents - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.

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Record Description
Record Type Immigration
Record Group RG 186: Records of the Spanish Governors of Puerto Rico
Collection years 1815-1845
Microfilm Publication T1170. Extranjeros (Foreigners) in Puerto Rico, 1815-1845. 19 rolls.
Arrangement Alphabetical
National Archives Identifier 515
Language Spanish
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection of naturalization records for foreigners in Puerto Rico includes the years 1815-1845. This collection includes requests by foreigners for permission to reside in Puerto Rico (Letters of Domicile), some correspondence, lists of foreigners residing in Puerto Rico, and a few copies of final naturalization papers (Letters of Naturalization). During this time period, Puerto Rico belonged to Spain. Therefore, the documents pertain to foreigners becoming Spanish subjects and are written in Spanish. Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898. These records were transferred to the National Archives in 1943 and correspond to NARA publication T1170: Extranjeros (Foreigners) in Puerto Rico, 1815-1845. This collection is organized in alphabetical order by surname.

The Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 is a legal order approved by the Monarchy of Spain (King Ferdinand VII) in 1815, which contained the regulations for promoting the population, commerce, industry, and agriculture of the Island of Puerto Rico. Because of economic and political issues in Europe, many Spaniards and later Europeans took advantage of this grant, attracted also by the offer of free land to cultivate in the island. The new settlers were given a Letter of Domicile, which allowed them to reside and work legally in the island. After five years of residence in the island, they had a choice to make: become Spanish subjects and be granted a Letter of Naturalization that made them legal citizens, or reject the oath and return to their homelands. The majority of the settlers accepted the naturalization laws.

Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. These records were created to guarantee the rights of naturalized citizens to all the new settlers.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

Reading These Records[edit | edit source]

These records are written in Spanish. For help reading them see:

If you speak Spanish, the following free online lesson may be helpful to learn how to use the information in these records:

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for Puerto Rico Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Baptismal records

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Child's name
  • Child's date and place of birth
  • Names of parents
  • Names of godparents

Request for Naturalization records

  • Name of immigrant
  • Date and location where application was made
  • Country and town of origin
  • Current residence
  • Immigrant's occupation
  • Sometimes, names of members of immediate family

Maritime Inscription records

  • Name of applicant
  • Complete physical description of applicant
  • Date and place of birth of applicant
  • Names of applicant's parents
  • Current residence
  • Enlistment date
  • Date of maritime inscription certificate

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of the person
  • Approximate date of the event

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select Name Range to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

Use naturalization records to:

  • Learn an immigrant’s place of origin
  • Confirm their date of arrival
  • Find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or ship’s manifests

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • Look for the Declaration of Intent (Letter of Domicile) soon after the immigrant arrived, and then look for the Naturalization Petition (Letter of Naturalization) five years later when the residency requirement would have been met. Look for naturalization records in federal courts and then in province, municipality, or city courts
  • An individual may have filed the first and final papers in different courts and sometimes in a different province if the person moved. Immigrants who were younger than 18 when they arrived did not need to file a Declaration of Intent as part of the process
  • If your ancestor had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for that name before you decide which is correct
  • Continue to search the naturalization records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who may have naturalized in the same area or nearby
  • The witnesses named on naturalization records may have been relatives of the immigrant. Search for their naturalization records

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record; also, it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name. Click here for a list of Spanish name abbreviations
  • Check for variant spellings of the names
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. In addition, local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the records of nearby localities (or military unties, counties, parishes, etc.)
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family
  • For records after 1911, it is suggested that you research both the civil registry and the church records to verify information

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Puerto Rico.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
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