Biography of Dionisio de Alcedo y Herrero (1690-1777)

Spanish officer born in Madrid April 8, 1690, and died in the same city in 1777. He/She served as Mayor of Peru, President of the Audiencia of Quito and Governor and captain general of Panama. He/She knew well the trade and smuggling in these regions and wrote numerous historical and geographical works on them.

Born in a noble family, his name often appears as Alsedo. He/She was son of don Matías Alcedo and Herrera and Doña Clara Teresa de Ugarte, both with ancestral homes. Married Doña María de Bejarano and Saavedra, a native of Seville (born 1706), who then accompanied him to Indies, Cartagena and which had seven sons, who survived the quiteños three Ramon (born October 21, 1733), Antonio (born 1534) and Andrea (born May 15, 1735).

It consists not to study any college career, but he/she had a good education which allowed him to be a man of letters, as evidenced by his numerous works. It must have important knowledge of trade and accounting, judging by the charges that he/she played. In 1705 was an officer of the Treasury of the holy crusade of the Archbishopric of Seville and Cádiz bishopric. The Marquis of Mancera, President of the Council of Italy, recommended in 1706 to the Marqués de Castell two Rius, who had just been appointed viceroy of the Peru. Alcedo traveled to America with the viceroy, but arriving in Cartagena fell ill with fevers and had to stay in the square, while two Castell Rius continued to Lima. When it re-established disease he/she considered that it should renounce its claim in the Peru and decided to return to Spain in the fleet of Galleons of the Marquis of Brenes, who started the tornaviaje. He/She embarked towards their homeland, but shortly after leaving, the fleet was attacked by an English squadron under the command of Admiral Charles Wager or Wagner, which seized most of their ships, after a three-hour match, where he/she was wounded and imprisoned. Alcedo was taken to Jamaica and later exchanged for other English prisoners. He/She returned to Cartagena and from there undertook the trip to Peru by land (Santa Fe, Popayán, Quito and Lima), with the aim of putting at the service of the viceroy. When he/she arrived in Lima knew that two Castell Rius had died and that the Bishop of Lima don had happened Diego Ladrón de Guevara, pointed out in the statement of the mortise. It appeared to the Bishop and Viceroy, told their circumstances and was admitted to his service as his Secretary. Shortly afterwards he/she was appointed one of the four computers of the Court of Auditors. In 1710 Ladrón de Guevara decided to return to Spain and Alcedo wanted to do it with him, after having renounced his place in the Court of Auditors.

The viceroy and Alcedo departed from El Callao to Acapulco, and then went to Mexico, where he/she became Bishop in bad state, it took many years and many ailments. As he/she could not continue, he/she commissioned Alcedo to out to the Peninsula and took the disclaimers to accusations it is had asked at the trial of residence for her performance in Peru. Alcedo embarked in Veracruz, made a stopover in Havana, and finally arrived at Cádiz, where he/she learned that Ladrón de Guevara had died in the Mexican capital. Despite this fulfilled its task and presented the disclaimers, of which he/she was acquitted Bishop and viceroy. Don Dionisio Alcedo was rewarded with the appointment of magistrate of the province of sings (Peru). He/She returned to America and held his position until 1724, when he/she was elected Deputy to the Court by appointment of the viceroy, the hearing and the Consulate of Commerce before the Commission which had to solve several issues of America, such as the restoration of the restoration of the regime of galleons and continuity or suspension of rights of breakdown, customs and almojarifazgo for the Consulate. Alcedo was thought to return to India, passing through Cartagena left his wife in the convent of poor Clares, intending to pick it up at the turn. He/She went to Spain, fulfilled his task, and the 28 March 1728 President of the Royal audience of Quito was named.

Its presence in Quito

Embarkation for America for the third time and arrived in Cartagena on 9 July of the same year, where he/she remained until August 3, when it undertook the trip to your destination by land through Santa Fe, Popayán, Ibarra (here rested a month), until it finally went in Quito on December 29 of the same year. The next day took up his post as President of the Real XX Audiencia of Quito and Governor and captain general of Quito. He/She was a Chairman of swashbuckling, as it wasn't Toga, as mentioned.

Quito was already facing a major economic crisis due to a series of poor harvests, but above all to the decrease of its cloth trade, greatly affected by introduced foreign manufactures of smuggling; the prohibition given in 1722 export cocoa to Mexico, and the disbursements of its funds, as the located had to send to Cartagena, valued at more than 42,000 pesos, or the gracious donation requested by Felipe V. Worried about why pursue smuggling that was done by the Atrato river to the coast of Pacific (region of Chocó was then District of the Royal Audiencia Quito), and was relentless in the application of Justice to a case of false coinage. It took place in 1734 and its authors were Antonio Agustín Montalvo neighbors and Adriano Vargas, who was burned alive at the stake June 13, 1734, as it was stipulated by the laws; In addition, seals and fraudulent stamps were destroyed.

He also devoted much attention to the capital of the Kingdom. He/She finished the hearing House, rebuilt after the earthquake in 1704; He/She raised the arches of the Queen in the corner of the Hospital and Santo Domingo; He/She ordered repair streets and bridges, and personally designed and monitored the construction of which linked the neighborhoods of San Francisco and La Merced (1731). He/She made the same foreground of Quito in aerial perspective, which is kept in the Archivo General de Indias. Finally it cared about safety, putting preserve existing abuse the right of asylum in the temples, which had to make an arrangement with the prelates and religious superiors.

Maintained generally good relations with the Bishop and with the religious thing in Quito was not easy. It could not avoid some problems arising from the expulsion of the Jesuits and the already palpable clashes between Spaniards and Creoles.

29 may 1736 arrived in Quito French academics commissioned for the measurement of the degree of the Earth's equator (Luis Godin, Pedro Bouguer and Charles-Marie de la Condamine), accompanied by Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa. They were greeted with big parties and Alcedo lodged them in the same houses of audience, in addition which provided them all possible assistance so that they perform their work.

Alcedo ended the eight years of his presidency from December 30, 1736, when José de Araújo and Rio happened. He/She could not leave the city until he/she did not conclude his judgment of residence, where he/she was acquitted of all charges. He/She left Quito October 10, 1737, Cartagena road by the same Royal Road which had become (Pasto, Popayán, Santa Fe). Definitely wasn't very prone to navigate, perhaps because of its first maritime experience. He/She embarked for Spain and a few years later, in 1742, he/she was appointed captain general of Panama, scenario of the large confrontation with Great Britain.

The captaincy general of Panama

On 27 June 1742 Alcedo sailed for Panama in Cadiz with his family: his wife and their three children. It became a territory that had become the point of view of the English, interested in destroying the regime of fleets for exercise ease smuggling. He/She had just completed the Guerra of the ear of Jenkins and Edward Vernon had evacuated Portobelo was just a few weeks (June, 1742). This port had been almost destroyed, and had to rebuild many of its defenses; the fleets had stopped arriving at the isthmus, and Panama had lost its leading role in the Peruvian trade by joining the new Viceroyalty of the new Kingdom of Granada, established in 1740.

Alcedo had to continuously fight against English smuggling, supported by its Navy and its Jamaican filibusters. In 1743 he/she reorganized all the defenses of the city of Panama, which gave good artillery, at the same time that had a strong performance against smuggling. Unfortunately, it had little strength. When a Spanish coast guard captured a smuggler ship and drove him to Portobelo, arose on that port (2 August 1744) a flotilla of four ships of war, commanded by Captain William Kinghills, who demanded his immediate delivery. Refused you, of course, and the British bombed the port city with five hundred cannon. However, not landed for fear of the repair works is finishing in the fortifications. The following year the smugglers tried to settle in the Cocle River and the British commander Samuel Graws supported them with a section, to build a Fort at the mouth of the River, hoping that it would recognize its possession in the next hispano-ingles Treaty. The smugglers hoisted the English flag in cream, as if it was their territory. Alcedo sent forces that swept the Fort of Cocle and ordered the attack to cream from Penonome. Three hundred soldiers from Panama and one hundred horsemen of the Villa de Los Santos took cream November 16, 1746. The British managed to flee, but were chased, captured and executed. Records about the causes that made them are also in the Archivo de Indias.

Alcedo had excellent relations with the Jesuits. He/She encouraged them to establish missions in the Darien in 1745, but the unhealthy climate and a measles epidemic ended the few towns of reduced Indians who managed to lift. Most important was the creation of the Universidad de San Javier, work that actively collaborated father Francisco Javier de Luna and Victoria, who was appointed Bishop of Panama two years later.

From 1748 showered the problems on Alcedo. First they were accusations and calumnies of the hearers about his performance in cream, by not have granted clemency to smugglers, that were such engaged listeners. A pesquisidor judge who made all kinds of inquiries was sent, and Alcedo was free of suspicion. Then it was reported a real sentence that condemning him in 6,000 pesos for accusations made by his successor in the Presidency of Quito (Araujo), and the reproach for not have avoided dissensions among quiteños neighbors during his presidency. It was suspended in his post as Panama 24 December 1749 and quarterback replaced him with don Manuel Montiano.

He returned to Spain and undertook his defence. The cause was delayed too long, who took the opportunity to write his best works. The trial failed fourteen years later, the 4 June 1762, and acknowledged his innocence. He/She died in Madrid the year 1777 and was buried in the Church of San Sebastián.

The work of Alcedo is enormous and is still in manuscript for the most part. The best known is the one published as the historic announcement, the historical compendium... and the geographical level... which is cited in the bibliography attached, but is only a part of what he/she did and that could cite, by way of example, the informative Memorial that put in the actual hands of King our Lord the Consulate in the city of the Kings and the Board General of trade of the provinces of the Peru, on various points pertaining to the State of the Real Estate and trade, justification for the seats of breakdown, almojarifazgos and excises..., political, military, historical, geographical image. Description of his Government in the Presidency of the Royal audience of Panama (1743-49. Description general, geografico-hidrografica and historical relationship and geographic of the Santiago province of Veragua and Panama..., etc. He/She is also author of numerous maps of Quito, Panama (1748), Portobelo, etc.


ALCEDO and HERRERO, Dionisio of. Historical, political and geographical notice, with the most important news of the Peru, Chile and Tierra Firme, Nuevo Reino de Granada since 1535 until 1740, by... Governor and General Commander of the Kingdom of Panama and President of both audiences. (Madrid: 1740).

........................... Historical compendium of the province, parties, cities, shipyards, rivers and port of Guayaquil on the shores of the sea of the South. (Madrid: IMP.) Manuel Fernández, 1741).

........................... Geographical and hydrographic map of district of the Royal audience of Quito, and descriptions of the provinces, Governments and townships that are understood in their jurisdiction, and cities and seats and villages occupying their territories, written in Madrid in 1766, published by GONZÁLEZ PALENCIA, Ángel, with the title geographical description of the Royal audience of Quito. (Madrid: Hispanic Society of America, 1915).

GONZÁLEZ PALENCIA, Ángel. Prologue, in geographical description... (see above).

Ciriaco PÉREZ BUSTAMANTE. Antonio de Alcedo and its "memory" for the continuation of the "decades" of Herrera, pp. 50-54 (Madrid, CSIC, 1968)

SOSA, Juan B. and maple, Enrique J. compendium of history of Panama (Panama: University Editor, 1977)

ZARAGOZA CUCALA, fair. Piracy and aggression of the English and other peoples of Europe in Spanish America, deducted from the works of Dionisio Alcedo... (Madrid: 1883) (collects the work of Alcedo incursions and hostilities of foreign Nations in South America).