Cuenca, Spain Genealogy
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Guide to Cuenca province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 History
- 2 Civil Registration
- 3 Catholic Church Records
- 4 Reading the Records
Most of your genealogical research for Cuenca will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.
History[edit | edit source]
Around the 12th century the Christians, living in northern Spain during the Muslim presence, started to slowly recover the Iberian peninsula. Castile took over western and central areas of Spain, while Aragon enlarged along the Mediterranean area. The Muslim Kingdom, started to break into small provinces under Christian pressure, Cuenca being part of the taifa of Toledo. After Alfonso's defeat in the battle of Sagrajas in 1086, Cuenca was captured by the king of Seville. However, when his lands were attacked by the Almoravids, he sent his daughter-in-law to Alfonso, offering him Cuenca in exchange for military support. Between the years 1093 and 1177 there was much fighting. After an unsuccessful Cuenca sortie against the Christian camp on 27 July,1177 the besieged city was conquered by Alfonso's troops on 21 September 1177, while the Muslim garrison took refuge in the citadel.
In the end of October Arab domination was finished in Cuenca. Alfonso VIII granted the city a title, and it was considered to be "Muy noble y muy leal" (Very noble and very loyal) and it was also given a set of laws, the Fuero, that ruled Cuenca's citizens. During the next few centuries Cuenca enjoyed prosperity, thanks to textile manufacturing and livestock exploitation. During the 18th century the textile industry declined, especially when Carlos IV forbade this activity in Cuenca in order to prevent competition with the Real Fábrica de Tapices (Royal Tapestry Factory), and Cuenca's economy declined, losing population dramatically about 500,000 inhabitants. During the independence war against Napoleon's troops the city suffered great destruction, and it made the crisis worse. The city lost population, with only around 6,000 inhabitants, and only the arrival of railroads in the 19th century, together with the timber industry, were able to boost Cuenca moderately, and population increased as a result to reach 10,000 inhabitants. In 1874, during the Third Carlist War, Cuenca was taken over by Carlist troops, supporters of Carlos María Isidro as king instead of the ruling Isabel II, and the city suffered great damage once more. The first decades of the 20th century were as turbulent as in other regions of Spain. There was poverty in rural areas, and the Catholic Church was attacked, with monks, nuns, priests and a bishop of Cuenca, being murdered. During the Spanish Civil War Cuenca was part of the republican zone (Zona roja or: "the red zone"). It was taken in 1938 by General Franco's troops. During the post-war period the area suffered a major economic decline, causing many people to migrate to more prosperous regions, mainly the Basque Country and Catalonia, but also to other countries such as Germany. The city started to recover slowly from 1960 to 1970, and the town limits went far beyond the gorge to the flat surroundings.
The population of Cuenca is roughly [NUMBER] people.
Civil Registration[edit | edit source]
- Spanish civil registration records (government birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates) began in 1871.
- Births, marriages, and deaths were recorded by the local Juzgado de la Paz, or Oficinia del Registro Civil. The records are still housed in their local municpal archives. In addition, Spain does have a national index or central repository for civil registration.
- Some municipios (towns/cities) may have civil registration records beginning as early as 1837. Some of them have been microfilmed and/or digitized by FamilySearch.
- Larger cities may have multiple civil registration districts, and smaller towns may have their own civil registration office, or belong to an office of a nearby town. To determine the political jurisdiction for the town where your ancestors came from, please see the Spain Gazetteers article.
Here are several different approaches to obtaining these certificates:
1. Online Digitized Civil Registration[edit | edit source]
The following records are available online from FamilySearch Historical Records:
Currently, there are no online FamilySearch Historical civil registration records for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they have become available.
2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]
Currently, the Family History Library does not have civil registration microfilms for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they become available. In the meantime. it is possible to write for the records.
3. Ordering Certificates From the Ministerio de Justica[edit | edit source]
- Researchers can solicit the Ministerio de Justicia online for copies of certificates.
- For detailed information on how to order these records online, please see the article Order Spain Vital Records Online. It will take you through the process step by step, and includes translation of terms you will find in that process.
4. Writing to the Civil Registry of a Municipality[edit | edit source]
- Juzgado de la Paz or Oficina del Registro Civil should be contacted if a certificate copy request to the Ministerio de Justicia fails.
- Use the following address, filling in the parentheses with the specific information for your town :
- Find the Spain postal code here.
- Write a brief request to the proper office. Send the following:
- Full name and the sex of the person sought.
- Names of the parents, if known.
- Approximate date and place of the event.
- Your relationship to the person.
- Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
- Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
- Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).
Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.
Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]
- Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. Ever since the Council of Trent, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
- The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic, and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
- Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.
- The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones) and pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial).
- Tip: If you are researching after 1869, when Civil Registration started in Spain, both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.
1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]
The following records are available online from FamilySearch Historical Records:
- 1538-1985 - Spain, Diocese of Santander, Catholic Church Records, including Cuenca, 1538-1985, free, browsable images, incomplete. Currently, this is a very small collection. Check back from time to time for additional records.
2. Microfilmed Records From the Family History Library[edit | edit source]
There might be microfilmed records available but not included in the online collections. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you. To find a microfilm:
- a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Cuenca.
- b. Click on "Places within Spain, Cuenca" and a list of towns and cities will open.
- c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
- d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
- f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]
Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Spain. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.
Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as guide, replacing the information in parentheses:
- Reverendo Padre
- Parroquia de (name of parish)
- (street address) Search The Church in Spain by province (Selecciona la provincia) or parish (Nombre de la parroquia).
- (postal code), (city), Cuenca
When requesting information, send the following:
- Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
- Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
- Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
- Approximate date and place of the event
- Your relationship to the ancestor
- Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
- Request for a photocopy of the complete original record
Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.]
Reading the Records[edit | edit source]
- You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Reading handwriting skills are taught in the BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
- Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:
- Detailed instructions for reading Spanish records, examples of common documents, and practice exercises for developing skills in translating them can be found in the Spanish Records Extraction Manual.
- The Spanish Documents Script Tutorial also provides lessons and examples.
Tips for finding your ancestor in the records[edit | edit source]
Effective use of church records includes the following strategies.
- Search for the birth record of the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
- Then, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
- You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
- Search the death registers for all family members.
- Then repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
- If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.