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A Domestic Servant Sues for her Son (1735)

Indentured servitude was common in Spanish colonized areas of North America. Indentured servitude was a system of labor in which a person had to work for four to seven years without pay in exchange for passage to the “New World.” Employers were expected to supply servants' housing, food, and clothing but servants had few legal rights and little chance at upward mobility. In San Antonio, a mixed-race indentured servant, Antonia Lusgardia Ernandes gave birth to a child by her Pátron (master) in 1735. When the Pátron seized the child, Ernandes appealed to a Spanish court to order that he return her son to her. After Emandes argued that she depended economically on her son, the court ruled in her favor.

I, Antonia Lusgardia Ernandes, a free mulatta residing in the presidio, do hereby appear before your Lordship in the best form according to law and my own interests and state that about eight or nine years ago I entered the home of Don Miguel Nuñes Morillo, taking a daughter of mine with me. I entered the said home without any salary whatever and while I was working in the said home of Don Miguel Nuñes I suffered so much from lack of clothing and from mis-treatment of my humble person that I left the said house and went to home of Alberto López, taking two children with me, one of whom I had when I entered the home of the said Don Miguel and another which I gave birth to in his home. Just for this reason, and because his wife baptized the said creature, he, exercising absolute power, snatched away from me my son—the only man I have and the one who I hope will eventually support me. He took him from the house where I live and carried him to his own, I being but a poor, helpless woman whose only protection is a good administration and a good Judicial system. Your Lordship will please demand that the said Don Miguel Nuñes, without the least delay, shall proceed to deliver my son to me without making any excuses. I wish to make use of all the laws in my favor, and of Your Lordship, as a father and protector of the poor and helpless, as well as anything else which might be in my favor....


Source | "Placing Women in the Past," Cultural Resource Management: Information for Parks, Federal Agencies, Indian Tribes, States, Local Governments, and the Private Sector, 20, no. 3 (1997), pp. 46.
Rights | 3122, 3112
Item Type | Laws/Court Cases
Cite This document | “A Domestic Servant Sues for her Son (1735) ,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 4, 2023,

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