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AGUASCALIENTES: Dispensa de Pedro Arias Pardo y Catalina Salado

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By jrefugioghermosillo - Posted on 17 July 2020

Hola prim@s,

Has anyone else read this? I don’t descend from this branch of the Fernandez de Vaulus/ Siordia family, but I began reading this dispensa, and I was just blown away - it reads like a telenovela! In it, is some information on relationships that I previously didn’t know about, and that I imagine others didn’t know about either, and involving descendants of Doña Juana de Siordia. So I thought I’d write something about it and share it here. Note: the language used in this dispensa is very convoluted and not a little confusing, being that people are being spoken of who can’t be named, to “protect their reputations”; this is my interpretation of what’s written, and I am paraphrasing a lot of it, plus I’m filling-in some of the names, for the sake of clarity. It’s another long one, so you might want to sit back with a cup of coffee or tea (or maybe something stronger). For those of you who descend from Bernarda Salado or her half-brother, Nicolas Ponce, you might want to read the original document.

Manny Díez Hermosillo

27 Apr 1695, Aguascalientes, Exp. 213: Dispensa del impedimento dudoso de 2º grado de afinidad por copula ilicita

Pedro Arias Pardo, castizo, age 49, viudo de Laureana Gonzalez, has contracted marriage with Catalina Salado, española, age 40, hija de Francisco de Aguilar (sic) and Doña Bernarda Salado, both deceased. Note: Catalina Salado was at least 48, and her father’s name was Gaspar de Aguilar.

The first part is your typical IM, with declaration of intent and the statements of the bridal couple and their 3 witnesses. After the marriage banns, a witness came forth, and said that there could be an impediment to the marriage: Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo, aka Bartolome Ponce, age 42, states that he had news that Pedro Arias had had an “illicit friendship” with a woman, who was already deceased, having died a spinster, so he won’t say her name because of her reputation, and who was an aunt of Catalina Salado, being a prima hermana of her mother, Doña Bernarda Salado (from here on out, I will refer to this woman as “la doncella difunta”); and he knows of this illicit friendship, because in his house, he raised a child, whose name was Maria, and that after having her in his care for some time, the aforementioned woman told him that the child was hers, but she did not say who the father was; later, the child Maria told him that Pedro Arias was her father, and she went to live in his house, and he took custody of her and arranged her marriage (she might be Maria Arias Pardo, “hija de padres no conocidos,” who married Martin de la Torre, 20 Apr 1694). Rodriguez also says that he had heard a rumor that Pedro Arias had had an illicit friendship with another relative of Catalina Salado, a first-cousin, who was an hija natural of Nicolas Ponce, named Bernarda de Siordia, mujer soltera.

Bernarda de Siordia, mestiza, de edad de mas de 40 años, is called to appear, and throughout the rest of the record, is referred to as “Bernarda Salado mestiza.” She says that she knows Pedro Arias, since they grew up together, but she never had a “sinful friendship” with him. She was asked if she knew of a child who was raised in the home of Bartolome Ponce, and whether this child was the daughter of “la doncella difunta,” said to be a relative of Catalina Salado. She said that she knew of the child, and she did know “la doncella difunta,” but she was not the mother of said child, and that she knew this, because she assisted in the child’s birth as midwife, and the child was born in her hands. She then says that the real mother should not be named, “por el estado en que se halla” (i.e., she was married). So they go “off the record,” and in secret, Bernarda Salado mestiza tells the judge the woman’s name. She says she never knew who the father was.

The next witness is the woman whom Bernarda Salado mestiza named as the real mother of the girl, and who is referred to as “la mujer casada” throughout the rest of the document. To avoid any scandal caused by ordering her to appear, or by the ecclesiastical judge visiting her in her home, it is decided that the notary public, Antonio Perez Velasco, who is familiar with her, will visit her in her home and take her statement. He goes to her house, and while alone and during their conversation, he brings up the case at hand, and asks her if she had anything to say in regards, and she said “yes.” So he swears her in, and begins to question her. When asked, she said that she knew Pedro Arias since they were children, as they had grown up together, and that she had an “illicit friendship” with him that lasted some 6 years, during which time, they had 2 children: a son, who died, and a daughter, raised by Bernarda Salado, and who later, this witness had in her home, until she went to live with her father, who recognized her and married her off; but no one in her family knew the girl was hers, they all believed her to be the daughter of “la doncella difunta,” because this witness had asked her to claim the child as hers. She is then asked if and how she is related to Catalina Salado, and she replied that Nicolas Ponce was her father, and he was the brother of Doña Bernarda Salado, mother of Catalina Salado, so she and Catalina were 1st-cousins. She gives no other information, other than that her age was about 40.

Reviewing these 3 testimonies, here’s my take: as well as discovering that Nicolas Ponce had an hija natural named Bernarda Salado, we learn that the unnamed “doncella difunta,” who was an aunt of Catalina Salado, and who was believed to be the mother of Maria, Pedro Arias’ lovechild, was not the girl’s mother; instead, her mother was the unnamed “mujer casada,” who was also a daughter of Nicolas Ponce, and who had made a deal with “la doncella difunta” to claim the child as hers, obviously to protect her reputation. And then we have Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo saying that the girl Maria was raised in his home, until she was recognized by her father, who took her in and arranged her marriage. But then, “la mujer casada” also says that Maria was raised in her home, until she went to live with her father. At first, I thought it odd that two people would claim that they raised the girl, but putting 2 and 2 together: Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo was married to Teresa de Siordia, daughter of Nicolas Ponce and Juana de Ortega; unless Nicolas Ponce and Juana de Ortega had another daughter who was married and who lived in Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo’s household, "la mujer casada” can be none other than his wife, Teresa de Siordia!

Are you all following me?? Okay, put on your seatbelts, because here comes another twist…

Pedro Arias Pardo is called to testify, and is presented with the above allegations. He responded that yes, he knows the girl named Maria, who grew up in the house of Bartolome Ponce, because he fathered her and has recognized her as his daughter, and as such, had married her. He also knew “la doncella difunta” very well, but he never had an illicit friendship with her, so she couldn’t have been the mother of Maria. He confirmed that the mother of the child was ”la mujer casada” (whose name he confided to the judge, off the record), and that, even though this was true, there still was no parentesco between her and his betrothed, Catalina Salado, because - and here is where it really starts to get crazy - even though everyone believes that “la mujer casada” is prima hermana of Catalina Salado, it isn’t so, because, before the mother of “la mujer casada” (i.e., Juana de Ortega) married the man said to be her father (Nicolas Ponce), she “communicated to” a resident of this villa named Juan Alonso de los Ynojos (“comunicó a un sujeto desta villa llamado Juan Alonso de los Ynojos” - I’m going to presume this means she had a sexual relationship with him), and after giving birth to “la mujer casada,” she married the man said to be her father (Nicolas Ponce), who raised her as such. To verify his claim, Pedro Arias offered the name of Pedro de Arrona, and said that Bernarda Salado mestiza could also attest to this.

Pedro de Arrona, age 67, is then called to appear. Asked if he knew “la mujer casada,” and if he knew who her father and mother were, and whether she was related in any way to Catalina Salado, Pedro de Arrona answered: Yes, he knew “la mujer casada” very well, since she was born, because the night her mother gave birth to her, in total secrecy, because she was unmarried at the time, they handed her over to this witness so that he could take her to the puesto called Los Negritos, so that she could be raised in complete secrecy. He knows who her mother was, and he knows that the man who was said to be her father (Nicolas Ponce), was not her biological father, and that some years after “la mujer casada” was born, her mother married this man said to be her father. And knowing this with all certitude, this witness swears and assures that there is no kinship between Catalina Salado and “la mujer casada,” because the man she believes to be her father, was in fact, not. But then, he adds: although he has stated that “la mujer casada” is the daughter of the woman said to be her mother (Juana de Ortega), he declares that she was not, because he knows very well who her biological parents were: those who called upon this witness to take her where she was raised (whom he doesn’t name). In as such, “la mujer casada” is not the daughter of the woman said to be her mother (Juana de Ortega), nor of the man said to be her father (Nicolas Ponce).

Bernarda Salado mestiza is called back to testify, and asked if “la mujer casada” is the daughter of Nicolas Ponce, she said no, because “la mujer casada” was born before her her parents married, and she knows with all certainty that he was not her biological father, because this witness was born and raised in the same house, and because she heard it from “la mujer casada” herself, who said that her father was not Nicolas Ponce, as everyone was led to believe.

The notary, Antonio Perez Velasco, was then sent to the house of “la mujer casada,” to get her statement in regards to these new allegations. Note: again, the wording is convoluted, so, as I’ve been doing, I’m going to fill-in the names and paraphrase it, but I’m also going to write it as a dialogue between the notary (Antonio Perez) and the witness (“la mujer casada”), since it seems the easiest way to convey what was said:

Notary: Was Nicolas Ponce your biological father?
Witness: Yes he was, and none other.
Notary: How can you say that he was your father, when witnesses say otherwise, and seeing how you were abandoned at the home of Ana (illegible)? (“exposito en la casa de Ana Xe-”)
Witness: It is true, that I was taken to be raised in the cited home, but later, after my mother married Nicolas Ponce, he recognized me as his daughter.
Notary: How do you know that he was your father, when you were a foundling?
Witness: Because my mother told me so on her deathbed.
Notary: Before you had your sinful relationship with Pedro Arias, you had one with Augustin Salado, nephew of Nicolas Ponce, being the son of his sister, Bernarda Salado; on that occasion, Pedro Arias asked you, “how could you commit incest with your 1st-cousin?” And you replied that it wasn’t incest, because Augustin Salado was not related to you, since Nicolas Ponce was not your biological father, nor did you consider him as such. That said, how can you now say that Nicolas Ponce was your biological father?
Witness: Though what you say in your question is true, word for word, I said it to cover-up my wickedness and my sin.
Notary: If Nicolas Ponce wasn’t your father, what is your reason to deny and cover up the truth?
Witness: Señor mío, just dispense Pedro Arias, he is just a mestizo who wants to marry a spanish woman! And don’t come back here with this business any more, because I always have the same thing to say, and I swear to it, by that Holy Cross.

And pointing at a crucifix, she arose from my side and left the room for the patio of the house, and taking my leave of her with all courtesy, she said, “Tío (sic), for heaven’s sake, respect my reputation, regarding what was spoken of.”

* * * * * * * * *
GUAU. ¡Que fuerte! Are your heads spinning? You cannot make this stuff up!

In the end, it was decided that the allegations of any kinship between Catalina Salado and “la mujer casada” were doubtful, and the marriage was allowed to proceed without a dispensation. So the judges believed Pedro Arias and the witnesses, who said that “la mujer casada” was not the daughter of Nicolas Ponce and Juana Macias de Ortega.

If my theory is correct, that “la mujer casada” and Teresa Ponce de Siordia are the same person, this changes some things we thought we knew about this family group. First, we now know that she was born before her alleged parents married in Apr 1648, which explains why there was no baptism record for her. And if Pedro Arias was telling the truth, then Juan Alonso de los Ynojos was her biological father (from the timelines, he would’ve been the one who married Isabel Lopez Ramirez in 1652). If Pedro de Arrona was telling the truth, then Juana Macias de Ortega was not her mother; who that person was, is lost to history. Last but not least, all of this would mean that the dispensa of Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo and his second wife, Tomasa de la Rosa de Ulloa, was unnecessary, since there was no parentesco between Teresa and Tomasa!

The other take-aways are also of interest, that Nicolas Ponce had an hija natural named Bernarda Salado, aka Bernarda de Siordia, who was Mestiza, and who was born between 1645 and 1655 (in her first appearance, she gives her age as older than 40, but in her second appearance, she says she was about 50). I wondered if she was the same Bernarda Salado, aka Bernarda de la Torre, aka Bernarda Lopez de Nava, who married Andres Navarro on 18 Apr 1670, who was said to be an “hija de padres no conocidos” on their marriage record, but in his testimony, Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo said that she was “soltera.”

And then there’s Augustin Salado, who was said to be a son of Doña Bernarda Salado cc Gaspar de Aguilar - that’s the first mention I’ve seen of him. His is another name to add to their family group.

Once again Manny....BRAVO! This has got to be one of the most wild things I've seen since beginning my research!

I descend from Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo and his second wife, Tomasa de la Rosa de Ulloa, This information is great. Thank you Manny for sharing this research.

Rick A. Ricci

Wow, Manny this was incredible. And I descend from almost everyone you mentioned. They really had very interesting lives.


Hola prim@s,

I found some things to support my theory that “la mujer casada” and Teresa Ponce de Siordia are the same person.

In the Pedro Arias dispensa, when the notary interviewed “la mujer casada” for the second time, he asked her, “¿Como dise que es su padre el tal, quando los testigos disen lo contrario y que fue exposita en la casa de Ana xu-?” The page folds at the end of the sentence, and only those letters are visible. At first, I thought it said “Ana xe-,” but after careful examination, it’s clearly “Ana xu-,” and seeing how the notary’s “r’s” look like “x’s,” the name is “Ana ru-,” which can only be “Ana Ruiz.” She would’ve been the one who raised the girl those first years, and probably had her baptized.

According to various testimonies, “la mujer casada” was born before her supposed parents married. Nicolas Ponce and Juana de Ortega married 21 Apr 1648; looking through the Aguascalientes baptism records, going backwards from that date, I located the record for the baptism of “Teresa, española, hija de la Iglesia,” who was baptized on 25 Dec 1645, and whose madrina was… Ana Ruiz de Esparza.

Coincidence? Or is this the baptism record of Teresa Ponce de Siordia, aka “la mujer casada”? By the way, I can't help but wonder which Ana Ruiz de Esparza this was, and how was she related to the child's biological mother?

And there’s one other thing that supports my theory - although it’s even more circumstantial and a matter of semantics.

In the dispensa, the ecclesiastical judges go out of their way not to reveal the identity of “la mujer casada”: when they interviewed her, they decided that they could not call her to appear before them, nor visit her in her home, “for risk of arousing suspicion and causing a scandal.” For that reason, they sent only the notary to meet her, and only when “her husband was absent, and their children retired.” Also - and this is where it gets into semantics - every time they refer to her, they make a point of saying, “cuyo nombre no se menciona por su estado”: “whose name isn’t mentioned, because of her status.” At first, I naturally assumed this meant her “marital status,” but the word “estado” also means “rank,” and the way they keep emphasizing it - along with their aforementioned need for secrecy - I kinda get the feeling this might have had more to do with her social standing, than just her marriage. If that’s the case, then, who was she? And just as important, if not more, who was her husband?

If she was Teresa Ponce, then they might have had good reason to keep her identity a secret, because her husband, Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo, was the "maestro de capilla" of the church in Aguascalientes. During the 16- & 1700’s, the maestro de capilla had a very important role in the church, and therefore, in the community: he was a “musician with great experience and prestige, and usually a composer, who trained, managed and directed the group of singers & musicians responsible for the sacred music performed during church services, and/or for the profane music performed at festivals of the court.” So, in addition to having close ties to the church, Bartolome Rodriguez Bajo would’ve been very visible in the community and highly regarded - maybe even considered a community leader. So, it would make sense that the church would want to avoid a scandal involving him and his wife.

Like I said, it is more circumstantial, and is based on supposition, but it’s not that farfetched, considering the role of the church in every day life during that period. By the way, even if Teresa Ponce wasn’t “la mujer casada,” this could explain why she was never called in as a witness, considering that she would’ve known all of the people involved.

Day 120 SiP, and finding ways to keep myself occupied!
Manny Díez Hermosillo

With this hobby, I find when things "fall into place" so nicely i.e. the baptism and social standing more often then not they are the correct answer. My money is on your intuition being right.

Thanks Manny for all the information on this family. So far I don't think it is part of my family but it was so worth reading how things were during those times. I am amazed at how the church protected some. So many secrets on top of secrets. Once again you gave us a real mystery "Will the real parents please stand up!"

Thanks again Manny for your wonderful work. I am hoping that you will find even more information on Bartolome Rodríguez Bajo as I don’t have any information on his parents or ancestry.

Rick A. Ricci

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