Baleares, Spain Genealogy
Most of your genealogical research for Isla Baleares 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Civil Registration
- 3 Catholic Church Records
- 4 Reading the Records
Little is recorded on the earliest inhabitants of the islands, though many legends exist. For centuries, the Balearic sailors and pirates had been masters of the western Mediterranean. But the expanding influence of the Italian maritime republics and the shift of power on the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim states to the Christian states left the islands vulnerable. A crusade was launched in 1113 that included a large army and a personal envoy from Pope Paschal II. The crusade sacked Palma in 1115 and generally reduced the islands, ending its period as a great sea power, but then withdrew. Within a year, the now shattered islands were conquered by the Berber Almoravid dynasty. The Almoravids were conquered and deposed in North Africa and on the Iberian Peninsula.
On the last day of 1229, King James I of Aragon captured Palma after a three-month siege. The rest of Mallorca quickly followed. Menorca fell in 1232 and Ibiza in 1235. In 1236, James traded most of the islands to Peter I, Count of Urgell for Urgell, which he incorporated into his kingdom. Peter ruled from Palma, but after his death without issue in 1258, the islands reverted by the terms of the deal to the Crown of Aragon. James died in 1276, having partitioned his domains between his sons in his will. However, the terms of the will specified that the new kingdom be a vassal state to the Kingdom of Aragon, which was left to his older brother Peter. This did not set very well with James and he joined forces with the Pope Martin IV and Philip III of France against his brother in the Aragonese Crusade, leading to a 10-year Aragonese occupation. The tension between the kingdoms continued through the generations until James' grandson James III was killed. The Balearic Islands were then incorporated directly into the kingdom of Aragon. The Balearic Islands were frequently attacked by Barbary pirates from North Africa; Formentera was even temporarily abandoned by its population. In 1514, 1515 and 1521, the coasts of the Balearic Islands and the Spanish mainland were raided by Turkish privateers. The island of Menorca was a British dependency for most of the 18th century as a result of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. The island fell to French forces, in June 1756 and was occupied by them for the duration of the Seven Years' War. The British re-occupied the island after the war but, with their military forces diverted away by the American War of Independence, it fell to a Franco-Spanish force after a seven-month siege in 1781. Spain retained it under the Treaty of Paris in 1783. However, during the French Revolutionary Wars, when Spain became an ally of France, it came under French rule. Menorca was finally returned to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens during the French Revolutionary Wars, following the last British occupation, which lasted from 1798 to 1802. The continued presence of British naval forces, however, meant that the Balearic Islands were never occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balearic_Islands
The population of Balearic_Islands is roughly 1,107,220 people.<ref>Wikipedia Collaborators, "Balearic-Islands," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balearic_Islands. Visited 16 October 2017.</re
- 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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Currently, there are no online church records for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they have become available.
2. Microfilmed Records From the Family History Library
Currently, the Family History Library does not have church records 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. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records
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), Isla Baleares
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
- 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
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.