Cantabria, Spain Genealogy

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SpainGotoarrow.pngCantabria

Most of your genealogical research for Cantabria 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

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Cantabria regained its independence from the rule of the Visigoths. In 574, King Liuvigild attacked Cantabria and managed to capture the south of the country, including the city of Amaya, where he established a Visigothic province called the Duchy of Cantabria To the north of this cordon, however, the Cantabri continued to live independently until the Arab invasion. In 714, a mixed Arab/Berber army of Muslim Moors invaded the upper valleys of the Ebro and succeeded in capturing Amaya, the Cantabrian capital, this forced the Cantabrians back to their traditional frontiers, where they joined forces with the Kingdom of Asturias. In the 16th century, the name La Montaña (The Mountain) was widespread in popular usage and in literature, as a designation of the Ancient Cantabria, as opposed to Castile, which referred solely to the Central Plateau. This distinction has survived into modern times. In 1727, the first attempt to unify what would later become the Province of Cantabria occurred. In spite of this, the high level of autonomy that the small entities of the fractured estate of Cantabria enjoyed, combined with a lack of resources, continued to be the main reason for Cantabria's weakness.. In a General Assembly a framework was established and formal steps began to be taken, leading to administrative and legal unity in 1778. This all culminated in the success of the Assembly held in the Assembly House of Puente San Miguel on July 28, 1778, where the Province of Cantabria was constituted. It was achieved by passing the common ordinances which had been discussed and approved previously in councils of all the villas, valleys and subscribed jurisdictions.

Having learned lessons from the failed attempt of 1727, the first objective of the new entity was to obtain approval from King Charles III for the union of all the Cantabrian jurisdictions into one province. The royal ratification was granted on 22 November 1779. The use of terms with ancestral resonance through the 18th and 19th centuries continued during the 20th century, taking on a political tone that was regionalist, until 1936. In fact, the Republican Federal Party produced an autonomy statute for a Cantabrian-Castilian Federal State that year, which would include present-day Cantabria and any neighbouring areas from Castile and Asturias willing to join it. It was not to be passed because of the Civil War. In 1963, the president of the Provincial Council, proposed reapplying the name of Cantabria to the Province of Santander, Although further steps were taken and many of the townships were in favour of the move, the petition did not succeed, mostly due to the opposition of Santander City Council. On 30 December 1981, a process that had been started in April 1979 by the Council of Cabezón de la Sal, culminated in the granting of self-rule to Cantabria. Cantabria based its claim to autonomy on the constitutional precept that made provision for self-government for "provinces with a historic regional character". A Mixed Assembly formed out of provincial deputies and national members of parliament began the task of drawing up an Autonomy Statute on 10 September 1979. Following the approval of the General Courts on 15 December 1981, the King of Spain signed the corresponding Organic Law of Autonomy Statute for Cantabria on December 30 of the same year. On 20 February 1982, the first Regional Assembly (now Parliament) was formed, with provisional status. From this time, the former province of Santander has been known as Cantabria and has thereby regained its historic name. The first home-rule elections were held in May 1983. The 4th Legislature 1995–1999 brought into effect the first great reform of the Autonomy Statute of Cantabria, approved by all the parliamentary groups.

The population of Cantabriais roughly 582,206 people.[1]

Civil Registration

  • 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

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

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 :
Oficina del Registro Civil
(Street address: This link will give you addresses for all the civil registries in Cantabria.)
(postal code) (City)
Cantabria, Spain
  • 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

The following records are available online from FamilySearch Historical Records:

2. Microfilmed Records From the Family History Library

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There might be microfilmed records available but not included in the online collections. Held in the collection of the Family History Library, these microfilms may be viewed at Family History Centers around the world. At the time the records were microfilmed and catalogued, Cantabria was named Santander. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Santander.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Santander" 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. FHL icons.png. 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

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), Cantabria
Spain


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:




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.
  • Wikipedia Collaborators, "Cantabria," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantabria. Visited 12 October 2017.