Puerto Rico, Records of Foreign Residents (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Access the records: Puerto Rico, Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845 .

Title in the Language of the Record

Documentos de Naturalización de Extranjeros en Puerto Rico

Record Description

This collection of naturalization records for foreigners in Puerto Rico includes the years 1815-1845. This collection includes requests by foreigners for permission to reside in Puerto Rico (Letters of Domicile), some correspondence, lists of foreigners residing in Puerto Rico, and a few copies of final naturalization papers (Letters of Naturalization). During this time period, Puerto Rico belonged to Spain. Therefore, the documents pertain to foreigners becoming Spanish subjects and are written in Spanish. Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898. These records were transferred to the National Archives in 1943 and correspond to NARA publication T1170: Extranjeros (Foreigners) in Puerto Rico, 1815-1845. This collection is organized in alphabetical order by surname.

The Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 is a legal order approved by the Monarchy of Spain (King Ferdinand VII) in 1815, which contained the regulations for promoting the population, commerce, industry, and agriculture of the Island of Puerto Rico. Because of economic and political issues in Europe, many Spaniards and later Europeans took advantage of this grant, attracted also by the offer of free land to cultivate in the island. The new settlers were given a Letter of Domicile, which allowed them to reside and work legally in the island. After five years of residence in the island, they had a choice to make: become Spanish subjects and be granted a Letter of Naturalization that made them legal citizens, or reject the oath and return to their homelands. The majority of the settlers accepted the naturalization laws.

Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. These records were created to guarantee the rights of naturalized citizens to all the new settlers.

Naturalization records are regularly accurate and the information listed reliable. However, some transcription errors or other circumstances may have occurred. Nonetheless, these records are a good source for genealogical research.

For an alphabetical list of names currently published in this collection, select the Browselink from the collection landing page.

Record Content

Baptismal records may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Child's name
  • Child's date and place of birth
  • Names of parents
  • Names of godparents

Request for Naturalization records usually contain the following information:

  • Name of immigrant
  • Date and location where application was made
  • Country and town of origin
  • Current residence
  • Immigrant's occupation
  • Sometimes, names of members of immediate family

Maritime Inscription records usually contain the following information:

  • Name of applicant
  • Complete physical description of applicant
  • Date and place of birth of applicant
  • Names of applicant's parents
  • Current residence
  • Enlistment date
  • Date of maritime inscription certificate

How to Use the Record

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Name Range" category which takes you to the images

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Use naturalization records to:

  • Learn an immigrant’s place of origin
  • Confirm their date of arrival
  • Find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or ship’s manifests

You may also find these tips helpful:

  • Look for the Declaration of Intent (Letter of Domicile) soon after the immigrant arrived, and then look for the Naturalization Petition (Letter of Naturalization) five years later when the residency requirement would have been met. Look for naturalization records in federal courts and then in province, municipality, or city courts.
  • An individual may have filed the first and final papers in different courts and sometimes in a different province if the person moved. Immigrants who were younger than 18 when they arrived did not need to file a Declaration of Intent as part of the process.
  • If your ancestor had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for that name before you decide which is correct.
  • Continue to search the naturalization records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who may have naturalized in the same area or nearby.
  • The witnesses named on naturalization records may have been relatives of the immigrant. Search for their naturalization records.

If you do not find the name you are looking for, try the following:

  • Check for variant spellings. Realize that the indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings and misinterpretations.
  • Try a different index if there is one for the years needed. You may also need to search the naturalization records year by year.

For Help Reading These Records

These records are in Spanish. For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:

Spanish Genealogical Word List

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Puerto Rico, Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

"Puerto Rico, Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing NARA microfilm publication T1170. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.