Melchor Díaz

Brief Biography

Melchor Díaz had been in New Spain and specifically in Nueva Galicia from at least 1528. The documentary record shows him in Compostela, Sinaloa, Culiacán, and Guadalajara. Díaz worked closely with Nuño de Guzmán, serving as his lieutenant governor and held other governmental posts. Díaz was an obvious choice for Viceroy Mendoza to send with Juan de Zaldívar north toward Cíbola in order to confirm the glowing report by fray Marcos de Niza. Upon his return he was the captain left in charge at San Gerónimo while the Expedition continued north. He was also sent on an ill-fated reconnaissance to the Gulf of California in an effort to make contact with Alarcon's fleet. He died an agonizing death from an accidental wound, possibly near Sonoita, Sonora.

Title (Y/N)
Date of Birth
Age Set
Date of Death
Death Details Known?
Died on the Expedition?
Last Known Location
possibly Sonoita, Sonora
European Social Status
Position on Expedition
Injured on Expedition
Pre-Expedition Occupation
Alcalde Mayor
Lieutenant Governor
Ability to sign name

pre 1530:

?Millares Carlo y Montecón, Indice y extractos, I:626b [July 4, 1527, owes money to Melchor Gómez] and I:1126 [Feb. 28, 1528, estante in Michoacán]


Tello, Libro Segundo [p.410-11: received encomiendas from Guzmán];

AGI, Indiferente General, 1204, N.4bis  [17  Feb. 1533, Compostela; 15 Jan. the event took place: two Spaniards called Arroyo and Trujillo were in the Pueblo of Mazcote, safe and secure, animals, Indians and a slave were killed, requesting compensation; witness: Melchior Diáz, 27 +/-, signed-no signature on copy];

AGI, Justicia, 190, N.2 [June 1535; interrogatorio on behalf of Lope de Samaniego, Juan del Camino, and Francisco Lombardo; mentions about 100 branded slaves brought from Nueva Galicia by Sámano and Lombardo; the slaves are from the pueblos of Maxcala and Apozol, that reisted Nuño de Guzmán's conquest and have risen up many times; a witness is Martín Benítez, vecino of Compostela, more than 30 years old, has known Samaniego, Guzmán, and Camino for about 4 years, can sign, but no signature on copy; he is followed immediately by Francisco de Godoy, vecino of Compostela, 27 or 28 years old, has known Samaniego, Guzmán, and Camino for 6 or 7 years, can sign, but no signature on copy; he is followed immediately by Melchior Díez (Díaz later in the signature slot), vecino of Compostela, about 29 years old, has known Samaniego, Guzmán, and Camino for about 8 years, can sign, but no signature on copy; after one unrelated witness (a Juan de Castañeda) there is a Lázaro Ginovés, vecino of Compostela, about 34 years old, does not know any of the principals, does not know how to sign; Cristóbal de Oñate is a witness, veedor of Nueva Galicia, about 30 years old; witnesses to the interrogatorio in September 1535: Francisco de Villegas; Juan de Villalba; Francisco de Godoy, alguacil mayor and regidor of Compostela, 27 or 28 years old; says he participated in the conquest of Nueva Galicia and many of the subsequent attempts to "restore peace;" he himself has Indians (in encomienda) who have never provided anything to him (not gold or silver or even corn); he has seen "muestras de plata y de oro" from San Miguel, can sign, but no signature on copy; Sebastián Pérez; Cristóbal Maldonado, vecino of Compostela, about 21 years old, he is clearly a fairly recent arrival and has known Guzmán for only two years, can sign, but no signature on copy; Miguel Sánchez, vecino of Compostela, about 30 years old, has known Guzmán for about 6 years and participated in the conquest of Nueva Galicia; Rodrigo Ximón, vecino of Compostela, about 30 years old, has known Guzmán since settlement of Nueva Galicia, he went many times to the valles de Banderas in attempts to bring the natives to peace, he has seen that there are very good mines at San Miguel; Martín Benitez, vecino of Compostela, more than 30 years old, has known Guzmán for about 4 years, he participated in the conquest of Nueva Galicia and of the valles de Banderas, he has seen the mines in San Miguel. he participated in many of the atttempts to "restore peace," can sign, but no signature on copy; Pero Hortigón; Gaspar Brizeño; Luis Salado; Álvaro de Bracamonte; Pero Ruíz de Haro, vecino of Compostela, about 23 years old, has known Guzmán for 4 or 5 years, can sign, but no signature on copy; Alonso de Castañeda, says that Espíritu Santo was abandoned many days before; Pedro de Veloa; Juan Sánchez Belmonte, Hernando de Escalante; Cristóbal de Oñate, veedor of His Majesty, about 30 years old; he has known Guzmán for about 7 years; he participated in the conquests of Nueva Galicia and the valles de Banderas, he has seen the mines of San Miguel, can sign, but no signature on copy; Melchior Díaz, 30-something years old--missing paper, vecino of Compostela, has known Guzmán about 6 years, he has seen "muestras de oro y de plata" from San Miguel, can sign, but no signature on copy];

Calvo, Xalisco, la voz p.83 and 107n31: Díaz, alcalde mayor of Sinaloa in 1536];

AGI, Justicia, 337A, “Guzmán Residencia” [1537, lt. governor for Guzmán, fol.12r; 30 April 1537, Melchior Diáz was alcalde mayor in Culiacán, fol. 84v; 1535 took slaves in Valle de las Banderas or another place, fol. 89r];

AGI, Justicia, 337B, “Guzmán Residencia” [1537, Melchior Diáz witness for Guzmán's residencia, vecino of Compostela; 32 +/-; defends Guzmán's decisions, made payments on behalf of Guzmán, Diáz took Indians as naborias for the mines, was in Mexico City with Guzmán before Guzmán's entrada, present at Yzatlan when a hurricane struck, present at the founding of Espiritu Santo/Tepique, was the inspector for Compostela, present when the adobe church was built in Compostela, Guzmán gave him livestock, judged all the Indians fair game for slaving parties (gente sin razon), signed (no signature on copy), fol. 417v-441v; vecino of Culiacán, fol. 789v; accompanied Andres de Salinas to the house of Juan Sánchez in Guadalajara, fol. 791v];


AGI, Justicia, 338A, “Guzmán Residencia” [1540, in Madrid Guzmán rebuts each charge and Guzmán's interrogatorio with some answers by witnesses: Melchior Diáz];

Tello, Libro Segundo [306: Cabeza de Vaca party met up with Alcaraz and Melchor Díaz; 327:alcalde mayor and lieutenant governor of Compostela; 407-411:captain of Guzmán, capitan & alcalde mayor of Culiacán, conquistador of the province, repartimiento of Indians there, which were later given to Pedro de Tovar];

AGI, Justicia, 258, pieza 1, “Relación de los salarios” [fol. 792r: a Melchior Díaz was corregidor of the pueblo de Yçatlan and its environs in 1539 with a salary of 250 pesos/yr; he is succeeded by Miguel de Ybarra]

Castañeda in Flint & Flint, Documents, Document 28 [captain, alcalde mayor of Culiacán, not a caballero, died] [Died going to the Colorado River, 1541]

AGI, Contratación, 197, N.21, R.19 [1546, Pánuco, "Relación de los pesos de oro que el Dr. Castañeda enbio cobrado de Pánuco bienes de Francisco de Villegas y otros difuntos;" document is prepared in the ciudad de México; Antonio de Villadiego, vecino of Pánuco reported in 1546 in Mexico City, that Dr. Castañeda asked him to deliver gold, money and letters concerning the bienes difuntos in Pánuco that the Dr. had collected from doña Catalina de Mexía, widow of Francisco Barrón, now wife of Pedro de Trejo; this is the report Mexía gave him; in Santiago de los Valles, 20 Abril 1546, reported by Gonzalo Bernaldo; on 20 Abril Mexía is ordered to deliver whatever gold, money and letters she has regarding the bienes de difuntos of Francisco de Villegas, Juan Rodríguez, and anyone else; the juez de residencia informs Tello de Sandoval that there are many cases of bienes de difuntos from Santiago and the provincía; 28 May 1545 Tello de Sandoval demands that those handling these bienes report in person to him in Mexico City; 22 June 1545, Santistevan, del puerto de la provincía de Pánuco, it was publicly proclaimed that information regarding the bienes de difuntos will be collected and any frauds or negligence corrected; 1 Oct 1545, that Mexía, as wife of Francisco Barrón and vecina of Santistevan must produce info and pay 1000 pesos that belong to the estate of Francisco Villegas, in Compostela and Santisteban; Mexía reports she is doing the best  she can, since she is only the wife, and that her husband also dealt with Tonalá and Jalisco; all the items in a chest she delivers, the cofre es de flandes de dos palmos mas o menos; items seem to pertain to Villegas, Francisco Guillen, francés (whose albacea was Juan Rodríguez who is evidently dead), but also IOUs, wills and cartas de pago; gold de Jalisco; she reports also bienes from Francisco Guillén Francés; her late husband was the albacea for Francisco Guillen and delivers an inventory of Guillen's effects; has an inventory taken in Compostela; among her late husband's papers she has 2 conocimientos against Cristóbal de Oñate; un mandamiento de Francisco Vázquez Coronado contra Francisco de Villegas de contia de 200+ pesos de oro apedimiento de Francisco Pilo acesonario de Pedro de Sosa; carta de pago de Hernando Bermejo-7 tomines; conocimiento y carta de pago de Andrés de Salinas; una carta from Juan Pastor; mandamiento contra Melchior Díaz; there are 2 inventories of goods of Francisco de Villegas: one in Santistevan (more pages) and the other in Compostela; a poder from Diego Rodríguez to a Pero Martín; 2 conocimientos from Juan Pérez; carta de pago from Miguel Sánchez; conocimiento from Juan Gallego, escribano; carta de pago from Lope de Samaniego [therefore have to be before early 1540];  carta de pago from Juan Gallegos; conocimiento contra Francisco Cornejo  con un poder; 2 cartas de pago and a poder from an Alonso Martín; quenta de Francisco Cornejo ; desembargo y mando de Cristóbal de Oñate; poder from Juan Rodríguez para el frances [probably meaning Guillen]; from Juan Rodríguez 2 petitions, a letter; another letter from Juan Ruiz; conocimiento from Pedro de Nájara; carta from Francisco Pilo; a conocimiento from Maese Miguel; an embargo by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado against the goods of Francisco de Villegas; the delivery was witnessed and signed by Juan de Gallegos in Santisteban; 11 Feb 1547 Mexía's husband makes a probanza in Mexico City regarding the bienes de difuntos of Francisco de Villegas, Francisco Guillén, francés and Juan Rodríguez, all deceased and her deceased 1st husband; Barrón lived in Santiago de los Valles; witnesses included: Francisco de Godoy, 30+, native of Ubeda, vecino of Mexico City, saw Barrón collect the bienes of Guillén in Nueva Galicia, signed-no signature; February 1547 statement of Pedro de Trexo, current husband of Catalina Mexía"por razón de las costas e gastos e menoscabos de la hacienda del dicho Francisco Barrón que por su ausencia hubo y por su salario que de derecho le viene se retuvieron en ???? poder dozientos pesos de oro que corre para ayuda a lo dicho aunque es mucho mas lo que gasto e perdio en la dicha jornada [to travel from México to Nueva Galicia]" he presents an interrogatorio in which the first question asks if the witnesses are aware that Francisco Barrón collected bienes de difuntos in Nueva Galicia (Guadalajara y Compostela); he resided in Santiago de los Valles (Oxitipán) "que esta desta ciudad [México] ochenta leguas and "partió y fue con [los recaudos y escrituras] a la dicha Nueva Galicia;" he spent more than six months there collecting bienes; Francisco Guillen had gone to Nueva Galicia to collect bienes, but "estar la tierra alzada y de guerra...murió el dicho Francisco Guillén y dexo por su albacea a Francisco Barrón;"]

Other Info:

Logic for age: in 1533 says 27 +/- and 1535 says about 29-those dates point to 1506 +/-; in the same 1535 document he is 30 something, which points to 1505; then in 1537 he is 32 +/-, also pointing to 1505; probably in 1535 he turned 30 making it 1505

Castañeda’s Relación in Flint and Flint, Documents, Document 28 [p.394: Díaz described a Castilian bread, hogazas, this may be a clue to his origins; this type of bread is common in Northern Spain-Burgos, León];

Hillerkuss, Diccionario Biográfico, vol.2  [captain; alcalde mayor, Culiacán in 1535, 36; lieutenant governor of province; known as a slaver; received Cabeza de Vaca and his companions; sent by Oñate to Sinaloa for slaves; went as representative from Culiacán to Mexico City, 1537 to ask viceroy to remove prohibition against getting slaves; Feb. 1539 put down rebellion in Culiacán; ordered the quartering of an Indian leader; Cíbola; 18 Jan. 1541 he died; his rich encomienda went to Tovar,2:31-32];

Romero de Solís, Andariegos  [alcalde mayor and lieutenat governor of San Miguel de Culiacán, 1537-1540, see a report Alarcón y Melchor Diáz protagonistas de los reconocimientos maritimos y terrestres de la Baja California in Rodríguez Sala, 1993, p.119-133; 1539, corregidor of Izatlan w/salary, Ruíz Medrano (1991), 382; claims he died around Sonoita, Sonora on 8 Jan. 1541];

AGN, Instituciones Coloniales, GD110, Real Audiencia, Tierras, vol.48, exp.4, 1583 [fol.97r-188v: proceso de María menor yndia contra María Muçiel y otras yndias sus consortes sobre la casa y solar en San Sebastian; a don Martin Cortés is alcalde; a Nahuatl document mentions a Melchor Diáz; signature of don Martín Cortés; signature of Damián de Xoatl, alguazil;  fol.120r; 14 Nov 1582, witness: a Francisco Ximénez, native of Mexico, San Sebastian; age 70 (fol.152r); signed by interpreter]