Cristóbal de Oñate

Brief Biography: 

A native of Vitoria, Guipúzcoa province, Spain, Cristóbal de Oñate was lieutenant governor of Nueva Galicia under Vázquez de Coronado and filled in for him during the Expedition. Oñate's career included long stints in various royal government offices, beginning in 1524 when he traveled to Nueva España as assistant accountant to Rodrigo de Albornoz. In 1529, Oñate was a member of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán's bloody expedition of conquest, which resulted in creation of the administrative entity Nueva Galicia. Oñate became its lieutenant governor and then acting governor, a post he held until Vázquez de Coronado was appointed permanent governor in 1539. At the time of the muster of the Expedition to Tierra Nueva conducted in February 1540, Oñate testified that many of the people who were going on the expedition were "licentious and had no [means] by which to sustain themselves." One of the captains on the Expedition was Oñate's cousin Juan de Zaldívar. Oñate played a major role in the Mixtón War and acquired a number of encomiendas. With Juan de Tolosa, Diego de Ibarra, and Baltasar Temiño de Bañuelos, Oñate was a founder of the incredibly rich silver mines and villa of Zacatecas in 1548. He soon married doña Catalina de Salazar y de la Cadena. One of their children, Juan de Oñate, would much later lead the expedition that founded the Spanish province of Nuevo México.

References-Documentary: 

1530-1540:

AGI, Justicia, 116, N.4, Pieza 2, "Rodrigo de Albornoz contra Nuño de Guzmán sobre ingenio de azucar, 1532" [Janury 4 1533, Rodrigo de Albornoz con Nuño de Guzmán sobre un ingenio de azucar] [Oñate, veedor, is de parte witness, is about 30 years old, could sign his name];

AGI, Justicia, 190, N.2, "El fiscal contra Lope de Samaniego, alcalde de las atarazanas de México y su fortaleza, sobre embargo de sus esclavos. Nota: va remitido al Consejo, 1535-38" [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; 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; 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 y 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 (fot 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 Benítez, vecino of Compostela, more than 30 years old, has known Guzmán for about 4 years, he participated in the conquista 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 Ruiz de Haro, vecino of Compostela, about 23 years old, has known Guzmán for 4 or 5 years, can sign, but no signature; 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 de su magestad, 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, 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];

AGI, Patronato, 55, N.5, R.4, "Méritos y servicios: Juan Durán, 1538” [Compostela, 9 Dec 1538, witness: Cristóbal de Oñate, age-35 +/-];

AGI, Patronato, 55, N.6, R.1, "Méritos y servicios: Juan de Salamanca, 1539" [Mexico City, 18 March 1539, went with Guzmán to the war of Nueva Galicia with his arms and horse; witness: Cristobal de Oñate, age-30+];

1540-1550:

AGI, Justicia, 339, N.1, R.1, "Residencia que el licenciado Lorenzo de Tejada, oidor de la Audiencia Real de Nueva España, tomo a Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Guadalajara, 1544-45" [August and September 1544, Residencia que el licenciado Lorenzo de Tejada, oidor de la Audiencia Real de Nueva España, tomo a Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Governador que fue de la Nueva Galicia, y a su teniente] [capitán Cristóbal de Oñate, vecino de Guadalajara, teninte de governador de Nueva Galicia, both de oficio and de parte witness] [testimony of Juan de Villareal: both Vázquez de Coronado and Cristóbal de Oñate had taken Indian bearers from Nueva Galicia to México] [when Oñate testifies as de oficio witness he is listed as vecino of México: had known Vázquez de Coronado for 8 years] [Oñate could sign his name] [Oñate loaned a horse he had to Vázquez de Coronado, the horse was in Lope de Samaniego’s possession];

AGI, Justicia, 339, N.1, R.3, "Residencia que el licenciado Lorenzo de Tejada, oidor de la Audiencia Real de Nueva España, tomo a Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Guadalajara, 1544-45" [August 1544, sobre ciertos pueblos] [Oñate is de oficio witness: ha sido veedor de Nueva Galicia about ten years before] [conquystdor que fue de esta provincia e capitán en ella] [was encomendero of the pueblo of Xalisco];

AGI, Contratación, 197, N.21, R.2, “"Diligencias de bienes de difuntos en Nueva España: Bartolomé González, natural de Almodóvar del Campo, difunto en México, 1545” [Jalisco, 1544, the officials are Cristóbal de Oñate and Francisco de Godoy];

AHN, Sección Nobleza, GRIEGOS, C.8, D.63, "Carta de venta otorgada por Cristóbal de Oñate, 1545" [1545-04-12 / 1545-04-12 Carta de venta otorgada por Cristóbal de Oñate de dos esclavos negros ladinos que compró a Sancho Caniego, a favor de Diego de Montoya. Ante Francisco Gómez, escribano del rey. Zacatecas; Carta de venta otorgada por Cristóbal de Oñate de dos esclavos negros ladinos que compró a Sancho Caniego, a favor de Diego de Montoya. Ante Francisco Gómez, escribano del rey, Zacatecas, April 1555, not digitized: Cristóbal de Oñate is vecino of México and estante in Zacatecas; one of the slaves (ladinos) is called Francisco (he is 40 years old and from Manicongo); the other is called Pedro (25 years old from Bran); the price for both is 450 pesos de oro de minas (of 450 maravedís)];

APSM, “Bautismos de Españoles, 1536-1746,” [fol. 176v: 14 Nov 1546, Cristóbal Péres and Francisca de Contreras baptize Cristobal, padrinos Cristóbal de Oñate, don Tristan and factor Salazar];

AGI, Contratación, 197, N.21, R.19, "Diligencias de bienes de difuntos en Nueva España: Francisco de Villegas, difunto en Pánuco, 1545" [1546, Pánuco, "Relacion  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 provincia; 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 provincia 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; Mexia reports she is doing the best  she can, since she is only the wife, and that her husband also dealt with Tonala 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 Guillén, 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 Guillén and delivers an inventory of Guillén'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; 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, scribe; carta de pago from Lope de Samaniego; 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 Mexia's husband makes a probanza in Mexico City regarding the bienes de difuntos of Francisco de Villegas, Francisco Guillen, frances and Juan Rodriguez, all deceased and her deceased 1st husband; Barron lived in Santiago de los Valles; witnesses included: Francisco de Godoy, age-30+, native of Úbeda, vecino of Mexico City, saw Barron collect the bienes of Guillen in Nueva Galicia, signed-no sig; 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;"];

1550-1560:

AGI, Justicia, 168, "Luis de Quesada, María Jaramillo, su mujer, y Pedro de Quesada, su hijo, contra Francisco de Velasco y Beatriz de Andrade, su mujer, todos vecinos de México, sobre el derecho a la encomienda de indios del pueblo de Xilotepec, 1553-73" [witnesses for Velasco in 1551, México: all say that Luis de Quesada has not served his majesty in anything; Cristóbal de Oñate, vecino of México, about 50 years old, says that Quesada did go to the guerra de Jalisco, but late];

APSM, “Bautismos de Españoles, 1536-1746,” [fol. 10v: Dec 1552, Cristóbal de Oñate and Catalina de Salazar baptize María at Santo Domingo];

APSM, “Bautismos de Españoles, 1536-1746,” [fol. 13r: 24 Feb 1553, Juan López and Francisca de Contreras baptize Jerónima, padrinos were Cristóbal de Oñate, Juan Velázquez the factor and don Tristan de Arellano];

AGI, Guadalajara, 230, L.1 "Registros de oficio, 1554-1671" [fol.6r: Cristobal de Oñate, vecino in Nueva Galicia, the king says, me ha hecho relacion que el vino a estos reinos con licencia en compania de don Francisco de Mendoza, son of the viceroy, 1555?]; [fol.183: Oñate “vino a estos reinos con licencia nuestra en compañia de don Francisco de Mendoza, hijo del visorey don Antonio de Mendoza, el qual le envió de las provincias del Perú a cosas tocantes a nuestro servicio, y que al tiempo que salió de esa nueva españa con el dicho Visorey para las dichas provincias, dexó los indios del pueblo que se dice Xalisco” y otros pueblos];

AGI, Justicia, 1029, N.6, "Información de oficio...contra ciertas personas inquietas, 1555" [those who fought against the king's officers in Peru, Información recibida en la Audiencia de México contra Juan Cepeda (who is never mentioned) y Alonso Hidalgo [who is throughout] sobre delitos que cometieron; refers to a Juan Zapata que en los reinos del Perú se llamava Juan de Herrera;" Pedro de Requena is the scribe; in May 1554 a witness is Alonso Hidalgo, who was subjected to the rack, testifies that it might have been 18 or 20 days previous to the fiesta de San Marcos [but he doesn't say in what year--elsewhere it is proximo pasado], he met with a group including "García Méndez de Sotomayor...que fue paje del señor visorey don Antonio de Mendoza que es casado con una india en Yzmilquipan" and also "un mozo redondo de unas calzas amarillas criado del factor Juan Velázquez de Salazar o de don Pedro de Tovar," along with other criados of important men in Nueva España; they arrived at the casa de Cristóbal de Oñate; the group reached the size of 300 to 400 armed men "Peruleros," who planned to attack the viceroy's house at midnight and kill him and two of the oidores, and they would steal the gold and silver from the royal coffer, "y tomar por capitanes a los dichos don Pedro de Tovar e Juan Velázquez e Alonso Carrillo e don Juan Carrillo y esperar respuesta de Guatemala porque habian escrito a Guatemala y sus comarcas;" but the mozo redondo informed on them];

AGI, México, 98, R.3 “Secular letters, 1558” [8 August 1558, Probanza for Alonso de Contreras, witness: Diego Hernández Nieto, age-50+, saw him come with Narváez, saw that Narváez gave him an encomienda, signed-no signature on copy; Cristóbal de Oñate, age-55+, signed-no signature on copy];

AGI, Patronato, 61, N.2, R.6, “Méritos y servicios de Alonso de Contreras, México, August 1558” [a witness is a Gonzalo Hernández de Mosquera, vecino y conquistador of México, more than 50 years old, can sign but no signature on copy; another witness is Cristóbal de Oñate, vecino of México, more than 55 years old];

AGI, México, 281, "Cartas y expedientes de personas eclesiásticas" [17 August 1559, Mexico City, where to put the new church in Nueva Galicia, witness: Cristobal de Oñate, vecino, age-60+/-];

1560-1570:

AGI, Indiferente General, 1529, N.2, "Relación de tasaciones de pueblos de Indios de Nueva España, 1560" ["Tacambaro provincia de Michoacán encomendado en Cristóbal de Oñate primero tenedor esta tasado en gallinas trigo maiz dinero que vale setecientos y cinquenta pesos"; "Culuacan comarca de México en el dicho Cristóbal de Oñate esta tasado endinero maiz gallinas que vale quinientos y setenta pesos"];

AGI, México, 100, R.3, "Cartas y expedientes de personas seculares, 1575-76" [6 Feb. 1560, Mexico City, probanza of Jorge Çeron Caravajal; witness: don Luis de Castilla, witness in Mexico City 28 Feb. 1560, age-50+; don Diego de Guevara, vecino, age-40 +/-; Cristobal de Oñate, vecino, age-60 +/-];

Epistolario de Nueva España, 1505-1818, v.9, #485 [p.22: Jan. 1560, Cristóbal de Oñate held Tacamvaco, province of Mechuacán, bishopric of Mechuacán, assessed at 750 pesos in chickens, wheat, corn and money; Culuacan, vicinity of Mexico, archbishopric of Mexico, assessed at 560 pesos in money, corn, chickens];

AGI, México, 97, R.1, "Méritos y servicios de don Tristán de Luna y Arellano, 1561(?)" [April 1562, Facultad a Hernán Pérez de Bocanegra para fundar mayorazgo en la ciudad de Mejico] [de parte witness is Cristóbal de Oñate, vecino of México, about 65 years old];

AGI, Contaduría, 667A, 1562 [de dineros recibidos por el dicho tesorero Juan Alonso de Sosa y de los bienes del factor Hernando de Salazar, 1562: don Luis de Quesada (alcalde mayor que fue de la provincia de Xilotepeque) is fiador de la decima parte del dicho factor, his son don Pedro de Quesada acts on his behalf; Cristóbal de Oñate is depositario for 1,000 pesos as one of the 10 fiadores of the factor];

AGI, Contaduría, 667A, 1563 [azogue de 1563: Criatóbal de Oñate buys 100 quintales de azogue for 1,310 pesos]; [de dineros recibidos por el tesorero Juan Alonso de Sosa, 1563: Cristóbal de Oñate is still one of the 10 guarantors for the factor];

Valderrama, Sentencias pronunciadas, p.358-59 [1564, Vasco de Puga is charged with unjustly imprisoning Cristóbal de Oñate as an official of the real hacienda for a balance he made to factor Salazar, Puga is fined 100 ducats];

AGI, México, 97, R.5, "Cartas y expedientes de personas seculares, 1560- 64" [6 Abril 1564 - Cristóbal de Oñate, in the mines of Zacatecas];

AGI, Contaduría, 667A, 1565 [azogue, 1565: Cristóbal de Oñate, in the name of Juan y Vicente de Zaldívar, his nephews, buys 25 quintales de azogue para las dichas haziendas que tienen en Zacatecas, for 4,750 pesos];

AGI, México, 98, “Secular letters, 1565” [22 Feb. 1565;  Mexico City, Probanza of Gerónimo de Bustamante; witness: Cristóbal de Oñate, vecino, age-65+];

AGI, México, 208, N.23, "Informaciones: Isabel de Barrios, 1565" [20 Feb. 1565, Mexico, doña Isabel de Barrios, muger of don Diego de Guevara, vecino and regidor, deceased, tutora y curadora for don Juan de Guevara, her son; 20 Feb. 1565-witnesses: Luis Hernández Garijo-no specifics about Cíbola, Jalisco; Cristóbal de Oñate, age 65+, Guevara was a captain of a company of horsemen];

1570-1580:

AGI, Patronato, 75, N.1, R.3, “Méritos y servicios de Cristóbal de Oñate, Mexico, 1577” [1577, Cristóbal de Oñate, don Fernando de Oñate, son of Cristobal de Onate; witness-Francisco de Torres, vecino, one of the first settlers of New Spain, age-70+, knew about Cristóbal subbing for Vázquez de Coronado, could sign]; [información de los servicios.... (1577)-witnesses: Francisco de Torres (70+ years old), alcalde Bernardino de Albornoz (60+ years), Juan de Villagómez (70+ years), fray Antonio Roldán (68+ years), fray Alonso de la Vera Cruz (70 years), Melchior Álvarez (65+ years)] [Cristóbal de Oñate arrived in Nueva España in 1524 from Castilla in same ship with Rodrigo and Bernardino de Albornoz, was contador in Rodrigo de Albornoz’s absence, served under Nuño de Guzmán in conquest of Nueva Galicia, went with Cortés to La Navidad? for embarcation to California, served as governor in Vázquez de Coronado’s absence, was made maestre de campo by Mendoza during Mixtón War, raised force and went to Peru in support of Viceroy Gasca, was a discoverer and settler of the mines of Zacatecas (no mention of Oñate investing in the expedition to Tierra Nueva)];[fol.17-48: seventh question of interrogatorio deals with “gente para enbiar de socorro al licenciado de la Gasca a los rreinos del perú;” a Francisco de Torres, vecino de México and “uno de los primeros pobladores desta nueva españa,” more than 70 years old, is a witness; he came to Nueva España in 1526; Oñate was appointed maestre de campo under Francisco de Mendoza to go to Peru; Torres evidently did not participate; Torres did, though, go to the Mixtón War; this Torres did not go to Cíbola; an Alonso de la Vera, vecino of Guadalajara, more than 50 years old is a witness; he did participate in the mission to Peru; an Alonso Martín, vecino of Guadalajara, more than 75 years old, is a witness];

AGI, Patronato, 78A, N.1, R.1\1, “Méritos y servicios de Cristóbal y Alonso de Oñate, Nueva Galicia, 1578” [Información de parte de don Christóbal de Oñate, Guadalajara, 1578; an Antonio del Rincón, vecino of Guadalajara, more than 55 years old, is a witness; participated in the Peru expedition; fol.175: Cristóbal de Oñate died in Pánuco, October 7, 1567];

1580-1590:

AGI, Patronato, 78A, N.1, R.1\4, “Méritos y servicios de Cristóbal y Alonso de Oñate, Nueva Galicia, 1584” [don Alonso de Oñate, son of Cristóbal de Oñate, Alonso's brother is Rui Díaz de Mendoza, Cristóbal married Catalina de Salazar, daughter of the factor, Gonzalo de Salazar, 1578-Cristóbal, the son, presents a petition];

After 1590:

AGI, Patronato, 57, N.1, R.2, “Probanza of Francisco de Albornoz Marmolejo, 1592” [1592, [son Francisco de Albornoz Marmolejo, 36 year old native of Mexico, mother doña Isabel de Albornoz married Francisco Marmolejo; grandfather-contador, Rodrigo de Albornoz; 1544: Probanza of Rodrigo married doña Catalina de Loaysa; Question 9: agora ultimamente los que vinieron perdidos de la Florida e Tierra Nueva dan dobles de vestir y lo necesario [image 50]; 1544 probanza: witness: Cristóbal de Oñate, age 35; García Rodríguez, age 23 and criado of Albornoz, knows that Rodrigo gave the survivors something to wear and other necessary things, but doesn't indicate that he himself went];

Surname: 
Oñate