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Guide to Spanish Military Archives
A guidebook has been newly published in 2012 with information about Spanish Military Archives. A downloadable pdf version of the book is available by clicking on the title below. Please note that the guide is in Spanish.
The General Military Archive of Segovia holds more than 62,000 files containing personal files from the 15th to the 20th centuries with the majority being from the 18th and 19th century. Within the personal files you will find information about the soldier such as their service record and their baptism record.
The military records in Spain can be a good source to look for your male ancestors. Many men in Spain served in military units such as the army, the militia, the navy, and others. Often these records contain genealogical information that can help you to build your family tree. The men of Spain often had to receive an exemption from military service or prove that they had already served before they could leave the county. They needed to receive special permission to do so.
The records of those that served in the Americas are found in the General Archive of Simancas. These records include the following places:
- Buenos Aires
- Nueva España (originally Mexico and Central America except Panama)
- Viceroyalty of Peru (originally included most of Spanish South America)
- Indias (Florida, Puerto Rico y Venezuela)
Military ranks - Army
- Soldado - private
- Cabo – corporal
- Alferez – sergeant
- Sub-teniente – second lieutenant
- Teniente – Lieutenant
- Capitan – Captain
- Comandante – Major
- Teniente Coronel – Lieutenant Colonel
- Coronel – Colonel
- Comandante General – Major General
- Teniente General – Lieutenant General
- General – General
- Marinero - sailor
- Marinero de primera clase - seaman first class
- Cabo - corporal
- Cabo Primero - corporal first class
- Sargento - sergeant
- Sargento Primero - sergeant first class
- Brigada (grado) - brigadier (grade)
- Subteniente - sub-lieutenant
- Suboficial Mayor - senior chief
- Alférez de Fragata - ensign of a frigate
- Alférez de Navío - ensign of a ship
- Teniente de Navío - lieutenant of a ship
- Capitán de Corbeta - captain of a corvette
- Capitán de Fragata - captain of a frigate
- Capitán de Navío - captain of ship
- Contralmirante - rear admiral
- Vicealmirante - vice admiral
- Almirante - admiral
- Capitán General - captain general or commaner in chief
There were three ways to advance in rank:
- Por elección (by vote)
- Por gracia general (by general order)
- Por antiguedad (By length of service)
Empleo – A position of command or responsibility. A person could have the Rank of a captain but serve in the empleo of a lieutenant.
Types of records
- Date and place of birth
- Names of parents
- List of assignments and/or ranks with dates in chronological order.
- In the bottom part of the page you can find information about the military campaigns in which he served with his military unit.
You can find the following types of records:
- Petition to be able to marry
- Petition for a promotion. You may find documents demonstrating the man’s worthiness to receive the Rank desired.
- Petition for a pension.
- Petition to have a son attend a military academy.
Personal files are divided into sections such as:
Academic Files – Files related to petitions regarding education
Marriage Files – Files related to marriage petitions
Pension Files – Files related to pension petitions
Marriage files generally contain great genealogical value. Normally you can expect to find baptism certificates of the bride and groom as well as the marriage certificates of their parents.
In 1773 under the reign of Charles III the quinta was established. Each male of the age for military service had to register in his municipality. One in every five men was selected by lot to do military service. These lists can serve as a census of a city or town of all the men of age to do military service in the year created.
Religious Military Orders
To learn more about religious military orders we recommend that you read the following article:
Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de. Archivos Militares y Civiles Donde se Conservan Fondos de Carácter Castrense Relacionados con Expedientes Personales de Militares. Madrid: Hidalguía, 1963. FHL INTL Book 946 M2c.
Ryskamp, George. Tracing Your Hispanic Heritage. Riverside, CA: George R. Ryskamp, 1948. FHL INTL Book 946 D27r.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Spain, Barcelona Province Municipal Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Spain, Cádiz Province Municipal Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Spain, Pension Records of Widows and Orphans of Spanish Officials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Spain, Sevilla Province Municipal Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Spain, Tarragona Province Municipal Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Spain, Valencia Miscellaneous Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)