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  • agi_santo_domingo_228_r1_n8_1694-11-22-thumbnail.jpg

    This is a dossier of correspondence from 1689-1697 between King Carlos II of Spain and two successive governors of Spanish Florida related to the presence of Englishman Andrés Ranson in St. Augustine. After a prior conviction and unsuccessful attempt at execution, Ranson had been protected by the Church, which viewed his escape from death as a miracle and which was able to grant him immunity from prosecution while he remained within its sacred space. The correspondence below deals with the question of determining whether that religious immunity indeed applied in the case of Ranson, given that he was a pirate and not guilty of more common offenses. The civil authorities were eager to have a determination made on this point, so that if immunity did not apply, they could seek to bring Ranson to justice again. Instead of pressing that question, Diego de Quiroga y Losada, governor of Spanish Florida (1687-1693) appears to instead have forcibly removed Ranson from the asylum he had found in the church and put him to work on the Castillo de San Marcos, which was constructed between 1672 and 1695, and is referred to as the royal fortification in these documents. Quiroga y Losada appears to have been motivated, in part, by the fact that Ranson was, by the governor’s own account, skilled in various trades. The chain of correspondence below was triggered when Quiroga y Losada’s successor, Laureano de Torres y Ayala, attempted to make sense of this situation upon taking possession of his office in 1693, and in particular when Quiroga y Losada requested documentation that he had followed appropriate protocol in handing Ranson over to Torres y Ayala, fearful perhaps of being found guilty of misconduct in an official review of his performance in office. Through the government scribe, Torres y Ayala is made aware of an official document sent from the king to Quiroga y Losada in 1689 reprimanding him for the course of action he took with respect to Ranson and commanding him to follow up on the matter of determining whether the Englishman indeed enjoyed religious immunity. Torres de Ayala writes to the king, informing him of the situation and indicating that he is seeking to restart the process that Quiroga y Losada neglected to carry out, in order to possibly bring Ranson to justice if the religious immunity was found to not apply. 

    This is an English translation, prepared by Clayton McCarl, of a group of documents located in the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies, AGI) in Seville. An edition of the original document in Spanish is available on the website of coloniaLab. This translation seeks to present the text in a fashion that is clear and understandable while retaining the sense of the original. Subheadings have been introduced to indicate the separate documents that make up the dossier, and a brief explanation of each is provided in italics. The order of the documents has been altered slightly from the original to make the chronology clearer and the narrative easier to follow. The title "File related to the case against the English pirate Andrés Ranson" is a translation of the name given to that dossier in the AGI.


  • agi_santo_domingo_228_r1_n8_1694-11-22-thumbnail.jpg

    Este expediente se trata de comunicación entre la corona y los gobernadores de Florida a propósito del caso del supuesto pirata inglés Andrew Ranson. Incluye una carta al rey Carlos II de Laureano de Torres y Ayala fechada en San Agustín, el 22 de noviembre de 1694, además de una cédula real que el rey le envió al predecesor de Torres y Ayala, Diego de Quiroga y Losada, fechada en el Buen Retiro en Madrid el 3 de mayo de 1689. El asunto tiene que ver con los esfuerzos de Torres y Ayala por determinar si Ransom gozaba de inmunidad eclesiástica después de refugiarse en una iglesia tras un intento fallido por ejecutarlo.

    Un resumen del caso de Ranson se encuentra en J. Leitch Wright, “Andrew Ranson: Seventeenth Century Pirate?”, The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 2, 1960, pp. 135–44. JSTOR,
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