Argentina Population Migration – Colonial Period

Argentina Population Migration – Colonial Period

In the crews of the expeditions organized by Juan Díaz de Solís, Sebastiano Caboto and Pedro de Mendoza there were many Italian sailors who reached the Rio della Plata, since, in regard to Caboto, as the historian José Toribio Medina documents, the orders of Charles V, who wanted, at most, up to a third of foreigners in the army, “and since in that recruitment there were not enough Spaniards, so it was necessary to tolerate the excess, otherwise the departure of the army had to be suspended, something under no tolerable concept “. And the chroniclers tell that the subsequent expeditions found in the consequent explorations, individuals who had remained in the lands discovered by those that had preceded them. Gonzolo Fernández y Valdez, “primer chronicler of the Nuevo Mundo”, in the Historia general y natural de los Indios (chap. XII, p. 202) says that Irala “taking Asunción, found the Timbus who killed the forty Christians and took back a young man, Calderoncin, through whom they made peace “. In the volume of E. Zuccarini, The work of the Italians in the Argentine Republic, 1516-1910, the names of the Italians who participated in the Caboto expedition were transcribed. With the Mendoza expedition several Italians reached the Rio della Plata. Among them was Bernardo Centurione, quatralvo of the prince Andrea Doria’s galleys, and Leonardo Gribeo, according to E. Madero, who in the Historia del puerto de Buenos Aires, making a list of the founders of that city, he adds a note to the name of Lazzaro Gribeo to say that “he was the son of Leonardo Gribeo, an Italian, who came with Pedro de Mendoza”.

According to, three years had passed since the founding of the Port of Santa Maria in Buenos Aires, when the Pancalda, a Genoese ship bearing the name of its captain, Leone Pancaldo, arrived there and they came with him, says Ruiz Díaz de Guzmán in Argentina (chap. XVII, pp. 86-88) other Italian nobles who were Pier Antonio de Aquino, Tommaso Rizzo and Battista Troce. From the octaves of the poem La Argentina by Barco de Centenera, we learn that, together with these people, Gibaldo – soldado genovés – and Grimaldo – de su nación, discretos dos varones reached the Rio della Plata.

From the note given to the report drawn up in Cadiz on 2 December 1549, on board the ship captain of the expedition of Álvaro Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, it is known that Leonardo Fragoneto of Naples, Francesco Interidro Gambarotta of Genoa, Giacomo di Corneido Gedeca Italian went with him, Sebastiano Gianares of Genoa, Scipione Grimaldo (partner of Leone Pancaldo, who went to accommodate his shops), Verti of Lucca, Bartolomeo Sibori of Genoa, Giovanni of Naples sailor, Luigi of Venice sailor, Diego di Orve from Rome.

In 1601 a certain Francesco de Vitoria presented himself to the competent authorities of Buenos Aires asking him to be assigned a house to open a school that Buenos Aires did not have, saying that Christian doctrine would be taught there, to read, to write and to do accounts; for which the residents would pay a monthly peso for each pupil who only wanted to learn to read and two pesos for the others who also wanted to learn to write and to count (E. Trelles, Registro estadístico del estado de Buenos Aires, 1850, p. 15). This de Vitoria, due to the spelling of the surname, must have been Italian.

In 1714 a Paolo della Quadra was an alcalde from a district of Buenos Aires. In 1779 the Tribunal of the Protomedicate was founded and Francesco Bruno Rivarola, an Italian from Liguria, was called to participate. In 1782 he made the furniture of the viceroy Juan José de Vertiz, Giovanni Cansi, also from Liguria, whose shop, according to the guides, remained in via San Martín until 1888.

A large group of Italian emigrants to the Rio della Plata provided the Society of Jesus. Among the best known are: Giuseppe Cataldino da Fabriano in the Marche, who, with Simone Mazeta, founded the missions of Paraguay; Giovanni Dario, Neapolitan; Giovanni Battista Ferrufino; Giovanni Guglielmo di Tempio in Sardinia, who was one of the seven stars of the hand of Jesus, as Mancini called the seven Sardinian Jesuits missionaries in the Rio della Plata provinces.

In the Buenos Aires census, carried out in 1774, the number of Italians is indicated as follows: I Quartiere: 2 Italians – shopkeepers; III District: 2 Italians -1 shopkeeper, 1 without specification; IV District: 5 Italians – 4 owners, 1 farmer; VIII District: 1 Italian shopkeeper.

In the land registry carried out in Buenos Aires in 1768 there are registered several properties belonging to Italians.

The Azara in the 1st volume of the Descripción é historia del Paraguay y del Río de la Plata (Asunción del Paraguay 1886), on p. 140, speaking of cultivated plants, he writes: “there they call apricots damasks, whose origin is as follows: Antonio el Choricero (the Sausage maker), who was Italian, brought from his country a box with seeds of cabbage and lettuce, among which he found two apricot pits which he did not recognize, but sowed them in my time and all the apricot trees there are derived from them “.

In 1804 the viceroy Sobremonte ordered that all foreigners residing in Buenos Aires presented themselves to the alcaldes of their respective neighborhoods to be registered, and from the published documents it emerges that there were 94 Italians.

There is no space to detect all the curiosities that this registration offers, but it is necessary to infer that it was ordered to verify how many and which foreigners had a residence permit, which is indispensable according to the prescriptions issued by SM and by the members of the Chamber of the Indies.

Among those sentenced to expulsion there are several Italians registered, including Giacomo Perfumo, a natural from Genoa, and Filippo Corbero of the same origin, registered in the district n. 2. These individuals, according to the decree, had arrived “with certain ships, which had brought slaves, and must return precisely with them, with the warning that, if they fail to do so, they will be led at their expense in the same form as the others who do not belong to the crews of said vessels or of others who have come with another destiny “.

To understand the state of affairs well, it is useful to transcribe the declarations made by these two Italians to their respective alcalde. Giacomo Perfumo said he was born in Genoa, was a Catholic, celibate and had lived in the city for thirteen years, exercising the office of coffee maker. It seems they were individuals linked by common interests, given that Filippo Corbero declared that he was born in Genoa, that he was a Catholic and celibate, that he had resided in the city for two years exercising the profession of a coffee maker.

Others do not even indicate the reason for the expulsion but their protests are recorded. Among those expelled, one, the Genoese Antonio Peneoj cook, was dead; Edmondo Orgoman of Livorno had arrived with royal permission; the Bolonesi violin professor Andrea of ​​Genoa had not presented himself to make any declaration whatsoever.

During the years 1805 and 1807, as a measure of public security, foreigners domiciled in the various urban districts were called to report to their respective alcaldes to declare their personal conditions. Those were the times of the English invasions and the subsequent revenge. Of the few Italians expelled, two, Giovan Battista Regis and Giacomo Espocio (Esposito) were already included in the first call.

In 1809 a new census of foreigners residing in Buenos Aires was carried out and proceeded with great secrecy. There are 57 Italians registered; however, judging by what the alcalde of district n. 8 to the cabildo (comune), that is, that “many names are lacking in consideration of the secret with which the ecc. Mo viceroy orders this operation to be carried out”, the small number of foreigners and Italians in particular, must be attributed to said measure. Remember that it was in August 1809, that is, a few months after the revolution of May 1810.

These assumptions are largely justified by what Dr. Luis R. Gondra, in his work Las ideas económicas de Manuel Belgrano, in this regard: “During the eighteenth century numerous royal coupons repeated in vain that the closure of the port of Buenos Aires was strictly maintained and that foreigners who stopped there; because, against the will of the monarch, the interests that a historical tendency and a geographical necessity had imposed prevailed. In spite of the prohibitions, the foreigners returned and the traffic was renewed with the means that invented the greed of the merchants and corruption of local authorities “.

Argentina Population Migration - Colonial Period

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