Finding Paquiquineo

Published:April 10, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

I mentioned earlier the power of just seeing a name printed on paper. There is information to be found, for instance, in a census record, but there is more to it than that. Just seeing a name matters somehow.

This reminded me of Paquiquineo—certainly one of the most fascinating figures in all of Virginia history. He was a Virginia Indian who was picked up (kidnapped?) by the Spaniards in 1561, traveled to Madrid, met King Philip II, was baptized Don Luís de Velasco in Mexico City, studied with Dominicans and Jesuits both, and finally returned home in 1570 with a party of Jesuit missionaries. Six months later, give or take, he and his fellow Indians killed the Jesuits, after which Paquiquineo—poof!—disappeared from history.

Well, I received a phone call a few months ago from alert reader Jim Glanville, who insisted that we had incorrectly spelled Paquiquineo’s name in our entry (we had added an “n”: Paquinquineo). I became curious to learn how we even knew Paquiquineo’s name in the first place. Paul E. Hoffman‘s book A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient (1990) provides an excellent summary of the various primary sources associated with the man, but it is still naggingly vague on the subject of his name.

Then I found an essay by Camilla Townsend, a history professor at Rutgers, in Early Modern Virginia: Reconsidering the Old Dominion (published last fall by our friends at the University of Virginia Press). She writes of the Spaniards bringing their Indian captive (?) to Seville, where they had to fill out all kinds of paperwork associated with their New World voyage. That paperwork still exists in the Archivo General de Indias, and in it we can find Paquiquineo’s name. Townsend writes:

In all formal correspondence, Paquiquineo was simply referred to as the “princely person” brought over by [Captain Antonio] Velásquez, but the accountant doling out the money laboriously spelled out his name: the word was strange to him and he wanted to be sure to get it right. [Emphasis added]

Townsend senses the power of that name, Paquiquineo, and what it means to find it in the records like that. That’s why she focuses so precisely on the accountant’s act of writing: it was laborious because the name was strange. Her description made me want to actually see this record, so I asked her for it, and very generously she mailed me a photocopy. That’s a detail of the relevant page above.

See if you can find “Paquiquineo.” Maybe the word will have the same power for you that it does for Townsend and for me, too.

IMAGE: Archivo General de Indias, Contaduría 286, no 1, Datas, September 1561, f. 171.


1 Comment on “Finding Paquiquineo”

  1. Sue Perdue

    Beautiful document Brendan. Thanks for sharing this. A rule of thumb we used when I worked at the Jefferson Papers Retirement Series was to, whenever possible, find an instance of a person writing his/her own name. That became the gold standard for the spelling regardless of what any other source used, be it contemporary or modern.

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