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Thread: Maya Genealogy

  1. #1
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    Maya Genealogy

    There is an “ancient” Maya in my house. Well, not really ancient. My husband was born in Merida, Yucatan. He knew that his paternal great-grandmother was Maya. His grandfather spoke Mayan fluently. However, as far as he knew, before he began searching baptismal records, the rest of his family was Spanish.

    Baptismal records, starting in the year 1543, from Merida’s Sagrario Cathedral are available through the LDS Family Search site.

    As we began looking through these records, we discovered that some names (especially godparents) were not indexed. Also, we noticed a name/word next to a many early baptisms: “Exposito” (exposed).

    Eventually we found out that children called “exposito” were those whose mother and father were not known. Some might have been left on the church’s doorstep. We theorized that they were likely the product of Spanish fathers and Maya mothers. The church also gave the quaint term “hijo natural” (natural child) to children whose mother, but not the father, was known.

    It doesn’t appear that illegitimate children who were baptized at the Sagrario were given the last name Exposito (it was only inscribed next to their record), but exposito children in other parts of Latin America received that surname at birth. This was such a stigma to some that, in later generations, they changed their surname.

    In his search of the baptismal records, my husband did discover additional paternal Maya ancestors.

    I have encouraged him to take a DNA test. He might be a little reluctant now after learning about my own discovery, that I am a hijo natural.

    It would be interesting to know what mix would be there. His surname is of Arabic origin, but the name is mostly found in Portugal. We tried to locate the name in the Pasajeros a Indias book/databases, and have found a similar name, the passenger arriving from Spain to an “unknown” destination in the New World.


    “And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”
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    Last edited by Wolfie; 08-06-2014 at 02:30 PM.

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    Very interesting on the customs for so-called illegitimate children in Mexico during the colonial Spanish years. I imagine that will be very helpful to other's trying to research their genealogy, thanks for posting. I am not Mayan or from Mexico but I am so-called illegitimate since my parents were not married and I was amused to find that I have 2 birth indexes in California (my birth state). One with my father's surname the other with my mother's surname - everything else the same. I don't know how common this is, I have found other's with 2 birth indexes, and it's probably because my father is listed on my birth certificate.

    I hope your husband get's over his reluctance and will opt to test. His DNA results with your research skills will go a long way to further your goals and help others.
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    Hi Little Bit, Thanks for writing. Amazing that you have two birth certificates. I have never heard of that, but maybe it is not so uncommon.

    I recall reading the "bastardy bond" of one of my maternal ancestors, and it said she was "big with bastard child." That struck me as a cruel way to describe the woman and her child. Why did societies, be they Mexican or American, or perhaps other places, segregate children with terms that have a negative connotation, such as bastard or exposito? If it was necessary to describe the situation of their birth, at least a kinder, or more accurate (such as child born to unmarried parents) designation should have been given.

    Thanks for you kind words and encouragement regarding my husband's search.

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    Yes, I've always cringed at the terms used for these situations. Both 'bastard' and 'illegitimate' are very negative and are unfairly focused at the child. Illegitimacy laws have historically tried to punish the parents by punishing the children themselves which has never really worked other than to unfairly discriminate against the guiltless children. Still, some of the most notable and productive individuals from history have been 'bastards.' It's a unique position, perhaps even enviable, when you have a fire in your belly to prove yourself and absolutely nothing to lose.

    Here are 6 notables from history:

    CONFUCIUS (CA. 551"“479 BCE)
    LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452"“1519)
    THOMAS PAINE (1737"“1809)
    ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1755"“1804)
    LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1888"“1935)
    EVA PERON (1919"“1952)
    http://mentalfloss.com/article/17427...ade-their-mark

    Some others:
    http://www.trivia-library.com/a/20-f...e-children.htm

    I'm not in any of these individuals league but I was the first person in my family to graduate with a 4 year college degree. I do think that proving myself worthy beyond this accident of fate has helped me overcome challenges and gave me a drive that I might not otherwise have had.
    My Gedmatch kits: M102536 (v3 upgrade); M054852 (v2); A449981 (Ancestry v1)
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    J1c3i mitochondrial ancestress was Swiss Mennonite from Conestoga, Lancaster PA

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    I'd say you are in good company!

    Thanks for sharing this.

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    This article covers the admixture of Mexicans. What surprised me was the amount of African admixture.

    Mexico_1.PNG Mexico_2.jpg Mexico_3.jpg Mexico_4.PNG

    African Y DNA is low but still between 3-4% of the population in certain areas. Another interesting note is that up north they have a higher admixture of European ancestry and the further south one goes the more indigenous the admixture becomes.
    Last edited by Mehrdad; 08-06-2014 at 03:22 PM.

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    In my own research, I've run across that term "hijo natural" & "hija natural" for females many times in the records of Nuevo Leon & Tamaulipas. I can't recall ever running across the surname "Exposito" before...is that a Yucatan thing? My wife's Native American ancestors were often given the name "de la Cruz." I suspect there were thousands of "yndios" given that surname. My wife's family took a new surname after 1779.

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    Mehrhad,

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Table 2. Distribution of Y-haplogroups (%) and haplotype diversity (D) in 10 Mexican–Mestizo populations shows Yucatan with one of the lower R1b1 populations, but Chiapas is even lower. I attempted to write my thoughts on that...but I have inadvertently sent it off to the netherworld. What I was going to say is that the indigenous people of Chiapas were more difficult to subdue than those in some other areas of Mexico, which could have resulted in less mixing with the Spaniards.

    They are still a goodly number of pure Maya in the State of Yucatan, and many still are somewhat segregated. I have witnessed people who believe that they are of "pure Spanish blood" become furious if anyone hints that they might have an iota of Maya blood. In my observations from living there for some years, it appears to me that most are Mestizo.

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    Hi Grossvater,

    I don't think they gave Exposito as a last name to the "illegitimate" children in Yucatan, but they did make a note of it (that they were exposito/without a known mother or father) when they recorded the child's baptismal record. From what we have read, the surname Exposito was given to illegitimate children in other parts of Latin America. You are probably right about the de La Cruz. The priests were good at giving those "holy" sounding name to the native children that they baptized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
    Mehrhad,

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Table 2. Distribution of Y-haplogroups (%) and haplotype diversity (D) in 10 Mexican–Mestizo populations shows Yucatan with one of the lower R1b1 populations, but Chiapas is even lower. I attempted to write my thoughts on that...but I have inadvertently sent it off to the netherworld. What I was going to say is that the indigenous people of Chiapas were more difficult to subdue than those in some other areas of Mexico, which could have resulted in less mixing with the Spaniards.

    They are still a goodly number of pure Maya in the State of Yucatan, and many still are somewhat segregated. I have witnessed people who believe that they are of "pure Spanish blood" become furious if anyone hints that they might have an iota of Maya blood. In my observations from living there for some years, it appears to me that most are Mestizo.
    That's very interesting, I suspect that the majority of Mexicans have at least some admixture.

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