leaf detailBeneath the Surface: People of the Spanish Fleet of 1622 leaf right detail

By 1622, the Spanish had established well-run colonies in which many different people lived, drawn together by diverse circumstances.

Spanish nobles arrived to rule or serve the crown as administrators. Other European immigrants came as soldiers, merchants, miners, servants, or priests. Enslaved Africans were brought to labor in mines or on plantations. Indigenous nobles survived as local rulers, allies of the Spanish crown, servants, or bound laborers. It was a fertile mixture. The colonies were less hierarchical than Europe and people from every background came together to create what would become multifaceted cultures.

Within the 1622 Fleet, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, Santa Margarita, Buen Jesús, and the Nuestra Señora del Rosario, carried people who represented all these populations and castes. Men, women and children; free and enslaved—the travelers aboard the fleet provide a vivid picture of the communities and relationships being formed in the Americas.

The museum has been able to discover substantial biographical material about these people, and many objects from these vessels can be linked to specific individuals.

In Beneath the Surface, we invite you to explore these stories.