Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Ecuador - Series Slaves

Series: Slaves; Code: 18 – ESC. Volume: 24 boxes with 394 registries. Order: Chronological.

This Series is part of the collection called “High Court”, and it is located in the National Archive of Ecuador, in the city of Quito, and it contains documents regarding slaves, as for example: Purchase and sales writs, uprising attempts, deposits in jail to change masters, slave property transfers, inheritances, diseases. For the National Archive the Series is characterized as:

17th century

- Documents regarding the property of slaves (claims, inheritance papers, etc.).

- The term black is used as the synonym for slave

- Slaves are referred to as “pieces” and their children as “offspring”

- Observation: Priests buy and sell slaves

18th century

- Slaves could ask to be sold to another master

- Slaves could buy their freedom

- Slaves were locked up in a public jail until the transfer to another master occurred.

- Owners gave the slaves a sales bond to find another master. The price was the purchase price.
- Slaves could ask to be valued for a new sale.

- A sales tax was to be paid on the purchase of a slave.

19th century

- The condition of the slaves started to change with the independence movements.

- Slave owners and supporters of independence helped the slaves join the pro-independence troops, later on charged their price to the new governments and the slaves were granted freedom.

- Many slaves fled and joined the freedom fighters.

- Slavery was abolished in Ecuador in1851 by the Manumission Decree issued by President Urbina.

This historic documentation corresponds to several geographic locations of what was the Royal High Court of Quito and later on as of 1830 the Republic of Ecuador. Among them, we may find purchase and sales contracts, redhibitory actions, uprising attempts, deposits in jail to change master, transfer of property, inheritance, diseases, and others regarding slaves.

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Other data of interest


State of conservation

These heritage documents are in good state of conservation.

Type of document


Current Use

Documents for historic research

Publication date

Desde 1604 hasta 1853


Documentación firmada por autoridades coloniales y de inicios de la República temprana. Destinatarios: dueños de esclavos, los mismos esclavos, autoridades judiciales y de gobierno.