Genealogical Oddities (IV): An English Minstrel in Colonial Puerto Rico

Finding intriguing people in unexpected places is one of the joys of genealogical research. If nothing else, it helps take away the sting of not finding exactly what one was looking for.

While searching the official record of the prosecution of a colonial governor of Puerto Rico by his successor, among the witness statements I came across someone who was a long way from home.

Baltasar de Andino was a nephew of the disgraced governor (Gaspar Martínez de Andino) and was being kept under lock and key in San Juan. In early September 1688, the younger Andino made a daring escape and the colonial authorities began rounding up anyone who may have assisted him in his flight.

One of those questioned was an Englishman, referred to as Antonio Daniel, who apparently had been summoned to Andino’s cell on two evenings preceding his escape, in order to provide a little light entertainment – ennui is such a problem in steaming Caribbean dungeons. Daniel testified that on one evening all he performed was a little sleight of hand, such as cutting a kerchief in half and then putting it back together. On the following evening he also played the guitar and castanets. Daniel indicated that he had gone to the castle because he’d been sent word that Andino asked for him expressly; and Andino had rewarded him for his performances. Asked if he understood the legal implications of being under oath, Daniel stated that he did, he was already a convert to Catholicism, and had given testimony under oath previously. He gave his age as about 25, and – as noted by the Spanish scribe who recorded the statement – ‘signed it in his own language’ as Anttony Danial.

Where was he from? How did he get there? How on earth did he end up as a song-and-dance man in a Spanish colony? What ever happened to him? Did he leave any descendants?

So many questions suggested by just a couple of paragraphs hastily read while searching for something else.

Whoever Antony Daniel was, it’s a pity he was born three centuries too soon to become a performer on one of Royal Caribbean’s cruises to San Juan.

SOURCE – Archivo General de Indias, Escribanía, Legajo 136C, p. 105