The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905 Page: 315
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Municipal Government of San Fernando de Bexar. 315
ant-governor, ,and that appeals from the alcaldes' decision should
go to the audiencia, to the governor, or to the ayuntamiento, accord-
ing to the provisions of the laws of Spain and New Spain.
Although the governors played an important part in the life of
San Fernando, and even, on some occasions, presided over the
cabildo,1 the alcaldes of the villa exercised both criminal and civil
jurisdiction.2 In the Ordinances and Instructions of Don Alex-
ander O'Reilly3 the judicial powers of the alcalde are defined thus:
"(1) the ordinary alcaldes shall have cognizance of all matters in
dispute, either civil or criminal, between the inhabitants residing
within their jurisdiction, which shall extend throughout the city
and the dependencies thereof, excepting those that may come within
the cognizance of the ecclesiastical, military, or other special
courts." These same Instructions provide further that "(7) al-
caldes may hear and decide verbally any civil cases, when the de-
mand shall not exceed twenty dollars, as also criminal causes of
little importance. They may also hear and decide verbally those
exceeding that sum when the interested parties shall consent
thereto. (8) Causes legally brought before one of the judges shall
be continued and determined in his tribunal, and neither the gov-
ernor nor any other shall deprive him of the cognizance thereof.
The governor, however, being required thereto by the parties, may,
by an order in writing, and suitable to the case, require and sum-
mon the alcalde to render speedy justice conformably to the law."
This definition would apply substantially, as far as I have been
able to determine, to the jurisdiction of the alcaldes of San Fer-
nando. The only definite restrictions on the power of these offi-
cers yet found are those fixed by a provision of the Nuevo Regla-
mento issued by Viceroy Casafuerte in 1729,4 giving the captain
of the presidio exclusive jurisdiction over Spaniards, mulattoes,
and mestizos settled in the vicinity of the presidio. The alcaldes,
1Minutes of the cabildo 1777, B~xar Archives.
'Cf. Recopilacion, lib. IV, tit. V, ley xi relative to the jurisdiction of a
person who settled families by contract.
4This same provision was included in a series issued by the general
commandant of the Provincias Internas September, 1778. (See the procla-
mation of this official for the date given. B6xar Archives.)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905, periodical, 1905; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101033/m1/322/: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.