The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 370
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
1829 act of Coahuila y Texas and the 1839 Texas homestead act are
the links that bind modern homestead-exemption law to the Hispanic
past, two points must be established. First, the text of the 1829 act
must perpetuate some aspects of Hispanic debtor-exemption law.
Second, these elements of the 1829 act must be carried forward by the
In Spanish law the principle of property exempt from creditors'
claims (bienes inembargables) received its fullest treatment from the
Spanish legal commentators as a part of the law related to the enforce-
ment of judgments, rather than as a part of family law. This principle
of exempt property was rooted in Castilian law and was related to a
larger body of rules related to relief from the stress of debt. As applied
to Spanish colonists, all of these laws can be classified under two basic
heads: (1) relief from public charges as incentives to colonization, and
(2) principles of general application for relief from private debts, in-
cluding privileges of special classes of citizens that in some cases ex-
tended to so many persons as to be regarded as applicable to the
citizenry in general. Under the first head, an inducement to coloniza-
tion normally took the form of waiver of taxes, tithes, and imposts.2
In each instance these privileges were granted by Spanish law for a
fixed number of years, and the Mexican government perpetuated this
policy. Under the second head of laws offering relief to debtors from
private debts generally, there are three further types of rules: mora-
torium for payment of debts, release from imprisonment for debt, and
property exempt from liability for debt. The most significant of these
principles is the last, by which certain movables and some immovables
were exempt from pledge and seizure for satisfaction of private debts.
The great medieval code, the Siete Partidas, compiled in the mid-
thirteenth century and promulgated a century later, protected certain
essential movables from pledge on the part of debtors. These items
1925), 221-227; Jose Uriarte, "Derecho agrario espafiol: propriedad familiar," Revista
citica de derecho inmobilario, XI (1935), 481, 486-488; Agustin Luna Serrano, El pa-
trimono familiar" la ley espailola de 15 de julo de 1952 (Madrid, 1952), 29-30; Gerald
Ashford, "Jacksonian Liberalism and Spanish Law in Eally Texas," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, LVII (July, 1933), 1, 8--10; Lena London, "The Initial Homestead Ex-
emption in Texas," ibid. (Apr., 1954), 432.
2For example, see Novisima Recopilacidn VII. 22.3 for settlers in the Sierra Morena
(1767), no to (lands not subject to pledge or seizure for taxes), no. 56 (colonists not sub-
ject to certain tribute and duties for ten years), no 57 (nor tithes for four years), no. 61
(lands not subject to mortgage). For other peninsular examples, see Novisinma Recopila-
cidn VII. 22.6-9. Waiver of duties was also used as a commercial inducement. See Jack
D L. Holmes, Gayoso The Life of a Spanish Governor in the Mississippi Valley, 1789-
1799 (Baton Rouge, 1965), 141.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/418/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.