Lorenzo Cuesta Ortiz

Salomé Saldaña Villarreal

July 2014
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Surname Belastre

Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Senora de MonterreySurnames have evolved through the centuries becoming unstable in their spelling and exhibiting much variation especially under adverse conditions such as:
1. Locally, the surname was uncommon.
2. Phonetically, the surname was too different from anything else the locals were familiar with.
3. Proportionately, the surname had too many or too few vowels to consonants for what the locals were familiar with.
4. Educationally, too few locals could read or write.

Here is a good example of a mistreated surname from my Saldaña lineage in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México.

On November 7, 1800, Juan Saldaña married Carmen Belastre. The couple had at least 6 children. All were baptized in the same church – Sagrario Metropolitano de Monterrey. However, in the baptismal records, the mother’s surname is spelled differently each time.

Her name was probably BERÁSTEGUI – a Basque name from the western Pyrenees in northern Spain.

Child No. 1: Martta del Refugio (b: 8aug1807)
Mother’s Name: María del Carmen García BERASTEGUI

Child No. 2: Estéfana (b:26dec1811)
Mother’s Name: María del Carmen VERASTIN

Child No. 3: Ramón (b:4mar1817)
Mother’s Name: Carmen García -

Child No. 4: Andrés (m:23apr1836 to Nasaria Urdiales)
Mother’s Name: María del Carmen García BERASTIGUI

Child No. 5: Josefa (b:19mar1819; m:11nov1837 to Nicolás Palomo)
Mother’s Name: Carmen VELAUSTRI

Child No. 6: Casimiro (m:18jun1848 to Dolores Urdiales)
Mother’s Name: Carmen BELASTRE

Other factors leading to reckless spelling:
1. We could blame the priest that filled in the baptismal documents but the priests were typically the ones that could read and write in a community, especially one as metropolitan as Monterrey in the 1800s.

2. We could also blame the couple for being unable to spell their own name or being unwilling to challenge a priest’s error.

3. We could blame the modern day volunteer who transcribed the document into digital format so that I could locate it on an internet database.

Nevertheless, one fact is clear. Our most fundamental possession, our surname, has been and will continue to be fragile, vulnerable, and manipulated.

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