From Memorias de la Academia Mexicana de Genealogía y Heráldica, December 1963
By Antonio Nakayama A., Director of the Museum and Library of the State of Sinaloa
One of the oldest patronymics and family histories in Culiacán is the surname Verdugo. The parochial registers, which begin in 1690 and are the oldest documents in which the life of our city beats, show us from our very beginnings the Verdugos existed. But as the very magnificent Don Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán founded the town of San Miguel de Culiacán in 1531, we find ourselves facing a lapse of 159 years in the history of our families from that date until the appearance of the first parish records.
Fortunately I have found other documents that give light on that period of which there are no equivalents in the parish file, and that allow us to delve into the origins of the surname Verdugo in this very noble, not loyal, and very dirty “city of beautiful women.” These are the Relationes Culiacán, from records of 1583 by the mayor Gaspar de Osorio, and an ad-perpetuam record from this same city in the year 1676 compiled to prove the noble lineage and “cleanliness of the blood” of Doña Maria del Río and Chávez, daughter of Captain Rodrigo del Rio de la Loza, governor of the area that was Nueva Vizcaya.
From these documents it appears that the first Verdugo appeared in Culiacán in the mid-16th century, and his ancestor was Lázaro de Cebreros, a soldier native to the town of Cebreros, who came with Nuño de Guzman and stayed here as one of the settlers of the Villa San Miguel, “y fue capitán muchas vezes en la pazificazion desta prouincia, despues que se conquistó hasta el dia que murió.” Married to Lucia Muñoz — who still lived in 1583 – he had three children named Domingo de Cebreros, Juan Perez de Cebreros and Miguel de Cebreros. The first of them had in distribution [repartimiento] the towns of Tedacariato and Comanito and was mayor of Mezcaltitlan and Vizcayno. Juan Perez de Cebreros, of whom we have no record whether he was married, was mayor of Hulaucrito, and among others he was mayor of San Felipe and Santiago de Sinaloa. As for Miguel de Cebreros, he was mayor of Uguani and Xifa, and it was he who supported Lucia Muñoz in her widowhood.
On a trip made by Domingo de Cebreros to Mexico City, he met Doña Gracia de Chávez y Verdugo, who “was the trunk of the Verdugo lineage whose father was from the city of Trujillo of Extremadura,” a relationship that wound up in marriage “in the presence of the Church” [in facie ecclesiae]. The young woman must have fallen in love with the son of Lázaro de Cebreros, for he did not mind leaving the comforts of the great city to go and live in a place as remote as the town of San Miguel de Culiacán, whose inhabitants were still “wearing the first outfit and dress that was put there by Nuño de Guzmán and his men” nor were they “aware of any news nor of knowing” whether “there was war or peace in the area.”
In 1948, when I wrote for the first time on the Verdugos, I could not identify the parents of Doña Gracia. But shortly afterwards I clarified that her father was Francisco de Coria Maldonado, who came with Cortes and assisted in the capture of Tenochtitlan, and then enrolled in the army of Nuño de Guzmán, taking part in the conquest of the Northwest. Coria was a native of Alcalá de Guadayra, and son of Alonso de Coria and Leonor Rodriguez, natives of Seville. His wife Isabel de Chávez was the daughter of Hernando de Chávez, so the Trujillo lineage came from the maternal line.
The lady, following the custom of the time of adopting her surnames, first chose from the mother’s name, and secondly took the Verdugo name, which it is logical to suppose to have belonged to either of the two families. In addition, Doña Gracia was related to the president of the Royal Audiencia of Guadalajara, Don Antonio de Ulloa y Chávez, and also with an auditor of the same body. The surname Chávez was a very proud name to those descended from their ancestors.
The couple Domingo de Cebreros and Doña Gracia descended from Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez — who because of the long line of people who took that name in the family we will call Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez I – and Doña Cecilia de Chávez y Verdugo, a marriage that would add luster to the long tail of his ancestors’ descendants.
The expeditions that passed through San Miguel de Culiacán brought many people who stayed in these parts, or at least lived for some time in the town. Among them we can mention Hernando Arias de Saavedra, “born in Seville, who was in Culiacán to supply the armed people who had brought Francisco Vazquez (Coronado) to this new land.” Hernadarias, brother-in-law of the Count de Castellar and related to Don Luis de Mosalve, Governor and Captain General of Nueva Vizcaya, had been with Cortes on the expedition to California and functioned as mayor of Culiacán. Married to a lady named Catalina Carlos de Godoy, one of his daughters married Capitan Francisco de Siqueiros, a native of Culiacán. One of the brothers-in-law, Juan Carlos de Godoy, married Doña Cecilia de Chávez y Verdugo, and from this union two daughters were born, one baptized with the name of Isabel, and the other with the name of Francisca, both with the surname Chávez y Verdugo.
The first of these women [Isabel] married Captain Francisco de Bustamante, who was mayor of the Village de San Felipe; as for Doña Francisca, the one who fell in love with her was Don Rodrigo del Rio de la Loza, the gallant soldier who came with Francisco de Ibarra and who by the passing of the years would be Governor of Nueva Vizcaya and one of the most wealthy breeders of all the New Spain. Having married in Culiacán, Don Rodrigo and Doña Francisca went to Sinaloa where they “gave birth to their legitimate daughter”… “Doña Maria del Rio y Chávez”… “and Doña Josefa and Doña Cecilia also legitimate daughters” and to “Captain Don Juan Rio… ” The fear of enemies in that kingdom (Nueva Vizcaya) by the experience over four years ran through the whole area with many people. I make the clarification that Doña Josefa and Doña Cecilia took the surname of Chávez del Rio.
Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez became Mayor of Culiacán, and because the rebellion of the Tepehuanes was sent by the town council with a large number of troops to aid the Spaniards of Cariatapa and Santiago de los Caballeros, “and this relief was done as promised.” In addition, he had inherited from his parents encomiendas in Danacato and Comanito and became mayor of Noboato, Navito, Humaya and Mojolo, and one of his cousins named Bernabe Pérez, undoubtedly son of Juan Pérez de Cebreros, mayor of Real de las Virgines.
Unfortunately, the documents consulted do not give the name of the wife of Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez I, but we know that his children were Francisco López Verdugo and Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez II. They raised, “On the eve of St. Michael’s Day, the Royal Banner” in the town of Culiacán, and that another of his sons called Domingo de Cebreros Verdugo was soldier for more than thirty years in the Province of Sinaloa, reaching the ranks of Sergeant Alferez and Ayundante. He must have been a brave and capable man; on one occasion he was sent to pacify the Seris and put them under obedience to his majesty. Again, it was with a group of soldiers who took charge of the war against the nation that they called Tobosos … he did not lose any man and returned giving a very good account. To finish with the exploits of this Domingo de Cebreros Verdugo, it must be said that he was also sent to California “to protect the Philippines, to summon them because of the suspicion that the enemy had not left, and was said to still be in the area.”
The Don Juan antics of Lázaro Verdugo and Chavez I gave him a bastard son who was called Blas Verdugo; his illegitimate origin did not prevent him from becoming a leader of El Fuerte de Montes Claros, and who without doubt was the ancestor of the Verdugos in El Fuerte. Later the surname appeared in Sonora, because in the parish of Alamos were recorded the baptisms of 1686 and 1688 of children of Melchor Verdugo, who I suppose to be the son of Blas. The wife of Melchor was Isabela de Bojorquez, the most prominent last name of Sinaloa, which is close to El Fuerte, so it can almost be ascertained that this Verdugo family did not come from Culiacán, but came from the place where Blas had taken root. From the El Fuerte branch come the Verdugos that exist in California in the United States, since one of its members happened to go to that region accompanying Capitan Rivera y Moncada.
About Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez II, we know that his wife was named Antonia Rangel. Among the large number of children that he sired is Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez III, but unfortunately the lack of parochial registers before 1690 do not permit researching all his offspring. For example, we have Don Felipe Verdugo y Chávez, who was a priest of Culiacán and who clearly must have been his son. Don Felipe died in Culiacán in 1744, but by bad luck, in his burial record neither his age nor the names of his parents appear, but tying up loose ends leads to the conclusion that his father must have been Lázaro Verdugo y Chaves II.
In the same case is Don Nicolas Verdugo y Chávez, who at the end of the 17th century is married to Doña Josefa Del Castillo y Cabanillas. It is highly likely that he was the son of Lázaro II and Doña Antonia Rangel, but the lack of documentation does not provide proof. The Quiroz y Mora family was joined to this branch of the Verdugos, and afterwards they emigrated to Sonora under the tutelary shadow of Fr. [Baciler Presbitero] Juan Nicolas de Quiroz y Mora, in order to relate with the patrician families of that region.
Lázaro II was a bit of a wanderer; he explored Sonora for some time. He was Mayor of the province of Sonora from 1680 to 1681, and from 1689 to 1690, and when he returned to Culiacán he had the rank of General. It’s not known how old he was when his son Lázaro Verdugo y Chaves III was born, but the parochial records show that in the second decade of the 18th century the Verdugo line continued with Lázaro III. The parish records differentiate them in a curious way: Lázaro II is called “El General”, and Lázaro III “El Alferez”, or else Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez “El Viejo”, and Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez “El mozo”. I do not know the date Lazaro I went to a better life, because the burial certificate that exists, which is from 1740, is likely to be from Lázaro III.
Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez married Doña Nicolasa de las Heras Manriquez and had among his sons one named Pedro who must have been born between 1710 and 1711, since his death record of 10 December 1767, says that he died at about 56 years. Married to Doña Francisca de Iturrious, this Don Pedro de Verdugo y Chávez must have been a man of great social and economic prominence in the small world of Culiacán. In his last illness he was attended by three priests until the moment when he expired, and was buried with a processional cross [con cruz alta: or a tall cross on his grave?] and all the pomp that his position allowed. One of his offspring was the lawyer Pablo Verdugo y Chávez, who had many descendants because in 1793 he had eight children, of which five were men. One of them, Pedro, embraced the ecclesiastical state, and was a canon of the Metropolitan Cathedral and senator of the Republic.
The great repetition of the names among the members of the Culiacán’s families of the 17th and 18th centuries causes the researcher to fall into confusion, which often happens in the study of genealogy. For example, we have the case of Señora Doña Loreto Verdugo y Chávez, who married Don Francisco de la Vega, son of Don Baltasar de la Vega and Dona Ana Irene de la Puente y Villegas. It was believed that Doña Loreto was the daughter of Pedro Verdugo referred to above, but it is not so; she was a product of the marriage of Don Pedro Verdugo y Chávez and Doña Barbara López de Siqueiros. This other Don Pedro was son of Don Nicolas Verdugo y Chávez and Doña Josefa of Castillo y Cabanillas, and Doña Barbara, descendant of Capitan Melchor López de Siqueiros, native of Culiacán and contemporary of Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez I.
Doña Loreto’s married life was not very happy because her husband used to hit her and hang out with his slaves until one day he abandoned her and moved to another place. From this union came a family whose name is heard loudly in Sinaloa.
It should be noted that Dona Loreto and Don Francisco were relatives in the fourth degree by consanguinity. It is likely they were related by Dona Ana Irene, although it is true that neither this nor Don Baltasar were originally from Culiacán, it is more likely that one of the ancestors of the lady was connected to with the Verdugo y Chávez family or the López de Siqueiros line.
All of the above tells us that the Verdugos were people who played a very important role in the life of the region. Among them were men who took a very active part in the history of Sinaloa, such as Don Pomposo Verdugo, who was Deputy, Senator and Governor of the state; or who stood out in other fields such as the attorney Agustín Verdugo – son of Don Pomposo – who distinguished himself as a legal counsel and a great orator.
Being the most powerful family of the town, it was natural that others would seek marriage unions with the Verdugos, and like vines to an old and corpulent tree, all these formed the nucleus of Culiacán’s blue-blood families.
By the marriage of Don Jose Maria Almada and Doña Isabel Quiroz y Campoy, the Almada family of Alamos was connected with the Verdugo family, since the grandmother of this lady was Doña Ana Maria de Verdugo y Chávez, daughter of Don Jose Verdugo y Chávez and Petra Regalado Beltran, and his great-grandmother Doña Isabel de Verdugo y Chávez, married to Don Nicolas de Quiroz y Mora whose parents were Don Nicolas Verdugo y Chávez and Doña Josefa del Castillo Cabanillas.
Because of of the link with the Vega family, the Garcia Granados, Redo, Castaños, Rojo de la Vega, Roncal and other families are linked to the Verdugo families, among which is the current  president of the Republic, the lawyer Adolfo Lopez Mateos, connected to attorney Don Perfecto Mateos with Doña Guadalupe de la Vega.
So far, at least, the history of the origin of the Verdugo family, which with the Cebreros family, forms the older pair of families of Sinaloa, and are some of the oldest families of the country, which gives them great importance. The historian Don Atanacio G. Saravia notes that it is unusual to find in America families that are from the 16th century.
Fr. Tello left us the name of the villages the Villa of San Miguel, and in it, next to the names of Don Pedro de Tovar, Castañeda de Najera, Diego Lopez and others, appears Lazaro de Cebreros. By 1583 a few descendants of the conquerors lived in Culiacán and a great number of new settlers without economic and social significance. In this cluster, there was only one son of Don Pedro de Tovar, and the offspring of Lazaro de Cebreros.
In the second half of the 17th century new surnames begin to rise: Fernandez Rojo, del Castilloy Cabanillas, Alvarez de la Bandera, Iturrios, Amarillas, Palazuelos and several others, and in the first decades of the 18th century the Espinoza de los Monteros, Urrea, Alcayde, Zayas, Zasueta, Agramont, Montes Vidal, etc., and later Mendazona, de la Vega, Gómez de la Herrán, Díez de Martinez, Tellaeche and others, but dominating the stage, the Verdugos, who in the end would have to yield preponderance to those of the de la Vega surname.
In the colonial era, the second-born did not have many opportunities. As founders of the poor branches of the family, some remained in the city, but others set their eyes in the field, where the fertile belly of the land gave the necessary fruits to support the new generations of Verdugos, and thus we see that nowadays in the coastal zone of the municipality of Culiacán, the surname has proliferated greatly.
To create a history of the Verdugo family, even only of the most outstanding branch, thorough research is needed; for that reason, the present work has been reduced to reveal the origin of the surname. Of the families derived from the brothers of Domingo de Cebreros, and those other children of Lázaro Verdugo y Chávez I, it is impossible to make a direct link due to the lack of parochial books, and only after 1690 can we document the succession of the surnames Cebreros, Verdugo y Cebreros y López Verdugo.
The flaws noted in this work are the result of my specialization in history and not genealogy, although the latter has always interested me as an aid to the first. But I honestly confess that it is so fascinating to dig until you find the origin of a family, as seeking the truth of historical facts. That is why I have set out to rebuild the Verdugo family tree – at least as far as its presence in Culiacán – undoubtedly the most interesting of all those that made up our city, to start on September 29, 1531 when the very magnificent Don Nuño Beltran de Guzmán founded the Villa de San Miguel.
San Miguel de Culiacán, January 20, 1963.