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Glossary of Land Grant Terms

Excerpted from Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico © 1994, 2008 Malcolm Ebright. Original edition, UNM Press, Albuquerque, 1994. More Information about the book

abogado - lawyer; in Spain, the lawyer who researched the law that applied to a particular case, wrote the briefs required, and presented the legal arguments orally to the judge.

abrevaderos - public access to water sources.

acequia - an irrigation ditch; from the Arabic as-saquiya.

alcalde - local governmental official with judicial, executive, and police powers.

alférez - ensign, standard bearer.

asesor - legal advisor.

asamblea - legislative assembly; successor to the diputación.

atarque - diversion dam for an irrigation ditch.

audiencia - a judicial body, sometimes with legislative powers; the highest court of appeal in Mexico.

ayuntamiento - town council.

bando - proclamation, decree.

cabildo - municipal council; also the meeting place of such a council.

caballería - unit of agricultural land, about 105 acres.

caciques - Indian chief or local ruler.

cajas - reservoir from which water was distributed

caño - conduit, culvert.

carreta - a two-wheeled cart.

casa consistorial - city hall; house where community meetings are held.

cédula - order or decree, usually from the king.

ciénega - a swampy place; wetlands.

conciliación - an arbitration proceeding.

cordel - a rope for measuring land, usually 50 or 100 varas long.

cortés - senate or congress of deputies in Spain.

comandante general - the official who administered the military-political district known as the comandancia general.

dehesa - common pasture land.

de novo - to start anew, as when a case is retried.

derrota de mieses - stubble grazing.

diputación - territorial legislature.

ejido - common land owned by a community.

encomienda - a grant of Indian tribute in exchange for protection and Christian instruction.

escribano - notary, judicial assistant; an official with legal training.

estancia - large ranch.

estanciero - rancher, owner of an estancia.

expediente - a file of papers, as of a court case or the proceedings in a land grant.

extranjero - foreigner.

fanega - unit of dry measure from 1.5 to 2.5 bushels.

hombre bueno - advocate in a conciliation proceeding.

hacienda -

jefe politico - the governor.

juez comisionado - a judge specially assigned to a case.

juez de paz - justice of the peace; successor to alcaldes during the Mexican Period.

juez de primera instancia - judge of the first instance, lower court judge.

junta departamental - departmental legislature.

latifundio - a large unit of land holding comprised of several haciendas.

leña - firewood, generally for heating the home and cooking on a wood stove.

letrado - a lawyer; literally, a man of letters.

licenciado - lawyer.

merced - a grant of land or water.

monte - mountainous common lands used primarily for wood-gathering.

noria - a well.

partido - a political subdivision; a sheep contract.

pastos - common grazing land.

pobladores - settlers.

prado - high quality pasture land, often irrigated.

prefect - governmental official during the Mexican Period, subordinate to the governor, who administered a prefectura.

propio - municipally owned property.

puesto - an outpost.

regidor - members of an ayuntamiento.

ranchanero -

sin perjuicio de tercero - without injury to third parties.

sitio de gañado major - tract of land for grazing cattle, 4316 acres.

sitio de gañado menor - tract of land for grazing sheep & goats, 1918 acres.

solar de casa - small tract of land for a dwelling; housesite.

suerte - plot of farm land.

tanque - pond for irrigation.

teniente - assistant.

terreno baldia - public land, vacant land.

tierras baldia - public land, vacant land.

tierras concegiles - common lands owned by communities.

tierras realengas - public land owned by the sovereign.

tierras del pan llevar - wheat-raising land.

torreón - watchtower.

vara - unit of measurement, approximately 33 inches.

vecino - a landowning resident of a community entitled to vote.

villa - the largest of the Hispanic municipalities in New Mexico; the four villas were Santa Fe, Santa Cruz de la Cañada, Albuquerque, and El Paso del Norte.

zanja - feeder ditch.

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