The man Canary history should remember
Amaro José González de Mesa: a Realejero rector of the University of Salamanca in the 18th century.
Throughout its history, the municipality of Los Realejos has been home to many personalities whose life and work, in many cases, has gone unnoticed by Canary history.
Names like Juan de Gordejuela y Grimón, founder and patron of the Augustinian convents of Realejo and the parish church; Dámaso de Quesada y Chaves, historian and author of a valuable history of the Canary Islands; Félix Pérez Barrios, a lawyer and member of the Supreme Council of the Canaries; the captain José Pérez de Chaves y Barroso, who took part in the defence of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797, amongst others. These people are people who are representative of the historical past of Los Realejos.
The former chaplain and rector of the University of Salamanca, Amaro José González de Mesa, joins the long list of personalities whose life and work goes unnoticed, despite the value of his work as Rector in the 18th century.
The history of the house of González de Mesa in Los Realejos goes back to the 16th century, starting with Pablo González who was a resident of Realejo de Abajo in the last third of the 16th century. He was married in the parish of Santiago on March 23rd, 1585 to María Lorenzo.
There were two children of the marriage; Juan González de Pablo who was baptised in the church of Santiago Apóstol on October 31, 1605 and was married in the same church on June 17th, 1637 to Ana Martín, daughter of Gaspar Hernández and Isabel Martín.
Lorenzo González de Pablo, who was the son of the above, was married in the church of Santiago Apóstol on January 18th, 1671 to Lucia de Ana de Mesa, daughter of Bartolomé Hernández Nuño and Ventura Ana de Mesa Ruiz del Hoyo. They had also married in the same church on June 8th, 1634.
Lorenzo González de Pablo had two sons for his marriage; José González de Mesa, who was a Doctor of Theology and Canon of the Cathedral of the Canary Islands and Minister of the Holy Office, and Don Isidro José González de Mesa, Captain of the Provincial Regiment of Los Realejos, as well as Mayor of Realejo de Arriba, patron of the Chapel of St. Joseph Parish in Santiago, steward of the Brotherhood of Santa Cruz of the same and holder of the estate established by his grandmother, Ventura Ana de Mesa.
On July 29th, 1707, he married Francisca Rodríguez Felipe Texera Machado in Los Remedios de La Laguna; the daughter of Juan Rodríguez Felipe and Beatriz Texera Machado and sister of Amaro Rodríguez Felipe, the famous captain whose legendary adventures are conserved in the memory of the islands, together with his deep religious beliefs, making him one of the most representative people of the times in the Canaries.
Amaro José González de Mesa continued the family name, having a brother Isidro José as well as Antonio José (who was born in Los Realejos on October 9th, 1719), becoming “Regidor Perpetuo de Tenerife por Real Título” in San Ildefonso on July 15th, 1764. He later renounced his office at the III Conde de Siete Fuentes and died, unmarried, in 1769.
José Vicente was another of the off-spring, as well as Beatriz de la Encarnación González de Mesa, an abbess in the Dominican monastery of Santa Catalina de La Laguna.
The unknown personality Don Amaro José González de Mesa is the central subject of our article, being rated by Viera y Clavijo as “a citizen of great talents and resources.” He was baptised in the parish of Santiago Apostól del Realejo Alto on February 6th, 1713 and gained his Canon’s degree at the University of Salamanca on September 5th, 1731; and became a Bachelor of Law at the same university on January 19th, 1735. He was licensed at the same faculty on the following June 22nd.
He became Chaplain and Rector of the same centre during the course of 1733 and 1734 at a stage when there were 2,137 enrolments at the University of Salamanca.
We know that Salamanca remained a province dedica-ted exclusively to the production of agriculture and farming which employed more than 70 per cent of the population through its various activities. The clergy also played an important role, occupying near 14 per cent of the population. We also know some facts about González de Mesa in Salamanca.
On the occasion of the election of the Rector and Chaplain for Andalucía, when Joseph de Rivas of Tenerife was chosen for the year of 1731/ 32, rather than Amaro González, a number of students objected and appealed the decision and the election was cancelled.
On his return to the Canary Islands, he became Síndico Personero General de Tenerife, lawyer to Reales councillors, Depositario de Pósito of La Laguna, administrator of the Hospital for the Sick and administrator of the Casa Cuna de Expósitos.
He was also a member of the military defence of the islands formed in March, 1762.
He was actively involved in the community life of Tenerife and played a major role in the agreement for and creation of the first port of the island in Santa Cruz, achieving with José Van de Walle de Cervellón the authorisation which allowed the archipelago to trade with the minor ports of Spanish America.
Amaro José González de Mesa wrote rhetoric papers which were published in 1752 under the title of “Cartas sueltas de un amigo o justa repulsa de iniquas insinuaciones y su apoyo” (or Letters from a single friend or just letters of support or rejection).
He went on to hold several offices and married on May 26th, 1745 to his first cousin, Ana Josefa Tomasa Margarita Rodríguez Felipe y Scheynart.
They went on to have two children, Beatriz Pía Juana Josefa González de Mesa who was born on June 11th, 1746 . She became Countess of Siete Fuentes through her marriage to the third owner of this title, Fernando del Hoyo-Solórzano y Abarca.
Another of his children was Bartolomé Agustín González de Mesa, who was born on August 24th, 1751. He succeeded his father as head of the house.
José Antonio González de Mesa was born was born in La Laguna on November 9th, 1784 and later became head of the house and ultimately administrator of the chapels of Realejo de Arriba and San Vicente Ferrer in Santo Domingo de La Laguna. He died on May 15th, 1855.
Doña Ana María was another of the sisters but she lived for just two months; she was born on November 6th, 1790 but died on April 22nd of the same year.
Doña María de los Dolores was born in La Laguna on November 6th, 1790 and lived for three years, dying on June 20th, 1794.
Don José Hipólito González de Mesa was born in La Laguna on August 13th, 1754. He was a captain in the Grenadiers and a governor of Jicayán (México).
Through Amaro Domingo González de Mesa, it was possible for the line of this family to continue.
Ultimately, José Amaro Gonzalez de Mesa is an example of a personality that even today, remains unknown. It is one of the names which has disappeared without much trace but should have because of his impact of his life on a famous Realejo name.