January 31 (January 21, o.s.)

Jamaica: The Council meets and inspects the fortifications at Port Royal.

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January 26 (January 16, o.s.)

Jamaica: Governor William O’Brien, 2nd Earl of Inchiquin, dies. The son of an Irish nobleman who played a prominent role in the English Civil War, the Earl was nonetheless something of a mediocrity and spent much of his life failing at various positions in the colonial administration. His brief period as governor of Jamaica, starting in May 1690, was no different, and he spent much of it squabbling with the Council over various matters. Despite the death of the governor, the Council decides that all current officers should keep their offices and that it, under President John White, will take over governing the colony until a new governor is appointed.

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January 15 (January 5, o.s.)

Mexico: The Conde de Galve, responding to the petition of farmers in nearby provinces dated January 13, repeals the ban on cultivation of white wheat instituted in 1677 in hopes that this measure will help to ease the critical shortage of grain in Mexico City.

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January 13 (January 3, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Samuel Parris, minister in Salem Village, a rural area technically part of the Town of Salem but distinct from it socially and often at odds with the wealthier urbanized town, preaches a sermon on Psalm 110:1, “Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies my footstool.” Parris has been preaching a series of sermons on this verse since November.  The theme of this sermon is the Devil’s constant attempts to destroy the Church, and the role of “wicked” men in assisting him. This theme echoes ongoing tensions in Salem Village, which has only recently acquired its own church, between members of the church, who have had public experiences of spiritual awakening, and nonmembers, who, even if they have been baptized, are not allowed to take communion. Parris, who is increasingly unpopular among the nonmember majority, has a tendency to emphasize the rightness of his faction through sermons like this one implicitly comparing his adversaries to the Devil’s henchmen.

Mexico: The farmers and agricultural workers of the provinces of Chalco, Tlaxcala and Huamantla send a petition to the viceroy, the Conde de Galve, asking him to revoke the ban on planting white wheat that was instituted in 1677 by Payo Enríquez de Rivera, the viceroy at that time. The harvest of 1691 was extremely poor and the viceroy and his ministers have been searching frantically since September for sources of grain for Mexico City, looking as far afield as the Yucatan peninsula. The cultivation of white wheat, which is easy to grow and produces an abundant crop but which is rumored to be dangerous and of low quality, was forbidden under penalty of excommunication by Enríquez de Rivera, who was also Archbishop of Mexico, but it’s not clear whether there is any merit to the rumors about it and it is alleged by some that the ban was the result of greed rather than genuine concern for public health. Given the difficult situation regarding the grain supply at this point, the farmers urge the viceroy to repeal the ban in the hope that white wheat can make up for the shortages of other grains.

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January 5 (December 26, o.s.)

Mexico/New Mexico: The Conde de Galve receives Noboa’s letter of the previous day and sends it on to the Junta, the council of his ministers with which he meets to decide on policies.

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January 4 (December 25, o.s.)

Mexico/New Mexico: Benito de Noboa Salgado, the royal prosecutor in Mexico City, writes to the Conde de Galve, the viceroy of New Spain, about plans for the reconquest of New Mexico. The main issue of discussion is reports of a mercury mine in the country of the Hopis and whether it might be better for the governor at El Paso, Diego de Vargas, to try to conquer the mine rather than try to reconquer the areas in and around the Rio Grande valley that had been under Spanish control before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Finding sources of mercury is a high priority for the Spanish because it is necessary for mining silver, the main industry in northern Mexico and other parts of the empire and a key source of Spain’s wealth in this period.

Noboa sends along testimony by two former governors of New Mexico living in Mexico City, Domingo Jironza Petrís de Cruzate and Antonio de Otermín, regarding their opinions on the matter. Jironza is skeptical about the mercury mine and reports that while he was governor he had tested some of the alleged ore and found that it contained no mercury. Otermín is more enthusiastic about the mercury mine and less so about the prospect of reconquering the lost territory. Noboa sides with Jironza and attributes Otermín’s skepticism about reconquest to the fact that he was governor when New Mexico was lost. Noboa’s own recommendation is that the viceroy order resettlement of New Mexico, since that will be most pleasing to the king and best for Galve’s future reputation. Turning around Otermín’s statement that conquering the mercury mine will be possible with only 50 soldiers and some Indian allies, Noboa reasons that if this is true, 150 soldiers will be enough to both reconquer New Mexico and send an expedition from there to find the mine and bring back samples of ore to be tested for mercury.

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