A female black slave accused of poisoning her mistress (1530)

A female black slave accused of poisoning her mistress (1530)
Around 1530 in Santo Domingo, a female Black slave was burned at the stake, accused of poisoning her female master
ESPAÑA. MINISTERIO DE CULTURA, Archivo General de Indias,



ya. vuestra. magest ad. es informado como el fundamento principal de la /

población y sustentaçion de esta isla son los negros indios y /

gente de serviçio. que Ay. En ella /. y quanto conviene. que sean /

castigados. los malos / y el peligro que seria no hacerse ansy.

ase ofreçido que sobre astigar. A una negra de v. clérigo. que dio /

soliman. A su Ama para matalla. por parte de la yglesya se an /

puesto. en defendella y. ynibyr a la justiçia rreal estando sentenciado /

a que la quemasen. el alcalde mayor syn embargo de la ynibiçion /

en execuçion De su sentencia que fue confirmada en esta Rea l/

avdiençia la hizo quemar. /. sobre esto se a proçedido contra el /

por parte de la yglesya y estando. el negoçio Apelado para Roma /

le descomulgaron. y Anatematyzaron. con gran solenydad:

y hasta. yr A su casa con el salmo. y echalle muchas piedras /

en ella de que se. admyro mucho toda la çibdad. y avn nos /

otros. porque lo tenemos por nueva manera de proçeder contra /

la justiçia seglar /. y de harto escandalo ./ comunicado entre. /



Your Majesty is already informed of how the main foundation of the peopling and sustenance of this island are the Blacks, the Indians and the people of service that exist there and how convenient it is that the bad ones be punished and the jeopardy there would be if this is not done. It has happened that, as to punishing a black woman, owned by a clergyman, [and] who gave poison to her female master in order to kill her, on the part of the Church they have set out to defend her and to inhibit the royal justice, having it been sentenced that se be burnt at the stake. Despite the inhibition in executing his sentence, which was confirmed by the Real Audiencia, the local judge had her burnt. On this, the church has proceeded against him and while the matter was been appealed to Rome they excommunicated and anathematized him with great solemnity and they even went to his house with the psalm and threw many stones at it, of which the whole city was very surprised and even us, because we consider it as a new way of acting against the secular justice and a great scandal. In communication between.

Type of colonial house where female domestic slaves used to work

Type of colonial house where female domestic slaves used to work


A Black enslaved woman was accused of poisoning her female master with soliman, a mercury chloride,  and though the documents do not say whether the poisoned master died or not, the enslaved woman was condemned to death and burnt. The enslaved Black woman was owned by a local clergyman and was apparently working directly for a woman in Santo Domingo.

The clergyman attempted to save the Black woman and confronted the judicial officials about the sentence applied. After failing to save the enslaved woman, the clergyman went to the mayor’s house and publicly excommunicated him from the church.

Officials of the Audiencia wrote to the crown demanding that clergymen not be allowed to own slaves and if they did, to that the slaves be punished by the secular authorities without interference of the Church. The resolution was extremely important, the officials added, given that many clergymen owned hundreds of slaves.