Glossary of Land Grant
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
atarque - diversion dam for an irrigation
audiencia - a judicial body, sometimes with
legislative powers; the highest court of appeal in
ayuntamiento - town
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
ciénega - a swampy place; wetlands.
conciliación - an arbitration
cordel - a rope for measuring land, usually 50 or
100 varas long.
cortés - senate or congress of deputies in
comandante general - the official who administered
the military-political district known as the comandancia
dehesa - common pasture land.
de novo - to start anew, as when a case is
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
hombre bueno - advocate in a conciliation
jefe politico - the governor.
juez comisionado - a judge specially assigned to a
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
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
licenciado - lawyer.
merced - a grant of land or water.
monte - mountainous common lands used primarily
noria - a well.
partido - a political subdivision; a sheep
pastos - common grazing land.
pobladores - settlers.
prado - high quality pasture land, often
prefect - governmental official during the Mexican
Period, subordinate to the governor, who administered a
propio - municipally owned property.
puesto - an outpost.
regidor - members of an ayuntamiento.
sin perjuicio de tercero - without injury to third
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
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
tierras realengas - public land owned by the
tierras del pan llevar - wheat-raising land.
torreón - watchtower.
vara - unit of measurement, approximately 33
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.