Morga Sánchez Garay y López, Antonio de (1559–1636)

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Morga Sánchez Garay y López, Antonio de (1559–1636)

Antonio de Morga Sánchez Garay y López (b. 29 November 1559; d. 21 July 1636), oidor (civil justice) of the Audiencia of the Philippines (1593–1603), alcalde del crimen (criminal judge) of the Audiencia of Mexico City (1603–1615), and president of the Audiencia of Quito (1615–1636). Born in Seville to a wealthy merchant family, this energetic jurist received his doctorate at the University of Salamanca in 1580. After holding several minor judicial posts in Spain, Morga attained first the governorship of the Philippines and later a judgeship in the Audiencia of Manila. He served with some distinction in the Philippines and in 1603 received a coveted promotion to the position of alcalde del crimen in the viceregal capital of Mexico City. He escaped blame in the numerous scandals surrounding that court, and in 1615 the crown named him president of the Audiencia of Quito.

During his presidency, Morga battled with the viceroys in Lima to secure more autonomy for the Audiencia in legal and political affairs. He sponsored an unsuccessful effort to build a road from Quito to the coast, through the frontier province of Atacames, to facilitate the export of highland foodstuffs and textiles. He also supported efforts to reorganize the labor and management systems of the highland obrajes (textile mills) and to reform Spanish-Native American relations.

Despite Morga's accomplishments, disturbing rumors of dissension on the court and of the president's illegal activities and personal immorality prompted a visita general (general investigation) in 1624. The visitor-general, Juan de Mañozca, and his successor, Juan Galdós de Valencia, charged Morga with seventy-three infractions, including illicitly introducing Chinese silks in 1615, carrying on disreputable gambling operations, engaging in unauthorized business ventures, living a scandalous personal life, and failing to observe the normal procedures and regulations governing the audiencia. In 1636 the Council of the Indies found Morga guilty on fifty-six of the charges, levied fines of 31,300 ducats, and suspended him from office for six years. The disgraced president was spared this final indignity, for he had died earlier in the year.

See alsoAudiencia; Quito, Audiencia (Presidency) of.


Morga's career in Quito is concisely summarized in Federíco González Suárez, Historia general de la Repú blica del Ecuador (1970): 527-571. The seminal work on the life and times of this controversial jurist is John Leddy Phelan, The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth Century (1967).

Additional Bibliography

Andrien, Kenneth J. The Kingdom of Quito, 1690–1830: The State and Regional Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Lodoño, Jenny. Entre la sumisión y la resistencia: Las mujeres en la audiencia de Quito. Quito: Abya-Yala, 1997.

Ortiz de Tabla Ducasse, Javier. Los encomenderos de Quito, 1534–1660: Origen y evolución de una elite colonial. Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1995.

                                      Kenneth J. Andrien

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Morga Sánchez Garay y López, Antonio de (1559–1636)

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