The Spanish presidios in the Californias were military outposts, unlike the religious missions or the civilian pueblos. Their residents were not exclusively soldiers, though; at least prisoners and trade officials also lived there, among total populations of several hundred people. While some soldiers with families managed to set up homes on the outside, some officers seem have quartered their families inside. How many women lived in the presidios?

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Google to the rescue

Depends on when you ask. Initially they were all male, but the government deployed incentives for women to move in. If you want to know a specific number, you'll probably have to specify a specific date.

For greater social stability and an improved moral tone, the crown wished to encourage formation of family life among the soldiers. Spanish officials looked for ways to increase the number of Spanish or mestiza women in the population, although there was no consistent governmental policy for sending women colonists to California. In 1775, Viceroy Bucareli authorized Captain Juan Bautista de Anza take to California an expedition of 240 settlers, the largest number of families with women and children at any one time in the Spanish period (In 1774, Captain Rivera y Moncada had brought in a small party of 51 people.) (Bancroft I, 218) In the 1790s, Governor Borica asked that "mujeres blancas" (white women) be sent to California in numbers at least equal to the number of male convict soldiers; if "mujeres blancas" proved too hard to find, then women of lesser "quality" (mestizas, mulattas, etc.) perhaps could be induced to make the move; he recommended some kind of inducement-- a serge petticoat, a shawl, and a linen jacket might do the trick. Borica also offered a 40 peso bonus to any soldier who got married. (Bancroft I, 605). In 1800, the viceroy sent 10 orphan girls to California to be distributed among presidial families; by the end of the year, 2 of them were married. (Bancroft I, 606). California Mission Foundation

Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The new pragmatism insists that, "To date, there is little historic or archaeological evidence of Native Californian women's labor at El Presidio de San Francisco, suggesting that those who worked there were probably hired privately ratehr than being contracted by the military command." - Which I read to mean that the women did not live in the Presidio but worked there.

  • This long quote is mostly about pueblo settlers. I can't tell from context whether the ten orphan girls were actually sent into the presidios, or if they went to families already living outside their walls. Nov 26, 2016 at 17:09
  • The point is that there were so few women that the government felt the need to increase their number.
    – MCW
    Nov 26, 2016 at 21:05

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