Martínez del Río

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The Martínez del Rio family is one of the leading prominent in politics in Mexico from the time of independence from Spain, until the present day. The family's role in Mexican history and culture has been significant.

Originally from the Spanish region of Cantabria the Martínez del Rio family members mainly reside in Mexico. Prior to its arrival in Mexico,the family was active in trade in Central and South America, and operated out of Panama City. When they arrived in Mexico their name was Martínez Retes (Martínez del Río Retes) and was subsequently modified to its present form.

The family lived through trying times during the second half of the 19th century when the family sided with Mexico's Conservatives (Conservadores) who supported a Napoleonic Monarchy. In fact, José Pablo Martínez del Río Castiglione was the spokesman of the delegation of prominent local European families that offered the Crown of the Second Mexican Empire to Maximilian I of Mexico in 1864. During his reign, Maximilan appointed José Pablo as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Benito Juárez, who was the leader of Mexico's Liberals (Liberales) confiscated the family's properties known as "Encinillas" which comprised 60,000 km² of land that the family owned in northern Mexico.

Once Benito Juárez took control of Mexico as president he had Maximilian put to death by firing squad in 1867 and banished José Pablo. It was not until 1870 that Juárez granted a "general amnesty" and the exiles could return, but their properties remained in the hands of the State. The Martínez del Ríos joined their blood through marriage with several descendants of Agustín de Iturbide, who had fought in Mexico's independence war first on the Spanish side and later on the independentist side and became later on the country's first emperor. Mexico's short-lived royalty maintains its lineage to this day, explained in the Casa Imperial's (Imperial House) website.

The family's historic archive contains nearly 60,000 documents which were classified by José Pablo's great grandson Carlos and donated in 2006 by Carlos's daughters to The Center of Mexican History (CEHM) CARSO. The archive contains more than 300 years of family history. The Martínez del Río Archive can be found at the CEHM as "Archivo Martínez del Río - Fondo DCXXIII" and it covers family history from 1569 until 1989.

It was not until the presidency of Porfirio Díaz in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the family's finances improved, when it settled its claims for a loan it had made several decades before in South America. Family members also profited handsomely from legal services rendered to various foreign interests.

The Martínez del Río family acquired an interest in the Joaquín Moreno land grant in present-day McLennan County, Texas. Subsequent grants from the Republic of Texas and state of Texas were patented in conflict with the Moreno grant. Resolution of several of these conflicts made it to the Supreme Court of Texas (52 Texas Reports 170 and 62 Texas Reports 695). The family also loaned a significant amount to the government of Ecuador, so that it could pursue its independence from Gran Colombia.

Ever since Mexican independence, the family has had strong ties to the United Kingdom, where historically many of its members lived and received their education. A number of them studied at Stonyhurst College, from where in 1912 three Martínez del Río brothers (Ventura, José Pablo and Eustaquio) moved to Paris, chaperoned by fellow Oxford student J.R.R. Tolkien.

Other famous family members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. "Kinship, Business and Politics, The Martinez del Rio Family in Mexico 1823-1867" by David W. Walker, University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-74308-4

External links[edit]

MOTHER EARTH - - Blockbuster

Eustaquio Matrinez Del Río- Film Director

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