Saturday, March 26, 2011


The Dueñas name appears in the earliest census of Guam for which we have copies.  In that census, taken in 1727, we find a bachelor soldier listed in the Spanish column named Fernando Lázaro Dueñas.  He must have been a young man, maybe even in his late teens, which in those days was not considered too young to do military service or even to marry.  I say this because Fernando Lázaro appears again in the 1758 Census, thirty-one years later, as a married man with his children living with him.

Who was Fernando Lázaro Dueñas?  I wish I knew.  He was a soldier and he is listed in the Spanish column and he was on Guam as early as 1727.  By the term "Spanish soldier," anyone from Spain itself, or one of the Latin American colonies (Mexico, Peru, etc.) or someone born in the Philippines but of Spanish blood could have been meant.  So, the possibilities are many. 

He married one Juana María de Salas.  So now we look at the Salas name.  In the 1727 Census, there is only one Salas, a soldier in the Spanish column named Ignacio de Salas.  Again, where Ignacio came from is anybody's guess. 

Ignacio was married to one Isabel Meriña.  You can look all over Spain and not find the last name Meriña.  Since many Chamorro last names end in -ña (e.g. Mangloña, Mantanoña, Laguaña) and since mainly foreign men moved to Guam, not as many women, I wouldn't be surprised if Isabel Meriña was Chamorro.

Ignacio and Isabel had several children, including one Maria and one Juana.  Fernando Lázaro Dueñas married a Juana María de Salas.  Isn't it interesting that the only Salas family had one daughter named María, and another named Juana.  It's possible that later Ignacio and Isabel had another daughter named Juana María, but it is also possible that Juana María is either the María or the Juana listed in the 1727 Census.  People are like that; they don't always use all the names they were given at birth.  They sometimes drop one, mix them up.

So, if this all holds true, one Fernando Lázaro Dueñas married a mestisa (mixed) Spanish-Chamorro girl named Juana María de Salas, the daughter of Ignacio de Salas and Isabel Meriña.  Fernando's and Juana María's children would be part Chamorro and would certainly have spoken Chamorro as a first language because mothers raise babies and speak to them in their "mother tongue."

The 1758 Census gives us a second Dueñas by the name of Rafael José, who is married to María Josefa Contreras.  But since the census does not give us ages, we can't tell if Rafael José is a son of Fernando Lázaro or not.  My suspicion is that he is, since in 1727 Fernando Lázaro is the only Dueñas.  But, we can't be totally sure.  I would say the likelihood is very high that the Dueñas family of the Marianas are the descendants of Fernando Lázaro Dueñas and Juana María de Salas.

The family spread from Hagåtña to Inalåhan to Saipan and elsewhere.  The family has produced many leaders, including the second Chamorro priest, Pale' Jesús Baza Dueñas, whose photo can be seen in an earlier post.

The surname DUEÑAS is Spanish.  It means "owners" in the feminine gender.  "Dueño" in Spanish means "owner," if the owner is male; "dueña" if female.  It is a common name in Spain.  There is also a town in Spain called Dueñas.

The town of Dueñas in Spain
The school named after Father Dueñas

Spanish actress LOLA DUEÑAS
She has relatives on Guam???


  1. From my research my GGGG Grandmother Is Antonia Duenas 1808 who married a Palomo who im still trying to find out whats his 1st name. Any relation with Antonia and Fernando?

  2. I'm also Duenas. My parents are from Mexico and I live in USA. Interesting to see the connection to the Philippines. Perhaps Fernando is our common ancestor?