Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ZURITA, or ZORITA, Alonso (thoo-ree'-tah), Spanish statesman, born in New Castile about 1500; died in Seville about 1570. He studied law, was appointed in 1544 auditor of the audiencia of Santo Domingo, and was sent two years later to organize the administration of New Granada at Santa Marta and Cartagena. Returning to Santo Domingo in 1549, he was transferred a few months later to the audiencia of Los Confines or Comayagua, and, visiting nearly the whole country, organized courts of justice everywhere during a sojourn of three years. He was promoted member of the audiencia of Mexico in 1553, retired from active service about 1564, and then returned to Spain. He studied in America the early history and antiquities of the Indians, and addressed several interesting memorials to the king, one of which was printed in the 2d volume of Joaquin Garcia Icazbalcetas "Coleccion de documentos para la historia de Mexico" (Mexico, 1858-'66). Another memorial, preserved in the archives of San Francisco in Mexico, was utilized by Lorenzo Boturini and Father Clavigero, and is also mentioned in Jose Mariano Beristain's ratalogue, under the title of "Breve y sumaria Relacion de los Caciques y Seriores y sus maneras, y diferencia que habia de ellos en la Nueva Esparia, Leyes y Costumbres de los Indies y Tributes que pagabart sus Principes." An abridged copy of it was published in Jose F. Ramirez's "Coleccion de Documentos ineditos relatives al Descubrimiento, Conquista, y Colonizacion de las Posesiones Espanolas en America y Oceania," but the original narrative was for the first time printed in its entirety in a French translation in Henry Ternaux-Compans's collection, under the title " Rapports sur les differentes classes de chefs dans la Nouvelle Espagne" (Paris, 1840). Zurita wrote also a treatise on taxation and, according to Boturini, a "Narrative of Facts concerning New Spain," which is lost.
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