What records exist for survivors of the Spanish Armada?



In my family, there is a long held verbal history that we were on the Spanish Armada and were stranded in Ireland when the Armada was sunk.

This may be a long shot, but is there anyway to access records of who was on the Armada, and related, who was rescued/imprisoned from the sinking of the fleet?


Posted 2013-05-24T11:37:09.623


My family in Scotland also has this family myth. We're from the west coast, Paisley and Renfrewshire. – None – 2015-05-25T18:00:04.957


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– Jan Murphy – 2015-05-25T19:39:11.973


I'd be surprised if there were written records. I'd be even more surprised if they're available and complete. Do you know which ship they sailed on? You can see a many of the ships that made it to Ireland mentioned here.

– American Luke – 2013-05-24T16:54:42.200

1Would DNA testing be helpful in a case like this? I don't know, but putting it out there. – Canadian Girl Scout – 2013-05-24T20:51:34.257

@Luke - Unfortunately, no, we are not sure as to which ship my ancestors were on. Canadian Girl Scout - DNA testing is something we, as a family are considering, and it will be useful to find/confirm the family spoken account that we were in Pamploma before the Armada set sail. – None – 2013-05-24T21:51:52.553

4I suspect you've little option but to use the tried and tested method of tracking your family back a generation at a time. Do you know which branch of your family the Spaniards are rumoured to be on? – None – 2013-05-25T11:28:29.393

Yes, my dad's paternal side. I don't mind the search- i love puzzles. – None – 2013-05-25T11:34:02.507

2Which ship they were on or where they arrived in Ireland are probably the two most crucial facts to know. When they arrived in Ireland, they probably a) settled down and joined a Catholic church or b) tried to get back too Spain. So, if you know where they lived in Spain or where they settled in Ireland, you could check the local Church records. – American Luke – 2013-05-25T13:40:02.013

Good point, we know the counties they entered Ireland (Galway and Roscommon according to the family oral history). We also believe the spelling of our surname changed also. – None – 2013-05-25T14:17:38.480

2If you are interested in an alternative hypothesis to explain family lore of Spanish heritage in Ireland, look into reports of the Battle of Kinsale (December 1601) that involved 12000 spanish troops in Co Cork. That is far more plausible than a few shipwreck survivors. – Fortiter – 2013-06-01T01:16:58.483

@Fortiter nice! I will definitely look into that! Yes, I agree with you, that it would be far more plausible. – None – 2013-06-01T01:23:09.990

my name is Kevin Thatcher, my Mothers Maiden name was Manto, (from Galway) and like your family, we have a story of the name Manto coming from a Survivor from the Spanish Armada, and we have not been able to confirm this. The only possibility in my mind of any Survivor would be a young person, who managed to swim to shore from the Wrecks, and be taken in by the Natives of the area. a long shot I know but possible. this information has been in our Family for over 100 years, so who knows? Anyway I hope that this small piece of infromation helps. – None – 2013-09-14T09:55:28.577

Kevin, welcome to Genealogy.Stackexchange, and thanks for contributing! We prefer answers to questions to be backed up with facts and references, which is why your answer is attracting negative votes. Do you have any basis for your suggestion? Or even any information about what you've tried (unsuccessfully) to confirm the origin of your surname? – None – 2013-09-14T12:07:24.883



As Luke pointed out, Wikipedia has a detailed article on the fate of the Armada ships that were wrecked off Ireland, which suggests that there were very few survivors and the majority of those that made it ashore alive were executed by the English or murdered by the Irish.

The fact that being found to protect a survivor would have placed the protector at great risk makes it unlikely that church records would have been kept of any lucky enough to evade those two fates. Most that did evade capture or murder seem to have been sent on to Scotland for safety (then a separate country).

Franscisco de Cuellar gives an account of what happened to him in Ireland en route to Scotland. (See Wikipedia for a summary.) He does not seem to have been impressed by the 'hospitality' he received, even including an offer of marriage.

In short, although it's not impossible that a very few Spanish survivors were absorbed into the Irish population (or left a genetic legacy behind on their way through to Scotland), it doesn't sound as if it was a widespread phenomenon or one that would have been recorded at the time.


Posted 2013-05-24T11:37:09.623


1Thank you for this, this adds to the mystery - as my family were also in Scotland. – None – 2013-05-31T10:34:33.987

@user786 Amazing how often "Spanish ancestors" are rumoured to exist. In my family, the mythical Spanish ancestors are in Wales, and supposedly Jewish to boot! But the records don't support the myth, nor does DNA testing. – None – 2013-05-31T10:39:30.647

I am beginning to suspect that as well - partly the reason for my research. It is quite likely that we are Celtic. – None – 2013-05-31T10:43:11.420


Some ships were sent from Flanders to Scotland to return survivors back to Spain. A full account of the fate of survivors can be found in:

The Downfall of the Spanish Armada in Ireland by Ken Douglas (Dublin : Gill & Macmillan, 2009).

No names, only what happened to them.

Tim Vernon

Posted 2013-05-24T11:37:09.623

Reputation: 31

Edited to add a link to WorldCat (enter your zip code in the finder to see where the book is in libraries near you). – Jan Murphy – 2014-06-09T00:46:06.297