The crew

Firms of the several crew members that are included in different documents: Juan Sebastián del Cano, Juan Rodríguez de Mafra, Fernando de Magallanes, Vasco Gallego, Juan Rodríguez Serrano, Antón Colmenero, Gómez Hernández, Andrés de San Martín, Juan de Acurio, Miguel de Rodas, Hernando de Bustamante, Ocacio Alonso, Juan de Campos, Martín Méndez, Miguel de Rodas (diferente persona al anterior), y Juan de Zubileta.

When reading about this expedition, one can immediately see that there is no consensus on the number of people that participated in it. This is partly due to the fact that different documents that have survived over time provide a number of crew members. And although this should be enough to settle the debate, the result is actually the opposite, since all of these documents are not coherent among them, and all provide different figures.

Martín Fernández de Navarrete published in 1837 the first compilation of the documents that had been archived, as well as the first modern study on the expedition- it is available as a .PDF file in the reference section. This last document provides a number that we will repeatedly found in many publications: 265 crew members. However, Wikipedia says there were 239, a number provided by Pigafetta. But if we enumerate all of the available figures, we will find great variety, although it is usually above 240 people.

Concretely, my personal study finds that there were 247 expeditionaries. 4 people embarked and 1 disembarked in Tenerife, and although these numbers are not always taken into account, they are fundamental. I also found two names in the list of deceased crew members that were not among those that initially embarked, plus one more that was in the list of those that returned with the San Antonio and obtained a salary, but who actually died during the trip, and who is not included in any other list.

The reference documents were:

  • Relation of the people that led the discovery of the Spices Islands. Archive of the Indies.

  • Relation of the expeditionaries, their position and salary. Archive of the Indies.

  • Relation of the events that happened to Magellan’s Armada when he was going to the Spices Islands, and the return of the San Antonio ship on May 8, 1521, which arrived to the harbour of Las Muelas. Archive of the Indies.

  • Declaration of deceases during the trip. Archive of the Indies.

  • Relation of the salaries owed to the captain, officers and crew of the Victoria and Concepción ships, which was destroyed, and the Santiago, which disappeared, counting the time they served, both to those that died and those still alive. Archive of the Indies.

  • Relation of the salary paid to those that returned in the San Antonio ship. Archive of the Indies.

  • Declarations of Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa, Ginés de Mafra and León Pancaldo in Valladolid about what happened to the Trinidad ship in the Moluccas. Archive of the Indies.

  • Letter of Antonio Brito to the King of Portugal about some of the events in India and Magellan’s trip. Extract done by D. J. B. Muñoz from the original in Torre do Tombo (Portugal).

  • Relation of the people that died in the Trinidad ship, of which the captain was Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa, in the year 1522. Archive of the Indies.

Despite this information, we find three main difficulties in obtaining a veracious and complete account of what happened whit each of the crew members:

  • The San Antonio ship, with 57 men- Jerónimo Guerra, Esteban Gómez and 53 other men that arrived to Seville according to the letter of the officers of the House of Trade, plus two more that died in the return trip-leaves the others in the Strait of Magellan and sets sail towards Seville, to which it arrived on May 6, 1521. We only know the names of some of them.

  • The Trinidad ship stayed in the Moluccas with approximately 60 men-59 or 60-, but we lack a list of names. After leaving for Panama, they were obliged to return to the Moluccas while in the middle of the Pacific. Only 17 men survived the journey, and they were taken captive by the Portuguese and forced to hard labour, which caused even more death. Only 5 returned, although one of them died not long after arriving to Lisbon.

  • According to the letter that Elcano sent to the King announcing his arrival, there were 13 men in Cape Verde. However, only the names of 12 of them have remained until now. After the end of the study, it could have been Francisco de Carvajal, Luis de Mendoza’s servant.

In addition to the data shown in the following graphs, I have added to the map of the route the place and time of the decease of each of the members of the crew. This information can be seen by clicking on the position mark of the days it happened.

Location of the place where each of the deceased crew members died
To download the .kml file and view in Google Earth, please click here.
Tripulantes expedición magallanes elcano
tripulantes expedición magallanes elcano
Name, position, origin, and destination of each of the crew members (only in Spanish)