Abstract: Networks of Credit, Networks of Influence: Notaries and the Mérida Credit Market, 1850-1899

Juliette Levy


Recent work on French financial markets in the eighteenth and nineteenth century attests to the fact that notaries served as financial intermediates and supported the expansion of the Parisian credit markets in the absence of banks. Mexican notaries also became important connective links in the credit market, and during Yucatan's late nineteenth century agricultural boom, notaries supported the development of a thriving mortgage market. However, the same institution that in Paris helped expand the reach of credit, in Yucatan further concentrated the networks through which credit flowed. This paper analyzes the professional life of one of these notaries, Jose Anacleto Patrón Zavalegui, using primarily his notarial records. Over the course of the late nineteenth century, Patrón Zavalegui became a key financial intermediary in Mérida's mortgage market, and a closer look at his life elucidates some of the networks that supported the self-reinforcing nature of concentration and inequality in Yucatan.