* Genealogy of the Soto Family *
(version February 15, 2015)
Please email corrections to Mike Clark


Even though it is found online in numerous places, the following lineage is quite speculative, as the only names that are known for sure are those of Ygnacio Soto and his immediate family. That verification comes from numerous California Mission records in the collection of the Huntington Library. There does exist a baptism record in Sinaloa, Mexico for Ygnacio that names his parents. The rest of this lineage, which extends back to Spanish ancestors, is shown just for fun, so don't take it too seriously, as anyone can write down a list of names and dates on a piece of paper. It is quite another matter to back up those claims up with hard evidence.


  1. Juan Nicolas de Soto y Merino (b. 1609 or 1618) was born in Proven, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, back when it was part of the Spanish Empire. He was a member of the nobility, so his existence, and that of his parents and children is a matter of record. His parents, who would have been born in the late 1500s, are named in his son's baptism record as Juan Martinez de Soto and Maria Merino Sanchez. He married Ana Merino de Heredia y Saenz, and her parents are named in the aforementioned baptism record as Pedro Merino de Heredia and Maria Saenz de la Plaza. Juan and Ana's son follows.

  2. Juan Nicolas de Soto y Merino (1639-1672) was born (baptized?) on July 11, 1639 in Logroño (Anguiano) in the La Rioja province of Spain. He became a soldier and sailed to Chile, where his noble birth enabled him about 1660 to become a Captain General (a very high-ranking officer often combined with a governorship). He also appears to have spent time in the Piura province in northern Peru. Most genealogies have him returning to Europe at some point to die in Belgium, but he actually died on October 18, 1671, at 32 years of age, in Santiago, Chile, with his parents still alive and his wife expecting their second child. It is said that many men at arms attended his funeral. He is buried with his wife, who died in 1718, in a vault in the Church of San Francisco in Santiago. He left a will, executed by Don Antonio Sanchez Erbias and dated Oct. 14, 1671, that names his legitimate wife. The wife so named is Maria de Astorga y Molina, whom he married in the Sagrario (tabernacle) parish in Santiago on May 9, 1667. Their legitimate son is Juan Nicolas de Merino y Astorga (1672-1734), who has many documented descendants and was born (baptized?) in Santiago, Chile on May 3, 1672. He was the second-born child, the first being a daughter named Rosa de Merino y Astorga. However, many online genealogies would have us believe that there is also an older son named Joaquin, born in Mexico. If so, this Joaquin, who follows, was born from the union of Juan Nicolas de Soto with another woman, possibly a native.

  3. Joaquin Nicholas de Soto (b. 1660) was born somewhere in Mexico (or so we are told) and married Maria de Renteria (b. 1665). This is where the lineage is weak, for as noted above, Joaquin is likely to be an illegitimate son, or from an undocumented marriage, and he would have been born about the time his father was a high-ranking army officer, possibly a military governor, stationed in Chile, not Mexico. The only documentation for the marriage of Joaquin and Maria Renteria is from genealogies submitted to the LDS church (and presented as is with no supporting data on Ancestry.com), and we know of no original record. Joaquin Nicholas de Soto is probably a "traditional" ancestor whose name appears somewhere in a family bible, so there may be some truth to his existence. Nonetheless, his connection to Juan de Soto of Spain is still suspect. Joaquin's supposed son with Maria de Renteria follows.

  4. Juan Nicholas de Soto (b. 1690) was born and died in Mocortio in the Sinaloa province in coastal Mexico. He married in 1722 Maria Juliana de Avila (b. 1698). These names are legitimate, as they are recorded in the baptismal record of their son, but the dates are probably speculation. For example, it is certainly possible, but not very likely, that Juan and Maria's son, who follows, was born when Maria was 52, and Juan was 59 years old.

  5. Ygnacio Soto (1749-1807) was born in the town of Mocortio in the Sinaloa province in coastal Mexico and baptized there Feb. 20, 1749 in the church of La Purisima Concepcion. His baptism record names his parents. He came to Monterey in Alta California as a soldier in 1776 with the Anza Expedition, bringing with him his wife, Maria Barbara Espinosa de Lugo (1759-1797), and their two children. They came with Anza first to Monterey, which at the time was the northernmost Spanish settlement of Alta Caliornia, and continued with him north, where they were among the founding families of a new settlement that Anza christened as San Francisco. Then in 1785 the Ygacio and Maria relocated to San Jose.

    The Soto family were preceded in California by Maria's brother (or possibly her cousin) Salvador Francisco Lugo (1740-1805), who had been recruited in 1774 by Captain Fernando Rivera. He initially was stationed as a soldier at San Gabriel, where he helped escort the Anza party and others north to Monterey, and later he was one of the founders in 1781 of a new Spanish settlement called Los Angeles. He is also the grandfather of General Mariano Vallejo, and the grandfather of Magdalena Lugo, who became the second wife of Los Angeles pioneer William Wolfskill. Salvador's father (Juan) Salvador Lugo (b. c.1714) at some point traveled from his birthplace in Sinaloa, Mexico to join his son in California, and died near the San Gabriel Mission, where he was buried in July of 1784. His death record names his parents in Sinaloa as Francisco Lugo and Juana Vivana Sur.

    Both Ignacio Soto and Maria Lugo are listed as español, which is probably synonymous with the Spanish term criollos, in the 1790 California Census, meaning that they were of Spanish ancestry, but born in the New World. As such, they were members of the second highest level of the Spanish colonial caste (casta) system, only a Spaniard of European birth being higher. It is very likely that there was a family lineage that sought to document their Spanish descent and was passed down through the family. If so, flawed though it may may be, it may be the ultimate source the preceding ancestry. Maria died Aug. 31, 1797, and Ygnacio followed her in death on Feb. 23, 1807. Both are buried in now unknown graves somewhere in the old cemetery at the Santa Clara Mission. Their daughter follows.

    The short biography on Ygnacio that follows is from sfgenealogy.com.

    Ignacio de Soto was born in the city of Sinaloa in 1749, and died in Santa Clara, California, February 23, 1807. His wife, María Barbara Espinosa de Lugo, was a sister of the soldier Francisco de Lugo, whose daughter, María Antonia, became the mother of General Mariano Vallejo. She, with two children - María Antonia, age two; and José Antonio, age one - accompanied her husband. The first white child born in San Francisco was Francisco José de los Dolores Soto, son of Ignacio and Barbara, born August 10, 1776. The child was hastily baptized "ab instantem mortem", but he lived to become a great Indian fighter and died in 1835, a "sargento distinguido". There is record of fourteen children (actually there were fifteen) born in California to Ignacio and Barbara Lugo de Soto, and their descendants were grantees of the following ranchos: Cañada de la Segunda, El Piojo, San Matias, San Lorenzo, Cañada de la Carpintería, Cañada del Hambre, Capay, San Vicente, Los Vallecitos, and Bolsa Nueva.

  6. Maria Fernanda Dolores Soto (1790-1826), one of the younger children of Ygnacio Soto and Maria Barbara Espinosa, married Damaso Antonio Rodriguez. She was born May 29, 1790 and baptized the next day at the Santa Clara Mission. She died June 11, 1826 in Santa Clara and was buried there at the cemetery associated with the Presdio. Please see the Rodriguez Family History for the marriage date and children of Maria and Damaso.




    Because Spain was at war with England from 1779-1883, during the time of the American Revolution,
    descendants of Spanish Soldiers stationed in California during these years are considered
    eligible for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution,
    who recognize Ygnacio Soto as a patriot.




  • California Mission Records from the Early California Population Project sponsored by the Huntington Library.

  • Crisóstomo, Juan Pablo, ,1971, Descendencia de Don Juan Nicolás Merino de Heredia en Chile, 1650-1971, Santiago, Chile, 167 p. Library of Congress Catalog Number: CS319 .M47 1971

  • Northrup, Marie, 1971, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California: 1769-1850, Southern California Genealogical Society, Burbank, California, v. 1, p. 210-211 & p. 337-340.

  • Early California Census records available at the website on California Spanish Genealogy sponsored by SFGenealogy.com.

  • Hough, Granville and Hough, N.C., 1999, Spain's California Patriots in its 1779-1783 War with England, Part 2, Society of Historical and Ancestral Research, Midway City, CA, p. 1-39 & 168-171. Available online at the website for the South Coast Chapter Sons of the American Revolution

  • Soto, Robert, 2011, An Old California Family - The Sotos of Cambria, Central Coast Press, 192 p.

  • Tombstone photos and transcriptions on




by Janet & Michael Clark

This history is an evolving document.
Despite our best intentions it probably contains mistakes.
Please let us know if you spot any by sending an email to Mike Clark



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