History Part 3
Appointment to the position of Colonel became hereditary and for life, and was assigned to a single family: the Sánchez-Dumpiérrez family, which first held the post, followed by the Cabrera-Bethencourts from 1742 to 1833, who moved to La Oliva, and finally the Manrique de Lara-Cabreras from 1834 to 1870, who maintained and extended the economic power of their predecessors. They were the most closed local endogamy of class and kinship.
During the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century, under the Colonels La Oliva became in practical everyday terms the capital of the island, although the Cabildo remained, representing the “civil power and capital city” in Betancuria. At this time, large tracts of land were opened up and used to grow grain (wheat, barley and rye) for export, with a large number of medianeros (tenant farmers) and day labourers dependent on the Cabrera family and their administrators.
Tostón (El Cotillo) was the port of the northern part of the island. The engineer Claudio de L`isle died on the island during the construction of Tostón Tower, a fortification which dates back to 1743 and was given the name Nuestra Señora del Pilar y San Miguel. The volcanic eruptions that occurred on the island of Lanzarote in the 17th century affected our municipality, as its population increased with the arrival of whole families in the northern part of Fuerteventura. Economic, political and social circumstances in the 18th century saw the decline of the military authorities on Fuerteventura. New villages such as Puerto de Cabras, and those that were emerging due to economic prosperity such as Antigua, were populated by new inhabitants drawn by the barilla trade.These events meant that La Oliva and the Colonels lost power, as the weight of the island shifted towards the coastal area and the best cove on the island, Puerto de Cabras, where traders, administrative personnel and representatives of the central authorities settled. They formed a new social class on Fuerteventura, one with a more bourgeois mindset.
The Cortes de Cádiz were very important for the Señorío islands. In 1811, all the lordships were abolished, though in fact they had already lost much authority and power to the State. In 1812, the Cortes carried out an administrative reform that granted the status of municipality to any parish with more than a thousand inhabitants. This regulation, which affected La Oliva, came into effect in Fuerteventura between 1833 and 1835.