When researching the genealogy of the most renowned families during the Spanish colonial times we quite often find many members of such families listed as “regidores”.
A regidor was a member of a council of municipality known as “Cabildo”, acting as the community representative. The city had a major (presidente municipal), two attorney general (síndicos) and several regidores who meet in cabildo sessions. Villages were only considered cities when they had the right to have a functioning Cabildo, and the number of regidores depended on the size of the city. These institutions existed in Spain and Portugal (1), but it was in the Spanish colonies in America were they became more relevant, having a key role during the Revolutionary period in the fight for independence (early XIX century).
Regidores were created by King Henry II in the XIV century so they could rule and govern the people in that town. The original disposition mandated they should be members of the nobility. While that was almost always true in Spain, in the Spanish America regidores were not always members of the nobility, and many times included rich bourgeois and members of influential families.
The responsibilities of the regidores included proposing measures for municipal development and suggesting changes to the local regulations. During the Cabildo sessions they voted on the proposed municipal affairs and exercised control over the major, which was the executive branch.
(1) In Portugal they were known as “regedores”