The grave of one of the best-known highwaymen ever to roam the Málaga countryside, JOSE MARIA HINOJOSA COBACHO, better known as "EL TEMPRANILLO" or “THE EARLY BIRD”, lies in Alameda churchyard.
EL TEMPRANILLO was born on 24th June 1805 into a poor family in the village of JAUJA in the municipality of LUCENA (Córdoba). He is believed to have killed his first man at the age of thirteen and evaded arrest and joined a gang of young bandits, later establishing his own gang based in a cave near the Despeñaperros pass, the main route into ANDALUSIA from the north.
Essentially, the bandits levied a tithe on RICH TRAVELLERS to ensure their safe passage, often collecting the tithe in broad daylight. EL TEMPRANILLO quickly became famous for his charm, once telling a woman traveller 'Ah, Señora! A hand as beautiful as yours does not need adornments!' while relieving the blushing traveller of her rings and other jewellery, before kissing her hand and biding her safe journey onward. He also acquired a ROBIN-HOOD-like reputation, redistributing his ill-gotten wealth among the poor and became a cult figure throughout ANDALUSIA and beyond.
At one point, frustrated authorities, in the form of DON VINCENTE QUESADA, Captain General of Andalusia's armed forces, offered a reward of six thousand reales to the soldier, royal volunteer or private individual who apprehended EL TEMPRANILLO dead or alive. He once announced that while the KING may rule SPAIN, EL TEMPRANILLO ruled the SIERRA. Indeed, his nickname was KING OF THE SIERRA MORENA.
He married a young woman, María Gerónima Francés, from the village of TORRE ALHAQUIME in Cádiz region, but she died in childbirth in 1831. EL TEMPRANILLO scandalised the authorities when, with the aid of fifty other horsemen, he rode into the mountain village of GRAZALEMA, north-west of Ronda, to baptise their son in the village's Nuestra Señora de la Aurora church, while the authorities looked on helplessly.
The English travel writer John Ford wrote of TEMPRANILLO’S time as one 'When Fernando VII was the KING of SPAIN and José Maria was the love of ANDALUCIA'.
Ford’s friend, the artist John Frederic Lewis included EL TEMPRANILLO in a collection of drawings from the region. Lewis managed to contact and meet EL TEMPRANILLO, in 1832. His portrait depicts a small man on an equally small horse, with dark hair, blue eyes, a large mouth and thin pointed nose. He is dressed in a fine shirt and a velvet jacket with silver buttons and leather bindings.
EL TEMPRANILLO’S daring broad daylight hold-ups, and his increasing POPULARITY among the general public, eventually forced King Fernando VII to offer him a PARDON in return for his working for the state. The PARDON was formally granted in Estepa in August 1832, although no written record of the pardon survives.
JOSE MARIA was made commander in chief of the Escuadrón Franco de Protección y Seguridad Pública de Andalucía (the free squadron for the protection and public security of Andalucía), at the head of sixty mounted guards who wore a uniform similar to that of Spain's army. This was eleven years before the establishment of Spain's Guardia Civil in 1844.
The BANDIT turned policeman was seriously injured in a shoot-out while pursuing another José Maria, the bandit EL BARBARELLO, from Estepa, during an attempted arrest on the road between Alameda and Mollina in 1833. He was taken to the Parador de San Antonio in Calle Granada in Alameda, but died the next day, 23 September 1833.
He was given the last rites by the town's parish priest, Navarette, and dictated his last will and testament before one Jerónimo Orellana, the village's notary. Despite his years of banditry, EL TEMPRANILLO left little to his orphaned son, also baptised José Maria. The will contained little more than two small houses, two horses and a few reales borrowed from friends.
JOSE MARIA HINOJOSA CORBACHO was buried in a carved tomb in the church of ALAMEDA, where it can be seen in the church's interior patio today. He is one of the key figures featured in Ronda's Museo de Bandolero.
A tourist ‘RUTA DE TEMPRANILLO’ has been created which links the small villages where Jose Maria Tempranillo frequented. These are Alameda, Badolatosa, Benamejii, Casariche, Corcoya, Jauja, Palenciana.