Spanish and Mexican California
Antonio Maria de Bucareli y Ursúa
Viceroy of New Spain, 1771-1779
By Michael R. Hardwick

Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa, 46th viceroy of New Spain, was born in Seville on January 24, 1717, the son of Luis Bucareli, Marqués de Vallehermoso, and Ana Ursúa Laso de la Vega, Condesa de Gerena. There is no record or indication of his having married. At age 15, he answered a military calling by enlisting as a cadet in the brigade of Royal Carabineers. His military service included campaigns in Italy and Portugal, and he rose to the rank of lieutenant general while serving as inspector of coastal fortifications in Granada. In 1766 Bucareli entered colonial administration as governor and captain general of Cuba, and his excellent record there earned him appointment as viceroy of New Spain on September 23, 1771. He was a Lt. General of the army and a Knight in the Order of Malta.

From his viceregal post in Mexico City he reorganized the Spanish viceregal military units, and he strengthened and rebuilt fortifications along the vast coastlines on the Pacific and on the Gulf of Mexico to forestall invasions by forces from other countries. He took a keen interest in the northern reaches of New Spain (today's Southwest and West) and fought Indian insurrections and destruction of towns. He invested in fortifying presidios and Spanish and Indian settlements.

Bucareli sent expeditions to explore and settle the whole coastal area of California. He dispatched a naval expedition led by Juan Pérez, which was followed by several others, to prevent Russian invasions of North America. Pérez and his forces traveled as far as Alaska. Bucareli was an able administrator and historians rate him as one of the best viceroys of Mexico.

Viceroy Bucareli served 8 years as viceroy of New Spain before his death on April 9, 1779 in Mexico City.

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Updated 23 June 2017