Biography of Diego de Alvear y Ponce de León (1749-1830)

Marino and Spanish geographer, born in Montilla (Córdoba) in 1749 and died in Madrid in 1830.


Son of Santiago Alvear and Scholastic Ponce de Leon, the daughter of the Mayor of Montilla Luis Ponce de León. Explored in Montilla and Granada, with the Jesuits, but when these were abolished in 1767 had to return with their parents.He joined the Navy in 1770 and studied mathematics with Vicente Tofiño at the Navy Academy in Cadiz. He/She was appointed in the Philippines with José de Mazarredo in the period 1771-1773; from the latter year until 1774 it was commissioned along with Mazarredo to take part in the scientific expedition of the frigate Rosalia, whose mission was to collect observations on length and make a map of Trinidad. The 3 August 1774 he/she went to Montevideo, where he/she arrived on 10 November. He/She was appointed Ensign of vessel in January 1775. He/She took part in the war against Portugal for the possession of colonies of the Sacramento and Rio Grande de San Pedro, contributing to the conquest of the island of Santa Catalina in 1777. Promoted to Lieutenant of a frigate in July 1777, he/she moved again in the war against England, the so-called war of the four years, before returning to Buenos Aires in 1781. In 1778 he/she was appointed to the Commission on the demarcation of limits of the territories with the Portuguese in the area of La Plata (Misiones, Paraguay, Iguazu, etc.), although it could not merge until 1783. Back in Spain, was arrested in Cape San Vicente by the British on October 5, 1804, that killed his wife and seven of their children. Born prisoner to London, married an English lady, which had ten children. In he/she returned to Spain, he/she was appointed provincial Commissioner of artillery and Commander of the Corps brigades of Cadiz 16 August 1807. In July 1808 he/she contributed to the surrender of the French squadron of Admiral Rossilly. As a member of the Board of Government and defence of the island of León on January 2, 1810, and Governor of the same, he/she was responsible for the installation of the courts. He/She was dismissed March 23, 1811. García Quintana in 1811 classified him among the hated, weak or indolent, authorities because of his Government on the island of Leon. Appointed brigadier in 1812. On 15 July 1814 he/she went to England with one year license, then continuing his trip to Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier, Perpignan, Barcelona, Valencia and Granada, reaching Cádiz on 19 may 1817. He/She was decorated with the Grand Cross of San Hermenegildo in 1817. Supporter of the bicameral system to reach the three-year period, occupied the post of Commander of the national militia in Montilla in August 1822. Two years later he/she retired to Montilla. It was impurificado in the first and second instance on November 4, 1825 and January 9, 1827, and discharged in the Navy. Replacement of June 16, 1829, was called to Madrid where he/she directed the King an exhibition on January 14, 1830. Dying the next day.


The most valuable aspect of the work of Alvear is his description of the methodology in practical cartography, as he/she recorded it in his diary. It was intended to be a work in five volumes, whose order changed many times Alvear and, finally, failed to publish in the projected form. The first two volumes were to contain the story of the expedition and a general geographical description. The third volume contain astronomical and meteorological observations and would include a count of used books, instruments, and tables. The fourth volume would include a natural history, "pursuant to the beautiful system of the most famous modern naturalists, Carlos of Lineo". The final volume would be a description of the province of Misiones, and the complete work would be accompanied by a thirteen descriptive maps atlas.

Alvear was very explicit about his working method. Geographers would take care of all in the Hema work scale; auxiliary journals would have indicators of distances and directions. Observations of latitude should be made by the stars and not necessarily by the Sun because length should always be determined by night, through the observation of lunar eclipses or the concealment of the satellites of Jupiter. Finally, "it is essential that every night geographers, have conferences to see whether chords the map works".

His scientific writings comprise parts of the work projected on natural history, including an interesting passage of Jacques-Christophe Valmont's Bomare and other French naturalists, and a report on the lightning rod that shows your familiarity with the works of Benjamin Franklin.

His works contain numerous historical and scientific news of interest: description of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires and its municipalities, Journal of the second batch of demarcation of limits, etc.



Journal of the second batch of demarcation of boundaries between the dominos of Spain and Portugal in the Meridinonal America. ed. dir. by Paul Groussac, (Buenos Aires: annals of the national library, 1, 1990 (pp.267-384); 2, 1902 (pp. 288-360); 3, 1904 (pp. 373-464).) Geographical and historical relationship of the province of Misiones. (Buenos Aires: State, 1836).ALVEAR and WARD, Sabina's. "Observations physical and natural history of the three kingdoms, animal, vegetable and mineral", in Historia de D. Diego de Alvear y Ponce de León. (Madrid: L. Aguado, 1891), (pp. 365-375). Review of the mode of having electrical conductors or lightning rod. (1781), and (ibid., pp. 447-453). Description of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. (ibid., pp. 490-583). Report on the population of the great desert of Nucoraguazu. (1791). report on the Tupi Indians. (1797). report on the population of the Chaco. (1799). report on the population of the Guaraní Indians. (27 August 1802).


ALVEAR and WARD, Sabina's. History of D. Diego de Alvear y Ponce de León. (Madrid: L. Aguado, 1891).BECU, Teodoro and Tower, José. Historical Regaciones, 1941 (publications, Pedro de Angelis and the journal of Diego de Alvear, Buenos Aires, Institute of research, 75).BECU, Teodoro. The "collection" of hair. The collection of documents of D. Pedro de Angelis, Groussac and D. Diego de Alvear "journal": (Buenos Aires: Jacobo Peuser, 1941).GROUSSAC, Paul. Biographical news of don Diego de Alvear. (Buenos Aires: annals of the national library, 1, 1990 (pp. 195-266).)Pavia, Francisco de Paula: biographical Gallery of Marina generals, chiefs and notables who were in the same Corporation from 1700 to 1868. Madrid, 1873.lopez PINERO, J.M., Thomas F. Glick, Navarro Brotons V., Eugenio Portela Marco: Historical Dictionary of modern science in Spain. Barcelona 1983, two vols.PALAU and DULCET, a.: Manual of Hispanic-American bookseller, 2nd ed. Barcelona 1948-1977.