Biography of Juan Pérez (¿-1775)

Sailor and Spanish discoverer, born in Palma de Mallorca in date unknown and deceased in 1775 off the coast of Monterey (California).

The news about the childhood and youth of this Navigator in the Pacific and discoverer of America Northwest are very slim. Only know his full name: Juan José Pérez Hernández, who was born in Palma de Mallorca, fray Junípero Serra, President of the missions of California, born in Petra (Mallorca), named him "countryman of the Palm Riviera" in several letters. It started its services to the Bourbon throne in 1750, under the reign of Fernando VI, and continued it with Carlos III, under the command of Governors, Presidents and Viceroys of various overseas territories. Nor are the places that lived or that sailed until 1757, year in which moved to the Philippines, although on several occasions went to the Chinese city of Canton and performed, at least three crossings on the Manila Galleon. In one of them, the "Santa Rosa" frigate, under the command of Ignacio Balzola, came to Acapulco with Juan Pérez as a pilot, who was hired to serve in the colony of San Blas, a new maritime Department, founded by José de Gálvez at the Pacific coast of Mexico, specifically in Nayarit, in 1767, as the basis for organizing several discoverer expeditions in the North-West of America and support the colonization of Sonora and California.

Juan Pérez arrived at San Blas in Nayarit just as it was completed an expedition sea, composed of the steamers "San Carlos" and "San Antonio", intended to recognize and deal with the ports of San Diego and Monterey. Pérez was appointed captain and first pilot of this last boat, also known as "The Prince". October 26, 1768 turned to the sea and was heading to the peninsula of Baja California, at whose southern end anchored on January 25 to meet with José de Gálvez, general inspector of the Viceroyalty of new Spain and organizer of the expedition, who gave instructions for the trip. Fairing the steamer and equipped with new, "San Antonio" made back to the sea 15 February 1768, and carried out a wide turn in the Pacific until sighting the Santa Barbara channel, off the Californian coast Islands. In search of water, the explorers anchored in the islands of San Cristobal and Santa Catalina, then toured the canal which form Islands and California, and finally, put heading Southeast and sighted the port of San Diego April 11, 1768. During the trip, known as the sacred expedition that lasted fifty and nine days, the steamer suffered strong swings, mists and low temperatures which made sick to Juan Pérez.

In San Diego, the Mallorcan captain had to wait for the other ship of the expedition, the "San Carlos", and after the arrival of the terrestrial games, commanded by Governor Gaspar de Portolà and fray Junípero Serra. Gathered all the groups, the situation in San Diego became unbearable due to the lack of food and by numerous patients who had between soldiers and sailors, all of which prevented fulfill tasks of surveillance and begin construction of the first missionary buildings. For these reasons, the Portolá Governor sent Juan Pérez back to San Blas in search of healthy men and bastimentos of refreshment, trip successfully between June 9 and July 30, 1768, with the help of just eight men.

The second expedition to California was conducted between December 20, 1769 and on March 23, 1770. The arrival of Juan Pérez to San Diego was fundamental for the consolidation of the Spanish presence in what would become known as Alta California (from San Diego to San Francisco), because the expedition members were about to start the return to Mexico. The arrival of the steamer "San Antonio" was exploited by the Governor Portolá to explore the Northern California coast and find the port of Monterey, sighted by the Navigator Sebastián Vizcaíno in the 16th century, which was to become the capital of California a few years later and in the headquarters of a Franciscan Mission (San Carlos) and a presidio. In the steamer embarked fray Junípero Serra and the engineer Miguel Constanzó, who gave a good account to the viceroy Marqués de Croix (1766-1771) of the expedition: engineer with several maps of the coast and the missionary with other many letters and relations in which praised the work of his countryman and his great religiosity. After the takeover of Monterrey and the landing of supplies, Juan Pérez undertook the return to San Blas and sighted the Nayarit port on August 1, 1770. Despite the trip - just twenty days - fast, nine sailors died during the crossing, which gives a sample of the hardness of these first trips to California. For services rendered, Carlos III was named Juan Pérez alferez de fragata on January 1, 1771, and the viceroy gave him three hundred pesos for gratification.

The third voyage of Juan Pérez to the Alta California began January 20, 1771, after a long period of preparation, during which were revealed the difficulties that offered the San Blas Department to supply and careen quickly ships. Finally, the "San Antonio" could be to the sea, in the direction of the port of San Diego, until which led ten Franciscans. It would then continue heading to Monterrey, where Pérez was welcomed by Father Serra and Pedro Fages, Commander of the presidio. This third trip helped strengthen California's new settlements and drove to Mexico to two indigenous: Buenaventura, for eight years, and Fernando, of ten, who had keen both to the boat, which were entrusted to Juan Pérez and Juan Millán Pérez boatswain. With the same purpose of supplying to missions and presidios of Alta California, the Mallorcan captain made a new trip in 1772, where he/she visited San Diego and Monterrey with remarkable success; However, a year later, this time as captain of the steamer "San Carlos", aka "The Golden Fleece", had worse Fortune due to breakage of the rudder and other technical problems which forced him to seek refuge in Puerto Escondido, Cove next to the Loreto, capital of the old California mission.

August 25, 1773, Juan Pérez anchored back in San Blas after his frustrated voyage; There he/she soon received a letter from the viceroy Antonio María de Bucareli (1771-1779), which ordered him to prepare a plan to advance the discoveries of the coast situated to the North of the port of Monterrey, because this area of the coast was being visited by the Russians from the Asian peninsula of Kamchatka, with consequent alarm by part of King Carlos III and his ministers. So did the Mallorcan driver, who bring food, ammunition and crew who should face this journey of discovery, as well as develop the defeat by the Northern Pacific. The instructions drawn up by the viceroy ordering him to navigate to Monterrey, where desembarcaría several lists of food, and then enmarar it back to 60 degrees, from that point, recognize the coast and check if the Russians were established in those remote places.

List the crew, the frigate "Santiago", boat chosen for this important expedition, left San Blas on January 25, 1774. Captain Juan Pérez took second to pilot Esteban José Martínez, Pedro Castán was appointed surgeon and fray Pedro Mugártegui, chaplain; Likewise, the President of the missions, fray Junipero Serra, also embarked along with several people. The ship could not reach Monterrey because of the break of a mast, and after sailing through the canal of Santa Barbara, March 13 anchored in San Diego.

A new voyage - luckier than the previous - led to the boat to Monterrey on May 9, where embarked fray Juan Crespi and shots of the Peña as chaplains of the trip, who wrote two important newspapers. On June 6, the "Santiago" was heading to high seas and began the journey of discovery. The frigate visited a large arch in the Pacific and sighted land on July 18. It was the islands of Queen Charlotte (Alaska), whose north end (Dixon Entrance) mistook for the mouth of a great river. Heading South-East, explored Vancouver Island (Canada), the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the American coast belonging to the States of Washington and Oregon and the Cape Mendocino, after which reached back Monterrey on August 28. The geographical discoveries were unaccompanied, unfortunately, by significant information about the towns of the coast. Only two brief meetings, one with the Indians haidas of the Grahan Island (named Santa Margarita by the Spaniards) and others had been the wakasha of Nootka (Vancouver), port that would become famous after arriving at the captain James Cook later. The results of the trip were seen differently: the viceroy of Mexico, Bucareli, praised the results and stressed the fact have not found a trace of the Russians; fray Junipero Serra, more critical with his countryman, qualified travel expensive and vacant.

However, the authorities appreciated enough results, as demonstrated by the appointment of Juan Pérez travel pilot under the command of Bruno de Heceta, Bilbao reached San Blas on January 12, 1775, along with other Navy officers to promote the discoveries of the Northwest, which was elected Captain of the frigate "" Santiago"". The new expedition, which was made into the sea on March 17 this year, was integrated by the ship "Santiago" and the small schooner "Sonora", commanded by Juan Francisco de la Bodega and blockPeruvian Creole. Both ships, which were a part of the journey together, explored the port of the Trinity (California) in the 41 ° 03' N, and the rada of Bucareli (Grenville Bay, Washington) by the 47 ° 24' N. The schooner was separated on 30 July and polled a Bay alone; Meanwhile, the "Santiago" descended by the northwest coast until the 50 ° N and reached Monterey on August 29, at the time that mapping much of the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. The most important discovery of the trip was the mouth of the Columbia River between the U.S. States of Washington and Oregon.

When he/she arrived in Monterrey, Juan Pérez was very ill and had to be treated at the mission. Once restored, the 1 November 1775 embarked towards San Blas, but he/she died the next day, and his body was thrown into the sea. For services rendered, the King Carlos III promoted him to Lieutenant of a frigate February 28, 1776, nomination that unfortunately never enjoyed this important sailor who has one of the most important payroll of maritime services to the Crown during the 18th century illustrated.


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