Biography of Gaspar de Portolá y Rovira (ca. 1717-1786)

Spanish military born in Balaguer (Lleida) in 1717 or 1718, there is no absolute certainty to not be the birth certificate, and who died in Lleida in 1786.

Belonging to a Catalan noble family with important services to the Crown, Gaspar de Portolá was the son of Francisco de Portola and his second wife, Teresa Rovira and Sanispleda, descendant of a noble family from the city of Solsona and niece of the prior of the convent of San Cugat del Vallés, where both got married. In this convent don Francisco had taken refuge after supporting the cause of Archduke Carlos of Austria, side that was defeated by the troops of the first Bourbon of Spain, Felipe V. The young Gaspar, the fourth of ten children, was confirmed June 10, 1720 in the parish of Balaguer on the occasion of the visit of the Bishop of Urgell, being sponsored by Fermín Montaner. July 31, 1734 he/she joined Alférez Villaviciosa regiments of dragons to the 17 year-old company raised by Colonel Manuel de Sentmenat and who. On 23 April 1742 it was joined with the same grade of Ensign the Numancia Regiment, in the company of Francisco Farrús, ascending on April 26, 1743 to Lieutenant of dragons and grenadiers of Numancia and the July 31, 1764, Captain of this same company, which, with the name of Regiment of dragons of SpainIt was intended to serve in the Viceroyalty of new Spain. Arriving in Mexico (1764), Portola was an experienced soldier who had participated in several actions in Italy, being wounded at the battle of the Madonna of Elm, and in the campaign of Portugal during the seven years war.

The Marquis de Croix, Viceroy of new Spain, sent to the regiment led by Gaspar de Portolá to pacify the region of Sonora in 1767. To this province in the Northwest of Mexico addressed the Regiment, stopping in the city of Tepic (Nayarit) for the delay in the conclusion of the ships that were under construction in the nearby port of San Blas to transport them. However, the expulsion of the Jesuits, ordered by Carlos III in 1767, forced the members of the expedition of Sonora to divert flow and men to gather and to deport the parents of the missions in the Northwest of the Viceroyalty. Gaspar de Portolá was responsible for expelling the Jesuits of the peninsula of Baja California, moving there in 1768 to carry out this important mission. At the same time, and the Royal order of appointing Governors where not had, Portola was elected Governor of California by the viceroy of new Spain, having to give the first orders to prevent the collapse of the missions since her arrival in Loreto, capital and pioneer of the peninsula mission. The lack of instructions and the interruption of supplies of grains and other bastimentos from the Jesuit missions of Sonora and Sinaloa filled with uncertainties to the new head of California, who had to wait for the arrival of the visitador general José de Gálvezto innovate in the Government. Meanwhile, the administration of the missions was in the hands of Commissioners, former soldiers mostly, who despoiled the mission property, beginning a decline that never-replenishment.

Gálvez José selected him to command the military expedition that occupied San Diego and Monterey in 1769 and 1770, first chapter of the Spanish colony of Alta California. This expedition was divided into two sections: a maritime (with two boats, San Antonio and San Carlos, who sailed separately) and other land. This last was also divided into two parts: the first was instructed by the captain of the Loreto Fernando de Rivera y Moncada leather company. Led in his company to the Franciscan Juan Crespi, the pilotin José Cañizares, twenty-five soldiers and numerous Indians from the Jesuit missions. The second was sent by the Governor Portolá, leading in his company to fray Junípero Serra and the Sergeant José Francisco de Ortega. Also part of the expedition several cuera soldiers, bred and Indian missions, which kept many mules carrying food and other loads. The group, which had departed from Loreto the 9 March 1769, followed in the footsteps of the first game, reaching the port of San Diego on June 29. Portola and Serra joined with all the explorers of land and sea, although many sailors were bedridden because of scurvy and several servants of the terrestrial games had fled during transit by the Baja California peninsula. However, they decided that a group continue scans to find the port of Monterey, travel carried out between June 14 and on January 24, 1770. Although not located above port, if discovered in San Francisco at the end of October and contacted numerous Indian villages. The arrival of bastimentos in San Diego in the steamer San Antonio on March 23, captained by Juan Pérez, encouraged Portola to undertake again the search, this time by sea and by land. The result was lucky, taking possession of the port of Monterrey on June 3, 1770. Following the Royal orders, was founded a presidio and mission under the patronage of San Carlos Borromeo.

Completed work, Gaspar de Portolá left the port of Monterrey on 9 July in the company of the engineer Miguel Constanzó and arrived at San Blas on August 10, 1770, on Board of the Prince steamer, commanded by Juan Pérez. Instead it let the Lieutenant Pedro Fages in charge of the presidio of Monterey. The King awarded him the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on January 5, 1771 in attention to its services. On 26 May 1771 he/she asked Carlos III a two year license to handle a family lawsuit. We do not know the date of his arrival in Spain, but on September 30, 1774 the King granted "aggregation in the estado mayor de plaza de Barcelona" with salary of 540 reales de vellón. He/She made numerous trips to his hometown, where it appears in several lawsuits and judicial affairs, even granting powers before the notary Balaguer Sociats before moving back to Mexico. Carlos III appointed him Governor of Puebla de los Angeles June 9, 1776, with 4,000 pesos in salary. February 23, 1777 was the oath of office. In addition, the monarch promoted him to Colonel of dragons by Royal Decree of 28 March 1777, which Portola received on 5 November of the same year. Service sheet says that: "plays what send you, and has value and conduct".

By Royal Decree of 20 August 1785, Gaspar de Portolá was appointed Colonel of the regiment of Numancia, and on February 9, 1786 was elevated to Lieutenant of King Lleida square. The military became Chief of military troops, being under the immediate command of the Governor, the Marshal Blonde, who initiated a series of reforms health and urban planning in the city of great importance; Portola was then age 69. He/She bought a house in the square of the crucifix and gave Testament before the notary Ignacio Madriguera may 29, adding you two codicils on 14 June and 24 July. It named heirs to the Bishop of Lérida, the military Governor and the Deputy auditor, assigning most of their property to "pious or desirable destinations to the public utility". Because of an illness, he/she stopped attending the City Hall at the beginning of August, dispatching from his home until September 18. Finally, he/she died on October 10, 1786 at five in the afternoon "apoplectic accident" as a result, being buried in the parish church of San Pedro (formerly of San Francisco de ASIS) of Lleida. Their goods were integrated into a fund which served for the construction of the House of foundlings and mercy. This ended in 1795, was used as a barracks and the Royal Treasury store until in 1819 entered the Sisters of charity and the first inmates.


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Salvador Bernabéu Albert