Juan Francisco de Güemes, 1st Count of Revillagigedo

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Don
Juan Francisco de Güemes
Count of Revillagigedo
JuanFranciscodeGuemesyHorcasitas.jpg
Viceroy of New Spain
In office
9 July 1746 – 9 November 1755
Monarch Philip V
Preceded by The Count of Fuenclara
Succeeded by Agustín de Ahumada
Personal details
Born c. 1681
Reinosa, Cantabria
Died 1766
Spain
Children Juan Vicente de Güemes
Religion Catholic

Juan Francisco de Güemes y Horcasitas (Spanish: Juan Francisco de Güemes y Horcasitas, primer conde de Revillagigedo) (1681, Reinosa, Cantabria – 1766, Spain) was a Spanish general, governor of Havana, captain general of Cuba, and viceroy of New Spain (from 9 July 1746 to 9 November 1755).

Early career[edit]

Juan Francisco de Güemes y Horcasitas was the first count of Revillagigedo (sometimes spelled Revilla Gigedo) and a lieutenant general in the army. He participated in the siege of Gibraltar and the conquest of Oran. In 1734 he was named captain general of Havana, where he repulsed the attacks of the English, organized the cavalry, and improved the fortifications. While serving in this position, he was named viceroy of New Spain.

As viceroy of New Spain[edit]

In New Spain, he presided at the funeral honors of the old king, Philip V, and proclaimed the new king, Ferdinand VI. He encouraged the colonization of Nuevo Santander (now Tamaulipas). Under his authority Colonel José de Escandón established eleven towns of Spanish and Indians and four missions, naming them variously for the surnames of the viceroy, the viceroy's wife, María Josefa Llera, and himself. Escandón was rewarded by the Crown for these services with the title of Conde de Sierra Gorda.

On 8 July 1750 the ruins of Palenque were discovered. On 8 May 1753 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was born in Guanajuato.

In 1750 famine struck Guanajuato and Zacatecas, followed by an epidemic. The following year a rebellion broke out among the Pimas in Sonora, and in order to suppress the rebellion, presidios were established at Altar and Tubac. On 13 May 1752 a near-total eclipse of the sun was observed in New Spain. This caused consternation among the population, because it was viewed as a portent of disaster.

Reforms[edit]

Juan Francisco de Güemes, 1st Count of Revillagigedo, Viceroy of New Spain

He reformed the administration of the treasury of the colony in 1746. Because a large portion of the circulating coinage had been sent to Spain, he ordered the minting of 150,000 pesos for circulation in Florida (1746). He reauthorized playing cards, banned by his predecessor, in order to increase revenue from their taxation.

Because smuggling was still rampant, he ordered close inspection of all ships arriving in port. This measure was ineffective, however. The smugglers used small boats and made landings on deserted beaches, transferring their illegal goods to confederates in the colony. Because of complaints from Spanish merchants, chiefly in America, Spain broke relations with the Hanseatic League. The viceroy prohibited Hanseatic ships from anchoring in Veracruz. When this legal source of a large quantity of merchandise was blocked, smuggling rose. It was said that even the vicereine dressed in contraband cloth from England or from Flanders.

Güemes y Horcasitas earned a reputation for governing efficiently and honorably. He took steps to ensure that government employees met the obligations of their offices. He increased the revenues of the government, even though revenue from the mines decreased due to the scarcity of mercury (for extracting silver). He increased the size of the fleet protecting shipping between Veracruz and Havana.

With the expansion of commerce and the decrease in piracy after the end of the war with England, mercury from Spanish mines began flowing into New Spain in sufficient quantities to raise the production of silver back to pre-shortage levels.

He reorganized the management of official documents and required that civil and religious affairs be handled independently. These reforms are considered the foundation of what became the General Archives of Mexico.

He was accused of having accumulated an enormous personal fortune while in office, but when he left, he left a large surplus in the treasury, and a wealth of stores and provisions.

Foreign affairs[edit]

Spain was at war with England again (the War of the Austrian Succession), and news was received in Mexico City that a fleet of 17 ships of the line and transports had been assembled at Portsmouth under Admiral Richard Lestock, for an invasion of Spanish possessions in America. The information did not include where the English intended to make a landing, so the viceroy worked to prepare all the provinces under his jurisdiction to repulse an attack.

A preliminary peace was signed on 30 April 1748. Spain was required to pay its debts to England, and England to return the Spanish possessions it had captured. New Spain's military expenses suddenly decreased, and the bonus was used for such projects as the colonization of Nuevo Santander.

While maintaining good relations with France, he vigilantly prevented French encroachments on the territory of New Spain. The garrisons in Texas were strengthened. In 1755 he founded a presidio at Horcasitas (Sonora) for the purpose of controlling the Apaches.

Return to Spain[edit]

After turning over the government to his successor, Agustín de Ahumada, Güemes returned to Spain, where he was made captain general of the army. He was proposed as viceroy of New Granada and of Navarre, and was president of the council of Castile and president of the council of war.

References[edit]

  • (Spanish) "Güemes y Horcasitas, Juan Francisco de," Enciclopedia de México, v. 6. Mexico City, 1988.
  • (Spanish) García Puron, Manuel, México y sus gobernantes, v. 1. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
  • (Spanish) Orozco L., Fernando, Fechas Históricas de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1988, ISBN 968-38-0046-7.
  • (Spanish) Orozco Linares, Fernando, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.
Government offices
Preceded by
The Count of Fuenclara
Viceroy of New Spain
1746–1755
Succeeded by
Agustín de Ahumada
Spanish nobility
New title Count of Revillagigedo
1746–1766
Succeeded by
Juan Vicente
de Güemes