Laureano de Torres y Ayala
|Laureano de Torres y Ayala|
|30º Governor of La Florida|
21 Sep 1693 – 1699
|Preceded by||Diego de Quiroga y Losada|
|Succeeded by||José de Zúñiga y la Cerda|
|42º Governor of Cuba|
18 January 1707/1708 – 18 February 1711
|Preceded by||Pedro Álvarez de Villarín|
|Succeeded by||Vicente de Raja|
|Died||1722 (aged 77)
|Spouse(s)||Catalina Gertrudis Bayona y Chacón|
|Profession||soldier and governor|
Laureano José de Torres Ayala a Duadros Castellanos was born in Seville, Spain, in 1645, but he grew up in Madrid, Spain, where his parents settled when he was still a small child. Ayala came from a noble family, the son of Tomás de Torres y Ayala and Elvira de Quadros Castellanos. His father was a judge in Seville in 1649; a mayor, governor and Captain General of Mérida and the La Grita in Venezuela. He had three brothers: Pedro Ignacio, Cristóbal and Diego Torres Ayala y Quadros. In his youth he joined the Spanish army.
In June 1693, while with a Spanish expedition in Florida, he came to Okaloosa County and the Chipola at the Natural Bridge Spring. He thus was (one of) the first European(s) to have crossed West Florida overland. On the 21st of September, 1693, Ayala was appointed Governor of Spanish Florida, replacing Diego de Quiroga y Losada. He held this post until 1699, when he returned to Spain. Between 1704 and 1707 Ayala participated in the War of the Spanish Succession in Europe. 
On January 18, 1708, Ayala was appointed Governor General of Cuba, mainly working at Fort Havana. While governing Cuba, Ayala principally concerned himself with its economic problems. A Spanish officer and landowner named Orri had thought of the possibility of a local project to sell snuff tobacco for the government of Cuba. This would eliminate the tax evasion problems Ayala was facing with the local 'snuff speculators' --those who sold it to Spain and other parts of America bypassing customs duties -- which Ayala felt would be as immensely beneficial to Spain, so he gave the plan his full support. The successful business, effectively monopolizing snuff, had him appointed Marquis de Casa-Torre, his grave disputes with Lieutenant-auditor Jose Fernandez de Cordoba notwithstanding. 
However, he could only maintain his governatorial position until February 18, 1711, when auditor Pablo Cavera imprisoned him in the Cuban fortress of El Morro, sending King Philip V an indictment of corruption against the governor after investigation of its administration. Two years later, Ayala was acquitted and on February 14, 1713, he was reinstated as Governor of Cuba. His second period of rule was to be of relative peace: he founded several charities, like La Casa de la Beneficiencia, and a home for beggars. On June 9, 1714, he ordered the construction of a hospital for lepers in Havana; after collecting several large donations, he began construction of the Hospital de San Lazaro and its temple in a plot located near the city. In addition, he founded the city of Santiago del Bejucal. The snuff industry came into swing, and the tobacco plant began to be widely cultivated in the district."Vuelta Abajo". 
Laureano de Torres y Ayala married the Cuban Catalina Gertrudis Bayona y Chacón on August 5, 1687 in Havana. He had three children: Tomasa María, Laureano Antonio José, and Sor Manuela de San Laureano.
In popular culture
Ayala appears in the 2013 Ubisoft action-adventure video game, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, as the main antagonist and a leading member of the Templar Order, Laureano de Torres. Unfamiliar with the Templar-Assassin conflict, the game's protagonist, privateer Edward Kenway, killed an Assassin turncoat named Duncan Walpole, and subsequently impersonated him and continued his trip to Havana to bring a strange artifact to Torres. Eventually, the latter found out about the identity fraud avant-la-lettre and imprisoned Edward. Torres' plan was to find the Observatory in Jamaica, which required the blood of a specific Sage to get in. This would enable the Templars to track people throughout the world -- a means of terminating the Assassin Order. He is ultimately killed by Edward Kenway.
- Laureano de TORRES AYALA Y QUADROS, I marqués de Casa Torres.
- Francesca Hampton (2000). "Newspaper De Cuba Genealogy Club of Miami. Del Pasado - Por el Conde San Juan de Jaruco. El Hospital de San Lázaro, de La Habana". Retrieved March 23, 1947.
- Florida Counties,
- U.S. States F-K.
- The Spanish at Florida Caverns State Park. A Legacy of Soldiers and Priests.
- The History of Cuba (Complete). Written by Willis Fletcher Johnson.
- Vicente de Cádenas y Vicent (1994). "Caballeros de la orden de santiago. siglo XVIII.". Hidalguia, Madrid. Retrieved May 2010.
- - Governor of Cuba, (in Spanish)