Luís Vaz de Torres
Luís Vaez de Torres (Galician) or Luís Vaz de Torres (Portuguese), also Luis Váez/Báez de Torres in the Spanish spelling (born c. 1565; fl. 1607) was a 16th-17th century maritime explorer serving the Spanish Crown, noted for the first recorded navigation of the strait which separates the continent of Australia from the island of New Guinea, and which now bears his name (Torres Strait).
Origins and early life
There is no record of Torres' origins. The year and place of his birth are unknown; assuming him to have been in his late thirties or forties in 1606, a birth year of around 1565 is considered likely.
Since the 19th century, Torres has been presented by some Portuguese and British historians as Portuguese, without giving any evidence other than his name, which could just as well be Galician. However, all his writings (all are addressed to the Spanish Crown) were in Spanish and no records ever call him a Portuguese, even though the very same records are clear in noting the remarks made by crew members on the Portuguese origins of the expedition's highest commanding officer. This may have been omitted on purpose, as Portugal and Spain were at the time a recently united Kingdom and joint sailings with Portuguese, Castilian and Flemish sailors were common. Torres is recorded as having been called a "Breton" during the voyage, which points to an origin in the Britonia shire, northwest province of Spain, Galicia.
Torres, at some point, entered the naval service of the Spanish Crown and found his way to its South American possessions. By late 1605 he first entered the historical record as the nominated commander of the second ship in an expedition to the Pacific proposed by the Leonese nobleman Diego de Prado y Tovar, sponsored by the Viceroy of Peru and Chili, the King of Spain and the Pope which main vessel was piloted by Portuguese born navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, searching for Terra Australis.
The Prado y Tovar and Queirós voyage
Diego de Prado y Tovar staying in Manila in 1596 hears about a big mainland existing in the South East. He associates this to the common believe of a continent believed as Terra Australis Incognita, that would go from South Eastern Oceania until Tierra del Fuego. As a part of United Kingdom of Spain and Potugal aristocracy and as a very religious person, he decides that the kingdom should conquer that land and bring the gospel to natives. He starts a long quest for sponsorship. He first travel to Lima to expose to the viceroy of Peru, Luis de Velasco a plan of travel. The Viceroy asks for stronger sponsorship coming directly from the king, as Philip II of Spain is ill and soon succeded by his son Philip III of Spain. De Prado goes to La Habana through Cartagena de Indias with Captain Luis Fajardo and stays there for two years. In 1600 he arrives to Seville with Captain Francisco Coloma, he is broke and looking for a moral sponsorship, he goes to Rome in pilgrimage. At Rome he is helped by the ambassador Antonio de Cardona y Córdoba, who hosts him for three years. His plan is heard by Christophorus Clavius, mathematician of the Vatican, who sponsors it in front of Clemente VIII who finally sponsors spiritually the voyage. The ambassador send Prado to the king with a reccomendation. The new king of Spain of Portugal, Philip III of Spain, receives Prado in June 1602 and the king states Prado should be sent in a first scouting expedition, composed of two vessels. He goes to America from Cadiz in 1603, having in his hands the sponsorship letters from the Count of Lemos y Andrade, president of the Indies Council and also from the Constable of Castile and from the Comendatory of León. He also carries an sponsorship of Inés de Velasco y Tovar, probably his aunt, the wife of new Viceroy of Peru, the Count of Monterrey.
Prado goes from Cadiz to America on june 29th 1603. His boat gets strained at Isla Aves, he goes to Caracas and brings help to the 43 survivors. He goes to Panama and plans a travel in the vessel going to Peru, but lacking of money, he has to wait there until march 1605. He arrives finally to Lima, the viceroy is ill and has no much time, they arrange an expedition with the two naos, the sailing captain of the voyage is appointed: Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, a commercial navigator.
Pedro Fernandes de Queirós was a Portuguese-born navigator. He commanded the party of three Spanish ships, The commander nao San Pedro y San Pablo (150 tons, 60 sailors), The admiral nao San Pedrico (120 tons, 40 sailors) and the tender (patache) Los Tres Reyes, led by Pedro Bernal, from Extremadura. The three ships left Callao in Spanish Peru, on 21 December 1605, with Torres in command of the San Pedrico and Pedro Fernandes de Queirós and Diego de Prado y Tovar in the San Pedro y San Pablo, and 112 Castilian, Portuguese and Flemish sailors, 6 franciscans, a master, an accountant and a doctor.
After crossing the Pacific during a hard winter, in May 1606 they reached the islands which Queirós named del Espiritu Santo (now Vanuatu). In Espiritu Santo Island they get news from natives about more islands and about a very big mainland in the East, where people worship a god with horns.
They follow to the South East, what Prado and Torres believe to be the "Terra Australis" continent, they find mainland and they call it La Austrialia del Espititu Santo (sic). Austrialia del Espiritu Santo was a compliment to the House of Austria, to which the king of Spain and Portugal at the time belonged.
They follow what seems to be the north eastern coastline of Austrialia, Prado reports the difficulties in the Great Barrier Reef, he also reports a first friendly meeting with coastal natives, who seem quite "white" and "big" for that latitudes. Those natives seem organised in villages, practising farming on papaya, cocos and big pigs and building defensive structures. Prado reports several capes, mountainsn, bays and rivers, when they realise this mus be the Terra Australis, going Eastward until South America then they come back northwards, crossing what the call Tovar Strait, as a compliment to his mother's family, who had their fief in north eastern Kingdom of León, the fief of Tierra de la Reina (Queensland in Spanish).
Then then they follow the coast of New Guinea, where they sometimes have violent episodes with natives. After one of those quarrels, they bring some natives (women and children) with them. They go westward to Timor until they found Portuguese speaking natives who guide them to Manila. They finally give back their boats in Acapulco.
During that travel a mutiny causes the disgrace of Queiros, letting Torres as main sailing captain of the voyage. Prado leads politically the expedition as a representative of the King and the Pope, however. On the night of 11 June 1606 Queirós in the San Pedro y San Pablo became separated from the other ships in bad weather and was unable (or so he later said) to return to safe anchorage at Espiritu Santo. He then sailed to Acapulco in Mexico, where he arrived in November 1606. In the account by Diego de Prado y Tovar, which is highly critical of Queirós, mutiny and poor leadership are given as the reason for Queirós’ disgrace and arrest. Torres remained silent on the subject other than to write than that his “condition was different to that of Captain Queirós.” 
Torres assumes command
Torres remained at Espiritu Santo for 15 days before opening sealed orders he had been given by the Viceroy of Peru. These contained instructions on what course to follow if the ships became separated and who would be in command in the event of the loss of Queirós. The orders appear to have listed Prado as successor to Queirós, as he was capitan-entretenido (spare captain) on the voyage. However, there is overwhelming evidence Torres remained in command, including Prado’s own account. The probable reason is Diego de Prado got commander nao Saint Paul stranded. In fact, one of the reasons of the existence of his detailed written records is that it seems a trial was open in Madrid after the news arrived that a very expensive nao was lost and that Queirós had a mutinous crew. In this context of potential sailing disgrace, Captain Prado justifies himself as a very Christian explorer, traveling with extreme austerity for the greatness of God and not for the ambition of gold. His texts are plenty of warnings of the enormous set of spanish practices than made the Spanish Imperial treasury ruined several times in that period. After his coming back to Madrid, Prado became a monk.
The south coast of New Guinea and Torres Strait
On 26 June 1606 the San Pedro and Los Tres Reyes under Torres command set sail for Manila. Contrary winds prevented the ships taking the more direct route along the north coast of New Guinea. Prado’s account notes that they sighted land on 14 July 1606, which was probably the island of Tagula in the Louisiade Archipelago, south east of New Guinea. The voyage continued over the next two months along the southeastern coast, and a number of landfalls were made to replenish the ships’ food and water. The expedition discovered Milne Bay including Basilaki Island which they named Tierra de San Buenaventura, taking possession of the land for Spain in July 1606. This brought the Spanish in close and sometimes violent contact with local indigenous people. Prado and Torres both record the capture of twenty people, including a pregnant woman who gave birth several weeks later. From these islands, Torres sailed along the southern coast of New Guinea reaching Orangerie Bay, which he named Bahía de San Lorenzo because he landed on 10 August, the feast of Saint Lawrence or San Lorenzo. The expedition then sailed to the Gulf of Papua, exploring and charting the coastline. Prado drew a number of sketch charts of anchorages in the Gulf of Papua, several of which survive.
For many years it was assumed that Torres took a route close to the New Guinea coast to navigate the 150 kilometre strait that now bears his name, but in 1980 the Queensland master mariner Captain Brett Hilder demonstrated that it was much more likely that Torres took a southerly route through the channel now called Endeavour Strait, on 2–3 October 1606. From this position, he would certainly have seen Cape York, the northernmost extremity of Australia. According to nineteenth-century Australian writer George Collingridge, Torres "had discovered Australia without being aware of the fact". Whether or not he did so, Torres never claimed that he had sighted the southern continent. "Here there are very large islands, and more to the south" he wrote.
Torres followed the coastline of New Guinea, and claimed possession of the island in the name of the King of Spain on 18 October 1606. On 27 October he reached the western extremity of New Guinea and then made his way north of Ceram and Misool toward the Halmahera Sea. At the beginning of January 1607 he reached Ternate, part of the Spice Islands. He sailed on 1 May for Manila arriving on 22 May. The expedition proved that New Guinea was not part of the sought after continent.
Results of the voyage
Torres intended to personally present the captives, weapons and a detailed account to the king on his return to Spain. His short written account of the voyage indicates this. However, it appears there was no interest in Manila in outfitting his voyage back to Spain, and he was told his ships and men were required locally for the King’s service.
On 1 June 1607, two ships arrived in Manila from South America, one being Queirós former flagship San Pedro y San Pablo, now under another name, but with some of her former crewmen still aboard. Learning that Queirós had survived, Torres immediately wrote a report of his voyage to Queirós. Although that account no longer survives, Queirós himself referred to it in some of his many memorials to the king, agitating for another voyage.
Torres, his crew and his captives disappear entirely from the historical record at this point, and their subsequent fate is unknown. Prado returned to Spain, possibly taking one of the captive New Guineans with him. Most documents of Torres's discoveries were not published, but on reaching Spain, filed away in Spanish archives, including Prado’s lengthy account and the accompanying charts.
Some time between 1762 and 1765, written accounts of the Torres expedition were seen by British Admiralty Hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple. Dalrymple provided a sketch map which included the Queirós - Torres voyages to Joseph Banks, who undoubtedly passed this information to James Cook.
Accounts of the voyage
There are a number of documents describing the Queirós – Torres voyages still in existence. Most significant are
- Queirós’ many subsequent Memorials to the King Philip III regarding the voyage and further exploration,
- Torres brief account to the king (written July 1607),
- Prado’s narrative Relacion Sumaria (first written in 1608) and 4 charts of New Guinea 
- Juan Luis Arias de Loyola’s memorial to King Philip IV (written about 1630 and based on discussions between Queirós and Loyola) 
1617 may be the date of the first English translation of one of Queirós’ memorials, as Terra Australis Incognita, or A New Southerne Discoverie. A short account of Queirós’ voyage and discoveries was published in English by Samuel Purchas in 1625 in Haklvytvs posthumus, or, Pvrchas his Pilgrimes, vol. iv, p. 1422-1432. This account also appears to be based on a letter by Queirós to the King in 1610, the eighth on the matter.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography on-line
- Alan Villiers, The Coral Sea, Whittlesey House, 1949, p. 99.: "The second-in-command, or at any rate the commanding officer of the second ship, was a Portuguese pilot named Luis Vaz de Torres".
- William A. R. Richardson, Was Australia charted before 1606? The Java la Grande inscriptions, National Library Australia, 2006, p. 20. ISBN 0-642-27642-0, ISBN 978-0-642-27642-1: "Pedro Fernandes de Quirós and Luis Vaz de Torres, both Portuguese in command of Spanish vessels..."
- Kenneth Gordon McIntyre, The secret discovery of Australia: Portuguese ventures 250 years before Captain Cook, Pan Books, 1987, p. 181. ISBN 0-330-27101-6, ISBN 978-0-330-27101-1:"In these Spanish expeditions to the South Seas, the Portuguese explorers Pedro Fernandes de Queiros and Luis Vaz de Torres played a leading part. ..." - Found in the search results.
- Estensen, M. (2006) Terra Australis Incognita: The Spanish Quest for the mysterious Great South Land, p. 115. Allen & Unwin, Australia. ISBN 978-1-74175-054-6. Estensen notes that Don Diego de Prado y Tovar, a Spanish nobleman who accompanied Torres, refers to him in his account as a "Breton". Estensen points out that Spaniards then colloquially called Galicians Bretons, and that, therefore, Torres was almost certainly from Galicia.
- 'The voyage of Torres : the discovery of the southern coastline of New Guinea and Torres Strait by Captain Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606' Brett Hilder, University of Queensland Press, 1980, ISBN 0-7022-1275-X
- "The Celtic zones par excellence, however, continued to be Galicia and Portugal." 'A history of Spain from the beginnings to the present day' by Rafael Altamira ; translated by Muna Lee, 1966
- Letter from Diego de Prado to the Royal Secretary Antonio de Aróstegui, Dated on Goa 24th December 1613, received 12th October 1614. Spanish National Archives at Simancas, State Secretary section Leg.252
- Letter from Diego de Prado to Her Majesty the King Philip, Dated on Goa 25th December 1613, received 12th October 1614. Spanish National Archives at Simancas, State Secretary section Leg.252
- Hilder, B.(1980) The Voyage of Torres. p.17. University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia. ISBN 0-7022-1275-X
- Prado's account can be read online in handwritten XVII century Spanish
- Translation of Torres’ report to the king in Collingridge, G. (1895) Discovery of Australia p.229-237. Golden Press Edition 1983, Gradesville, NSW. ISBN 0-85558-956-6
- Brett Hilder notes that there are “at least a dozen (letters in Spanish archives) from various officers denouncing Queirós(as) an incompetent leader.” Hilder, B. (1980) p.175
- The claim he assumed command, made by Prado himself, was accepted by some writers in the 1930s, including Stevens, H.N. (Ed) New Light on the Discovery of Australia as Revealed by the Journal of Captain Don Diego de Prado y Tovar. Hakluyt Society, London, 1930
- Hilder, B. (1980) p.17+
- Estensen, M. (2006) p186-189
- For colour photos of the charts, see Hilder, B. (1980). Also see Collingridge’s The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea, 1905, which includes Collingridge’s own copies of three of the charts . The charts are the coloured maps 5,6 and 9.Map 9 is incorrectly titled “Moresby's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea.” It is in fact based on Prado’s Mappa III - showing Orangerie Bay, New Guinea
- Hilder, B.(1980) p.89-101
- George Collingridge (1905) The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea. 
- Hilder, B. (1980). p.130
- Hilder, B (1980) p132-133. Prado wrote letters from Goa in December 1613, indicating he had taken the Portuguese route home. Sometime afterwards he is described as “ a monk of our father Saint Basil the Great of Madrid.” Estensen, M. (2006) p.219
- Hilder, B (1980) p.31
- Estensen, M. (2006) p.222
- A copy at the Library of Congress can be read online
- For colour photos of the charts, see Hilder, B. (1980). Also see Collingridge’s The First Discovery of Australia, 1895, which includes Collingridge’s own copies of three of the charts  The charts are the coloured maps 5,6 and 9.(Map 9 is incorrectly titled “Moresby's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea” . It is in fact based on Prado’s Mappa III - showing Orangerie Bay, New Guinea.)
- Hilder, B (1980) p.175-176
- The La Trobe Library of Victoria lists a copy of this as one of its rare books 
- Prado’s account of the Queirós and Torres voyage, with English translation, at the State Library of New South Wales
- Discovery of Australia by de Queirós in the Year 1606 by Patrick F. Cardinal Moran, Archbishop of Sydney
- Discoverer’s Website project
- Hakluytus Posthumus - Purchas his Pilgrimes Vol 4 by Samuel Purchas, Page 1432
- The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea by George Collingridge, Chapter XI
- "New Light on the Discovery of Australia" edited by H Stevens, at Project Gutenberg Australia