Francisco Gomes

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Francisco Gomes
11th Spanish Governor of New Mexico
In office
Preceded by Juan Flores de Sierra y Valdés
Succeeded by Alonso de Pacheco de Herédia
Personal details
Born 1576
Coima, Portugal
Died 1656–1657
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Profession military and political

Francisco Gomes (1576–1656 or 1657) was a Portuguese prominent military leader of New Mexico who held the charge of acting governor of this place between 1641 and 1642. He was among the first settlers of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Francisco Gomes was born in 1576, in Villa de Coima, Portugal. He was the son of Manuel Gómes and Ana Vicente. Both parents died when he was a child. Thus, he was raised by his only and older brother, the Franciscan Alvaro (o Alonso) Gomes, High Sheriff of the Holy Office of the Inquisition,[1] in Lisbon. His family was probably of nobleman origin.[2] Gomes lived for a time in the house of Alonso de Oñate, in the court of King Philip II of Spain, in Madrid, when the king was already sick. Gomes, probably lived there until the death of king in 1598. Later, in 1604, Alonso de Oñate took him to Mexico City for him to settle in this city and to contribute to form the young colony that Oñate was creating. From there, he moved to New Mexico at some time in 1605, and served in military service, becoming the most prominent military officer in New Mexico. In 1610, while he served in the military, he was one of the original founders of the town of Santa Fe, where he and his family resided.[1] He also was rancher and farmer.[2]

In 1641, the governor of New Mexico, Juan Flores de Sierra, (on his deathbed)appointed him interim governor, although he was later rejected by the board of New Mexico. He ruled New Mexico less than a year, until 1642. Gomes had a falling out with some of the friars who were in power, causing political friction. Gómes was accused of being of Jewish origin, because it was believed he secretly practiced that religion.[1] Thus, he was escorted to a cell of the Franciscan friary and was imprisoned, prompting the usurpation of his property, belongings and parcel taxes. In the end he was found not guilty and was released from prison in January 1655. He died in Santa Fe, around 1656–1657.[2]

Even after his death, it was suspected by some that he was a Jew.[1]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

In order to obtain a suitable dowry to increase the family status, Gomes married Ana Robledo Romero in 1626, in San Gabriel, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sargento Mayor Francisco and Francisca Gómes Robledo had seven children.[1]

Gomes was a wealthy landowner who had land in four areas. He received two land grants in San Juan Pueblo, other land grant in the area of Taos Pueblo, a third grant of land near Tesuque Pueblo, and the fourth was located to south of Isleta Pueblo, near Sevilleta, in San Nicolas de las Barrancas. In addition, in his role as encomendero, Gomes was honored in at least eight Village communities, among which were Pecos (current Texas), Tesuque, Taos and Watermelon. In return for tribute, Gomes subsidized military campaigns, delivering horses, supplies and food for Spanish soldiers and their Pueblo amerinds allies.

The complaint made by the Franciscans against Francisco Gómes led to reduction of economic and policy power of his family. However, the family eventually regained its social and commercial importance. Unfortunately, most of the records were lost with the Pueblo Indian uprising in August 1680.[2]