Bucareli y Ursúa, Antonio María (1717–1779)

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Bucareli y Ursúa, Antonio María (1717–1779)

Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa (b. 24 January 1717; d. 9 April 1779), captain-general of Cuba (1766–1771) and viceroy of New Spain (1771–1779). Born in Seville, Spain, to a noble family, Bucareli joined the Spanish army as a cadet and served in campaigns in Italy and Portugal. He achieved the rank of lieutenant general and was inspector general of cavalry and inspector of coastal fortifications of the Kingdom of Granada. In 1766, he was named governor and captain-general of Cuba, a difficult post that he occupied with distinction. Although Bucareli wished to return to Spain following his Cuban assignment, the crown wanted an experienced administrator in the Mexican viceregency who could deal with the reforms proposed by Visitor General José de Gálvez.

Bucareli was conservative in his approach to change and, where possible, tended to support traditional solutions. He reorganized the militia units, rebuilt coastal fortifications, and oversaw the construction of the fortress of Perote, which was designed to prevent an enemy invasion inland. In the north of New Spain, Bucareli dealt with growing Indian depredations against frontier presidios and problems related to the exploration and settlement of Alta California. To verify the possibility of Russian penetration on the North American coast, Bucareli dispatched the maritime expedition of Juan Pérez, the first in a series of voyages that carried Spanish exploration into Alaskan waters.

As a colonial administrator, Bucareli rejected many of the reforms proposed by Gálvez. He criticized schemes for territorial reorganization and doubted the possible benefits of introducing a system of powerful provincial intendants. A zealous and capable bureaucrat, Bucareli was able to get the best results out of the cumbersome colonial regime. He is recognized as one of the best eighteenth-century viceroys of New Spain. Bucareli died in office, and his remains were interred at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.


Rómulo Velasco Ceballos, La administración de D. Frey Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa, cuadragésimo sexto virrey de México, 2 vols. (1936).

Bernard E. Bobb, The Viceregency of Antonio María Bucareli in New Spain, 1771–1779 (1962).

David A. Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810 (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Martin, Cheryl English. Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth-Century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.

Río, Ignacio del. La aplicación regional de las reformas borbónicas en Nueva España: Sonora y Sinoloa, 1768–1787. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1995.

                                        Christon I. Archer