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López de Legazpi y Gurruchátegui, Miguel (1510–1572)

López de Legazpi y Gurruchátegui, Miguel (1510–1572)

Miguel López de Legazpi y Gurruchátegui (b. 1510; d. 1572), escribano mayor (senior clerk of the Mexico City cabildo (municipal council) from January 1542 to 3 June 1557. López perhaps epitomizes the career of a sixteenth-century bureaucrat who, arriving late in a conquest area, had to work to achieve upward mobility. An hidalgo (nobleman) from Zumárraga, Guipúzcoa, in the Basque country, López departed for New Spain in 1528. On 19 January 1530 he became the escribano de cabildo of Mexico City, serving in that capacity until the end of 1541. For a period after 1535 he was secretary in the government of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza. After serving as escribano mayor of the cabildo, he transferred his rights to his son, Melchor de Legazpi.

López's offices, while not providing the opportunity to acquire an encomienda (grant of tribute from an indigenous polity) in New Spain, did permit the development of contracts, status (his wife, Isabel Garcés, was the sister of Julián Garcés, first bishop of Tlaxcala), and other assets that he parlayed into a license to settle the Philippine Islands. On 21 November 1564 his armada of 5 ships, 150 sailors, 200 salaried employees, some 25 settlers, and 4 Augustinian friars left Mexico. The navigator for the expedition was the Augustinian friar Andrés de Urdaneta. López was governor of the Philippines when he died in Manila.

See alsoCabildo, Cabildo Abierto; Encomienda; Hidalgo.


Ignacio Bejarano, Actas de cabildo de la Ciudad de Mexico, vols. 2, 4, and 6 (1889).

José Rogelio Álvarez, ed., Enciclopedia de México, vol. 8 (1975), p. 4785.

Peter Boyd-Bowman, Índice geobiográfico de cuarenta mil pobladores españoles de América en el siglo XVI, vol. 2 (1968).

Additional Bibliography

Kelsey, Harry. "Finding the Way Home: Spanish Exploration of the Round-Trip Route Across the Pacific Ocean." Western Historical Quarterly. (Spring 1986): 145-164.

Lopez, Rafael. The Christianization of the Philippines. Manila: University of San Agustín, 1965.

                           Robert Himmerich y Valencia

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