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Martínez, Esteban José (1742–1798)

Martínez, Esteban José (1742–1798)

Esteban José Martínez (b. 9 December 1742; d. 28 October 1798), Spanish naval officer, explorer of the Pacific Northwest. Born in Seville, Martínez studied at the Real Colegio de San Telmo. He was second pilot in the Department of San Blas in 1773 and sailed as provisional ensign with Juan Pérez to southern Alaska the following year. From 1775 to 1785 he commanded supply ships that sailed to Loreto, San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco. Martínez was promoted to first pilot in 1781; commanded the Princesa and the Favorita, and met the expedition of Jean François de La Pérouse at Monterey in 1786; and became an ensign in 1787. With González López de Haro he searched the Northwest Coast for foreign encroachment as far as Unalaska and Kodiak islands. Martínez was commandant of Nootka in 1789 and, after fortifying it, returned to San Blas in December of that year. Subsequently, the British captain James Colnett was arrested for encroachment upon assumed Spanish territory, an event that led to conflict and to the convention of 1790. Martínez was posted to La Coruña in 1792 and returned to San Blas, as a lieutenant, in 1795. He died in Loreto. Among the proposals he had made to the crown were the occupation of the Sandwich Islands (modern Hawaii) and the establishment of a sea otter trade in the Californias.

See alsoExplorers and Exploration: Spanish America .


Roberto Barreiro-Meiro, Esteban José Martínez (1742–1798), Colección de diarios y relaciones para la historia de los viajes y descubrimientos, vol. 6 (1964).

Warren L. Cook, Flood Tide of Empire: Spain in the Pacific Northwest, 1543–1819 (1973).

Additional Bibliography

San Pío, María Pilar de. Expediciones españolas del siglo XVIII: El paso del noroeste. Madrid: Editorial MAPFRE, 1992.

                                    W. Michael Mathes

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