Alarcón, Martín de (unknown–unknown)

By: Donald E. Chipman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 29, 2020

Martín de Alarcón was a knight of the Order of Santiago, governor of Coahuila, governor of Texas, and founder of San Antonio, Texas. Before arriving in the Indies he had served in Oran (North Africa) and as a sailor in the royal navy. On May 31, 1691, Viceroy Conde de Galve appointed Alarcón sargento mayor of a company of militia in Guadalajara, and he later selected Don Martín as alcalde mayor and capitán a guerra of Jacona and Zamora, both now in Michoacán. On September 11, 1696, Viceroy Juan de Ortega y Montañez appointed Alarcón as capitán a guerra and protector of Indians in the locale of Mazapil. Subsequent viceroys continued to employ his services as an agent of pacification on the northern frontier of New Spain, especially in the environs of Saltillo. On December 9, 1716, Viceroy Marqués de Valero appointed Alarcón in Mexico City as commander of Presidio San Francisco de Coahuila and as governor of the province of Texas. As chief executive, Alarcón was to resupply Spaniards who had gone to Texas earlier in 1716 under the command of Domingo Ramón. In June 1717 Alarcón arrived at Saltillo, where he was delayed for several months while investigating the trading activities of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. In April 1718 Alarcón crossed the Rio Grande with an entrada numbering ten families and seventy-two persons. On May 1, 1718, he assisted Father Antonio San Buenaventura y Olivares in the founding of San Antonio de Valero Mission. Four days later Alarcón founded San Antonio de Béxar Presidio. The families clustered around the presidio and mission formed the beginnings of Villa de Béxar, destined to become the most important town in Spanish Texas. Alarcón visited the six missions that had been set up in East Texas previously (in 1716 and 1717), completing his assignment on November 21, 1718. While in East Texas he confiscated a variety of illegal merchandise, all of French origin. Alarcón returned to San Antonio in January 1719 and from there on May 28 wrote Jean Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe, advising him to withdraw from Spanish territory. In the fall of 1719, Alarcón was relieved of his duties as governor of Texas. His record of merits and services to the Spanish crown was filed in Mexico City on January 18, 1721.

Fray Francisco Céliz, Diary of the Alarcón Expedition into Texas, 1718–1719, trans. F. L. Hoffman (Los Angeles: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno Press, 1967). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Fritz L. Hoffman, ed. and trans., "Mezquía Diary of the Alarcón Expedition into Texas, 1718," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 41 (April 1938). Robert S. Weddle, "San Juan Bautista: Mother of Texas Missions," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (April 1968).

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Spanish)
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Chipman, “Alarcón, Martín de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 29, 2020

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