Arocha, Tomás Antonio de la Trinidad de (1756–unknown)

By: Jesús "Frank" de la Teja

Type: Biography

Published: February 10, 2021

Updated: February 11, 2021


Tomás Antonio de la Trinidad de Arocha, San Antonio public figure, rancher, and insurgent during the Mexican War of Independence, was born in San Antonio on November 15, 1756. The son of Simón de Arocha and María Ignacia de Urrutia, he was descended from among the most prominent early Spanish Texas families on both sides, as his paternal grandfather, Francisco José de Arocha, was the head of one of the Canary Islander families, and his maternal great grandfather was the explorer and presidio captain José de Urrutia. Sometime in the late 1790s Tomás de Arocha married María Antonia Romero by whom he had at least nine children between 1798 and 1813. Arocha, along with other members of the extended family, were ranchers. He entered public life in 1799 with his election as alguacil (constable) and later served as alcalde (magistrate) as late as 1810. His disaffection from royal government began by at least 1808 when he was accused of incitement against orders for the reduction in the size of the city’s ayuntamiento. Nevertheless, Governor Manuel Salcedo appointed him comisario (commissioner) for the North Ward when he subdivided San Antonio into wards the following year.

Although his uncle Francisco and brother Clemente, the parish priest, were more directly involved in the Casas Revolt, Tomás de Arocha faced charges of sedition. Ultimately he was forced to resign as captain of the city’s Second Cavalry Company of Militia. He was more heavily involved in the second rebellion (commonly referred to as the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition) and served as emissary of the insurgents on a failed mission to the United States to obtain support and later as president of the junta that deposed José Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara in the days after José Alvarez de Toledo’s arrival at the beginning of August. Following the battle of Medina, he fled toward Louisiana but was captured at the Trinity River and returned to San Antonio, where, despite his complicity in the leadership of the rebellion, his punishment was banishment from Texas along with his family and those of his uncle Francisco and others. An 1830 letter from his wife to Stephen F. Austin regarding the sale of Tomás’s interest in the family ranch indicates that Tomás de Arocha died sometime prior to 1828.

Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Bonsero [sic, should be Romero], María Antonia, transcript of letter from María Antonia Bonsero to Stephen F. Austin, April 29, 1830, Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, crediting Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth217426/m1/1/?q=tomas%20arocha), accessed November 6, 2020. Frederick C. Chabot, ed., Texas in 1811: The Las Casas and Sambrano Revolutions (San Antonio: Yanaguana Society, 1941). Jack Jackson, Los Mesteños: Spanish Ranching in Texas, 1721–1821 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Ted Schwarz and Robert H. Thonhoff, Forgotten Battlefield of the First Texas Revolution: The Battle of Medina, August 18, 1813 (Austin: Eakin Press, 1985).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • Canary Islanders
  • Mexican Americans
  • Politics and Government
  • Civic and Community Leaders
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas
  • Mexican Texas

Places:

  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio

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

Jesús "Frank" de la Teja, “Arocha, Tomás Antonio de la Trinidad de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/arocha-tomas-antonio-de-la-trinidad-de.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 10, 2021
February 11, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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