Bonilla, Antonio (unknown–unknown)

By: Timothy Palmer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 25, 2019

Antonio Bonilla, Spanish administrator and historian of early Texas, was an officer of the Secretaría de Cámara in Mexico in October 1772, when the viceroy of New Spain ordered a written history of Texas. Bonilla had never been to Texas, and few historical accounts of the province then existed. He relied largely on original sources, including hundreds of royal statutes and forty volumes of government archives, in compiling his Breve Compendio of Texas history. This work recounts government and military activities in Texas between 1685 and 1772 and summarizes recommendations for reorganizing the Texas presidial system. Bonilla completed the work in fifteen days.

In 1773 he became an assistant to Hugo Oconór, inspector general of the Provincias Internas of New Spain, who directed military affairs on the northern frontier. Oconór and his two assistants were responsible for annual inspections and reports to the viceroy on the defense of the presidios. As adjutant-inspector and secretary of the commandancy general of the Internal Provinces, Bonilla took part in a seven-member conference convened by the commandant general, Teodoro de Croix, in San Antonio de Béxar in January 1778 to consider an alliance with various North Texas tribes against the Apaches. In 1784 the government was considering a reorganization of the Spanish mission system, which had become a drain on the royal treasury. Bonilla, by this time secretary of the viceroyalty, compiled individual reports to the viceroy from every frontier office and mission in the province.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, "The Spanish Abandonment and Re-occupation of East Texas, 1773–1779," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 9 (October 1905). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Charles W. Hackett, ed., Pichardo's Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas (4 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1931–46). Elizabeth Howard West, trans., "Bonilla's Brief Compendium of the History of Texas, 1772," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 8 (July 1904).

Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

Timothy Palmer, “Bonilla, Antonio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: