Cazorla, Luis (unknown–1788)

By: Robert H. Thonhoff

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: September 12, 2019

Luis Cazorla served as captain of Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio from 1772 to 1778 and again from 1784 to 1788. He was first appointed by Viceroy Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa on April 28, 1772, and succeeded Francisco de Tovar, who had resigned. Cazorla was captain of the presidio when the New Regulations for Presidios (1772) were adopted, and it was his task to implement them. His administration is best remembered for his explorations along the Texas coast to watch for English intrusions and for the murder at La Bahía of El Mocho, a Tonkawa chieftain, and three companions. During his travels he became the first European to reach the mouths of the San Jacinto and Brazos rivers by land. Previous maps, including those of Diego Ortiz Parrilla (1767) and Bernardo de Miranda (1757) showed the San Jacinto flowing directly into the Gulf instead of into Galveston Bay.

In 1776 Cazorla investigated the wreck on Matagorda Island of an English frigate whose crew had been murdered by Karankawas. Afterward, he deplored in a letter to the viceroy "the pitiful misfortunes of the countless ships lost on the coast. The poor sailors fortunate enough to escape the shipwreck fall into the hands of the heathen Indians...the Karankawas, Copano, and other small nations, and are victims of their cruelty and ferocity." As a remedy, Cazorla proposed placing on one of the barrier islands a fort with thirty or forty men equipped with a shallow-draft vessel with which to reconnoiter the coast constantly, after first clearing "the heathen nations" from the swamps and sending them to exile in Mexico. Cazorla's recommendations ran afoul of an age-old Spanish dread: that the opening of ports would give rise to contraband trade that would deprive the crown of revenue. Probably as a result of the influence of Hugo Oconór, the plan was not acted upon.

In 1778 Teodoro de Croix, commandant general of the presidios along the northern frontier of New Spain, chose Cazorla to be the inspector of presidios in Texas and Coahuila. On October 28, 1784, he was transferred back to La Bahía, where he continued as captain until his death there on October 3, 1788.

Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Jack Jackson, Los Mesteños: Spanish Ranching in Texas, 1721–1821 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966). Robert S. Weddle and Robert H. Thonhoff, Drama and Conflict: The Texas Saga of 1776 (Austin: Madrona, 1976).

Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

Robert H. Thonhoff, “Cazorla, Luis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
September 12, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: