Juan Agustín Morfi, missionary, teacher, and historian, was born in the province of Asturias, Spain. He moved to America in 1755 or 1756 and became a Franciscan friar on May 3, 1761, at Mexico City. Noted for his learning and for his ability as a sacred orator, he taught theology at the Old College of Santa Cruz de Tlaltelolco and was later a lecturer on sacred theology at the principal monastery of the Franciscans in Mexico. When Teodoro de Croix came to New Spain in December 1776 as the newly appointed commandant general of the Provincias Internas, he decided to make an inspection tour and requested a friar to accompany him as chaplain. Morfi was recommended and accepted the position. On August 4, 1777, the group began the tour that eventually extended through Mexico, Tula, Querétaro, San Miguel de Grande, Zacatecas, Fresnillo, Sombrerete, Durango, Mapimí, Parras, Saltillo, Monclova, San Juan Bautista, and San Antonio de Béxar, then back to Mexico through Chihuahua. On the border between Chihuahua and Coahuila, Morfi must have been separated from the group, for his diary ends abruptly at Las Cruces on February 24, 1778. By March 31, 1778, he was back in Mexico. After his return, he devoted himself to study and writing. In 1782 he was elected guardián of the Convento Grande de San Francisco. He died on October 20, 1783. He is known chiefly for the history of Texas that he compiled after his long and arduous journey.
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Malcolm D. McLean, "The Diary of Fray Juan Morfi," Library Chronicle 5 (Spring 1956). Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673–1779 (2 vols., Albuquerque: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno, 1967). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Morfi, Juan Agustin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
April 1, 1995
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