Pedro de Nava, commander in chief of the Provincias Internas, was born to a noble family in the Canary Islands, most likely in the early to middle 1730s. A military calling led him to enlist on December 1, 1753, as a cadet in the Spanish infantry. Subsequently, he served in the Canary Island militia and in the infantry regiment of León. Don Pedro received appointment as commandant of the Caracas Battalion on August 5, 1781, and in the same year achieved the rank of colonel. His promotion to brigadier was conferred on January 14, 1789. In March 1790 he was appointed the successor of Juan de Ugalde, commandant general of the Eastern Provinces of the Provincias Internas. Nava sailed from Venezuela by way of Puerto Rico and Cuba and arrived in New Spain on August 3. In the fall of 1790 Nava was dispatched to the north of New Spain by Viceroy Conde de Revilla Gigedo II. His initial efforts as commandant general centered on the difficult task of achieving peaceful relations with Indians, especially the Lipan Apaches. Don Pedro governed the Eastern Provinces, with the aid of Ramón de Castro, for about two years; and then under royal orders, drafted in September 1792, the Provincias Internas was once again to be separated from the Viceroyalty of New Spain and made a unified administrative entity under the command of Pedro de Nava. He was elevated to the rank of field marshal in 1794.
Nava served as commander in chief of the unified Interior Provinces for ten years (1793–1802). Although his obligations included an immense administrative unit, stretching from the Californias to Louisiana, his attention was slowly directed toward protecting Texas from Anglo-American filibusters-most notably Philip Nolan. Other frontier issues during his tenure included the continuation of American Indian raids, particularly by Lipan Apaches and Comanches, efforts by groups belonging to eastern tribes such as the Choctaws to relocate to Texas, reorganization and secularization of the Franciscan missions in Texas, and continued contraband trade between Texas and Louisiana. Although the crown granted him retirement from the post of commandant general in 1800, Nava was not relieved of command by Commandant General Nemecio Salcedo y Salcedo in Chihuahua until 1802 and relocated to Mexico City by the following year.
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Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, Vol. 5 (reprint; New York: Arno Press, 1976). Luis Navarro García, Don José de Gálvez y la Comandancia General de las Provincias Internas del Norte de Nueva España (Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos de Sevilla, 1964). Maurine T. Wilson and Jack Jackson, Philip Nolan and Texas: Expeditions into the Unknown Land, 1791–1801 (Waco: Texian Press, 1987).
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Donald E. Chipman,
“Nava, Pedro de,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 27, 2021
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