Neve, Felipe de (1724–1784)

By: Donald E. Chipman

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Felipe de Neve, second commandant general of the Provincias Internas, was born in Bailén (province of Jaén) in 1724 to one of the most illustrious families of Andalucia. At the age of twenty he answered a military calling by enlisting as a cadet in the infantry regiment of Cantabria. Over the next two decades (1744–64), he fought military engagements in Flanders, Italy, and Portugal. In 1764, along with dozens of Spanish-born officers, he accompanied Juan de Villabla to New Spain. Neve's initial assignment was as sergeant major in the provincial cavalry of Querétaro. At that juncture Spanish efforts centered on attracting recruits into units of local militia, but Neve's enlistment efforts resulted in his being driven from Pátzcuaro (Michoacán) by an angry mob in 1766. In the following year, as a member of a cavalry regiment in Michoacán, he helped suppress civilian protests over the expulsion of the Jesuit order and the closure of its colleges. Continued service and professionalism earned Don Felipe the rank of colonel, a promotion conferred on him in October 1774.

In that same year he was sent to California, where he served nine years-most of which were spent as governor of the province. His administration was the first to headquarter in the new capital at Monterey, and his tenure (1775–82) coincided almost exactly with that of Teodoro de Croix as the first commandant general. Neve's experiences in California, where he directed the founding of Los Angeles in 1781 and a presidio at Santa Barbara in 1782, included a major campaign against the Yuma Indians. Conditions were similar to those in Texas and New Mexico, both of which faced serious native insurrections as Spain concentrated its resources on the defeat of Great Britain during the years 1779–83.

In 1783 Teodoro de Croix was relieved as commandant general of the Provincias Internas and transferred to Peru as the chief executive of that viceroyalty. Croix's departure from northern Mexico signaled the beginning of a ten-year interregnum for the Provincias Internas, characterized by brief tenures for five successive commandants general. The first of that progression was Felipe de Neve, whose service was limited to slightly more than a year in office. From distant Arizpe (Sonora), the headquarters of the Comandancia General of the Interior Provinces, Don Felipe's policies had little direct bearing on Texas. His administration was obliged to recognize that the second Treaty of Paris (1783) had brought expansion-minded citizens of the new American nation to the borders of Spanish Louisiana. Shortly after the conclusion of an Indian campaign in Chihuahua, Neve fell ill and died at the hacienda of Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Penablanca on August 21, 1784.

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). H. I. Priestley, José de Gálvez, Visitor-General of New Spain, 1765–1771 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1916). David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).
Time Periods:

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

Donald E. Chipman, “Neve, Felipe de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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