Oconór, Hugo (1732–1779)

By: Robert Bruce Blake

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 7, 2020

Hugo Oconór (O'Conor), governor of the Spanish province of Texas, was born in 1732. Before his service in Texas he was stationed in Cuba and Mexico City. He held the rank of major in the regiment of Volunteers of Aragon. Irish by birth, he had flaming red hair that prompted the Indians to call him the "Red Captain." He was inspector general of the Provincias Internas of the east in 1765, when he traveled to Texas to investigate trouble between Governor Ángel de Martos y Navarrete and Rafael Martínez Pacheco concerning San Agustín de Ahumada Presidio. With the removal of Martos y Navarrete on August 28, 1767, Oconór became governor ad interim of Texas. He found the province in a deplorable condition because of the hostilities of the various Indian tribes; the Apaches were raiding San Antonio almost at will. Oconór reinforced San Antonio, brought order to the garrison at Los Adaes, and so thoroughly supervised the area that his return to Mexico in 1770 caused general regret to officers, soldiers, and citizens. In 1771 he was appointed to the command of the Chihuahua frontier. On January 20, 1773, he became commandant inspector of presidios, with the rank of colonel. He and Governor Juan María Vicencio de Ripperdá did not agree on government policy in ordering the abandonment of the missions and presidios in East Texas, Ripperdá favoring and Oconór opposing the petition of Gil Antonio Ibarvo that the settlers be allowed to return to their old homes. From 1773 to 1775 Oconór concerned himself with strengthening the defenses in the Nueva Vizcaya-Coahuila-Sonora sector. In the spring of 1775 he initiated a plan to drive the Apaches from the area. The campaign, which began in the fall of 1775 and continued through the following year, succeeded in killing large numbers of Apaches and forcing the survivors to move further west. In 1777 Oconór, in poor health, requested a less taxing assignment and was reassigned as the governor and captain general of Yucatan. He died at Quinta de Miraflores, east of Merida, on March 8, 1779.

Bernard E. Bobb, The Viceregency of Antonio María Bucareli in New Spain, 1771–1779 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673–1779 (2 vols., Albuquerque: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno, 1967). Mark Santiago, The Red Captain: The Life of Hugo O'Conor (Arizona Historical Society Museum Monograph 9, 1994). David J. Weber, New Spain's Far Northern Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979).

  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Military
  • Soldiers
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas
  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio

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

Robert Bruce Blake, “Oconór, Hugo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/oconor-hugo.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 7, 2020

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