Simón Tadeo Ortiz de Ayala, Mexican colonizer and writer, was born on October 18, 1788, at Mascota (now in the Intendency of Guadalajara), Jalisco, to unknown parents, almost surely of a well-to-do merchant family. He studied Latin and philosophy in Mexico City after doing his first studies in Guadalajara. In 1809 he ended his formal training and moved to Spain, where he became a supporter of Mexican independence. Later (1811–13), in Philadelphia, Washington, and New Orleans, he engaged in military activities with José Álvarez de Toledo y Dubois and José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara to liberate Texas from Spain and tried to obtain an official appointment as a representative of leaders in the cause of Mexican independence, a position he failed to attain. He appeared in Nueva Granada (1814–15), Buenos Aires (1818–19), England (1820), and Spain (1820–21), often posing as a diplomatic agent of the Mexican revolutionary government. In 1821 he was appointed a commissioner of the Mexican Empire and reported to Quezaltenango, Guatemala; he was blamed for the disorder in Guatemala and soon lost his position there. In 1822, after returning to Mexico, he proposed a plan to colonize Texas in a company with Diego Barry and Felipe O'Reilly. They planned to settle 10,000 Irish and Canary Island immigrants on 6,000 leagues of land. Nothing came out of that proposal.
After some frustrating attempts at colonizing the borders of the Coatzacoalcos River during the 1820s, Ortiz turned his main focus to Texas and the promotion of an efficient and congruent policy by the federal government for all the frontier lands of Mexico. This he did in his last months as Mexican consul in Bordeaux, France (1830–31). In that post he offered to send European colonists to Texas and pointed out faults in the Law of April 6, 1830. In 1832 he became official commissioner in Texas in order to inspect and gather information about the province. In August 1833, after Ortiz returned to Mexico City, Vice President Valentín Gómez Farías appointed him director of colonization in Texas. Ortiz had to go to New York via New Orleans in order to meet with influential people in the United States and intercept immigrants disembarking in New York to take them to Texas. He died of cholera on the brigantine Spark during his trip to New Orleans on October 18, 1833. In his books Resumen de la estadística del Imperio Mexicano (México, 1822) and México considerado como nación independiente y libre (Bordeaux, 1832) this idealistic statesman approved of free trade for his country, although he also believed in government subsidization of economic development. He showed a remarkable interest in the geographical aspects of the economy. Though he never played an important role in the Mexican party struggles of his age, he searched and gained support mainly among such conservative politicians as Manuel de Mier y Terán.