Rivas, Martin de (unknown–1690)

By: Robert S. Weddle

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Martín de Rivas, a capitán de mar y guerra in the Armada de Barlovento, commanded two Spanish voyages from Veracruz in search of the French settlement established by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, on the Texas coast. With Capt. Pedro de Iriarte commanding a second vessel, the Rivas-Iriarte expedition sailed from Veracruz on December 25, 1686. It made a complete circumnavigation of the Gulf before returning to Veracruz the following July. Captain Rivas's chief pilot, Juan Enríquez Barroto, recorded events of the voyage in his diary, which has been translated and published in English. As commander of the expedition, Rivas undoubtedly contributed to the naming of Texas coastal features that appear in Enríquez's diary and were used on his map, which has disappeared. Rivas's duties during this period also included dislodging British logwood cutters who were poaching on the Campeche coast around the Laguna de Términos. He and Andrés de Pez were about to embark on such a mission when the viceroy sought their opinion on the testimony of a Frenchman called Jean Jarry, recently captured in Texas by Alonso De León. In consequence, the expedition to the Laguna de Términos was canceled and a new maritime search for the French colony-the fifth and last-sailed up the Gulf Coast toward Texas. The Rivas-Pez expedition left Veracruz on August 8, 1688, with the same two small vessels employed by Rivas and Iriarte. The voyage, including ascent of the Río Soto la Marina of Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande, as well as Matagorda Bay, is chronicled in the diary of Pedro Fernández Carrasco, which remains unpublished. With La Salle's colony at last found by Alonso De León, Rivas returned to the pursuit of poachers and pirates in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1690, he was slain in combat with pirates in or near the Laguna de Términos.

William Edward Dunn, Spanish and French Rivalry in the Gulf Region of the United States, 1678–1702: The Beginnings of Texas and Pensacola (Austin: University of Texas, 1917). Ignacio Rubio Mañe, Introducción al estudio de los virreyes de Nueva España, 1535–1746 (4 vols., Mexico City: Ediciones Selectas, 1959). Robert S. Weddle et al., eds., La Salle, the Mississippi, and the Gulf: Three Primary Documents (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987). Robert S. Weddle, Wilderness Manhunt: The Spanish Search for La Salle (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).
  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Spanish)

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

Robert S. Weddle, “Rivas, Martin de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rivas-martin-de.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995