Terreros, Pedro Romero de (1710–1781)

By: Christopher Long

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 14, 2019

Pedro Romero de Terreros, Mexican mining magnate who financed the ill-fated San Sabá Mission, was born in Cortegana, Spain, in 1710. At a young age he manifested exceptional intellectual abilities, and for a time his parents thought of sending him into training for the priesthood. Instead, at age twenty-two, he was sent to New Spain to live with his uncle, Juan Vázquez de Terreros, a prominent citizen of Santiago de Querétero. Young Terreros took over management of the family's declining businesses and quickly returned them to profitability. After his uncle's death in 1735, he assumed his place in various civic functions, including alcalde of Querétero. In 1756 he married Doña María Antonia de Trebuesto y Dávalos, the daughter of a wealthy noble family in Mexico City. Showing a remarkable facility for making money, particularly with several mining ventures, Don Terreros amassed a considerable fortune. From the 1740s on, he was also noted for his philanthropic activities. Between 1745 and his death, he gave 41,933 pesos to the Colegio de San Fernando de México, 91,023 pesos to the Colegio de la Santa Cruz de Querétero, and another 100,000 pesos to a monastery in Pachuca. In 1756 he learned of plans by officials to establish missions for the Lipan Apaches in west central Texas and offered to underwrite the project. He pledged a subsidy of 150,000 pesos for twenty missionaries for three years, after which time the financial responsibility for the venture would be turned over to the civil government. He stipulated that his cousin, Father Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, be placed in charge of the missions and that all military expenses be borne by the royal treasury. Terreros also requested permission to purchase the assets of the three San Gabriel missions, if they were abandoned, so that they could be turned over to his cousin. In 1757, with Terreros's backing, Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission was founded near the site of present Menard. The venture, however, proved to be a failure; not a single Apache was converted to the faith, and the following year the mission was attacked and destroyed by a band of Comanches and other hostile Indians. Fray Alonso and another priest were killed, and the mission was permanently abandoned. Deeply saddened by the death of his cousin, Terreros, around 1763, commissioned a painting by an unknown artist portraying the sack of the mission complex and the martyrdom of Fray Alonso. The San Sabá Mission painting is generally believed to be, in the words of Sam D. Ratcliffe, "the earliest extant easel painting by a professional artist depicting an event in Texas history." Terreros continued his philanthropic activities after the destruction of San Sabá and died in Mexico in 1781.

Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Paul D. Nathan, trans., and Lesley Byrd Simpson, ed., The San Sabá Papers (San Francisco: Howell, 1959). Sam D. Ratcliffe, "Escenas de Martirio: Notes on the Destruction of Mission San Sabá," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 94 (April 1991). Juan de Romero de Terreros y Villamil, Biografía de D. Pedro Romero de Terreros, primer conde de Regla, caballero profeso en la orden militar de Calatrava (Madrid: Neira y Ducazcal, 1851). Robert S. Weddle, The San Sabá Mission (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).


  • Religion
  • Catholic

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas

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

Christopher Long, “Terreros, Pedro Romero de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/terreros-pedro-romero-de.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 14, 2019

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