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Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza

By Rick Hendricks


On 12 May 1737, Felipe IV granted Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza title to the governorship of New Mexico for a five-year term.[1] At the time Mendoza had been serving as captain and ayudante mayor of the plaza of Ciudad Rodrigo in the Spanish province of Salamanca since 1735. He had been in the royal service in 1708 in the Regimento de Guardias de Infantería Española and had moved through the ranks of soldier, cabo de esquadra, and sargento. According to Pedro de Castro Figueroa y Salazar, Marqués de Gracía Real, Knight of the Order of Santiago, Mendoza participated bravely and honorably in the battle of Gudina, the blockade of Olivenza, the capture of Balaguer, the detachment of Arenes, the siege and capture of Estadilla, the reunion of Almenara and Peñalba, battle of Zaragoza, siege  and advance on Viruega, battle of Villaviciosa, sieges of Casteleón, Cardona, Lérida, and Tortosa, siege and capture of Barcelona, and all the operations related to the expedition to Sardinia and Sicily, the capture of the Castillo de Palermo, siege and capture of Messina, siege of Melazo, conquest and restoration of Oran.[2]

 As Mendoza prepared to sail to New Spain, he was given royal permission to embark on the next ship available and take with him his wife, doña María Ferreras de la Torre; two daughters, doña Francisca Micaela, age six, and doña María Manuela, age four; a son, Hermenegildo, age one; one female servant; two male servants; and all the belongings needed to live comfortably.[3] Doña María was described as being a tall, thin, thirty-six years old, white woman with blonde hair.[4] Gaspar and María eventually had another son. Francisca, whom they affectionately called "Frasquita," eventually married New Mexico governor Joaquín Codallos y Rabal.[5]

Before departing Spain, Mendoza lodged a complaint with the Council of the Indies. He lacked the means to purchase a copy of the Recopilición de leyes de los reinos de las Indias that he was required to have for his new position.[6] He was granted leave to wait until arriving in New Spain before acquiring a copy but was required to have a set of the law books before departing for New Mexico.

Mendoza apparently remained in Santa Fe for a time after his term of office was over. There, in the house of Vicar Santiago Roybal, his daughter Francisca Micaela, who was probably only in her fourteenth year, wed the sitting governor, Joaquín Codallos y Rabal. The ceremony began at around 11:30 at night and was performed by fray Francisco de la Concepción González. José Romo de Vera and Francisco Margrinas y Gallo.[7]


[1] Felipe IV, Title of Governor of New Mexico to Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza, Aranjuez, 12 May 1737, AGI, Contratación, 5483, N.2, R. 40.

[2] Pedro de Castro Figueroa y Salazar, Certification, Barcelona, 12 November 1733, AGI, Indiferente, 147, N.61.

[3] Felipe IV, Order, Aranjuez, 21 May 1737, AGI, Contratación, 5483, N.2, R. 40.

[4] Ignacio Gallardo, Petition, [27 November 1737], AGI, Contratación, 5483, N.2, R. 40.

[5] Juicio de testamentaría del Capt. Bernardo Antonio Bustamante y Tagle, tramitado de 1781 á 1790, Biblioteca del Estado de Jalisco, Archivo del Juzgado de Bienes de Difuntos, C-113-5-839. (C-122-1-896).

[6] Charles R. Cutter, The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain, 1710-1810 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995), 77.

[7] Marriage of Joaquín Codallos y Rabal y Francisca Micaela Mendoza Ferreras de la Torre, Santa Fe, 2 January 1744, Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Marriages, M-50.