Quimper at Nootka Sound

Quimper’s expedition and Nootka Sound

(cited from: https://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/q/quimper.htm)


After the expeditions to Alaska, two Spanish explorers named Esteban José Martínez and Gonzalo López de Haro were ordered to explore Nootka Sound. However, since they found out that there is evidence of Russian and British posts nearby. So the ultimate mission of this expedition was to occupy the Nootka Sound prior to the others. It was commanded by Martínez in 1789 with La Princesa. Such intense competition between Britain and Spain led to an incident during the summer of 1789 called the Nootka Crisis. During this crisis, Martínez sent his pilot José María Narváez to explore the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which turned out to be a better location with a larger inlet. Consequently, Nootka Sound was abandoned. As the crisis expanded, establishing permanent Spanish-own base at Nootka Sound was significant to the Viceroy of New Spain, so three ships were ordered to undertake the task. Quimper was the captain of one of the ships called Princesa Real. After settlements were established, he was sent to explore the Strait de Juan de Fuca and beyond on order to expand the voyages by Narváez. He was later sent to San Blas on other assignments.


Nootka Crisis:

It was a political incident between Spain (the Spanish Empire) and Britain (the Kingdom of Great Britain) that took place in 1789 at Nootka Sound. The crisis was triggered when Martínez captured three British ships and their crews. This crisis was led to a series of intense diplomatic negotiations regarding sovereignty claims, and explorations and trade. It was resolved without wars but with three agreements generally known as  the Nootka Conventions from 1790 to 1795. The consequence was that Spain had abandoned/surrendered settlements, and rights to trade to Britain. It was apparently more beneficial to Britain than it was to Spain. 

(cited from: https://opentextbc.ca/preconfederation/chapter/13-3-fur-trade-and-empires/)



La Princesa: (full rigged ship)

(cited from: http://forum.game-labs.net/topic/8340-player-ship-selection-1st-half-201...)

Launched: 1778;

Ownership: Spain;  

Type: frigate or corvette (exact measurement unknown);

Armament: 26 cannons (1789, at Nootka Sound);

Commander: Martínez (1789);

Starting point: San Blas;

Crew: 28 soldiers (from Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia);

Goal of expedition in 1789: occupation of Nootka Sound;

Consequence of expedition: conflicts with Britain, led to Nootka Crisis.


Princesa Real: (sloop)

(cited from: http://www.cichw1.net/pmprinc.html)

Launched: 1778;

Ownership: previously by U.K.; captured by Spain (Martínez) in 1789;

Armament: 4 cannons and 8 swivel guns;

Importance: matter of negotiation during the first Nootka Convention (eventually returned to Britain in 1791, in Macau, by Quimper);

Expedition (under Spanish control/commanded by Quimper): first full exploration of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan islands, Haro Strait, Esquimalt Harbour and more for future reference.  


Read the next part of the story: Clayoquot Sound



1. Harper, John L. American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK;New York;, 2004.

2. Burges, James Bland, Sir, 1752-1824. A Narrative of the Negotiations Occasioned by the Dispute between England and Spain in the Year 1790. vol. no. 17959, , London, 1791.

3. Jessup, David E. At the Far Reaches of the Empire: The Life of Juan Francisco De La Bodega y Quadra. vol. 41, Taylor & Francis Ltd, Washington, 2011. pp. 59, 62, 68, 379.

4. Colnett, James, and Robert Galois. A Voyage to the North West Side of America: The Journals of James Colnett, 1786-89. UBC Press, Vancouver, BC, 2004;2003; pp.9, 11, 17, 62, 99, 263–264, 329.

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