Spanish Governors of California

The Spanish era in California spanned 1769 through 1821. There were 12 different governors in that period:

  • 1768-9 Jul 1770: Don Gaspar de Portolá
    Don Gaspar de Portolá (1723-?) was born in Balageur, Spain. He entered the military at 11, becoming an ensign in the dragoons. He served in battles in Italy and Portugal. He was appointed Governor of the Californias by Visitador-General José de Gálvez in 1767 with the objective of blocking English and Russian expansion into California. He expelled the Jesuits from the Baja California missions they developed over a 72-year period (the Jesuits were not as closely connected with Spain as the Franciscans). Then, when Gálvez proposed an expedition into Alta California he volunteered to lead it. He led the parties that colonized San Diego and Monterey. When he left the governor’s office he returned to Mexico until 1784 when he returned to Spain to retire.
  • 1770-1774: Felipe de Barri
    Actual power through 1774 was in the hands of the military commander Pedro Fages who is sometimes listed as the governor during this period.
  • 1774-1777: Fernando Rivera y Moncada
  • 1777-1782: Felipe de Neve
    Felipe de NeveLifespan (1728-1784). He first governed from Loreto 1775 to 3 Feb 1777, then from Monterey after that. Governor de Neve was largely responsible for the establishment of the pueblo that has today become the city of Los Angeles. And, he is credited with being one of the first urban planners as he personally drew up the plans for the pueblo before actually establishing it.
  • 1782-1791: Pedro Fages
    Lifespan (1730-1794)
  • 1791-1792: José Antonio Roméu
    Lifespan (1742?-1792)
  • 1792-1794: José Joaquin de Arrillaga
    Lifespan (1750-1814) Died 24 July 1814 at Mission Soledad
    Appointed permanent Lieutenant Governor until he again became Governor
  • 1794-1800: Diego de Borica
    Lifespan (1742-1800)
    Retired, left Monterey 16 Jan 1800; died in Durango on 19 Jul
  • 1800: Pedro de Alberni (acting after Borica retired)
  • 1800-1814: José Joaquin de Arrillaga 26 March 1804
    Lifespan (1750-1814) Died 24 July 1814 at Mission Soledad
    Was made and served as Governor of Alta California only 26 March 1804
  • 1814-1815: José Dario Arguello
    Lifespan (1754-1827?)
    Governed from Presidio of Santa Barbara
  • 1815-1822: Pablo Vicente de Solá (held over until 1822)
    Lifespan (1761-1826?)