While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Robert Bruce Blake

OCONÓR, HUGO (1732–1779). Hugo Oconór (O'Conor), governor of the Spanish province of Texas, was born in 1732. Before his service in Texas he was stationed in Cuba and Mexico City. He held the rank of major in the regiment of Volunteers of Aragon. Irish by birth, he had flaming red hair that prompted the Indians to call him the "Red Captain." He was inspector general of the Provincias Internas of the east in 1765, when he traveled to Texas to investigate trouble between Governor Ángel de Martos y Navarrete and Rafael Martínez Pacheco concerning San Agustín de Ahumada Presidio. With the removal of Martos y Navarrete on August 28, 1767, Oconór became governor ad interim of Texas. He found the province in a deplorable condition because of the hostilities of the various Indian tribes; the Apaches were raiding San Antonio almost at will. Oconór reinforced San Antonio, brought order to the garrison at Los Adaes, and so thoroughly supervised the area that his return to Mexico in 1770 caused general regret to officers, soldiers, and citizens. In 1771 he was appointed to the command of the Chihuahua frontier. On January 20, 1773, he became commandant inspector of presidios, with the rank of colonel. He and Governor Juan María Vicencio de Ripperdá did not agree on government policy in ordering the abandonment of the missions and presidios in East Texas, Ripperdá favoring and Oconór opposing the petition of Gil Antonio Ibarvo that the settlers be allowed to return to their old homes. From 1773 to 1775 Oconór concerned himself with strengthening the defenses in the Nueva Vizcaya-Coahuila-Sonora sector. In the spring of 1775 he initiated a plan to drive the Apaches from the area. The campaign, which began in the fall of 1775 and continued through the following year, succeeded in killing large numbers of Apaches and forcing the survivors to move further west. In 1777 Oconór, in poor health, requested a less taxing assignment and was reassigned as the governor and captain general of Yucatan. He died at Quinta de Miraflores, east of Merida, on March 8, 1779.


Bernard E. Bobb, The Viceregency of Antonio María Bucareli in New Spain, 1771–1779 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673–1779 (2 vols., Albuquerque: Quivira Society, 1935; rpt., New York: Arno, 1967). Mark Santiago, The Red Captain: The Life of Hugo O'Conor (Arizona Historical Society Museum Monograph 9, 1994). David J. Weber, New Spain's Far Northern Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Robert Bruce Blake, "OCONOR, HUGO," accessed July 15, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/foc04.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 30, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...