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 H. Thonhoff

TOVAR, FRANCISCO (?–?). Francisco Tovar (Tobar, Thobar, or Thovar) was captain of La Bahía del Espíritu Santo Presidio from 1767 to 1772. He was successor to Manuel Ramírez de la Piscina, who had died on July 25, 1767. Tovar took possession of the office on December 3, 1767. His administration was marked by the Britain incident. The Britain had been chartered on December 12, 1768, to carry thirty-four Acadians and forty German Catholics to New Orleans. The ship was unseaworthy, and the captain incompetent. The captain passed the mouth of the Mississippi and continued to sail in a southwesterly direction, finally landing on Matagorda peninsula in April 1769, sending out two search parties. Bad weather forced the ship to sea for two weeks. Upon its return it found one of the search parties with Spanish soldiers. The owner and some of the passengers went with the soldiers to La Bahía, where Tovar sent supplies to those still at the landing. Shortly afterwards all of the passengers were brought to La Bahía. They were treated well, and the captain and owner were allowed to store their cargo in a warehouse. No one was allowed to leave until Tovar's reports reached Mexico City and a reply reached him. When the Spanish government allowed the refugees to leave they found that the ship's rigging had been stored so poorly that the ship was not seaworthy. Tovar sent them overland with guides to Natchitoches. Later, the owner claimed his cargo had been confiscated, but it was proven that he had sold it at La Bahía. Tovar was unpopular with soldiers and priests, who complained of his abusive manner. Governor Juan María de Ripperdá was petitioned in 1771 to remove Captain Tovar, who asked to be relieved of his command for health reasons. His resignation was accepted on April 28, 1772, by his superiors, and Luis Cazorla was assigned as his successor.


Bexar County Archives, San Antonio. Carl A. Brasseaux and Richard Chandler, "The Britain Incident, 1769–1770: Anglo-Hispanic Tensions in the Western Gulf," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 87 (April 1984). William H. Oberste, Remember Goliad (1949). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966). Robert S. Weddle and Robert H. Thonhoff, Drama and Conflict: The Texas Saga of 1776 (Austin: Madrona, 1976).

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 H. Thonhoff, "TOVAR, FRANCISCO," accessed May 24, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fto53.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 22, 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...