Francisco Antonio Mourelle de la Rúa
1750 - 1820
Francisco Mourelle was born in 1750 at San Adrián de Corme, near La Coruña, Galicia, Spain. He joined the Spanish Navy and served in the Guyanas, Trinidad, and the Antilles before becoming stationed at New Spain's Pacific Ocean naval base at San Blas, Mexico in 1774. In 1775 he joined the expedition of Bruno de Heceta and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, serving as Quadra's pilot on the schooner Sonora. On July 29, the Sonora became separated from Heceta's ship Santiago. Heceta soon returned south while Quadra and Mourelle continued north. They found and anchored in Bucareli Bay, Alaska. Then they sailed south to Monterey, California, and then to San Blas arriving on November 20, 1775.
Mourelle's journal was somehow taken clandestinely to London where it was translated and published. Captain James Cook made use of the information in Mourelle's journal during his travels in the Pacific Northwest.
Mourelle again served as the pilot with Quadra, and second in command of the ship Favorita, during the 1779 expedition commanded by Ignacio de Arteaga. Leaving San Blas on February 11, 1779, the expedition reached Hinchinbrook Island at the head of the Gulf of Alaska. From there they sailed southwest along the Kenai Peninsula. The ships returned to San Blas on November 21, 1775.
During his service at San Blas, Mourelle traveled extensively throughout the Pacific Ocean, visiting Tonga in 1781. He was also familiar with the Philippines and Canton, China.
Mourelle was to command the Mexicana for a 1792 voyage to explore the Strait of Georgia but Alessandro Malaspina had one of his own officers, Cayetano Valdés, placed in command. Dionisio Alcalá Galiano commanded the Sutil, the twin companion of the Mexicana.
In 1793, Mourelle was transferred to Spain. He was promoted to frigate captain in 1799; ship's captain in 1806; and commodore in 1811. He commanded a squadron in 1818 that was to put down a rebellion in the Rio de la Plata, but the endeavour never got underway.
died on May 24, 1820, at the age of seventy. Maurelle Island northweast
of Quadra Island is named for Mourelle.
Olson, Wallace M.. "The Hezeta Expedition of 1775: Selections from the journals of: Bodega y Quadra, Mourelle", Through Spanish Eyes: Spanish Voyages to Alaska, 1774-1792. (Limited ed.), Auke Bay, Alaska: Heritage Research. 2002.