Pérez, Captain Juan Josef
b. 1725
d. 1775-11-02
Captain Juan Josef Pérez Hernández, a Spanish officer, was the first European to sight Nootka Sound, while he captained the Santiago on a scouting and exploration voyage up the Northwest Coast of North America in 1774. Born in Majorca, Spain in 1725, Pérez previously commanded the Príncipe, while the vessel delivered colonists to settlements at San Diego and Monterey in 1769.1
In 1774, the viceroy of New Spain, Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa, ordered Pérez to command an expedition of the Northwest Coast to a latitude of 60° North, and to claim all land to the south for Spain, as well as to report on Russian activity in the area. Due to bad weather, Pérez was not able to sail as far north as he hoped. While on the voyage, Pérez traded with Haida First Nations off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and, on the return, with the Nootka First Nations at Nootka Sound; however, Pérez never entered Nootka Sound.2
The results of Pérez's voyage displeased the viceroy, and when another expedition was planned in 1775, Pérez was demoted to second officer. Many of the participants of this voyage, likely including Pérez, contracted scurvy; shortly after a two month rest in Monterey, Pérez died at sea.3
Although the documented reports from Pérez's expedition were deficient, the voyage became the basis of Spain's claim to Nootka Sound, as issues of ownership would arise over the area in following years.4
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Haida Gwaii

Nootka Sound

The Colonial Despatches Team. Pérez, Captain Juan Josef. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/perez_j.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)