American Journeys
Home Find a Document Images Advanced Search Highlights Teachers Help  
Document Number: AJ-137
Author: Suría, Tomás de, born 1761
Title: Journal of Tomás de Suría of His Voyage with Malaspina to the Northwest Coast of America in 1791
Source: Wagner, Henry R. (editor and translator). "Journal of Tomás de Suría of His Voyage with Malaspina to the Northwest Coast of America in 1791." The Pacific Historical Review. (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1936). Volume 5, pages 234-276.
Pages/Illustrations: 53 / 8
Citable URL:

Author Note

Tomas Suria (1761-?) came to Mexico at age seventeen from his native Valencia, Spain, already an accomplished artist. He was given work in the engraving office of the mint at the end of that year, but nothing more is known about his life until the voyage he describes in this journal. After the voyage he spent several months readying his finished pictures for the official report, and then remained at the mint until 1806. The last mention of him is an official memorial dated 1813, and nothing is known of the circumstances of his death.

Expedition of 1789-1794

In 1789 Alejandro Malaspina (1754-1810), an Italian commander in the Spanish navy, was put in charge of a scientific exploration of the Pacific. His two vessels left Spain in July 1789 loaded with scientists and with two artists. Malaspinas ships reached Acapulco, Mexico, early in 1791 where the thirty-year-old Suria joined the expedition. During that summer they sailed north to explore the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska, returning southward at the end of July. They stopped at Spanish headquarters on Nootka Island August 12, 1791, and at Monterey, California, on September 12, 1791, with Suria making sketches and notes along the way. Malaspinas vessels then left America for the Philippines, New Zealand, the British colony at Sydney Cove, Australia, and the Tonga Islands. It circled the globe before reaching Spain again in 1794.

Document Note

Suria's journal was not an official document but merely his private diary of his own experiences. Since it was not intended to be seen by anyone else, Suria was quite open and uninhibited in his reactions to life on board ship, at Nootka, and in California. The original manuscript was preserved in private hands until thetwentieth century, when it was edited and published by the great historian of Spanish California, Henry R. Wagner.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

For citations to other publications from the Malaspina Expedition, see page 236 of Wagners introduction, given here. Malaspinas own journal of the voyage is only now being published in English by the Hakluyt Society ( The images by Suria are discussed in NW coast of America : iconographic album of the Malaspina expedition : a study by María Dolores Higueras (Madrid: Museo Naval, 1991)

The Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest provides information on European rivalry for the Pacific Northwest coast, including timelines, biographies and maps at hstaa432_3.html#vancouver

For additional background on the Spanish voyages to the Pacific, see also historian John Robsons summary at

Read this Document
Print or Download
Read Background
View Reference Map (PDF)
How to Cite
Copyright and Permissions
© 2024 Wisconsin Historical Society Feedback | Site Help
Wisconsin history