Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra, Esteban José

Esteban José Martínez Fernández y Martínez de la Sierra, naval officer (b at Seville, Spain 9 Dec 1742; d at Loreto, Mexico 28 Oct 1798). In 1774 he sailed with Juan Pérez Hernández on an exploratory voyage from San Blas, Mexico, to the northern Haida Gwaii and Nootka Sound. In 1778 he was sent on a reconnaissance of Russian fur-trading posts in the Aleutian Islands, learning that the Russians planned to establish a post at Nootka the next year. To assert Spanish presence on the Northwest Coast, Viceroy Flōrez sent Martínez in 1789 to establish a temporary post at Nootka before the Russian arrival. Martínez found British and American trading ships there, and the British about to construct a trading post. He seized the British ships and crews, built a military post at Nootka, and abandoned it in the autumn. British accounts portray Martínez as impetuous and hot-headed; nevertheless, he prevented the British from establishing a post in territory claimed by Spain.

See also Nootka Sound Controversy.