José de Espinosa y Tello de Portugal (1763-1815) began his career in the Spanish Royal Navy in 1778, and took part in the capture of Pensacola and the naval battle off Cape Espartel, later working as cartographer in the service of Vicente Tofiño y Sanmiguel at the observatory in Cádiz. In 1787, he prepared, with three other young officers, a plan for a scientific voyage, to which, however, the one drawn up by Malaspina and Bustamante the following year was preferred. Espinosa was assigned to the Expedition of the latter and collaborated actively in the preparatory phase, but in July 1789 reasons of health prevented him from embarking with his colleagues, though he caught up with the Expedition in Acapulco. Following this enterprise, Espinosa became the aide-de-camp of Admiral José de Mazarredo, and in 1797 was named Director of the Hydrographic Office in Madrid; under his guidance, the Office began to publish charts and accounts of voyages. Subsequently he was also nominated to the position of Secretary to the Council of the Admiralty, until, in 1808, not wishing to recognize the authority of King Giuseppe Bonaparte, he abandoned all his offices and went to Seville, where the Patriotic Government entrusted him with moving to England in order to continue the cartographic work that had become impossible in a Spain which had been to his own country until 1815, and immediately reassumed the Directorship of the Hydrographic Office, only to die a few months later.
For further information, see:
J. ESPINOSA Y TELLO, Memorias sobre las observaciones
astronómicas hechas por los españoles en distintos lugares
del globo, los cuales han servido de fundamento para las cartas de marear
publicadas por la Dirección de los Trabajos Hidrográficos
de Madrid, Madrid, Imprenta Real, 1809, voll. 2.
M. FERNÁNDEZ DE NAVARRETE, "Don Joseph de Espinosa," in Correspondance Astronomique, Géographique, Hydrographique et Statistique du Baron de Zach, XIII (1825), III, pp. 274-278).
P. CUESTA DOMINGO, "Información novohispana de Espinosa en su participación en el viaje de Malaspina," in Atti del Convegno "Alessandro Malaspina nella cultura del suo tempo," Memorie della Accademia Lunigianese di Scienze Giovanni Capellini, Classe di Scienze Storiche e Morali, LIX (1989), pp. 197-204.
N. CUESTA DOMINGO, N., "Espinosa y Tello y su viale complementario al de Malaspina," in MARTIN FERRERO, P. (ed.), Actas del simposium CCI aniversario nacimiento de Joseph Celestino Mutis, Cádiz, Diputación Provincial de Cádiz, 1986, pp.197-204.
Image courtesy of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, Mulazzo, Italy, with the kind permission of the Museo Naval, Madrid. Biographical and bibliographical notes by Dario Manfredi (Italian version), translated by John Black.
Updated: November 21, 2012