research on the san miguel

compiled by: amelia research and recovery, llc

September, 1999

shipwrecks

The following information concerning the San Miguel is referred to in the research provided by Dr. Eugene Lyon, and compiled by Jack Haskins from his own translations and those of Bob Marx, Dr. Nancy Farris, J.M. Rodriquez, and Lou Ullian, and is the best available collectiv source at this time on the fate of this vessel.

There were apparently two vessels sailing with the Echeverz Squadron in the Tierra Firme Fleet, sometimes called the "Galleones".  The first, a larger of the two San Miguels, sailed with Echeverz from Spain and was a "registered ship" having special permission for landing by merchants from Havana (Lyon, letter 4/94).


This San Miguel was a Vizcayan built frigate (or Buque de Aarqueo which is the rated cargo capacity of the ship - Haskins) of 180 3/4 tons with 22 cannon: 18 four-pounders and 4 two pound swivel guns.  Her beam was 22.5' (12 codos), keel length of 77' (30 codos), and overall length at the "dead rises" of 83' (44 codos).  Her master was either Joseph Coyo de Melo (Lyon), or Alonso de Figueros (Haskins, translations from the Casa files).  She was owned by Antonio de Echeverz.


The San Migue's manfiest listed 62 persons on board when she left Spain (Haskins, LM11-1).  There were also 62 persons on board when she went down including de Melo, Don Domingo and Tomas Moynos, citizens of Cadiz, Don Joseph Tamorlan, Guardian Jacome de Nobleria, Piolt Alonso de Silvestre and Quartermaster Domingo de Yguzquiza, plus 22 sailors, 24 grommets, and four pages (Lyons).


According to reports, she carried tobacco from Havana (Lyon).  A letter from the Case de Contratacion states, it would delay Echeverz if he were to pick up 1,500,000 pounds of tobacco, so Echeverz is sending a Patache or other ship directly to Havana (from Spain to Puerto Rico then to Havana) to pick up the tobacco, and this will be a ship of 30 guns.  This was probably the San Miguel (Haskins, Indiferente General 26589).  There was no cargo listed on her manifest (Haskins, LM11-5), although she was sent to pick up the tobacco in Havana, and "probably had little registered treasure on board, and may be located 1 1/2 miles off Mayport, FL" (Haskins).

​According to reports, she carried tobacco from Havana (Lyon).  A letter from the Case de Contratacion states, it would delay Echeverz if he were to pick up 1,500,000 pounds of tobacco, so Echeverz is sending a Patache or other ship directly to Havana (from Spain to Puerto Rico then to Havana) to pick up the tobacco, and this will be a ship of 30 guns.  This was probably the San Miguel (Haskins, Indiferente General 2658).  There was no cargo listed on her manifest (Haskins, LM11-5), although she was sent to pick up the tobacco in Havana, and "probably had little registered treasure on board, and may be located 1 1/2 miles off Mayport, FL" (Haskins).

The San Miguel sailed with the rest of the Flota of 12 ships (Marx, IPO, p. 3) from Havana Harbor on July 24, 1715.  There were 5 ships of Ubilla's New Spain Flota, 6 ships in the Echeverz Squadron of Tiera Firme, and a French Ship, the Grifon, commanded by Captain Antonio Diare.  The Grifon was not part of the Flota but was leaving at the same time, having received permission to sail with the Flota (Marx).  "Possibly, but Diare loaded his vessel in Vera Cruz harbor, and it seems likely that he made the Gulf crossing with Ubilla" (Haskins).  There is a possibility of 7 ships sailing with Echeverz from Cartagena, to make a total of 13 ships sailing from Havana (Haskins).

The total treasure registered on four of Ubilla's ships, excluding silverware, jewelry, and a small number of gold coins, was 6,388,020 pesos.  The total carried on three of Echeverz' Squadron was 98,046 pesos in silver and gold specie, plus 955 castellanos.  Spanish reports of the period indicate that 5,200,000 pesos were recovered by them by July, 1716.

​The Flora was struck by a hurricane July 30, 1715 and "The number of ships lost are nine, and the two galleons missing (Echeverz)...there's little doubt that they sunk on the high seas and this was proven because fragments of a ship or ships were found on the north coast of St. Augustine..." (Haskins, 2.20 Sept. 1715 - Salmon to the King).

"All the ships were lost except a French nao and three frigates of Echeverz Squadron, because by the time the storm struck they had taken another route (they were further north than the rest)" (Haskins, LM11-40).  The day before the storm the San Miguel separated from the convoy; two days before the storm the Grifon separated; and on the day of the storm the fragata Concepcion separated (Haskins, Indiferente General 2648).

Governor Spotswood of Virginia wrote to Secretary Stanhope on October 24, 1715 stating, "the Spanish Fleet richly laden, consisting of eleven sail are, except for one, likely cast away in the Gulf of Florida to the southward of St. Augustine...a considerable quantity of plate is likewise case away about 40 miles to the northward of St. Augustine..." (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America & West Indies).

Salmon wrote to King Phillip that "the two galleons are missing.  The San Miguel and the French Prize.  There is little doubt they sank on the high seas, and this was proven because fragments of a ship were found on the north coast of St. Augustine" (September 20, 1715).

There is a good possibility that the San Miguel was the ship that wrecked the north of St. Augustine (Duro, Armada Espanola, Vol. VI, pp. 121).

On October 19, 1715 Lima wrote to Linares (Virrey de Mexico), "but from the news we received from St. Augustine, we learned that fragments of a large ship came ashore 15 leagues (about 50 miles or so - JH) to the leeward (north and south - JP) of this port, and because there are many reefs outside this portion of the coast, we fear there are no survivors from that wreck".  "This wreck might be either the San Miguel or the French Prize (Haskins, LM11-6).

From Bob Marx:  The San Miguel had no cargo of any kind listed.  Echeverz captured this ship from the English and she may have sailed back empty.  Haskins writes:  I think Bob has this mixed up with the schnooner Echeverz sold Ubilla in Havana (Haskins, LM11-5).

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