Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was a Portuguese explorer that is best known for his 16th century discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, most notably the coast of California.
Although information of his early life was not preserved, it is though that he was born in 1499 in the Portugal as the son of a shipbuilder. His first voyages happened in late 1520s as a crewmember of a Hernán Cortés that will become known in later years as the richest and most famous of the Mexican conquistadors. In 1539 he received orders form the Viceroy of New Spain (today's Mexico) of a new mission in witch he will be tasked of exploring the newfound lands of Gulf of Mexico and finding a way to China (during that time navigators still presumed that the newfound lands were the part of the Asian continent). He embarked on that journey with three of his own ships on 27 June 1542 - San Miguel, La Victoria and his 200 tons flagship San Salvador. During that voyage he visited until then uncharted waters discovering San Diego bay, Santa Catalina island, San Clemente, San Pedro Bay and Point Conception. On his journey he missed the entrance of San Francisco Bay, which remained undiscovered for two more centuries since then.
On his return around Christmas of 1542, he entered into storm that damaged his ships, and few weeks later on 3 January 1543, he died from the wound that was infected by the gangrene.
His discoveries were not noticed during that time most notably because all of the expedition records were lost after his death. None of his the names of the discovered lands were officially used but today he is still remembered as the first European that discovered the coast of California and as one of the founders of the Mexican city Oaxaca.
|Name||Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo|
|Place of Birth||Seville, Spain|
|Died||January 3, 1543|
|Known For||First European to set foot in California|
|Spouse(s)||Beatriz Sanchez de Ortega|
|Expedition Partner(s)||Hernán Cortés, Francisco de Orozco|
|Monuments||San Diego, California|