Francisco Antonia Mourelle

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     Francisco Antonio Mourelle was born in 1754 at San Adrian de Corne in Galicia, northwestern Spain. He began as an apprentice pilot in 1768 and transferred to Mexico in the 1770s where he sailed as a pilot out of the port of San Blas. Mourelle accompanied Bodega on the two Spanish voyages toward Alaska in the 1775 and 1779. When Spain declared war in 1780, Mourelle sailed the Princesca to Manila. On the return journey he made discoveries in Tonga and Tuvalu before reaching San Blas in late 1781. Mourelle returned to Europe and fought in the Napoleonic Wars. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral in 1818 but died in Cadiz in 1820.
     The first Western explorers to see Tonga were  Jacob Lemaire and Willem Schouten in 1616.  Abel Tasman (1643) and James Cook (1773) also visited Tonga. In 1781 Mourelle  was the first Western explorer to sight the Vava'u island of Tonga. He named it "Port of Refuge."

SCN 490