Don Antonio José del Campo

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    M.G. Ellery

      I am carrying out research into the seizure of the King of Spain’s schooner Extremeña (sometimes spelt ‘Estremina’) and the merchant brig San Francisco de Paula by the English brig Harrington on the coast of Chilé in 1804.
      The two Spanish vessels were escorted to Australia by the Harrington where all three vessels were detained by the Governor of New South Wales.
      In a letter dated 30 April 1805 to William Marsden, First Secretary to the Admiralty in London, the Governor, Philip Gidley King, described the Extremeña as follows:
      ‘The Extremeña is a strong and well-constructed vessel of 100 tons, built and launched at Callao in July 1803, and was commanded at the time of her being captured by Don Antonio José del Campo, Ensign in the Spanish Navy, and was stationed to protect and prevent the smuggling of copper from the mines of Serena near Coquimbo. She was pierced for twelve guns, but had only four, four pounders, and eighteen men on board, who all made their escape on shore.’
      (transcribed in Historical Records of Australia, Series I, V, 1915, pp459-60)
      Some documents were taken from the Spanish vessels and Governor King ma have obtained his description from these documents. I have not, so far, found copies of any of these documents or any other primary source of his description.
      According to the following Spanish language sources King’s description is incorrect, and that at the time of its capture, the Extremeña, was carrying out hydrographical surveys under the command of teniente de navio Don Mariano Isasbiribil:
      Gaceta de Madrid, No.59, 23 Jun. 1805. (In this article the ‘Harrington’ has been misspelt ‘Washington’)
      · D. Francisco de Paula Pavia, Galeria biografica de los generales de marina, jefes y personajes notables que figuraron en la misma corporacion desde 1700 á 1868, Vol. 4, Madrid 1874, pp155-8.
      · Eugenio Pereira Salas, ‘Las primeras relaciones entre Chile y Australia’, Boletin de la Academia Chilena de la Historia, 53, (1955), pp18-9.
      To resolve who was in command can any member provide any biographical information on del Campo, particularly for 1 October 1804, the day the Extremeña was captured. There is a don Antonio José del Campo mentioned in José Cervera Pery, La marina española en la independencia de Costa Firme, Madrid 1992, pp170-2. He was then capitán de fragata in command of the frigate Viva but this is thought to be some years later than 1804.

      C. G. Maxworthy

        Having just returned from two weeks of crawling through the Spanish archives, and an earlier review of the Spanish Navy Archives, I believe I may be able to assist.
        At the time of the brig Harrington, [Captain William] Campbell, capturing the Extremena the commander was Mariano Isarbirivil (also spelt Isasbiribil, Isasbirivil). Don Mariano Isarbirivil had first arrived in Spanish America in 1794, returned to Spain for a few years, and then resumed his service out of the Apostadero at Callao in 1802.
        At the time of her capture the Extremena was doing hydrographic survey work on behalf of von Humboldt’s scientific expedition. I copied Isarbirivil’s personal file while at the Archivo General de Marina – Alvaro de Bazan (AGM-AAB). It’s a sad tale as the officer ended up killing himself when he was later taken prisoner by the British in the final stages of Britain’s hostilities with Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.

        [Editor’s note: the brig Harrington does not appear in the lists of Royal Naval ships, and was sailing under a letter of marque from an Indian port]

        M.G. Ellery

          Readers may be interested to note that the Wikipedia entry for Estramina, formerly the Spanish schooner Extremeña, has been revised to record that the vessel was under the command of Mariano Isasbiribil at the time of its seizure, and not Antonio José del Campo.
          See (accessed 6 Jan. 2011).
          The writer is grateful to Chris Maxworthy and Jorge Ortez Sotelo for their help in resolving this query.

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