Cristóbal de Oñate

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Cristóbal de Oñate

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Oñate, Guipúzcoa, España
Death: October 6, 1567 (63-71)
Pánuco, Zacatecas, Reino de Nueva España (Tortured and died from his wounds)
Place of Burial: Reino de Nueva España
Immediate Family:

Son of Juan Pérez de Oñate y Martínez de San Vicente and Osaña Martínez de Gonzáles Cieverzo y San Llorente
Husband of Maria de Saldivar Y Mendoza; Sebastiana de Narriahondo; Leonor de Salazar and Catalina de Salazar
Father of Hernan Perez de Oñate; Ana Velázquez y de Oñate; María de Galarza y Oñate; Sebastian de Narriahondo Oñate; Alonso de Oñate Salazar and 7 others
Brother of Juan Pérez de Oñate González; María Pérez de Oñate and Sebastían de Narriahondo Oñate

Occupation: Conquistador of Suchilila, Governor of Nuevo Galicia, New Spain (Mexico).
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About Cristóbal de Oñate

Cristóbal de Oñate born Abt. 1500 in Onate, Guipuzcoa, Spain, and died 6 Oct 1567 in Panuco, Zacatecas, Mexico, tortured to death.

Spanish Count, the Conquistador of Suchilila, hero of the Mixton War, Governor of Nuevo Galicia, New Spain, and father of Juan de Onate, founder of New Mexico.

One of the 4 founders of the cities of Guadalajara and Zacatecas, Mexico. One of the 4 miners, with Juan de Tolosa, Francisco de Ibarra, and Baltasar de Bañuelos, to open up mining in Zacatecas in 1548.


Oñate arrived in New Spain in 1524 as the assistant to Rodrigo de Albornoz. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain had made Albornoz auditor, one of five royal officials named to oversee Cortés's government in the colony.

In New Spain, he was reunited with his twin nephews Juan and Vicente (de Zaldívar Oñate). Cristobal de Onate contracted marriage with Catalina de Salazar de la Cadena, daughter of Gonzalo de Salazar and Catalina De La Cadena Maluenda. This was Catalina's second marriage. Her maternal uncle Antonio De La Cadena Maluenda, was Treasurer of New Spain. Gonzalo Salazar was a high-ranking official in the Royal Treasury of the colony, and at times a member of the junta that ruled New Spain.

In 1529 he was a part of the expedition of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán that conquered the western part of Mexico (the current states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Aguascalientes and parts of Sinaloa, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí). This brutal conquest took only a few years, and the newly conquered region became known as Nueva Galicia. The foundation of the cities of Compostela and Tepic in present-day Nayarit and Guadalajara and Zacatecas is attributed to Oñate.

In 1531 (probably January), Oñate founded a small town near Nochistlán to which the name Guadalajara was given. Two years later Beltrán de Guzmán visited the city, and at the request of its inhabitants, who were fearful of Indian attacks and lacked sufficient water, he ordered it moved to Tonalá. This occurred on May 24, 1533. Later, after Beltrán had returned to Spain, it was moved again, to a site near Tlacotan (northeast of modern Zapopan). This occurred probably between October 1541 and February of the following year.

During the conquest of Zacatecas rich silver mines were discovered that made Cristóbal de Oñate and his partners Diego de Ibarra and Juan de Tolosa among the richest men in New Spain. Oñate settled at the Pánuco mine in Zacatecas, where five of his six children were born. One of his sons, Juan de Oñate, married Isabel de Tolosa Cortes-Moctezuma, granddaughter of conquistador Hernan Cortes and greatgranddaughter of the last Aztec Emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin. Juan became an explorer of western North America and founder of the first European settlement on the upper Rio Grande in the present U.S. state of New Mexico. Both Juan and his twin brother Cristóbal served as Spanish governors of Nuevo Mexico.

Cristóbal de Oñate served as governor of the province of Nueva Galicia on three occasions. Besides being a conquistador, official and mineowner, he was a farmer, rancher and encomendero. Although he was a lieutenant of Beltrán de Guzmán, perhaps the bloodiest conquistador in the history of New Spain, some evidence suggests Oñate was not. He was a benefactor of the cities he founded. A generous spirit, he offered meals to the needy on a daily basis throughout his entire life, and is said to have turned over the proceeds from his encomiendas to improve native villages. Today, ancient Indian tribes and reservations persist in Mexico and the American Southwest. In the cities Onate founded, many streets, businesses, and geographic locations bear his name. He established a dynasty that retained wealth and power for 300 years.

Eventually however, he was arrested by the Crown for allegedly conspiring against the King, in June 1567, transported back to New Spain as a prisoner, tormented by a verdugo paid by the crown, and he died from his wounds.

Cristobal died in Pánuco, Zacatecas, on October 6, 1567, and was interred in the parochial church there.


New Mexico Royal Road by Max L. Moorhead;

Origen de los Fundadores de Texas, Nuevo Mexico, Coahulia, y Nuevo Leon, by Guillermo Garmendia Leal. (page 66 & 67).

Coronado, Knight of Pueblos and Plains by Herbert Eugene Bolton;

The Last Conquistador, Juan de Onate and the Settling of the far Southwest, by Marc Simmons.

New Mexico's First Colonists, compiled and arranged by David H. Snow.

Glory, God, and Gold, edited by Lewis Gannett.

With All Arms by Carl Laurence Duaine;

Historia del Nuevo Reino de Leon, by Eugenio del Hoyo.

The Texas Handbook Online


Wiki - Count Cristóbal de Narriahondo Pérez de Oñate

(Vitoria, 1504 - 1567) Militar español, gobernador y capitán general de Nueva Galicia (1536-1537; 1538; 1540-1544). Nacido en Vitoria, llegó a los territorios que poco después constituirían el virreinato de Nueva España en 1524. Cinco años más tarde, participó en la conquista de Nueva Galicia, a las órdenes de Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, y, un año después, conquistó la ciudad de Zapotlanejo a los tecuexes. Así mismo, intervino en la fundación de varias ciudades, tales como Compostela o Espíritu Santo (1530), la cual trasladó en 1542 a su definitivo emplazamiento y rebautizó como Guadalajara, tras hacer frente, durante su tercer mandato como gobernador de Nueva Galicia, a la rebelión chichimeca y caxcán (conocida como la guerra del Miztón) que un año antes había acabado con la vida de Pedro de Alvarado.

ARES 1555, Pasajeros a las Indias; CRISTOBAL DE OÑATE, vecino y natural de México, hijo de Cristóbal de Oñate y de Leonor de Salazar, soltero, a Nueva España, con sus criados Miguel Ortiz de Quincoces, vecino y natural de la Llana de Tudela, hijo de Rodrigo Ortiz de Quincoces y de María Ortiz de Angulo, soltero; Diego de Carvajal, vecino y natural de Talavera, hijo de don Honorato de Carvajal y de Mencía Hernández Aceituno, soltero.

Capitan. Conquistador de la Nueva Galicia y fundador de Zacatecas.

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Cristóbal de Oñate's Timeline

Guipúzcoa, España
Age 1
Pánuco, Reino de Nueva Galicia, Reino de Nueva España
Age 51
Real de Pánuco, Reino de Nueva Galicia, Reino de Nueva España