Juan Manuel Bonilla, the captain of the galleon, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, was born in Seville, Spain, to Pedro de Bonilla and Maria Antonia de Esquivel in about 1699. Seville was the center of trade for the West Indies and his family was prominent in the West Indian trade. Bonilla married Maria Agustina de Utrera in 1734. During the 1730s he and his mother-in-law owned and operated a merchant galleon which routinely traded with Veracruz, Mexico. European goods would be shipped from Spain in exchange for silver and gold and other valuable New World commodities.
It is in Seville today that the records of Spain’s involvement in the story of the real Treasure island are stored in the Archivo General de Indias. It is in this archive that most of the documents related to Spain’s trade with the new world are kept. Records such as the cargo manifest that gives a detailed account of the cargo of the Guadalupe including her treasure, diplomatic correspondence, and detailed records of Captain Juan Manuel Bonilla’s efforts to recover his treasure and bring his galleon home.