The province formerly known as Tayabas, was explored by the Spaniards in 1571 and 1572 when Juan de Salcedo visited and explored upon the order of the first Spanish Governor General of the Philippines, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. They passed through the central portion of Tayabas in his march across Laguna Province to Paracale. The following years, Salcedo led his famous expeditions around the northern coast of Luzon. He visited the "CONTRACOSTA" towns of Casiguran, Baler and Infanta.
In 1574, Father Diego de Oropesa, who found a group of native barangays with their own culture and government, founded the municipality of Gumaca, then called Bumaka.
The territory which now constitutes the province of Tayabas was at one time under the jurisdiction of various provinces. The southern and central portions, for example, were in 1585 under the jurisdiction of the province of Bonbon, sometimes called Balayan (now Batangas). the northern portion was divided between Laguna and Nueva Ecija, while the other portion was divided into the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque and Camarines.
In 1591, Tayabas was created into a province under the name of Kalilayan. Its capital was the ancient town of Tayabas, now a barrio in the town of Unisan where ancient tombs and artifacts can be found. However, by the middle of the 18th century the provincial capital was moved to what is now the municipality of Tayabas.
The year 1595 marked the spiritual birth of Quezon Province with its incorporation into the Diocess of Nueva Caceres. The first Catholic Bishop of the province was Fray Francisco Ortiga, an Agustinian Friar, while its first Alcalde Mayor was Don Simeon Alvarez, who served from 1625 to 1655.
In September 7, 1946, President Manuel A. Roxas, by virtue of Republic Act No. 14 renamed the province to Quezon, in honor of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, the most illustrious son of Baler, formerly part of Quezon.
The present seat of provincial government is Lucena City, the province's capital.