At the beginning of the 19th century any British in Rio de Janeiro who died were buried at sea. As Protestants they could not be buried in churches. Following the evacuation of the Portuguese Royal Family to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, King João VI naturally felt well-disposed to the British for their help in the evacuation and allocated a plot of land in the Gamboa district for a Britsh cemetery. The first burial took place on 15 January 1811. Previously, under the 1810 Treaty of Commerce, the King had agreed that "British citizens in Brazilian territories shall not be perturbed in the practice of their Protestant faith." Originally surrounded by the sea and open land, the cemetery is now enclosed by Rio's first favela (shanty town) and dockland. Restoration work on the cemetery and small chapel was carried out in 2004.
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