Dear Member,



Please find below our latest newsletter. I hope you will enjoy reading it.



Our two main articles for this issue are on protestant cemeteries in Brazil. Carol Rankin writes about the British Cemetery in Salvador da Bahia, while Andrew Shepherd contributes an article on the one in Recife. The two cemeteries have experienced contrasting fortunes: that in Salvador is attractively positioned and well maintained, while that in Recife is in a built-up area and has limited resources.



Our Annual General Meeting in early July was well attended. Members also enjoyed an excellent tour of some of the important forts of the Lines of Torres Vedras, expertly guided by our Vice-Chairman, Mark Crathorne. A report is included in the newsletter.



I should also like to draw your attention to our News item on “Records of British people living in Lisbon”. Our Librarian, Dani Monteiro, has patiently transcribed information from index cards onto Excel spreadsheets. This promises to be an excellent resource for researchers and for those seeking to track down ancestors.



At the end of this September members from Lisbon will be visiting Porto and the Douro. We hope that this will not only be a fascinating trip but also an excellent opportunity for members from Lisbon and Porto to better get to know each other.



With all good wishes,



Edward Godfrey






NEWS see more News here

JUNE 10, 2023

Records of British people living in Lisbon

Details of 5,500 British residents since the 18th century now available

EVENTS see more Events here

SEPTEMBER 15, 2023

Report on visit to Quinta de Villar d’Allen

Visit by Porto Members


JULY 10, 2023

Report on the talk on 'The Life and Times of Baron Joseph James Forrester’

To the Oporto branch - Part 1


JULY 8, 2023

Report of Annual General Meeting and visit to the Lines of Torres Vedras

Annual General Meeting for the year 2022

ARTICLES see more Articles here

The British Cemetery in Recife

Author: Andrew Shepherd



Year: 2023

Subject Matter: British Community and Family History


The British Cemetery in Salvador da Bahia

Author: Carol Rankin



Year: 2023

Subject Matter: British Community and Family History


Did you know?

Did you know that the Hospital de Santo António, one of the largest and best-known buildings in Porto, was designed by an Englishman who probably never even visited Portugal?


After the 1755 earthquake, under the influence of the Marquis de Pombal, Lisbon became the architectural centre of the Enlightenment in Portugal, eschewing the previously dominant Baroque style. In Porto, the style adopted in Lisbon was combined with the Neo-Palladian ideas of the city's English community, who had seen Palladian architecture on their visits home. The resulting style in Porto came to be known as “port-wine architecture”.


At the time a new hospital for Porto was being planned by the Misericórdia, John Whitehead was the English consul in the city. An amateur architect, he worked closely with João de Almada e Melo, head of Porto’s Public Works department, to plan the layout of the city. Whitehead had been a boyhood friend of the English architect, John Carr, and persuaded the authorities to give the contract for designing the new hospital to Carr.


This was far from being cronyism on the part of Whitehead. Carr already had an established reputation as an architect in England, having built Kirby Hall at Harrogate for Lord Burlington. Further, in his submission to Porto, he noted that he had made “a journey through this kingdom [United Kingdom] to see its main hospitals before starting the plan” to design the Leeds Royal Infirmary. However, this was the first time that an English architect had been invited to draw up plans for a building in Porto.


Carr was born in Horbury near Wakefield, the eldest of nine children and the son of a master mason. He started his career as an architect in 1748 and his success led to his becoming Lord Mayor of York. He died in 1807.


Most of Carr’s work was done in the north of England. His eclectic achievements included the Crescent at Buxton, designed to rival the Royal Crescent in Bath; Newark Town Hall; York Assize Courts; Harewood House, with interiors by Robert Adam; Tabley House in Cheshire and many other country homes for the wealthy; as well as racecourse grandstands, prisons and churches. His mastery of single-span roofs enabled him to build new churches without the traditional sub-division into nave and aisles. He was responsible for more than 60 bridges in north Yorkshire; most are still in use.


On vacant land, at the time on the outskirts of the city, the first stone of the Hospital de Santo António, intended to replace the old Hospital D. Lopo de Almeida, was laid on 15 July 1770. Built in granite, it is considered one of the best examples of neo-palladian architecture outside England and was the first neoclassical building in Porto, which greatly influenced the subsequent architecture of the city, including the British Factory building, in which Whitehead played an important architectural role. The original project, with four monumental wings and a church, with a Greek cross and dome, located in the centre of the large cloister, was never fully completed. However, it remains an impressive building, particularly in view of the unevenness of the land on which it was built and the work required to level the ground.


With works still ongoing, the first 150 patients were admitted on 19 August 1799, 29 years after the start of construction. In 1825 the hospital became host to the new Royal School of Surgery of Porto, with 70 students.


The original plans, together with a detailed explanation, were sent by sea, through Captain Robert Schonswar, who returned to England with the payment of five hundred pounds. This was a relatively modest charge for Carr’s work at the time, possibly because he believed that the Misericórdia did not have the funds to complete the work. Researchers have been unable to identify any visit to Portugal by Carr. It therefore seems likely that he designed such a notable building without ever seeing the site.

The British in Portugal

John Norton was born in Birmingham on 26 November 1801. At the age of 14, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and sailed to Saint Helena, reaching the island in mid-1816, when Napoleon was in residence. Norton was chosen, with two others, to do some work in the emperor’s garden and on one occasion Napoleon sent his guards to give him and his fellow workers wine and biscuits. Returning home, he enlisted in the Honourable East India Company's Artillery as a mechanic, sailing for Bombay in December 1819 where he was appointed to the gun carriage factory. His evenings were often spent at a Mrs King’s house. A young lodger there was Anne MacKenzie and the couple married on 18 June 1822.


In 1825, new Mint equipment had arrived in Bombay from Birmingham, made by Boulton and Watt of Birmingham. When a man who was employed in the assembly of the Mint died, Norton was offered the position.  He was eventually promoted to a position where he managed all the native workmen. A die multiplier at the Mint then died, and Norton was proposed to fill the vacancy, for which he would have to be discharged from the Army. His wife, Anne, died in 1830. He married his second wife, Margaret, in April 1831.


Norton could not get on with the new manager of the mint and, on 4 January 1834, he and his family left for England. Meanwhile, in Lisbon in February 1834, an agent from London encouraged the Portuguese government to purchase a steam-powered Mint like that used by the Royal Mint in London. A year later a contract was signed between the Portuguese Government and the British company of Willcox & Andersen, to establish the Mint in Lisbon. The equipment was to come from the same company that had supplied the Bombay Mint, and Norton was chosen as one of those to go to Lisbon to install it, even though, according to his diary, he was quite happy in England. It was only the high salary offered that persuaded him to go.


After a month in London and 21 days at sea, he arrived at Belém with his family, only to discover that the accommodation proposed by the local agent was of very poor quality. He eventually found a place he considered suitable, run by an Englishwoman, but had to go out to buy his own beds.


Installation of the Mint ran into numerous problems and the work was much criticised by the government. In the end, all of those recruited to do the work left Lisbon, apart from Norton, described as “among all the English who came in that great import of workers and machinists, the only one who had practice, and who knew his trade”. His skills were soon recognised and he was often called on to provide advice to other sites with steam engines, where the technicians had run into difficulties. He also taught over thirty naval apprentices. This led to a contract with the government in 1837 specifying his role as an installer and repairer of mechanical equipment and as a trainer. In 1841 he also managed to obtain a job for his 14-year-old son, William, as a machinist.


All was not plain sailing, however. A Portuguese rival tricked Norton to join a ship waiting to sail to England so that he could say farewell to a friend. The rival then sailed off leaving Norton stuck on the ship with no means of returning to the banks of the Tagus. It was only with difficulty that he persuaded the pilot to allow him to join his vessel. Norton arrived home to find his wife in tears as she had been told he had sailed for England.


The family returned to England in 1838 but shortly after Norton was offered a contract to return to Lisbon to direct the coin production. He worked on successive two-year contracts but in 1849 resolved to return home for good. However, the government gave him a permanent contract and made him a Captain in the Navy in 1852 because of his service in the armoury. This both ensured he would have a pension and gave him authority over those he worked with. He became Inspector-General of Machinery in Portugal


Margaret Norton died in April 1862. Norton died in Lisbon on 27 June 1876. They were buried in the same plot at the British Cemetery. In addition to William, from his first marriage, he had several children with Margaret. Their son, John, became a Captain in the Portuguese Navy. Several other children stayed in Portugal.


Main source: Extracts from a Contemporary Englishman’s Unpublished Autobiography. Mrs E. Watson. Historical Association, Lisbon Branch. Sixth Annual Report 1942


Which future British prime minister and his bride spent their honeymoon in Portugal at the Hotel Urgeiriça (photo), near the Serra de Estrela?

Answer at the end of Members' News.

Book Review

PORTO – Gateway to the World by Neil Lochery. Bloomsbury, 2020. Price: around €20.


This is an excellent book that not only provides a lively picture of Porto but also places the development of that city in the context of the broader history of Portugal. Quotations from the writings of others are eclectic, varying from the memoirs of a British army ensign in the Peninsular War to the Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, and the alternative rock musician, Lou Reed, commenting favourably on the acoustics of the Casa da Música.


The book is part guidebook and part history, with an emphasis on the latter. The author basically divides his book into eight chapters, assuming that you have the mornings and afternoons of four days to explore the city. Given the detail that Lochery provides, this ageing reviewer would probably need eight days rather than four. The chapters are divided into themes rather than specific parts of the city so, while Lochery avoids too much criss-crossing of routes, readers must be prepared for lots of walking. Although it identifies numerous buildings and other places to visit, the book is printed in large format, is rather heavy and is thus not particularly suitable to be used as a guidebook while strolling around. Unlike some of the author’s books, a Kindle version does not yet appear to be available.


Although not the capital of Portugal, Porto seems to have experienced much more fighting than Lisbon. Lochery vividly covers the storming of Porto by the French under Marshal Soult, the tragedy of the Bridge of Boats, when thousands were killed, and the subsequent eviction of the French from Porto by Wellesley. One can almost imagine oneself to be in Porto at the time. He then moves on to the growth of Liberalism, which had its foundations in Porto, and which eventually led to the War of the Brothers and to the Siege of Porto when the forces of Dom Pedro found themselves surrounded by the troops of Dom Miguel, with the Siege only being lifted after a failed attack by the Miguelites. If that were not enough fighting for one city, the Patuleia revolt by a Liberal faction in Porto was only controlled by British warships blocking the mouth of the Douro, in support of Queen Maria II. Further fighting took place in Porto in 1927, when a military faction loyal to the monarchy started an unsuccessful revolt revolt against the Republican government, leaving 80 people dead before it surrendered.


Lochery thoughtfully tacks on a chapter at the end of the book, with brief descriptions of some of the main towns and cities surrounding Porto, notably Coimbra, Guimarães, Braga, Amarante, Peso da Régua and Pinhão on the Douro, and Viano do Castelo.


The quality of the photos could perhaps be improved and the Index has some notable gaps. One can search in vain for Vila Nova de Gaia, for example, even though it is regularly mentioned in the text. But all in all, an excellent read.

Members' News

On 15 August, Mark Crathorne, Vice-Chairman of the Society,  accompanied by members Selwyn and Jackie Kennard and Tim and Angela Richardson, visited Óbidos to participate in the anniversary celebrations of the very first engagement of the Peninsular War, a skirmish fought between the French garrison of Óbidos and the British advance guard of Wellesley’s (later the Duke of Wellington) Anglo-Portuguese Army as it marched south. This resulted in five British deaths, the first in combat during the 6-year Peninsular War.


The celebrations commenced in nearby Gaeiras, with a viewing of part of the collection of weapons and memorabilia from the Peninsular War of Frederico Pinto Bastos, whose grandmother was English (née Custance). The complete collection has been donated to the municipality of Óbidos. It is one of the most important private collections in the Iberian Peninsula. 


Next, the assembled enthusiasts moved to the house of Jõao Franco, a retired history teacher from the USA, where both the injured British and French had their wounds treated. Several British subjects who live locally were involved. To end the celebrations, one minute’s silence was held in memory of the five British casualties of that day, 215 years’ ago, poignantly brought to a close by the haunting tones of Scottish bagpipes.


For more information and photos, please see here.


Recognition of the Society’s contribution to the memory and patrimony of the Battle of Vimeiro. On 21 August, Edward Godfrey and Mark Crathorne, respectively chairman and vice-chairman of the Society, together with members, Gavin Trechman and Tim Richardson, were guests of the mayor of Lourinhã and the Portuguese Army at the celebrations of the 215th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimeiro. Vimeiro is a small village about 60 kilometers north of Lisbon, which was the site of a battle on that August day in 1808 during the first French invasion of Portugal during the Peninsular War. The Anglo-Portuguese forces, commanded by Wellesley, decisively defeated the French, commanded by General Junot.


During the military ceremony in front of the monument celebrating the battle, Mark accepted on behalf of the Society, a diploma from the Interpretation Centre, which recognised the Society’s contribution to the preservation and divulgation of the important historic and military patrimony of the Interpretation Centre. It was particularly appropriate for Mark to receive this award as over the last 20 years, he and Clive Gilbert, a former chairman of the Society, have contributed immensely by translating exhibit labels and video scripts, and conducting research into the events of the battle and the uniforms of the regiments that fought in it.


After the ceremony, the Society representatives were invited to lunch at a local restaurant together with other guests present.


More information, with photographs, can be found here.




Answer to Quiz. Anthony Eden and his wife Clarissa Churchill. Their wedding reception in August 1952 was held at 10 Downing Street as she was the niece of the then prime minister, Winston Churchill.




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Carcavelos, September, 2018


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