Dear Members,


Please find below our latest Newsletter. The two main articles are both on Brazil. For the first, we are delighted to welcome Maria Luiza Ugarte Pinheiro of the Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus as a contributor. Her paper looks at the port of Manaus during that city’s rubber boom between 1880 and 1920 and the differing experiences of the Portuguese and British working there. The second article is by Kenneth Light, an honorary member of the Society who lives in Brazil. He considers the role that the British Navy and, in particular, its admirals and officers played in ensuring a safe journey in 1807-08 to Rio de Janeiro for the Portuguese royal family, and in supporting the royal family in the years immediately after.


Our two articles on The British in Portugal both feature people from Porto. John Whitehead was the British Consul from 1756 to 1802. He played an important role in the establishment of the British Factory building and the opening of the British Cemetery. Elaine Sanceau, British of French origin, was a prolific historian, writing particularly about Portugal in the 16th century.


Our guided tour of 15th-Century coastal fortifications, held at the beginning of October, was well attended. Particularly appreciated was the presentation on the ruins of Torre de Santo Antonio, Cascais by Dra. Margarida Ramalho. We have asked Dra. Ramalho to talk to us again at our Annual Lunch on Saturday 28 January, this time on the subject of the Vilar Formoso Fronteira da Paz memorial museum. This is devoted to the role played by the Portuguese border town of Vilar Formoso in the reception of Jewish refugees and others who were escaping the Nazis in World War II. Dra. Ramalho was the historian for and curator of this excellent museum. Members will receive an official invitation in due course.


As this is our last Newsletter before Christmas, I take the opportunity to wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.


Edward Godfrey - Chairman

NEWS see more News here

NOVEMBER 15, 2022

Memorial unveiled to Portuguese fishermen who rescued American airmen

Sculpture on display in Faro


OCTOBER 24, 2022

British Peninsular War cannon found in the sea off Carcavelos

To be exhibited at the Museu do Mar in Cascais

EVENTS see more Events here

OCTOBER 20, 2022

Report of Trafalgar Day Lunch

Event held on 20 October 2022


OCTOBER 8, 2022

Report on a guided tour of the 15th-Century coastal fortifications to defend Lisbon

Event on 8 October 2022

ARTICLES see more Articles here

British Naval Involvement in Brazil, 1807-1815

Author: Kenneth Light



Year: 2022

Subject Matter: NA


Migration, labour and ethnicity: The Portuguese and English at Manaus harbour, 1880-1920

Author: Maria Luiza Ugarte Pinheiro



Year: 2022

Subject Matter: NA


The British in Portugal

John Whitehead was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire in 1726. He lived in Porto between 1756 and 1802, serving as the British Consul. The English Factory members in Porto assembled on the day after his death to vote that a “handsome and most expressive monument be erected”. The large monumental urn (pictured) is in the cemetery of St James’ Church, Porto, with the inscription noting that his passing was “regretted by all good people” and that the monument had been raised by the English Factory. It took close to 20 years for the monument to be installed, but the fact that members of the Factory ensured that it was eventually erected confirms that the inscription was not just speaking well of the dead and that Whitehead was, indeed, greatly admired. Whitehead had, in fact, been responsible for purchasing in 1787 the land “for the new cemetery of the British nation”.  In his portrait in the Factory House, he is seen holding a parchment scroll with the words “British cemetery” on it, an acknowledgement of the role he played.


Whitehead was a man of many interests and talents. As an amateur architect he had a major input into the design of the English Factory building, which was completed around 1790, and was also responsible for obtaining the necessary land for the building in 1767 and 1772. Credited with introducing the Neo-Palladian architectural style to Portugal, he worked closely with João de Almada e Melo, head of Porto’s Public Works department, to plan the layout of the city. He was involved in planning the construction of the Santo António Hospital, and with work carried out to improve Praça Ribeira, Largo São Domingos, and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Ó. 


He had a well-stocked library that showed evidence of his eclectic tastes. It included not only the obligatory Bible but also the Koran, The Holy War by John Bunyan, and David Hume’s Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, together with the sermons of St. Augustine and Martin Luther. The library also reflected his interest in engineering, astronomy and mathematics. At home, he experimented with a camera obscura and with electricity, and also had an observatory on the roof of his house. He installed a lightning conductor. Such activities led to allegations that he was a sorcerer, and he was even denounced to the Inquisition, although it was not followed up. 


John Whitehead never married. He died on 15 December 1802.


Sources: Elaine Sanceau, The British Factory Oporto; John Delaforce, Anglicans abroad: the history of the chaplaincy and Church of St. James at Oporto.

The British in Portugal

Elaine Sanceau, of French origin, was born in Croydon in 1896. After studying in Montreux, Switzerland, she left with her family for Brazil, where she remained until 1931. While in Brazil she began to learn about the colonial history of Portugal, particularly that of the 16th century, and began to carry out research into the period.


After leaving Brazil she settled in Porto, later moving to Leça do Balio, in Porto’s northern suburbs. In 1939, her first major study was published: Indies Adventure; the Amazing Career of Afonso De Albuquerque, Captain-general and Governor of India (1509-1515), published in Portuguese as Afonso de Albuquerque - O Sonho da Índia. This book was recently described by a Brazilian reviewer as achieving in prose what Camões achieved in poetry.


Sanceau would eventually produce 38 books, of which 28 were on the 16th century. Among her other works was the British Factory at Oporto, a brief but enjoyable and idiosyncratic look at the Factory’s history. With this exception, which does not appear to have been published in Portuguese, all of her books were written in English and then translated but her excellent knowledge of Portuguese made her a severe critic of the translators’ work. She was a diligent researcher and spent innumerable hours in the archives of Torre de Tombo and the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino. In October 1953, she was awarded a scholarship to visit the old Portuguese fortresses of Ceuta, Arzila and Tangier.



Not all of her books appear to have been published in English but those that did attracted favourable comment, such as one reviewer who wrote that “she writes with the ease and confidence of the seasoned professional, who not only knows her factual data but has also mastered the art of historical synthesis and interpretation”. Apart from those already mentioned, her books published in English included Reign of the Fortunate King: Manuel I of Portugal; The Land of Prester John; Knight of the Renaissance: D. Joao De Castro: Soldier, Sailor, Scientist and Viceroy of India, 1500-1548; Henry The Navigator: The Story of a Great Prince & His Times; and Captains of Brazil. In addition to her books, Sanceau contributed newspaper articles, including to the Anglo-Portuguese News.



Sanceau was awarded the "Camões Prize" in 1944 for Em Demanda do Preste João. She was also made an officer of the Order of Santiago de Espada in 1953 and the Order of Infante D. Henrique in 1961. She was elected as a member of the Institute of Coimbra, the International Academy of Portuguese Culture and the Centre for Overseas Studies. She was awarded the Gold Medal of the city of Porto in 1968. After her death, two days before Christmas in 1978, a road in the Seixo area of Porto was named after her. Her final work, Mulheres Portuguesas no Ultramar, was published posthumously.



British Factory at Oporto is available from the Society’s library, as are D. Henrique o Navegador and A Corte Multi-Racial do Rei D. Manuel, both in Portuguese.


Main source: Elaine Sanceau - A inglesa que se apaixonou pela história dos Portugueses



What is the connection between this statue in the Parque das Nações, Lisbon and the New York Borough of Queens?

The answer to the quiz can be found at the end of the Members' News section

Book review

Jeremy Black, A Brief History of Portugal. Black has written books on topics as diverse as the histories of Italy and Spain and a historian’s view of the James Bond novels and films. He contributed several articles to the Society’s Annual Report in the 1980s. He begins by regretting the lack of attention paid to Portugal and its history. But this book is not really aimed at redressing that gap, so much as providing a “succinct history aimed at the tourist”.


In this he succeeds fairly well. The book provides a good synthesis of Portuguese history but, in doing so, also mentions many places that merit a visit. These often go beyond the traditional tourist sights and thus the book is also likely to be of interest to residents of Portugal seeking to broaden their knowledge of the country.


The first few chapters, covering prehistory, the Romans, the Visigoths and Moors, are fairly breathless and the reader’s understanding is not helped by a tendency to use rather long sentences. From Chapter 5, which talks about the Age of Expansion, the text goes into more depth and is broken up by the use of boxes, often providing amusing vignettes of life in Portugal.


The chapter on The Age of Expansion, covering Portugal´s maritime exploits, reminds us that in national history the successes tend to be exaggerated and the failures ignored or, as Churchill allegedly said, “History is written by the victors”. Black points out that Portugal spent far more in trying unsuccessfully to overcome Morocco than it did on its ventures to the Indies and the Far East. Yet, little is known by the Portuguese about the country’s difficulties in supressing Morocco. In terms of European relations, Black states that “Portugal’s problem was similar to that of many second-rank states; unable to gain advantage without powerful allies but all too easy to drop in the kaleidoscopic nature of alliance politics”. All the more surprising, then, that despite occasional difficulties, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance has endured.


The chapter entitled “Baroque Portugal 1640-1750” might be overlooked if, like the reviewer, you are not inspired by Baroque architecture. In fact, the chapter contains a fascinating description of the sociology of the period. Black then turns his attention to the 1755 earthquake and its consequences, before moving on to the French invasions of 1807-10 and their aftermath. Detailed consideration is given to the Lines of Torres Vedras, although Black seems to be writing from memory rather than recent research when he says that “despite the covering embrace of vegetation, it is still possible to follow important parts of these defences”, rather ignoring the excellent restoration work carried out for the 200th anniversary, which removed most of the “covering embrace”.


The subsequent chapter does an excellent job of summarising the complex events of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Black then reviews the period of instability after the overthrow of the monarchy, which led to the Salazar era. He argues that Salazar constrained Portugal’s growth, initially by creating a climate that deterred overseas investment and, later, by devoting resources to a futile effort to keep Portugal’s colonies. The final historical chapter brings us up to the present day. It describes well the chaos in the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution and both the benefits of EU membership and the difficulties it caused by opening Portuguese markets to greater competition. The problems caused by the 2008 global recession are also well described. The book ends with four brief chapters aimed at tourists, describing the north, centre, south and islands of Portugal.


Apart from a map at the beginning, the book lacks illustrations. It could also benefit from improved editing and proofreading and the publishers might like to change the back-cover blurb, which implies that Cape Verde is part of Portugal. Notwithstanding these quibbles, it’s a good read and an ideal book to use when planning your next trip around Portugal.



Members' News

Following our Quiz question in the last newsletter, about the number of people in the Porto wine business who came from Hull, our former Chairman, Clive Gilbert, has informed us that he is a descendant of George Henry Sellers (1777-1827) on his mother’s side.


Three of our members, Inês Andrade, João Soares, and our chairman, Edward Godfrey, participated in an event at Foz de Arelho on 6 November to remember the shipwreck of the SS Romania 130 years ago. You can read a report of the event here.


In 2009 we published Eyewitness Accounts of the Portuguese Revolution (1974-76). This included contributions from our members, Robert Bremner, Clive Gilbert, Martin Reynolds, and Robert Symington. The book tells some fascinating stories and copies are still available from our library. With the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution fast approaching, if any other members have memories of those times we'd like to hear from you. Please contact the library.


The Lisbon Sports Club, where we recently held our AGM, is creating a museum space to highlight both the importance of the club and the role of British community in the beginning of sport in Portugal. If members have any relevant information, photographs, letters, objects, or anything else related to the Club, please contact us at


Peter Gilbert has kindly given us two articles he wrote in the 1990s. Both were mainly targetted at tourists but they still make fascinating reading. They are on Lisbon and on Sintra.


Answer to Quiz. Catherine of Braganza.


Catherine of Braganza (Portuguese - Catarina de Brangança) was married to King Charles II from 1662 until his death in 1685. During this marriage she was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.  The Borough of Queens in New York City is said to have been named in her honour as the English acquired New Amsterdam from the Dutch and re-named it New York during the reign of Charles II. As well as being Queen of England, Catherine served as regent of Portugal during the absence of her brother Pedro II in 1701 and during 1704–1705, after her return to her homeland as a widow.


In 1983, after the tri-centennial of the establishment of Queens County, a group known as the Portuguese American "Friends of Queen Catherine" society proposed to erect a 35-foot statue of Queen Catherine in the Borough of Queens, on the East River waterfront facing Manhattan.  Audrey Flack was selected as the sculptor of the proposed statue. However, opposition to the project arose from several quarters; some African-American groups opposed the plans for the statue after allegations that Queen Catherine and the House of Braganza had profited from the slave trade emerged, while Irish-Americans in Queens were upset that the proposed location of the statue would eclipse the Calvary Cemetery which had been established for the Irish immigrant community in the United States. As a result of the public opposition the statue was never erected in New York and was eventually melted down. However, a quarter-scale model was installed at the site of Expo ‘98 in the Parque das Nações of Lisbon, facing west across the Atlantic.


We would be delighted to hear about items of news from members, however insignificant they may appear. Of special interest is news about books or articles that have been published by members, or visits to historical sites or exhibitions of interest.



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Carcavelos, September, 2018


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