Dear members,


As Covid 19 restrictions have been eased, many of our members will have been visiting family and friends in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Your chairman decided to visit the Azores, namely the islands of São Miguel and Terceira. Inevitably he found his way to the British Cemetery at Ponta Delgada. This will be the subject of an article in the next Newsletter.


We have been able to organise two walking tours recently. The first was a visit to the British Cemetery, Lisbon, guided by your chairman, and the second was a walk to explore the forts of the Oeiras coast, guided by Mark Crathorne, vice-chairman. Further details can be found in this newsletter.


On 28 May 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon and headed for the English Channel. Our first article, by Andrew Shepherd, looks at the preparations made in Lisbon for the Armada’s departure and the disruption to that departure caused by the activities of Sir Francis Drake. One year later, Drake was himself leading an armada in support of the claimant to the Portuguese throne, the Prior of Crato. We provide a link to an article by João Vaz and Luis Falcão da Fonseca that first appeared in the Society’s Annual Report of 1996.


As usual the Newsletter contains shorter articles on “The British in Portugal” and “Did you know?”, as well as a quiz and a book review. I am most grateful to our contributors who continue to bring to our attention such interesting features.


Several new members have joined the Society in recent months. We do indeed welcome them and look forward to meeting them at our events.


The Council will be meeting this month to determine a programme of events for the forthcoming months, which are likely to be outdoors, unless the Covid 19 situation evolves favourably and enables the Society to schedule the habitual talks and maybe even a film night.


With all good wishes,


Edward Godfrey - Chairman

NEWS see more News here

JUNE 4, 2021

Donation of books on Portugal's military history

We are happy to announce the donation of books to the Society from the Portuguese Military History Commission

EVENTS see more Events here


Report on the guided walk along the Oeiras coast

A visit to some of the forts on the Tagus estuary


JUNE 5, 2021

Report on the tours of the British Cemetery

Two groups visited the cemetery on 5 June

ARTICLES see more Articles here

Sir Francis Drake and the Poor King D. António: The Portugal Voyage of 1589

Author: João Vaz and Luis Falcão da Fonseca


Page: 25

Year: 1996

Subject Matter: Military


The Spanish Armada in Lisbon: preparing to invade England

Author: Andrew Shepherd



Year: 2021

Subject Matter: Military other than Peninsular War


Did you know?

Did you know that one of the most famous Australian poets of the 19th century, Adam Lindsay Gordon, was long thought to have been born in the Azores? Generations of Australian schoolchildren learned that he was born on the island of Faial and authoritative sources such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography, list his place of birth as “Fayal” in the Azores. However, it is now thought his actual place of birth was Charlton Kings, near Cheltenham.


Adam Lindsay Gordon, born on 19 October 1833, was the son of Adam Durnford Gordon and Harriet Elizabeth Gordon. The senior Adam served in India as a captain in the Bengal cavalry and was also a teacher of Hindustani. Some sources state his parents had moved to the Azores in 1830 seeking a climate to cure a lung ailment that afflicted Harriet. The family also resided in Madeira for a time. It does seem certain that young Adam spent most of the first seven years of his life in Portugal.


The Adam Lindsay Gordon Commemorative Committee website offers a wonderfully idyllic description of the family’s time in Portugal, “So they moved to the Azores Islands, taking a delightful rambling house with a delicious old garden among the vineyards of Fayel (sic). What a lovely place that was! All the luxuriance of a tropic Island, brimming over with flowers and fruits the whole year round. The picturesque old Portuguese village of white cottages, the church with its pealing bells, the rich vineyards and orange groves, the mild, sunny climate, the quiet uneventful passing of the months and years…”


Famous in the late 19th century and considered the national poet of Australia, he is the author of ballads full of vitality and poems where Victorian romanticism pervades. He is the only Australian poet with a bust in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, in London. The bust of Gordon was unveiled on 11 May 1934 in Westminster Abbey by the Duke of York and was a monument to “his extraordinary popularity”, according to biographer Leonie Kramer. Gordon’s popularity was reflected in his election to the South Australia parliament.  Kramer concisely describes Gordon by writing, “He combined his parliamentary duties with steeplechasing, travelling to races in Adelaide, Ballarat and Melbourne, and publishing poems.”  The title of one of the best known of his works, Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes, gives an idea of the topics he wrote about.


More recent research has uncovered a baptism record and a newspaper birth announcement indicating Gordon was born at Charlton Kings, as well as a 1851 National Census record, in which he indicated Charlton Kings as his birthplace. A search of the archive in Horta, Faial, affirms that the family was resident there in the 1830s and an entry in the records states that Adam Lindsay Gordon was born in Faial on 19 October 1833. At that time the records of birth and baptism in Portugal were maintained by the Catholic church in each parish and there was no government registry of births. As the Gordon family were not Catholic, there was no baptism record. 



More details of his life and writings can be found at

The British in Portugal

Henry Veitch was born in Selkirk, Scotland in 1781 and died in Funchal in 1857. An important wine merchant, who became very rich, he was appointed in 1809 as British consul-general in Madeira but eventually lost the position after conflicts with other residents and the Anglican church.


On August 23, 1815, Veitch was the only person from Madeira who was allowed to board the Northumberland, which was carrying Napoleon to exile in Saint Helena.  He provided the ex-Emperor with fruit, some other gifts and a “pipe” of Madeiran wine (around 600 bottles). Napoleon replied by sending some gold coins to pay for the boat that had carried these provisions to the ship. According to tradition, Veitch threw the coins under the cornerstone of the Anglican church, when the foundation was laid for its construction. Veitch designed and was supervising the construction of the church.


The barrel of Madeira was apparently never opened by Napoleon, and after his death was returned to the island, where it remained until 1840. Part of the contents were eventually used to fill 200 bottles and those that remain are now very rare, and very valuable. One was given to Winston Churchill, when he holidayed at Reid's Hotel in 1950, and he distributed the contents among the guests.


In 1828, during the Portuguese Civil War, Veitch provided protection to many of the Liberal supporters of D. Pedro who had fled from the mainland, as well as deserters from the Miguelist side. For this he was suspended as consul-general, regaining the position with the support of Palmerston in 1831. In 1832 he was briefly the de facto Governor of Madeira after the arrival of a Pedrist warship, negotiating an agreement that allowed the Governor and other leading Miguelists to leave the island. He was replaced as consul-general again in 1836 following complaints about his behaviour, including those of Protestant evangelists, who he considered insensitive to the Portuguese. As well as being on the Liberal side, he was also a strong supporter of Madeiran autonomy.


Veitch spent a considerable part of his fortune on the purchase or construction of several noteworthy buildings that remain in Madeira to this day, including his former town house with its tall observation tower, which is now used by the Madeira Wine Institute, and the Clube Naval do Funchal, as well as the Quinta da Jardim da Serra (now a hotel), where he started the cultivation of tea.


Despite all these achievements, Veitch is perhaps best remembered for his sexual proclivities. There are various stories. One suggests that at his Quinta he surrounded himself with a harem of 30 girls and young women. An alternative version is that he continued his building in the villages, providing cottages for his girlfriends, who he would visit when in the area. Numerous children resulted and there can be few people in Madeira who now lack a drop of Veitch blood.



Before the British Cemetery in Lisbon was established in 1717, what were the usual burial practices for British Protestants?

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

Book Review

Queen of the Sea: A History of Lisbon


Barry Hatton, the Lisbon correspondent of Reuters, is best known for his book, The Portuguese: A Modern History, which is almost required reading for English speakers moving to Portugal and even for the more inquisitive tourist who wants to do more than just relax on Algarve beaches. Queen of the Sea: A History of Lisbon, which was published in 2018, goes into more depth about the city that Hatton argues is an example of macrocephaly, an outsized metropolis where all power and resources are concentrated. This is an entertaining and informative read, and long-time residents should find it just as interesting as will newcomers to Portugal.


Perhaps aware that even the most avid historian can get bored with a long recital of kings and queens throughout the ages, Hatton combines his discussion of the early history with anecdotes and with information about where to go in Lisbon to bring the history to life. For instance, his description of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147, when the Moors were eventually evicted from the city, leads him to discuss José Saramago, author of The History of the Siege of Lisbon among many others. Then Hatton suddenly jumps forward seven centuries to discuss the origins of fado, the connection being that fado originated in the most cosmopolitan part of Lisbon, Mouraria, which derives its name from the Moors.


Particularly vivid is his description of the departure of the Royal Family and 15,000 others to Brazil in 1807 as French troops approached. The chaos seems not far removed from recent events in Kabul. Struggling to find a ship that could take them, Lisbon’s elite piled up their possessions on the banks of the river at Belém and trusted to luck that their bags and boxes would be delivered to their ship. Some arrived in Rio de Janeiro with nothing. Others found that all their possessions made it to Rio, while they were left behind in Lisbon.


Not only does Queen of the Sea provide a fascinating review of the city’s history, it also serves as a tourist guide for those who have time to wander Lisbon’s streets. Hatton identifies the locations where the events he describes occurred and even points out wall plaques that record the events.  All in all, an excellent read, although if a 2nd Edition is planned it would be nice if the physical book were not so rigid. The pages are bound together so tightly that if you don’t hold it open firmly with both hands, some of the words disappear into the spine. 

Members' News

We have recently uploaded to our website links to several interesting videos. Click on Research at the top of the page and then Videos at the bottom of the next page.


Answer to the quiz.

After the Reformation, British Protestants living in Lisbon were unable to bury their dead according to their beliefs. The British were regarded as heretics by the Catholic Portuguese and their graves, if visible, would have been desecrated. The practice was to bury British dead in wooden boxes, often those previously used for the importation of sugar, in beaches on the other side of the Tagus. Bodies would be taken secretly across the river at nighttime. Alternatively, burials would be carried out in remote spots where it was unlikely the graves would be discovered.


For more information, see The British Cemetery in Lisbon by Robert Howes, available from the Society’s Library for €5.00. Several articles about the Cemetery have appeared in our Annual Reports. Please search “Cemetery” on our website to see what is available online.


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Carcavelos, September, 2018


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