Dear Members,


The death of Prince Philip on 9th April will no doubt have brought back memories for our older members of State visits of the Queen and Prince Philip to Portugal. Several of you will have met the couple, some even perhaps first as school children and later as adults. We remember Prince Philip in a brief article on the two state visits.


For the theme of our main articles this issue we return to Porto. Andrew Shepherd writes about W.H.G. Kingston who was initially involved with the wine trade before returning to the UK to write stories for boys and become one of the best-known writers of his time, although now hardly remembered. For our other article, we reprint another fascinating chapter from the 1899 book of Charles Sellers, entitled “Oporto Old and New”.


At a time when members are beginning to receive their COVID vaccinations, or are wondering when they will be receiving them, we thought it would be instructive to look back over 200 years ago to when smallpox vaccinations were first introduced. Our “Did you know?” and “The British in Portugal” sections cover this, and we have a related Quiz question.


With the relaxation of restrictions related to the pandemic, we make a gentle return to normality by offering visits to the British Cemetery in Lisbon on Saturday, June 5. We hope to be able to offer a coastal walk in the Oeiras area on 26 June and hold our Annual General Meeting, with lunch and a talk, in early July. The trip to Mértola, Minas de São Domingos and Beja is now set for Friday, September 3rd to Sunday September 5th, 2021


Finally, may I remind those members who have not yet paid their subscriptions for 2021 to do so as soon as possible. Subscription queries should be addressed to The Society’s Annual Report and Review for 2020, due to be published in early July will only be sent to fully paid-up members.


Edward Godfrey, Chairman.

NEWS see more News here

MAY 23, 2021

Redcoat History: Podcasts on the Peninsular War

Redcoat History is a podcast and YouTube channel dedicated to the study of British military history.


APRIL 23, 2021

Funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh

RTP broadcast of the funeral with commentary by our Vice-Chairman

EVENTS see more Events here

JUNE 26, 2021

Guided walk along the Oeiras coast

A journey through four centuries of history


JUNE 5, 2021

Guided Tour of the British Cemetery, St George’s Church

Visits on Saturday June 5th

ARTICLES see more Articles here

Oporto, Old and New. The English in Oporto

Author: Charles Sellers


Page: 0

Year: 2021

Subject Matter: British Community and Family History


William Henry Giles Kingston

Author: Andrew Shepherd



Year: 2021

Subject Matter: British Community and Family History


Did you know?

Did you know that Brazil used slaves to transfer smallpox vaccine from Lisbon to Brazil?


At the beginning of the 19th century, Brazil was faced with a smallpox epidemic. Although vaccines had been invented by the Englishman, Edward Jenner, in 1796, the long sea voyage necessary to ship the vaccine to Brazil meant that it was unusable when it arrived in Brazil.


According to the writer on colonial Brazil, Paulo Rezzutti, it was Bahian merchants who decided to import the vaccine from Europe. First, they sent seven slave boys and girls to Lisbon to be vaccinated. Returning to Bahia, they would pass on the vaccine using the “de braco em braco”, from arm to arm, technique or the pus was extracted and then vaccinated through a scratch in the arm of the recipient. Sometimes the vaccine was extracted on the ship, towards the end of the voyage, arriving in Brazil still in a fresh and in usable condition.


The slave trade was a major cause of rapid transmission of smallpox in Brazil. To overcome this, selected slaves were sent to Bahia to be vaccinated and, on returning to their employer, would pass the vaccine on to other slaves from arm to arm. Slave owners had an interest in vaccination since the high number of deaths was very costly for the owners. The vaccinated were supposed to return after a week so that some of the secretions from the site of the injection could be removed. The collected material would be then used to produce more vaccines for more people.


When the vaccine was first introduced to Brazil the population was extremely hesitant to take it. They believed that, once immunized, they would catch the cowpox and would grow to resemble cattle themselves having a “Cara de boi” (Ox face). To overcome this reluctance, campaigns were started to convince the population to get immunized. The churches of Rio de Janeiro became vaccination centres, with doctors vaccinating people during Mass on Sundays, leading people to believe that the vaccine was sent by God.


You can see a video on this story on YouTube. 


Every Quarter the BHSP Newsletter will share a fact of historic or cultural interest related to Britain or Portugal. If you know of any such a fact or facts related to Anglo Portuguese relations, please send the information in good time to the BHSP Librarian at

The British in Portugal

Maria Isabel Wittenhall (sometimes written as Witenhall or Wettenhall) was born in Avintes, in the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia in November 1749 to English parents. The wine company, Curtis and Wettenhall, had been in existence since 1726 and her father, Townsend Wettenhall, was a partner in that company. He married Anna Carmer, a widow, in 1739. In May 1767, at the age of 17, Maria married Pedro van Zeller (1746-1802), a Porto resident who came from a Dutch Catholic family.


She became notable for promoting the use of smallpox vaccination at the beginning of the 19th century, particularly in the Porto area. For many centuries the disease had been treated by inoculation, which involved the deliberate introduction of material from smallpox pustules into the skin. This induced immunity but generally also produced a mild form of the infection and sometimes worse. The work of Edward Jenner in 1796 and others showed that cowpox delivered by vaccination could protect against smallpox. Jenner had noticed that people who dealt with cattle had resistance to smallpox. In reality, these people had been infected, but with a less potent strain of the virus – cowpox – which only affected bovines, and this gave them protection against the human strain. Jenner had the idea to isolate the pus or lymphatic fluid of the cattle and vaccinate humans. The word “vaccine” comes from the Latin for cow.


Smallpox vaccination was first introduced into Portugal in 1799. Wittenhall Van Zeller started vaccinating in 1805 on her family farm in Avintes and also at her home in Porto. At this time there was considerable suspicion on the part of the Church and the medical profession about the vaccine and she was once arrested for being a curandeira (quack or witch doctor). She appealed to the Royal Academy of Sciences for support and the Academy both successfully defended her and presented her with a gold medal in 1808. According to records, she administered 13,408 successful vaccinations between 1805 and 1819, or 18% of the total number given in Portugal during that period.


See also an article on Maria Isabel Wittenhall from our 2004 Annual Report


Quiz: How many members of the Portuguese Royal Family died from smallpox?

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



Prince Philip in Portugal

Following the death of Prince Philip on 9th April, no doubt many of the older members of the Society will have been reminiscing about the two state visits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Portugal in 1957 and 1985.


The 1957 visit took place between Monday and Thursday, 18 to 21 February. At the time of the visit the Queen’s husband had the title His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh but, immediately on the couple’s return to London, he was granted the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, and became known as His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


This was a return visit in response to the Portuguese presidential couple’s state visit to Britain in 1955. State visits usually have an underlying political agenda and in the 1957 visit Britain wished to reinforce strategic links with Portugal as an important NATO ally, the facilities in the Azores being particularly important. It was also necessary to obtain Portugal’s support over the matter of Gibraltar, which Franco’s Spain wanted back. Britain’s foreign policy at this time was driven by the Cold War and Portugal’s lack of democracy was preferable to the alternative of communism.


The Queen landed at the Montijo airbase and then travelled to Setúbal to join the Royal Yacht Britannia, where she was re-united with the Duke who had just completed a four-month world tour in the Britannia. Britannia then set sail for the short journey round the coast to Lisbon and dropped anchor in front of the Terreiro do Paço. The Portuguese royal barge (bergantim), powered by some 50 oarsmen, came alongside and ferried the couple to Terreiro do Paço where they were greeted by President Craveiro Lopes and his wife. A public holiday had been declared and thousands of men, women and children were there, keen to see the young Queen and her handsome husband. The royal barge had ferried King Edward VII ashore 54 years earlier and can be seen today at the Museu da Marinha in Belém.


During the visit the Queen and the Duke used the palace at Queluz as their official residence and it was here that 200 children of the “British colony” were received. The highlight of the visit for members of Portuguese “society” was a Gala Performance at the São Carlos theatre where the ladies wore their most glittering jewelry over shimmering gowns. The programme for the visit included a very full one-day visit to Alcobaça, Batalha, Nazaré, and Vila Franca, and to Porto on the final day from where the royal couple returned by BEA to London.


During the visit the couple separated for one morning, the Queen visiting the Bairro Social de Restelo, referred to in an English publication as the Restelo Garden Suburb, and the Duke toured the naval training ship Sagres and visited the Royal British Club, then located in Rua de S. Pedro de Alcantara. Here he signed the visitor’s book and agreed to become the Club’s Patron.


The 1985 visit took place between Tuesday and Friday, 26 to 29 March. The president of Portugal was General Ramalho Eanes and the prime minister was Dr. Mário Soares. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived again at Montijo, and again joined the Britannia at Setúbal. This time the Lisbon arrival point was in front of the Torre de Belém. The Portuguese royal barge was obviously not available as the royal couple’s transfer from Britannia to shore was effected by Britannia’s royal barge. 


As well as the usual social events, the couple visited Sintra, Evora and St. Julian’s School, and attended a music and dance performance at the Dona Maria II theatre in Lisbon. Porto was visited on the final day, and they returned to London by BA. There was, unfortunately, no time for Prince Philip to visit the Royal British Club.


This omission was rectified however when he visited Lisbon, without the Queen, on 28 November 1988. He attended a lunchtime reception at the Royal British Club, now located in Rua da Estrela, almost 150 members being present. D’Arcy Orders’ official history “The Royal British Club, Lisbon, 1888-1988” records Prince Philip signing the visitors’ book and quipping “You don’t seem to have many visitors here” – his was the last previous name there, signed of course during the State Visit on 18 February 1957. He also had lunch at the Ritz as guest of the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.


Prince Philip made a private visit to the Azores in March 1991, visiting several of the islands informally. On the final day he visited the town of Furnas on São Miguel where lunch was offered by Dr. João Bosco Mota Amaral, first president of the Regional Government of the Azores.

Members' News

We regret that access to the Library is likely to be severely restricted until after St. Julian’s School returns from its summer holidays in September. If you have an urgent need for documents in the Library, please contact the Librarian at:



It somehow escaped your Council's attention that Vila Viçosa had been nominated by the Portuguese Government as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site. Thanks to Nina Taylor for reminding us. We did, of course, have a very successful visit to the town, together with Evoramonte and Estremoz, in October 2019.


First proposed to UNESCO in 2017, a detailed application dossier has now been prepared and in July 2020 this was submitted by Vila Viçosa to the National Commission of UNESCO for further consideration. Final approval can take some time, but we wish this beautiful and historic town every success. More information on the proposal can be found at:

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


When sorting through your attics and/or cupboards, you might come across letters, diaries, articles, postcards or videos related to Anglo-Portugal relations that you think would be of interest to the BHSP and its Members. Please contact our Librarian to discuss the matter further on All objects handed over to the BHSP Library will be logged either for further reference by researchers, for recovery at a later date or to be listed as a permanent donation (with the relevant documents) to the BHSP.


Answer to the Quiz


At least five. They were:


· Infanta Isabel Luísa, Princess of Beira (1669-1690) – daughter of D. Pedro II of Portugal and his first wife, D. Maria Francisca of Savoy


· José, Prince of Brazil, Duke of Braganza (1761-1788) – son of D. Pedro III of Portugal and the future D. Maria I of Portugal, pictured


· Mariana Vitória de Bragança (1768-1788) – son of D. Pedro III of Portugal and the future D. Maria I of Portugal


· Infante Gabriel of Spain (1752-1788) – husband of Mariana Vitória


· Francisco Antonio of Braganza, Prince of Beira (1795-1801) – son of D. Joao VI of Portugal D. Carlota Joaquina of Spain


For more information, see



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