Dear Member,


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


On 16 June 1373 the Treaty of London was signed by Edward III of England and Fernando I of Portugal. To celebrate the 650th anniversary of the treaty, which is regarded by many as the beginning of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, we link you to an article by our former chairman, Paulo Lowndes Marques, first published in our Annual Report of 2002, which examines the state of the Alliance in the 20th century.


Our second leading article, by Andrew Shepherd, is on William Graham Junior and Company, a British company active in Lisbon, Loures and Porto in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 8 July and will include lunch. I look forward to seeing you there. We will send the formal documentation to members by email, but, meanwhile, please reserve your place. As part of the activities, our Vice-Chairman, Mark Crathorne, will conduct a visit to some of the forts of the Lines of Torres Vedras and the visitors’ centre at Sobral de Monte Agraço.


With all good wishes,


Edward Godfrey



NEWS see more News here

MAY 7, 2024

Forthcoming events

Planned events of the Society in the coming months


JUNE 4, 2023

Report on Guided walk to the German and British Cemeteries, Estrela, Lisbon

Visit to both the German and British cemeteries and to the German Roman Catholic Church in the Rua do Patrocínio

EVENTS see more Events here

JULY 8, 2023

AGM and visit to the Lines of Torres Vedras

Saturday, 8th July, 2023


JUNE 6, 2023

Reports on recent events in Lisbon and Porto


ARTICLES see more Articles here

A Brief History of William Graham Junior and Company

Author: Andrew Shepherd



Year: 2023

Subject Matter: British Companies


The Alliance in the XXth Century

Author: Paulo Lowndes Marques


Page: 93

Year: 2002

Subject Matter: Diplomatic and General History


Did you know?

Did You Know that a team of maritime historians and archaeologists, led by the University of Bristol, has published compelling new evidence about the history of a 15th-century British vessel involved in trade with Portugal? Evidence shows that the ceramic shards found in the hull are nearly all Iberian micaceous red-ware, of Portuguese origin. More recent finds seem to indicate that the ship's crew was likely to have been Portuguese too, with finds including several Portuguese coins left hidden in its woodwork as good luck charms.


The 1449 Newport was a late-medieval merchant vessel that was found well-preserved in layers of mud and silt off the coast of Newport, Wales, a place well-known in its time for its ship and ship-repair yards. Work on the restoration of this outstanding discovery received an initial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and it is to be hoped that more money will be forthcoming. Regular visits to the restoration are now being organised by the Friends of the Newport Ship, supported by the Bristol Town Council, with talks on how the conservation is progressing and the ongoing challenges of such a massive undertaking.


According to Dr Evan Jones, it seems likely that the end of the Hundred Years War (1453) and the onset of the Wars of the Roses in England (1455-85) played a big part in this Basque-built ship turning up on the coast of Wales. The loss of Bordeaux forced English merchants to concentrate heavily on Portugal during the 1460s, from where they sourced their wine. But Spanish Castile remained an enemy and the Basques were forbidden to sell ships to the English. So, it is likely that the ship was seized by the British rather than purchased. Research on the remains and documents relating to the times indicates that the ship was passed on to Portugal, travelled the trade-route from Lisbon to Bristol in the 1450s and 1460s and then changed hands.


Repairs to the hull suggest that British timber was used in 1466 for repairs. Records show that the Earl of Pembroke, Lord of Newport, owned it, being Wales's main shipping magnate at the time. When Newport fell out of royal favour, the Earl of Warwick, his sworn enemy, confiscated his possessions, including the ship. In 1468, the ship had been in dry-dock along the River Usk and, whilst hoisted out of the water on scaffolding, toppled onto its side, listed more and more as tides swept its decks and gradually sank further into the silt, making salvage operations impossible.


The Newport was larger than most other vessels of its time, being the medieval equivalent of our present-day container ships. Such vessels were used primarily for long hauls to southern Europe, particularly Lisbon. It was 35 metres long, 8.2 metres in width, with three masts, and was estimated to be of a 161 “tons burden” - a contemporary measure of ship size, based on the number of tons of wine that a ship could carry as ballast. Few will be surprised to learn that the Newport was “weighted” with fortified wine.


Although port was exported from 1678, exports of wine from Portugal to England predated that by over four centuries and, of course, wine was being exported from Portugal even in Roman times. Do we know for certain that it was used as ballast on the Newport’s trade-route from Lisbon-Bristol? The fortified wine on the Newport could well have been loaded from Setúbal or perhaps closer to Lisbon or, just possibly, transhipped from Madeira.


So, what was life like on board? Perhaps the chief revelation for us today, is that medieval mariners spent surprisingly little time at sea. Ships sailing from the Severn Sea (as the Bristol Channel was then known) spent only three to four months at sea each year: most of their time was spent in foreign ports as their cargoes were sold and the proceeds used to buy the goods for their voyage back home. British sailors on the Lisbon run spent more time in Portugal than in their own homes, or at sea.


Source: The World of the Newport Medieval Ship: Trade, Politics and Shipping in the Mid-Fifteenth Century, edited by Evan Jones and Richard Stone and published by University of Wales Press

The British in Portugal

Louise Mitchell Meredith Read was born in Portsmouth on 11 September 1816, the daughter of John Read, a distant relation of George Read, who was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence of the United States. Becoming bankrupt as a result of an unwise decision to take a brother-in-law as a partner in his trading business in India, her father sought assistance from his brother, William Harding Read, who was for 30 years the British consul-general in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island in the Azores, having made his money as one of those sharing the spoils from the capture of a Spanish ship laden with gold and silver. William immediately appointed his brother as vice-consul. However, on the voyage to the Azores, John Read's ship was wrecked and all hands were lost, leaving his wife penniless. William paid the passage for her and her three children to the Azores and he and his sister-in-law would eventually marry.


During the Portuguese Civil War  (1828-34) between the supporters of the two brothers Dom Pedro and Dom Miguel, António Bernardo da Costa Cabral, from a relatively poor noble family in Fornos de Algodres in the Beira Alta was a supporter of the liberal Pedro, who had set up a Government-in-Exile in the Azores. Visiting the Azores, Cabral was invited to William’s home, where he met Louise. They married in August 1834, and had five children.


Costa Cabral led Liberal forces in the defeat of a Miguelista rebellion in the Azores. This gave him sufficient prestige to be elected to the Portuguese parliament, representing the Azores, and the couple and their first son moved to Lisbon in 1835. In 1838, he was appointed General Administrator of Lisbon. Also in 1838, following the nationalisation of the assets of religious orders in Portugal, he purchased part of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar, which he turned into a mansion. The couple’s prestige continued to grow and in 1840 Queen Maria II and King Ferdinand II agreed to be their third child's godparents.


In five years, Read, at the age of 24, had made the transition from being a young English girl with an uncertain future to a hostess of Portuguese royalty and nobility. However, all was not plain sailing, as there were rumours, spread by his political enemies, that her husband was having an affair with the Queen, although it seems likely that the relationship was more of an amitié amoureuse. There were also frequent attacks in the press alleging that Cabral was corrupt.


Costa Cabral first served as prime minister from 1842 to 1846. In 1845 the Queen and King visited Tomar, staying for four days, and on this occasion, he was made Count of Tomar. However, in 1846, a famine caused the Maria da Fonte uprising. This caused Cabral to flee to Spain and, a few troubled months later, Louise and their four children joined him in Madrid. The government appointed him ambassador to Madrid, possibly to keep him away from Portugal, and the couple’s last son was born in that city. Queen Isabel II of Spain became his godmother and Louise received a set of diamonds from her. She was also made a member of the Royal Order of Maria Luísa.


They returned to Lisbon in 1849 and Cabral was prime minister again until 1851. In 1859, he went with his family to be ambassador to Brazil, staying for two years. They then retired to Tomar, where Read, who found life outside Lisbon boring, occupied herself by planting grapes. She recruited a winemaker from France and produced a high-quality wine, which she called Château Thomar. In 1870, Cabral was appointed as Portugal's ambassador to the Holy See in Rome, at that time the country's most prestigious diplomatic appointment. Read was kept active as a diplomatic hostess, always ensuring that Château Thomar was on the menu. In 1875 she was made an honorary lady-in-waiting to Queen D. Maria Pia. Louise Mitchell Meredith Read, Marchioness of Tomar, died in Rome on 5 February 1885.


Source: António Pinto da França, The Marquesa de Tomar. BHSP Annual Report 33.


When was the last time a Royal Navy ship "scandalized yards"?

The answer is at the end of Members' News

Book Review

A Memoir from the Boer War. For those of our readers who were unable to attend our Annual Lunch in January, when this book was presented by Mr Carel Heringa, in the presence of SAR Dom Duarte, Duke of Bragança, who wrote the Foreword, our member Ninna Taylor provides us with a detailed review. 


A short history refresher course is a welcome start to the review of a book covering the 2nd Boer War, that was first published in French in 1902. Between 1899 and 1902, the British Army fought a bitter colonial war against the Boers in South Africa. Although outnumbered at one time, with 450.000 British soldiers fighting some 100,000 Boer farmers, the latter proved to be a skilled and determined enemy. After initial setbacks and a long period of guerrilla warfare, the British eventually won but not without adopting controversial tactics that are sometimes still employed in modern warfare. 


The causes of the War were: the expansion of the British Empire, the failed annexation of Transvaal by the British in 1877, problems within the Transvaal government and, subsequently. the Boers having demanded that the build-up of British forces in the region cease. It began on 11 October 1899, as soon as a Boer ultimatum to the British expired. The Boers had previously refused to grant political rights to non-Boer settlers, known as the Uitlanders, most of whom were British. 


By 1902, the Boer resistance had been crushed, and on 31 May of that year the Peace of Vereeniging was signed, recognising British military administration over Transvaal and the Orange Free State and authorising a general amnesty for Boer fighters, who were ordered to return to their homesteads. Though the war was undoubtedly a wake-up call for an overly self-confident British Empire, proving to be the catalyst for a wide range of military and public health reforms that strengthened Britain’s military capabilities in WWI, its aftermath exposed Britain’s vulnerability and highlighted her inability, to protect her interests and assets abroad.  


Out into the midst of Boer commando skirmishes in the summer of 1900 stepped Prince Luis d'Orleans-Braganza. From his diary, we understand that he wanted to see the war first-hand. The British having refused him access to the battle-zone, he turned to the Boers for his laissez-passer. Here was a man who was heir to the defunct throne of Brazil, his older brother having renounced any claim to the Brazilian throne before the family went into exile in France. After his military training in Austria, Prince Luis had decided to try to better understand the strategy and weapons being deployed during a war. Travelling to a war zone and reporting first-hand on what he was witnessing seems rather “avant-garde” for the time but there is no bravado or swagger to be found in his recollections: he asks permission to observe and observe he does, and takes notes with accuracy, finesse and even humour.  


Subtitled, The Diary of a Brazilian Prince in the Boer Camps, published in Portugal by the Fundaçao Dom Manuel II in 2021, A Memoir from the Boer War is the first complete English language version of the original 1902 text in French, supplemented by comprehensive documentation and photographs of many of the protagonists. A diary it is, as the Prince writes as he travels and we travel with him, looking over his shoulder as he puts pen to paper. The Prince sits down for a meal with Generals Botha and Viljoen: we can smell the meat roasting on the camp fire, the pipe smoke in our nostrils as they recount the success or failure of the day's raids. We can feel the red dust and grime encrusted in their gear. We appreciate the Prince's in-depth knowledge when he speaks of the weapons being used or seen abandoned by the enemy on the battlefields. We admire his ability to analyse the tactics being deployed, the strengths and weakness of the fighting factions, the character traits of the leaders that he encounters, all the while trying to keep in mind the political context and to offer, in his diary, an impartial global overview of the situation as the war unfolds.


We know now that his observations and comments were heeded by the British Military Establishment and would help to bring about reforms in 1914 when Britain was called upon to fight yet another deadly war in which Prince Luis enlisted in the British army, and would contract the rheumatism that would cause his death in 1920. 


The most striking feature of this Memoir is the author himself. The portrait on the front cover shows a man in his prime who wants to know what is happening, who feels empathy for the people he meets and the situations that he encounters and describes in simple well-chosen words his daily adventures. A man who, even when surprised by what he is experiencing, never complains, never loses his good manners, never ridicules the quirks of his fighting comrades. He comes across as a kindly but idiosyncratic man of his time and social background, who one would like youngsters nowadays to learn more about. This is a book that offers an intimate portrait of a man of benevolence looking at Man's folly in times of war. 


Members' News

We are sad to report the death, on 23 February of this year, of Ian Sinclair, at the age of 91. Ian was a well-known and stalwart member of the British Community in Porto. His wife Pat was northern organiser of the British Historical Society for several years until her retirement from the role in 2015. Ian was always by her side to assist during meetings, and Pat relied on his support. They were both very kind, friendly and caring.


Ian was born in Edinburgh to Scottish parents. After attending the Royal High School in Edinburgh, he did National Service in Gibraltar. While there, he visited some sherry houses at Jerez, which fostered a desire to enter the wine trade. Returning to Scotland, he found employment with Sandeman of Edinburgh and was later offered the position of Assistant Manager at Sandeman port wine in Porto. He and Pat married in 1960 and had three children. After a decade and a half, Ian became senior manager at Sandeman. After the company was taken over he worked for a time at the Calem port company.


Ian was a good golfer and nearly every Sunday was to be found on a course. He claimed a hole-in-one on the sixth hole at Miramar. After retirement he derived much pleasure as a member of the Douro Golf Society. He also amassed a substantial collection of coins. He helped to organise the annual St. Andrew’s Ball and spent many years on the Board of Governors of the Oporto British School. At St. James’s Church he was a churchwarden, as well as treasurer, for many years. He was awarded an OBE in 1994.


Ian will be greatly missed by his immediate family, as well as by friends and relatives.


For a more-detailed obituary, please see here.



For a summary of forthcoming activities in Lisbon and Porto, please see here.


For information about BHSP participation in the Annual Winston Churchill Memorial Dinner on 27 June, please see here.


For information about our Annual General Meeting on 8 July and visit to sites of the Lines of Torres Vedras, please see here. You can confirm your participation to



We have recently uploaded three RTP videos from 1975. One is about the 1975 Portuguese election; one an interview with Virgínia Moura, a Communist opponent of the Estado Novo and Portugal's second female engineer; and the last an interview with Cesina Bermudes, also an opponent of the Estado Novo, who went on to become a leading obstetrician. The videos can be found here.


On 14 May, our Chairman, Vice-Chairman and around ten members went to Elvas to join the Annual Ceremony at the British Cemetery, in memory of British soldiers who died during the Battle of Albuera. For more information, see this report and the excellent web site of the cemetery.


Does anybody have a photo of Nigel Trench, British Ambassador to Lisbon 1974-76? Please contact Andrew Shepherd via the Library


Answer to Quiz: Scandalizing is when the yards in a square-rigged ship are not set square to the masts after the ship has anchored. This was usually a sign of mourning for a death on board. The last-known usage of the practice was in Lisbon in 1908 when the HMS Exmouth (1901) scandalized its yards after the assassination of King Carlos. As the practice had more or less already died out, the captain had no known precedent for exactly what to do. Yards were cockbilled (i.e. raised almost vertically), while the mainmast was lowered to starboard and the foremast to port, and the lower booms were dropped. 

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



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Carcavelos, September, 2018


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