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From the Azores to Asia and Beyond

It would appear that our ancestors were indeed migratory, moving through a number of geographical locations over the centuries. Our records start with the Azores.

Azores

Sometime during the late-16th century, our direct ancestor Belchior Gonçalves Cordeiro came into play. Six generations of our Cordeiro ancestors have been identified in the parish of Biscoitos on the island of Terceira, Azores.


Ancestral Summary

Belchior (sometimes spelt Melchior in the records) Gonçalves Cordeiro was likely born between 1590 and 1600. We have not uncovered any birth record for him in the parish of Biscoitos but have a partial marriage record. From the study of records associated with the Cordeiro family and families linked to the Cordeiro family, we believe that Belchior was born in the neighbouring village of Quatro Ribeiras (meaning Four Rivers) to Balthazar Afonso and Brianda Cordeira (the seventh generation identified). The settlement of Biscoitos commenced around 1561 and we believe that Belchior likely arrived in Biscoitos as a young adult. His sister Violante Cordeira, also born in Quatro Ribeiras, moved to and was married in the village of Lajes.

From the birth and marriage records of Belchior's children, we know that he was married to Maria Gaspar. To the best of our knowledge, they had a daughter and five sons, one of whom was Manoel Gonçalves. Manoel married Maria Alverez and records show at least 3 daughters and 2 sons. The eldest son, also named Manoel Gonçalves, married Maria Antunes and they had at least two children, both sons - Roque and Manoel. At this point, it is worth noting the flexible tradition of naming the first son Manoel and the first daughter Maria, though this does not appear to be the case with Manoel and Maria Antunes. Roque married Isabel de Jezus at the rather late age of 32. We know of two sons and a daughter born to them. His son Manoel, born in 1720, married Theodora do Espirito Santo. Records show they had at least 7 children - 4 daughters and 3 sons. Their first son, António Gonçalves Cordeiro born in 1753, left the Azores for the Portuguese settlement of Macau.

[View Descendants Chart of the Cordeiros]

Whilst it is true that many young Azorean men fled the islands for the United States or Brazil to avoid mandatory military service and to escape increasingly difficult living conditions, this occurred mostly from the 1800s. Records show many individuals carrying the last name Goncalves Cordeiro from the island of Terceira (and many recorded as being from the village, Biscoitos) landed on the east coast of the United States in the late 1800s to 1900s. Our ancestor António Gonçalves Cordeiro had settled in Macau prior to 1780, hence like many of his countrymen who landed in Macau, were likely to be traders seeking new opportunities. Family legend makes mention of an ancestor trading in wine. This may well have been true as Biscoitos, the parish that António Gonçalves Cordeiro was from, was and still continues to this day to be a wine producing region of the Azores. In addition, the parish of Biscoitos is within the municipality of Praia da Vitória, the location of the second major port on the island of Terceira. The circumstances do support the possibility of some truth in the family legend, however, we are unable to verify this due to the lack of historical documentation available to us.


Vinyards in Biscoitos

We should mention that the patronymic name Gonçalves, derived from the masculine name Gonçalo, appears in the majority of male individuals of the Cordeiro family in Biscoitos where we have found marriage and death records (baptism records only show a first name). The combination of the Gonçalves and Cordeiro name gives us confidence that the individuals were all related. See our section on the Cordeiro last name

Macau

António Cordeiro's sons, Luís Manuel and Caetano, are registered as being born in 1782 and 1784 respectively, in Macau. Our search of the Azorean records has not uncovered any record of António Cordeiro's marriage to his wife Eulália and it is assumed he met and married her in Macau. However, it is unclear if he might have had other children with her as no further names were available from the Macau data we have uncovered. During this time, birth and death records of the Portuguese were held in the Church of Santo Antonio in Macau. This church was extensively damaged by fire in 1809 as were the records kept there and we surmise that not all data was recovered or reconstructed therefore leading to the lack of complete data on the Cordeiro family's offspring.

Our roots however, go back through Luís Manuel for whom we have found records, unlike his brother Caetano. Luís Manuel married twice - first, to Francisca Antonia and later, Ana Agostinha. One of his children with Ana Agostinha was Miguel Francisco (20 December 1822 - 01 May 1905).

Miguel Francisco married three times. His first wife, Eugénia Maria Francisca Simões bore him 3 daughters and 2 sons. Miguel Francisco had no children with his second wife, Joana Francisca Vieira Ribeiro. His third wife Roberta Vicência dos Remédios is the mother of Miguel Clemente Cordeiro and Eugénio José Cordeiro, whose descendants we now have contact with and are represented on this site.

Note that the use of the last name Gonçalves was lost in the generations after Antonio Gonçalves Cordeiro settled in Macau.

Thailand

The Portuguese not only established colonies in South East Asia but were also present in several other Asian countries as missionaries. Where economic opportunities were present, they would move there if they saw a possibility of entering and succeeding in the new market. Miguel Francisco Cordeiro was one such person from Macau. He moved to  Bangkok, Thailand (prior to 1861) with his wife, as did his brothers Simão Vincente and Zeferino Demétrio.

Miguel Francisco started a soda water bottling company in Bangkok (in what is now the Bangk Rak district of Bangkok), whilst his brother Zeferino worked in a beverage company in the Bang-Seang distrcit.

Records show that Miguel Francisco married his first wife Eugénia in Macau, but their four oldest children were born and baptised in Bangkok, Thailand. Their eldest son, Ludovico Miguel Cordeiro, was born in 1855 and is the direct ancestor of the Cordeiros in Singapore for whom this site had been initially created.

Miguel's youngest brother, Simao Vincente was also recorded as living in Bangkok and worked as an interpreter with the Royal Court of Siam from at least 1869 to 1875. This was the period of rule by Chulalongkorn who reigned as Rama V (Oct 1868 to 1910). Rama V was the first Siamese king to have a full western education, having been taught by a British governess (from 1862 to 1867), Anna Leonowens - whose place in Siamese history has been fictionalised in the musical, The King and I. 

Miguel Francisco and Eugénia resided in Bangkok until the late 1870s when they returned to Macau where Eugénia was recorded to have died. Judging from records, Miguel never returned to Thailand after the death of his first wife as his subsequent marriages and birth of children, took place in Macau and Miguel was recorded as having died there in 1905. Based on the information gathered on the time Miguel spent in Thailand, we surmise that their eldest son Ludovico Miguel, likely grew up and was educated in Bangkok, Thailand.

Descendants of Ludovico Miguel Cordeiro
Cordeiros in Singapore

Singapore

Whilst records show that Ludovico Miguel Cordeiro arrived in Singapore on 21 April 1876 on a ship that set sail from Hong Kong, it is unclear if he spent time in Hong Kong or merely boarded the ship in Hong Kong. The latter seems most likely as Ludovico was recorded as working in Macau in the same year he departed for Singapore, presumably in search of work.

During this time, it was common for Europeans living in the British colonies to anglicise themselves as this ensured better jobs and education for them under the British Empire [1]. They also indulged in British pastimes and sports such as music lessons, bridge, hockey and cricket. Ludovico Miguel changed his name to Ludovic Michael, took on British citizenship, started speaking English and took part in recreation activities favoured by the British.  He obtained work as a clerk at the law firm, Rodyk & Davidson, moving up the ladder to become chief accountant until he retired when he was in his 70's. Sometime during his life (likely whilst he lived with his parents in Bangkok), records show that he also worked as an assistant in Windsor, Redlich & Co. (estb. 1871), agents for the Chinese Insurance Company in Thailand.

Ludovico married Julia Cecelia Xavier and had 9 children - 7 sons (Henry, Lionel, Michael, Joseph, Robert, Cecil, Frederik) and 2 daughters (Maria, Eugenie). The family lived in Owen Road.

Australia and the UK

When Australia abolished its White Australia policy in 1973, the door opened for Singapore Eurasians to migrate there. Unsure of political developments in Singapore and their place in the nation, many moved to Australia to start anew [2] and also to 'save' their sons from compulsory military service. Some of Ludovic's children and grand-children left with their families for Australia, mainly to Sydney and Perth.

Similarly, those who went to the UK initially went there for work or study and never returned.

Canada

While Ludovico sought out a better life in Singapore, most of his siblings remained in Macau. After Macau was handed back to China in 1999, unsure of what the future might hold for them under full Chinese rule, there was an exodus of Macanese of Portuguese heritage to Brazil, Portugal and Canada. Some of Ludovico's nephews and nieces moved to Vancouver, Canada where they still live today.

Today, after more than 500 years, Belchior Gonçalves Cordeiro's descendants have spread across the globe. The map below shows the dispersion of the Cordeiros. The yellow symbols indicate where living relatives are found today.

 

 

[1]The Luso-Asians and Other Eurasians: Their Domestic and Diasporic Identities - John Byrne

[2] Eurasians: A Resource Guide - Eurasians in Pre- and Post-Independence Singapore, National Library Singapore