Migration to the US and Brasil

Last Edited: 05 Jan 2021

We often receive correspondence from individuals in the US seeking to determine if there is any connection to our line of Cordeiros. For the majority of US Americans with Azorean descent (and last name Cordeiro), ancestry would be linked to individuals from the island of São Miguel. However for a small but still significant number of individuals from the US or Brazil, your ancestors may have emigrated from the island of Terceira some time in the late 1800s. For individuals that are able to identify ancestors originating from Terceira, there is a good chance there might be a connection to our tree. This connection would be in the early 1700s. Our site concentrates on one of three Cordeiro individuals that immigrated to Macau in the late 1700s and we only have scant information on the descendants of one branch of Cordeiros that arrived in the US (directly from Terceira) in the late 1800s, although the information for this branch is slowly building up.

If you can answer yes to the following three points, there is a good chance you will find ancestral information on this site (with a caveat explained below):

  • You know your ancestors are from the island of Terceira in the Açores;
  • There is a strong likelihood that they are from the village of Biscoitos;
  • You have family members with the combined two last names (or middle and last name) - Gonçalves Cordeiro. [If it is Soares Cordeiro, scroll to the bottom.]

Gonçalves Cordeiro

There are 2 major lines of Gonçalves Cordeiros from the village of Biscoitos, Terceira. One descending from Antonio Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1753) where all living descendants have a link to Macau (a Portuguese colony in Asia from 1557 to 1999); the other from Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1786), where descendants have mostly migrated to either the US or Brazil in the mid- to late-1800s. Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1786) was the likely nephew of Antonio Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1753) and the possible son of either a Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1756) or Hyacinto Cordeiro (b. 1764), both of whom were brothers of Antonio.

What we know about the Gonçalves Cordeiro connection through Manoel Gonçalves (b. 1786):

Heading back in time, as far as we can ascertain, we are unable to find records for children born to Manoel (b. 1756) or to his brother Hyacinto (b. 1764). We have however, found records for an individual, Manoel Gonçalves (b. 1786) with pai incognito (meaning: anonymous father, name concealed) and his mother, Antonia Luísa. This child named Manoel in the birth record, appears as Manoel Gonçalves in his marriage record. In subsequent birth and marriage records of his children, his name was recorded as Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro. The naming of various individuals (such as his Godparents and his mother) in the birth and marriage records of his children and grandchildren are consistent enough to suggest that Manoel, Manoel Gonçalves and Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro are one and the same person (b. 1786). Do note that last names are not given at birth and the omission of the Cordeiro last name (particularly in the marriage records) of our ancestors is quite common. Gonçalves and Cordeiro are both last names, hence they would / could have been used together or interchangeably.

Here is the caveat: We made a leap to link Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1786) to either Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1756) or Hyancinto Cordeiro (b. 1764). There are no records to support this father / son relationship due to the anonymous father status of Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1786), but we base our assumption of relationship on i. the Gonçalves Cordeiro last names; ii. the birth years of the individuals; and iii. the village in which these individuals were born and lived. Note that we have found a marriage record for Manoel (b. 1756) to an Anna Joaquina in the year 1787, which is a year after the birth of Manoel (b. 1786). However, given the lack of official documentation, we cannot be absolutely clear as to whether Manoel (b. 1786) is the son of Manoel (b. 1756) or Hyacinto.

It is important to note that "pai incognito" does not necessarily mean "unknown father" - after all, it wasn't a virgin birth. Often, the father is known but may wish to remain anonymous due to the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child, for example, the parents of the couple may not have approved of the relationship. It could be much later on in the life of the child that the "anonymous" father is acknowledged in the records. In this case, the father is acknowledged through the use of the last name Cordeiro in subsequent records.

Keeping in mind that we are making assumptions, but if true, the descendants of Manoel (b. 1786) would link to our tree through a Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro, born in 1723. Manoel (b. 1723) is the father of Antonio, Manoel (b. 1756) and Hyacinto. It is important to note that in our genealogy tree, we have selected to use Manoel (b. 1756) as the possible father of Manoel (b. 1786) for no reason other than to provide a branch 'link' on the tree. Individuals on our tree after the mid-1700s concentrate mainly on the descendants of Antonio Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1753). We have minimal information on the descendants of other Cordeiro family members although this information is slowly building up due to the generous contributions of descendants of Manoel (b. 1786) who are now living in the US.

Further information on descendants of Manoel Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1786) that moved to the US in the late 1800s can be easily identified in ship arrival records. One can use the website familysearch.org to find these. The records are clear and provide a wealth of information on the person in question, whom they travelled with, their age and place of origin (including the village). However, we have not gathered this information for deposition on our site.

We are aware that the above information can appear confusing and there are questions regarding the linking of individuals. However, we have gone through the record books numerous times searching and studying the limited information available to ensure we have not missed any pertinent records.

Soares Cordeiro

There is a connection of the Soares Cordeiros to our tree but it links up in the late 1600s. Again, these are persons from the village of Biscoitos on the island of Terceira. There have been a number of Soares Cordeiros identified in the village of Altares, Terceira but we have not made any attempt to determine the link between the Soares Cordeiros from Altares and the Soares Cordeiros from Biscoitos. However, the two villages are just 3.8 km apart and can be walked in 50 min; and the early generations of the Soares Cordeiro family were prolific.

If your family name is Soares Cordeiro, there is a tree on the familysearch.org website. If you do not already have an account with them, you can create one for free. The tree on the familysearch site is however not comprehensive and leads mainly to families that migrated to Brazil. There are migrants from this family to the US, but there would be a substantial gap between records of these migrants and any current descendants.

The Soares surname comes from the marriage of Ursula da Trindade Cordeiro, daughter of Pedro Gonçalves Cordeiro (b. 1669), to a Manoel Soares. The majority of the descendants of this family from Terceira carry the combined Soares Cordeiro last names. However, to add to the complication, a separate (?) Soares Cordeiro family line also exists that originates from the island of Sao Miguel.