Brasão of Barreto family - Velsao - Goa India.
The saying goes that the Barreto family originated in Spain, the surname denoted the proprietorship of the village or estate. The surname ‘Barreto’ was first found in Castile, an important Christian kingdom of medieval Spain.
When the Portuguese colonised Goa in 1510, they brought with them their own distinct architectural style. The many magnificent palatial Portuguese mansions in Goa are a legacy of Indo-Portuguese, which has continued for more than 450 years and left a distinctive mark on the state’s architecture.
What’s unusual is that houses dating back hundreds of years have been maintained in pristine condition and are still inhabited by generations of the original owners.
In the Family of Barreto’s in one of the first few generations Francisco do Rosario Barreto (name not confirmed as yet) was the first to receive the title of Moco-Fidalgo (knight-gentleman) of the royal household. In 1695, he received this award, and the family was thus able to be in the eyes of the nobility on a par with the noble Portuguese families in Lisbon, Goa and other Portuguese colonies. The family has the right to use the same coat of arms, certified by the Institute of Portuguese Nobility (Book n. 1 of the Registry of Coat of Arms, n. 95), (Carta de Brasão d’Armas) Cartório da Nobreza.
The ‘Brasão’ (Coat of Arms) and the Tittle of Casa dos Fidalgos (House of the Nobility) was issued by the Council of Nobility in Lisbon to the Barreto’s through Queen Maria II and King Ferdinand II of Portugal in 1848 for the dedicated services by members of this family for generations. This documentation of the Brasao is recorded in the book, “Tesouro de nobreza” kept in Lisbon’s “Tourro de Tombo”. It is fixed at the main entrance of the house and the chapel. The coat of arms consists of a set of pieces that can be either geometric, or figures (natural, human, animal or fantastic) or adornments that are arranged inside and / or outside the shield, being this the central object of the composition. The shield can have several forms, depending on the country of origin, the holder or the time, but in Portugal it is traditional to use the Iberian or Peninsular shield (rounded down).
In Goa there are approximately 5 houses ( a few more to be honest) that have been given the Brasão (Coat of Arms) a few that could be named are: Barreto’s – Velsao – Pale, Monsignor Francisco ‘Chico’ Monteiro’s house – Candolim, Menezes Braganca – Chandor, Costa Frais – Candolim, Mirandas- Loutolim etc. These are considered as the Noble families of Goa (definitely there are a few more) and related somehow to each other as one noble family would have considered a proposal of another similar family to wed his/her son/daughter. Similarly the properties were exchanged as dowries (Indian custom that continued even after conversion to Christianity)
The family of Barreto’s settled close to the main port of Goa being Marmagoa, Marmagoa being close to Velsao Pale Salcete PO Cansaulim Goa, under the Mormugao Constituency, in Goa, West of India is one of the grandest of the State’s colonial mansions.
These mansions are the most exquisite heritage houses in the countryside, having a Indo-Portuguese style facade. It has a large imported chandelier and Indo-Portuguese paintings, porcelain, hand crafted crystals, old period furnitures and other antique items. From the main reception area, one walks into the stately ballroom hall with a hollow wood carved ceiling. As you step into the grand ballroom its designed with exquisite elegance, with heavy teak wood furniture and floor, reminiscent of grand royal dinners and balls, the roof above the hall is like a boat overturned. The Ballroom and the Dining Room floors are solid teak wood. Long ago there used to be Italian and Belgian crystal chandeliers, antique Chinese porcelain, leather-upholstered chairs from Portugal and local Goan handicrafts, floor mosaics made up of tiles were imported from Italy, since the house was closed for many years a lot of things were stolen. A huge stuccoed balcony hangs with large ornate windows were the norm in Portugal. In colonial Goa too, design served a similar purpose – to mark out houses in an era in which symmetry was the norm, and to identify the social status of their inhabitants. Rare porcelain from Macao brought by the English and Dutch East India Companies. Some windows behind the house are made of scraped and laminated oyster shells found at the local Velsao beach.
The House of the Barreto family is of the 17th century has two separate buildings which were once upon a time connected through a small corridor. The large entrance leads to two flights of steps and gets you to the top storey of the house. Here one can see the two large doors. The mansion is now divided into two equal wings. Today the main facade of the building with the Brazão (Coat of Arms) remains with Mr Ivor Antonio Barreto, Former Deputy Director of Accounts in the Food and Drugs Administration and the behind house has been divided between the first cousins of the Barreto family, in which one half of the building is inherited by Mr Anton Barreto and other by Mr Orlando Barreto & brothers. The house has large bedrooms, where elaborately carved beds and wooden furniture in rosewood and teak wood, some carrying the initials of the family coat of arms.
One of the son’s of the house, Late Arnald Barreto got married to Mrs Silvia and settled in Margao in South of Goa and had offspring’s of Ian, Kevin and Sandra.
The other son of the house Mr Robustiano Do Rosario Barreto got married to Mrs. Nilda Souza Xavier Barreto and settled in the North of Goa in Siolim with the offsprings being Consolasao – Calangute, Isabelle – Mapusa, Francisco – Mapusa, Savio – Siolim, Alwyn – Kankavli (Bishop of Sindhudurgh), Malini – Utorda and Cipriano – Siolim.
The Ancestral House in Velsao had alot of special visitors, right from the aristocrats / beurocrats to the Royals from Portugal. Grand ballroom and banquets were hosted at this very house with its wall length mirrors, teak wood floors and Belgian crystal chandelier. Some of the other visitors included the Portuguese royalty, diplomats, Judges and parliamentarians. Its said that the family had a special traditional way of welcoming its special guests (not known).
The front house that belongs to Ivor Antonio Barreto, has been repaired and restored recently. the house has eight rooms and three bathrooms. It has a well inside the house located strangely at the main entrance. The hall has a wooden roof that looks like the inverted hull of sail boat. while the back house has two floors, the top now converted to rooms while the below the mini hall, large hall, dinning room and kitchen.
This is the village where Mons. Tomás de Aquino do Rosario Barreto, Velsao Goa, Monsenhor vigário-geral e vigário capitular de Goa, Cardinal Ivan Gracias and Bishop Alwyn Barreto come from also the statueque home of ex-Judge Blasio Souza. The vadde (traditional wards) include Primeiro, Razvoi, Falvaddo, Igorje vaddo, Pale, Belem, eastern side of the railway line, western side of railway line, Dando, Fabrica, etc. Villagers say that Velsao means ‘a place to rest’. The etymology is derived from the word Vel (time), sa=sartam (pass) and ao=aum (self). Velsao is part of the Velsao-Pale-Issorcim panchayat.
The Heritage house of the Barretos is built in Indo-Portuguese architecture. The house of Barreto’s boast of having Judges, public procecuters, Bishop’s and Vicar Generals.
One of the Barreto’s known as Dr. Jorge Barreto (George in English) has a garden part known after him for his services to the society, in the city of Margao in South Goa called Praca Jorge Barreto or also known as Jorge Barreto Park.
The house has / had prominent people who made a mark in the society, of which these could be traced (recent);
- Dr. Jorge Barreto, Medical doctor who was an intellectual and was well known for his service to the poor. (1600) Margao city park known after him called Praca Jorge Barreto or also known as Jorge Barreto Park.
- Mons. Tomás de Aquino do Rosario Barreto, Velsao Goa, Monsenhor vigário-geral e vigário capitular de Goa and served as bishop of Goa
- Jose Michael Barreto (1694-1770) was a noted intellectual
- Francis Xavier Peregrino Barreto (1751-1820) served as Conego (below the post of bishop) in Panjim
- Robustiano do Rosario Barreto, eminent lawyer and a public prosecutor during Portuguese rule in Goa, later settled in Siolim.
- Fr. Alfred Barreto, Priest (Pune Diocese) from Velsao Goa, founder principal of the Vidya Bhavan School, Vidya Bhavan College of Commerce and also served as principal of Ornellas high school and St Vincent’s College of Commerce, Principal St.Patrick’s High & Higher Secondary School,vice-president of the Women’s Hockey Association of Maharashtra.
- Anthony Alwyn Fernandes Barreto, from Velsao / Siolim Goa, First Bishop of Diocese of Sindhudurg (Dioecesis Sindhudurgiensis) in India was created on July 5, 2005, Chairman of Youth Commission in Western Region. Was Dean in the Poona Diocese]
Ask where does the folklore come in? it has its origins. Velsao wanted to have its own Parish Church as it then came under the combined parish of the clutch of villages of Cansaulim, Cuelim, Arrosim, including Velsao and Pale. Velsao Pale was therefore under Cansaulim’s Church of St Tome or St. Thomas. Now Velsao wanted its own church and for that it needed land. The regent has it, over 250 years ago, that two spinsters from the Barreto’s family, bequeathed their share of the property to what was then the chapel now the church of Our Lady of Assumption. The criterion of that period was that a church had to generate its funds. For that it needed a kind of pre-determined amount of property. And so, it happened that the two Barreto spinsters donated their share of the property to the church. The balance requirement of land,was donated by the Sequiera family (morgado) also from Velsao. The house had its compound as far as the local Velsao beach but for convenience sake there was a mud road which was made for the locals to visit the local Church and later which was made into a tared road dividing the house and the attached property.
This family/house had its family properties engulfing many villages specially cotton, teak plantation, rice fields and coconut groves these properties were leased to the family through the Portuguese aforamento (long lease) system. There were large store houses, One of such instance is the house in Sernabatim Colva now with the family of Late Alvarinho Barbosa Barreto was once upon a time ‘Casa das Mudas’ holiday home of the Barreto’s from Velsao with a huge store room for all the coconuts, mangoes and rice storage of all nearby properties. its said that the one of the Barreto’s from Velsao settled in the Sernabatim house and extended the house far and wide along with the nearby properties. As the generations went by they had only one daughter and therefore one of the Barbosa’s from Cansaulim got transplanted / married and became a gorzavoi, therefore today they are know as ‘Barbosa Barreto’. Today this house belongs to the decedents of late Antonio Alvaro Cicinato do Carmo Barbosa Barreto ( Anita & Antonio ).
Most of the family and extended family members have continued their presence in Goa, just a few have migrated overseas such as the Middle East, United Kingdom etc.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF WE COULD GET THE NAMES OF THOSE FROM THE BARRETO FAMILY WHO ARE NOT IN GOA ANYMORE SO THAT THEY ARE NOT FORGOTTEN, OR THEIR FUTURE CAN RELATE TO THEIR ROOTS IN GOA.
Velsao – Pale is a village full of history and serenity, from the quiet and wide expanse of beach to the heritage houses lining the road. Its a village that is set apart from many others in Goa.
Some of the Barreto’s who have moved out of Goa – India are :
- Dr Sunita Barreto now Mascharenhas with Family in Qatar – Middle East – works for HMC as Dentist in Doha Qatar. Dr Sunita is very humble and works with the most prestigious hospital in the region, ever so willing to help anyone in need, her residence is an open house to those in need.
- Ms. Sharmila Barreto now Cotta with Family in London UK
- Mr Clayton Antonio Barreto with Family in London, Works for Ministry of External Affairs (Govt. of India) – presently working at the Indian High Commission in London. He has earned distinct recognition for his continued contribution towards the Goan Diaspora in the UK and been felicitated by the Goan Associations in the UK, Goan NRI affairs committee and several Goan NGO’s in Goa India.
Antonio Moniz Barreto, Viceroy of India. (Archivo dos Acores, Vol. 4, p. 400) 1571-81