EARLY PORTUGUESE SETTLERS IN THE CAPE

The presence of the Portuguese Community in the Cape region is fairly recent taking in consideration that the Portuguese navigators were the first to discover the Cape.

There are various reasons for this fact, but the most important was that in the XV  century the strategy of the Portuguese Kings was to develop trade with the rich and highly developed civilizations of the East.

The first recorded existence of a Portuguese in the Cape is of Inácio Ferreira, born in Lisboa, probably in 1695, who was travelling to India in the merchant ship “Chandos” which  run aground  in 1722, during a storm near the Fortress of Good Hope.

The vessel belonged to Inacio’s employer, the East Indian Trading Company ,and the consequence of  the sudden disruption of his travel plans, was that he had to settle in the Cape for the rest of his life .

Inácio Ferreira took a job with the rival Dutch East   India Company and  became a “burgher,” converting to the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk ,which  it was the  only religion allowed when the Cape was dependant  from Holland .

 Further in life he was granted  farmland  Near Mossel Bay ,married  Marta Terblanche  and raised  ten  children.

Inácio Ferreira died in Stellenbosch in 1772,becoming the great grandfather of not less than 88 grandchildren.

One of Inácio’s descendants was Inácio Felipe Ferreira ,born in Grahmstown  in 1840, who was one earliest mining entrepreneurs  in Kimberley, Pilgrim’s  Rest and in the Reef, where established Ferreira’s Camp, a gold digging claim, today known as Ferreirasdorp.

The records of two other Portuguese Cape early settlers are from Manuel Oliveira and José Suasso Lima.

Manuel de Oliveira, was the captain of the Portuguese ship São José , which was destroyed during a gale against the cliffs in Camps Bay , in 1794.

Manuel de Oliveira, who was born in Lisbon ,also decided to settle in the Dutch Colony when his vessel was shipwrecked in the Cape.

Like his marooned compatriot, Manuel Oliveira married an Afrikaans-speaking  lady ,Gesina VAN BLERK, and had 4 children.

José Suasso Lima who was born in Amsterdam of  portuguese-jewish  descent, had a Law degree and  worked for the Dutch East Indian Company before the Cape was annexed  by the British.

Before José Lima edited thenewspaper “De Verzamelaar” there was no Afrikaans language press and all periodicals were in English.

José Lima is therefore particularly famous because he was the publisher of the first Dutch language newspaper, which was edited in 1826.

Pinto Fernandes

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