Within the states of Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte, known as Seridó, there is a very large family that descends from the marriage between two Azorean brothers and two Brazilian sisters. Many believe that the Medeiros brothers fled to Brazil due to the persecution imposed by the Inquisition. If this was the reason for the migration, it is not known for certain, but that Sephardic blood flows in the veins of their descendants, there is no doubt, so much so that many current family members have achieved Portuguese nationality through this route and others have returned to the Jewish creed.
The origin of Medeiros
There is no consensus among researchers about the origin of this family. What is known is that the surname has been used for centuries and would have appeared in eastern Portugal, in the Vila Real district, where there is an old town called Medeiros. In this way, the surname would be a toponymic, that is, whoever was born in Medeiros was known as “so-and-so de Medeiros” and, in time, his descendants started to sign in this way.
Another theory points out that Medeiros would have a noble origin, arising from the alteration, by the descendants, named Martim Sanches das Medas, who stood out in the fight against the Moors in the city of Porto, in 1245, during the reign of Afonso III. The word medas means "stacked" or "heaped", leading to believe that the first to use this ancient surname would have been someone who practiced the craft of stacker or lived near something that alludes to stacked objects / food. Medeiros would then be a corruption of Medas, with the same meaning.
Anyone who defends this theory claims that the grandchildren of Martim Sanches das Medas have already used the surname Medeiros, the first being Rui Gonçalves de Medeiros, who lived in Évora and played a prominent role during the reign of D. João I. chronologically, Rui could not have been Martim's grandson, which puts this theory in disrepute. In addition, the surname is usually used with the preposition “de” (de Medeiros), which makes the first hypothesis more likely, as this is usually a practice for toponymic surnames.
The trajectory of the Medeiros family on the islands began in the 15th century, with Rui Vaz de Medeiros, who reportedly ran away from home and, in Madeira, married the daughter of Jorge de Mendonça, a local nobleman. From there, he went to the Azores, on the island of São Miguel, where he established himself as a great landowner with the donation of vast sesmarias.
From the islands, many family members migrated to Brazil and several other parts of the world, currently being found even in Benin (a country in West Africa), where Francisco José de Medeiros settled. In Brazil, countless members of the Medeiros family entered, including one of the most famous, which originated the branch of the city of Passos, in the south of Minas Gerais, still in the 18th century, the islet Manoel Jorge de Medeiros, from Faial, in addition to several who settled in Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and São Paulo from the 17th century onwards.
Medeiros in the Northeast
At the beginning of the 18th century, two brothers from the Island of São Miguel, in the Azores, Rodrigo de Medeiros Rocha and Sebastião de Medeiros Matos, children of the couple Manuel Afonso de Matos and Maria de Medeiros Pimentel, migrated to Brazil, settling in the Seridó region, respectively, in the current states of Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte.
According to Olavo de Medeiros Filho, in his work Velhas Famílias do Seridó, they first arrived in Pernambuco, where they would have taken refuge with relatives due to the Inquisition. However, the relatives sent them to the Paraíba hinterland, on the Preás farm, in the Parelhas mountain range (now Rio Grande do Norte), where they would be less exposed. Educated, they provided legal services to the local inhabitants until they settled down, marrying two sisters, nieces of Captain-General Geraldo Ferreira das Neves Sobrinho, Apolônia Barbosa de Araújo and Antonia de Morais Valcácer, daughters of the couple Manoel Fernandes Freire and Antonia de Morais Valcácer.
From the couple Rodrigo and Apolônia, the Medeiros of Rio Grande do Norte descend, who through marriages mixed with families like Araújo, Correa, Dantas, Oliveira, Pereira, Pimenta, Santos, among others.
Already from the couple Sebastião and Antonia, Medeiros da Paraíba descend, among them the many who live in the municipality of Santa Luzia, where every two years hundreds of descendants of the family gather to exchange memories and meet the new members of this family branch. Among the many branches originated from the couple, surnames such as the famous Dantas Correa, Brito, Costa, Moraes, Nóbrega, Oliveira, Pereira, Tavares, Trindade, among others.
The New Christian Origin
The mentioned indications that the two brothers were persecuted by the Inquisition have not been confirmed so far, but what is known is that, by maternal means, they are descended from the couple Beatriz Marques and Manoel Rodrigues, accused of Judaism by their niece, Águeda Moniz, on the seventeenth of September, one thousand five hundred and ninety-two on the Island of São Miguel.
Important to remember: Last names are indications, but they do not determine whether or not you are descendants of Sephardic Jews. To prove this link, a genealogical study is really necessary.
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