on May 29, 2020

Proença Coelho Family

on May 29, 2020

Família Proença Coelho

The trunk of the family Proença Coelho originated in Brazil, from the marriage of the Portuguese Francisco Vaz Coelho and Brazilian Isabel de Almeida de Proença, whose offspring spread throughout the southeastern and southern Brazil.

Origin of surnames

The surname Bunny has Portuguese origin and its oldest record dates from the 13th century, when among the subjects of King D. Sancho II he lived D. Soeiro Viegas Coelhogreat-grandson of D. Egas Moniz (aide of D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal). According to some historians, the surname was already used by D. Soeiro's maternal grandfather, João Vasques, but there are no documentary records to prove the fact. What is stated is that João Vasques was the lord of Quinta da Coelha, which was on the banks of the Douro river in northern Portugal, from where the surname Coelho and later the surname would have come from. Others claim that the lord of the farm was, in fact, the father of D. Soeiro, D. Egas Lourenço.

Other scholars point out that D. Soeiro Viegas came to be called a rabbit because, during the war against the Moors, he moved sneakily. In the words of the historian Diogo das Chagas, he acted "by mines under the ground to seek them and fight with them and so they told el-rei bragging about his deeds and assaults, which he mined under the ground like a rabbit". The nickname later would have become surname and passed from generation to generation.


As for the Proença, the most likely origin is geographic, the surname originating from the Portuguese parishes of Proença-a-Nova and Proença-a-Velha. However, there is a record that the surname was also adopted by Jews, since the baptism forced to the Christian religion, from 1497.

The surname in Brazil

It is speculated that, in order to be able to embark for Brazil fleeing persecutions of the Inquisition, members of the new Christian family Cohen would have adopted the surname Bunny. However, it cannot be generalized, because since it is an old surname, several branches already existed in the colonial period, some even coming from the union of Christians and Jews. The same goes for the surname Proença.

In Brazil, for example, it cannot be said that all current citizens with the surname Coelho descend from the same branch, but it is possible to trace the origin of many, such as the specific case of those who populated the Southeast and South of the country. Much of the oldest branches of that part of Brazil are descended from Francisco Vaz Coelho, one of the founders of the current city of Mogi das Cruzes in São Paulo.


Born in 1569 in Portugal, Francisco Vaz Coelho was Sephardic. The information about his Jewish origin comes from the historian José Gonçalves Salvador, who quotes in his book “Vozes da História” the minutes of a meeting of city councilors from São Paulo held in 1622 in which it was recorded that the merchant Gaspar Gomes mentioned the name of three residents who paid the feint, a tax levied since 1606, "from the people of the Hebrew nation": Rodrigo Fernandes, Tomaz Freire and Francisco Vaz Coelho.

An influential person on the Piratininga plateau, Francisco Vaz Coelho would later marry Isabel de Almeida de Proença, also a descendant of Jews, with whom he left several heirs who populated the entire interior of São Paulo and, from his great grandson, Francisco de Anhaya de Almeida (who still had the surname of his son-in-law, Paulo de Anhaya), his seeds arrive in the current state of Paraná, from Curitiba, at the end of the 17th century, being present in several branches of the Abreu, Brito, Chaves, Colasso, Cruz, Delgado, Domingues, Faria, France, Godoi, Leme, Lezan, Marafigo, Nunes, Proença, Rodrigues, Sampaio, Siqueira families, among others.

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.