on May 18, 2020

Vaz de Barros, high positions in the colony

on May 18, 2020

Vaz de Barros, altos cargos na colônia

One of the most traditional families to settle in São Paulo, the Vaz de Barros have a considerable participation in Brazilian history. The first to take root in Brazil and to bear the composite surname Vaz de Barros, founding the branch, was the captain Pedro Vaz de Barros. Born in Algarve, Portugal, he was the son of Jerônimo Pedroso and Joanna Vaz de Barros, and grandson, on the part of father, of Major Captain Antonio Pedroso and Bernarda Mendez. Both the father and grandfather are registered as new Christians.

Some researchers believe that the Sephardic origin could have been an obstacle for him and his brother, Antonio, to ascend socially, as is the case of José Gonçalves Salvador, who seems to strive to prove that the brothers were new Christians, so much so that it arrives affirming that Antônio Pedroso de Barros revealed to the visitor of the Holy Office, in 1591, in the “Denunciações da Bahia”, that both his parents were Sephardic Jews. However, the author quotes, but does not transcribe, or indicate the location of the reference document.


The achievement of notoriety

The brothers, however, gained notoriety by building a great reputation for having participated in feats of bravery, such as being in the silver mines of Peru in the late 16th century, in addition to participating in struggles against invaders on the Brazilian coast, standing out as some of the most important São Paulo pioneers. As a result, the two brothers were jointly appointed to high positions in the colony, then dominated by Spain, including the government of the captaincy of São Vicente in 1603.

Perhaps to mitigate what at the time was considered a taint, the Jewish origin, other writers sought to highlight supposedly noble origins of the family that was gaining more and more prominence in São Paulo's history. The descendants of Pedro Vaz de Barros are described by Luís Gonzaga da Silva Leme in volume III of his Paulistana Genealogy, which on page 442 says the following:

“Pedro Vaz de Barros and his brother Antônio Pedroso de Barros were people of qualified nobility and came to Brazil provided, Antonio as captain-chief of the captaincy of São Vicente and São Paulo, and brother Pedro Vaz de Barros as ombudsman of the same captaincy, with a clause that, when Antônio Pedroso dies, Brother Pedro Vaz was the captain-governor and also an ombudsman for Brother Pedro Vaz, and when Antônio Pedroso accumulated the two positions, as can be seen from the charter passed in Lisbon in 1605, by which Antônio Pedroso took office in São Vicente chamber in 1607, which is registered in the São Paulo chamber archive. ”

The descendants

Speculations aside, what is certain is that in addition to Pedro Vaz de Barros and Antonio Pedroso, his parents had two more daughters, Bernarda and Lucrécia Pedroso, summoned to the inquisition in Portugal, in 1591 and in 1592, for the crime of Judaism. Another fact is that the two brothers originated some of the most powerful families in the current state of São Paulo. From Pedro Vaz de Barros and Antonio Pedroso descend the barons and marquises of Itu, the São Paulo oligarchic ruling class, with emphasis on Paes Lemes, Barros Penteados, Moraes Barros. Among his descendants, stand out Jerônimo Pedroso de Barros, one of the paulistas who started the Emboabas War, and Frei Galvão, who also belonged to the Pedroso de Barros family.


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.