Manoel Jose da Costa Felgueiras Gaio (1750-1831), born in Barcelos in the northern Portuguese Province of Minho, is one the most important genealogists of all times in Portugal, and certainly the best known. A member of the nobility, he was a landowner, a judge, and a benefactor of the Santa Casa de Misericordia of Barcelos (a public hospital), to which he willed his monumental compendium, Nobiliario de Familias de Portugal, composed of 33 books and encompassing more than 500 families. In spite of its importance, the Nobiliario remained unpublished for over a century after Gaio’s death.
The first publication of the Nobiliario occurred between 1938-1941; however, only 250 sets were issued, and the transcription was handicapped by usage of old-fashioned Portuguese and inclusion of numerous abbreviations, ambiguities, obscure passages, historical allusions, and so forth that make it difficult to use even for persons fluent in Portuguese. The book at hand represents the first volume of a new English-language edition of the Nobiliario. The aim in this translation has been twofold: to keep the content as close as possible to the original text, and at the same time to adopt a fluent modern style, enabling the English reader to overcome the above-mentioned difficulties.
Additionally, this edited translation provides cultural and historical background information, changes the numbering of sections and subsections (which was frequently incorrect in the original text), and comments on contradictions and ambiguities in the original, often correcting information and eliminating repetitiveness. Editor Luis Pontes has also modified the arrangement of the compendium,dividing it into smaller parts; for instance, this inaugural volume concentrates solely on the Abreu families of Regalados and Grade.
Clearfield Company, publisher of the inaugural volume in this series, is proud to be able to make this heretofore inaccessible collection of Iberian genealogy available to Americans of Portuguese and Spanish descent. Several features commend it to your attention: In this volume, each Abreu family branch is traced for as many as fifteen or sixteen generations, in lines extending along five centuries. Internal cross-references link different branches and different families. Use of charts and a complete name index at the back of the volume clarify relationships between families. In the front matter to the volume, moreover, Mr. Pontes describes the differences between the various ranks of the Portuguese nobility, provides a general Introduction to the structure of Gaio’s work, and explains his system of preserving and abbreviating names from the original. All in all we believe that this singular work goes a long way to serve the genealogical needs and interests of the “Portuguese diaspora,” dispersed across the world.