The island of Brava today is home to two parishes or municipalities, Sao Joao Baptista and Nossa Senhora do Monte, each with a church of the same name. Prior to 1910, vital records were in the form of church baptism, marriage and obituary records. In the past 4 years I have probably searched to thousands upon thousands of individual records from both parishes and traced my tree to the 1700’s.
The marriage records available start around 1806 for the parish of Sao Joao Baptista. What I found is a bit of a mystery – could there have been another forgotten parish? Take a look at this record for the marriage of Boaventura de Barros and Ingracia de Pina in 1808.
On the third line it says “parochial Nossa Senhora do Rosario da ilha Brava” or parish of Our Lady of the Rosary of the island of Brava?!?! I have seen records referring to chapels within a parish but this record clearly states it is a parish. These records continue in this way until about 1811. When I inquired about this to reps at national Archives of Cape Verde they said it may have been settled by people who came from a parish with the same name on a different island.
There exists parishes of Nossa Senhora do Monte on the islands of São Nicolão and Santo Antão but no one I have spoken to, in particular, older relatives have ever heard of there being one on Brava. The parish of Sao Joao Baptista probably came into existence as the island went from being known as São João to Brava in the 1700’s. In the writings of Captain John Roberts (written by William Defoe) in 1726 he refers to it as St. John. Nossa Senhora do Monte was established a hundred years later in 1826 but the church here was not completed until after 1841. I know I have ancestors born prior to 1826 who were naturals of the area of Nossa Senhora Do Monte. Could it be that they had established their own parish or chapel?