CV BLACK HISTORY MAKER –  Mathias de Souza


Mathias de Sousa was possibly the first Cape Verdean to set foot in America arriving on the “Ark” as an indentured servant to Jesuit priests who were a part of an expedition led by Lord Baltimore in 1634. I was first introduced to the story of Mathias by Cape Verdean historian, Ray Almeida (1944-2010).

While there isn’t much documented of Mr de Sousa and his Cape Verdean ancestry, I did find some compelling evidence that one of the ships did go through Cabo Verde on its way to Maryland.

The expedition left England in November 1633 with two vessels, the Ark and the Dove. Within a few days, the expedition hit bad weather and the Dove returned to England while the Ark continued. A few weeks later, the ship’s log notes visiting the island of Bonavista/Boa Vista. (Maryland State Archives) It is VERY plausible that Mathias could have boarded the ship in Boa Vista, Cabo Verde. The Ark and the Dove arrived in St Mary’s City, Maryland in February of 1634.

Mathias was one of 9 indentured servants on this expedition and the first Black Marylander. He went on to become the first black man to cast a vote in Maryland and what was to become the United States of America in 1642 as a member of the Maryland General Assembly.

Cape Verdeans have been a part of American History since before there was a United States of America.
I am extremely proud to know that the first black man to cast a vote in this country was a Cape Verdean!

2 responses

  1. Hello, Ms Lima, I am sorry that I did not get to talk to you during the recent Capeverdian DNA conference. I got sick and had to leave early during the first day. Al least we exchanged a few introductory words.  Well, I shared the agenda of the conference with my brother, Antonio Lucas Silva who lives presently in Marhsfield Massachusets and he told me that you may be a cousin. Our great great grand father , Manuel Roger Coelho Rodrigues (aka Nho Mane Roger)  maybe be a close relative of your great grandmother Maria Coelho Rodrigues. Manuel Roger Coelho Rodrigues and his wife lived in a house in Praca, Villa de Nova Sintra. This house is ours now, the 8 children of one of Manuel Roger’s grand daughters, Maria Jose Rodrigues dos Santos (Djedje).  I was born in Brava and came to this country when I was almost 14 years old in 1963. We lived in Dorchester, Mass.  As a child I visited many relatives from Nossa Senhora do Monte from my mother’s side. In fact, people always told me that I look like Nho Mane Roger who was a merchant ship capitan. I’ve written 3 books based on my childhood in Brava and in the book the family name is “Rodrigues.”   I am working on a novel which I hope will span 3 centuries of Capeverdeans in mainly in  Brava.    My sister Izione Silva is very active in Facebook. She goes to Brava often and besides taking care of our house there, she has a “Little Library” project going on in Brava with the objective to increase literacy in children in the island. I hope to have a chance to meet you again and discuss our shared heritage. Sincerely, Irma (aka Djim/Madjim)  Irma Silva-Barbeau, PhD., OCDSWriter, Author, and Speaker

    • Hi Irma! I have a Manuel Jose Coelho born in 1841 and married to Maria Silveria Gomes. Manuel’s parents were Marcelino Jose Coelho and Desideria Rodrigues, my great-great-great-great grandparents. Some of their descendants took on the “Rodrigues” or “Rodgers” surname that presumably came from Desidaria. I have heard stories of “Nho Mane Rodger” and “Henrique Rodger”. I have met many of our “Rodgers” cousins. Manuel had a brother, Jose, born in 1845, who was my great grandmother’s grandfather! I am so happy to know exactly how we’re related, Prima!

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