52 Ancestors: Goncalo Vaz Botelho, Descendant of a King

52 Ancestors: Goncalo Vaz Botelho, Descendant of a King

This is week 2 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This week’s theme: King. I am writing about Goncalo Vaz Botelho, descendant of kings and queens.  In scanning the list I see the first connection is Fernando I, the King of Castille and Leon (1345-1383).  Goncalo is his 12 great grandson.

Not many know, and I certainly didn’t before I delved into genealogy, that the Azores Island were first populated by minor nobles.  They were ordered by the Infante (you know him as Henry the Navigator).  Goncalo showed up on Sao Miguel Island in 1450.  He is known as one of the founders and first settlers of the island.  It would be interesting to see if my Botelho’s of the 1800s link back to Goncalo.

Goncalo was probably born around 1420 in Portugal.  His parents were Pedro Botelho, a High Commander in the Ordem da Cristo (the Order of Christ) and Isabel Anes Buarcos.

I do not know the name of his wife, but according to the works of Gaspar Frutuoso and Rodrigo Rodrigues, they had five children:  Nuno, Antao, Goncalo, Joao, and Francisco.  Amazingly, they all took the same surname:  Goncalves Botelho.

I descend from his son, Nuno and his wife, Catarina Rodrigues.

According to Wikipedia, Goncalo is the founder of Vila Franca do Campo on Sao Miguel Island.  It was considered one of the larger settlements.  Today, Vila Franca do Campo looks like this…

Vila Franca do Campo
By Ruben JC Furtado (Photo taken by contributor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Frutuoso doesn’t say much about Goncalo in his book “Livro Quarto das Saudades da Terra: Volume 1”.  He does note that Goncalo was a favorite of the Infante.  He also notes that he had the nickname “O Grande”, noting that he was large in size and stature, a respected man on the island.

My connection to Goncalo is through my 3rd great grandmother, Rosa Medeiros Pacheco, who was born in Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island in 1810.   Goncalo is my 15th great grandfather.  Think I can cash in on some of that royalty today?


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Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com

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