On the ancestry and descent of Clemenza Doria, one of the earliest European settlers in Brazil.




Francisco Antonio Doria


Professor of Communications, Emeritus, at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro.

Fellow of the Brazilian Academy of Philosophy.




Brazil was discovered by a Portuguese fleet under the command of Admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral lord of Belmonte, in April 1500. Early colonizing efforts by the Portuguese crown were sporadic and consisted mainly of expeditions sponsored and directed by wealthy merchants like the Marchioni, Affaitati, or Fernão de Loronha, who was a converted and ennobled Jew. A more systematic colonial effort began after 1534 when King John III of Portugal spliced up the new land into a dozen or so chunks which were given as fiefs to merchants and enterprising noblemen who were supposed to settle in the colony and explore it.


We are here interested in some of the settlers that came to Brazil after 1548, when King John III decided that a centralized government was required to coordinate the Portuguese administration in the New World, and named Dr. Tomé de Sousa, a magistrate, as the country’s first governor-general. De Sousa belonged to a distinguished but partially impoverished family which traced its ancestry to King Alfonso III in the 13th century through illegitimate lines; he arrived in Brazil in early 1549 in a fleet one of whose ships was commanded by Fernão Vaz da Costa, another mid-level nobleman from the bureaucratic establishment around the Portuguese crown. Fernão Vaz da Costa is one of our dramatis personae here.


Nearly half a century later his son Cristóvão da Costa, or Cristóvão da Costa Doria, as he is also referred to in documents, gives a deposition before the inquisitor that had been sent to Brazil after 1590 to look for heretical and apostate misbehavior in the new continent. The portion of the deposition that interests us is:


..e foi perguntado de sua genelogia/ dixe que he cristão velho filho de fer/nao vaz da costa e de sua molher cle/mencja dorja genevesa não conhe/ceo seus auoos mas ouujo q seu a/uoo paj de seu paj se chama cristo/uão dacosta desembargador que/ foj em Lix.a e sua avoo maj de seu pai/ se chamaua guimar camjnha e ouujo/ dizer que seu avoo paj de sua maj se/chamaua andre dorja, teue tias jr/maas de seu paj florença da costa/ e dona fr.ca da costa molher que foj/ de Ant.o correa moradoras em Lix.a//


nao conheceo tios daparte da sua maj/ teue hum jrmão, que matarão em/Lix.a chamado Nicolao da Costa/ soltr.o e outros que morrerão e tem/ tres irmaas ujuas s. Luisa dorja mo/lher de Martim Carvalho, e fr.ca de saa/ molher de fr.co dabreu da costa e Anna dorja Jnda soltr.a e os djttos seus cu/nhados são cristãos uelhos e djxe q/sabia a doutrjna cristãa...


In full translation: when asked about his genealogy [Cristóvão da Costa Doria] answered that he is an old christian [had no Jewish blood], the son of Fernão Vaz da Costa and of his wife Clemencia Doria, a Genoese by birth; that he never met his grandparents but heard that his paternal grandfather was called Cristóvão da Costa, a supreme court justice in Lisbon, and that his grandmother on that side was called Guiomar Caminha; and heard that his maternal grandfather was called André Doria. Added that he had aunts on his father’s side, namely Florença da Costa, and Dona [Lady] Francisca da Costa, the widow of Antonio Correa, who both lived in Lisbon; on his mother’s side he didn’t know whether there were uncles. He had a brother named Nicolau da Costa, single, who was killed in Lisbon; there were deceased brothers and sisters, and three surviving sisters, Luisa Doria the wife of Martim Carvalho, Francisca de Sá married to Francisco de Abreu da Costa, and Anna Doria, single. None of those people is of Jewish extraction and he himself was perfectly conversant with the Christian doctrine.


This deposition is dated 9 December 1592 (photo 1, photo 2). The charge that had led Cristóvão da Costa Doria to the inquisition was a minor one, that he once overhead some heretical statement and didn’t denounce it  (see below) — he answered that he found it irrelevant and had forgotten about it, and the inquisitor let him go. One can see why: the charge was irrelevant, and Cristóvão da Costa Doria was very well connected by family ties to the Portuguese judicial establishment: his grandfather had been Chief Justice of Portugal (Chanceler da Relação de Lisboa) and a rector of the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe. One of his paternal uncles was also a supreme court justice, and it was probably felt by the inquisitor that one shouldn’t toy with such a well-connected individual.


Biographical data about Fernão Vaz da Costa are scarce, but we can recover a sketchy picture of his personality and that of his father. The father is — we think — the one who received a grant of 50,000 rs (reais) in 1st May 1520 given by King Emmanuel I because of his marriage. Dr. Cristóvão da Costa becomes rector of the University of Coimbra in 1526, and is later made chancellor (chief justice) of the Portuguese supreme court. He was probably born around 1475-80, and — if he is the one who received the 1520 grant — was the son of Afonso da Costa, alcaide-mor (military commander) of Lagos, and the grandson of Soeiro da Costa, a legendary navigator who explored the coast of Africa in the early 15th century. The family bore the full da Costa coat of arms, as can be seen in a grant of arms dated 14 July 1605, and was related to the da Costa branch who held the hereditary offices of Portugal King of Arms from the 16th to the 19th century. (Thus the constant references to governor-general of Brazil Dom Duarre da Costa as an “uncle” of  Fernão Vaz da Costa.)


Fernão Vaz da Costa is attested in Brazil from 1549 onwards; he was probably born around 1521-1525. He passed away (we know it from the transcription of the birth record of his last daughter Ana Doria) sometime between 1567 and 1568, and it is possible that his death was due to some accident such as a shipwreck or perhaps to some skirmish against the indians in Brazil, as he was still in his forties.


Was he also well-connected on his mother’s side? Let’s review what we know about Clemencia, or Clemenza Doria, from first-hand sources.


    18 December 1556, letter from the aldermen of Salvador (Brazil) to the King of Portugal. Reference is made among the casualties of a shipwreck to  “…Sebastião Ferreira que hja por procurador da cidade marido de Clemencja Dorja…” that is to say, Sebastião Ferreira, chief alderman [speaker of the town council] of  Salvador and the husband of Clemencia Doria. This reference to Ferreira’s wife is highly unusual.


Sebastião Ferreira is a barely identifiable character. He was moço de câmara, that is, a kind of equerry attached to the royal household with noble status. His position was an important one in the colony. The Ferreira family can be traced to the 13th century and belonged to the mid-level, non-titled nobility, but we cannot place this Sebastião Ferreira among its members for the lack of documents. Sebastião Ferreira and Clemencia Doria were probably married around 1553 or in early 1554, and had a daughter, Luisa Doria, who was married to Martim de Carvalho in 1592.


    1559. Alvará (royal decree) naming Fernão Vaz da Costa chief controller (contador-mor) of the colony. He is referred to as “…fernão Vaz da costa m.or nas ptes dobrasyl casado cõ clemencja dorja crjada da Ra. minha sra e aVo q no cargo de qt.dor das teras dobrasil…” that is, Fernão Vaz da Costa who lives in Brazil and is married to Clemencia Doria criada of the Queen my grandmother, who in the position of controller of the land of Brazil…


We have to explain here the meaning of criada of the Queen. The word derives from the verb criar, to create, to educate. One followed here the feudal usage: a criada of the Queen was a young noble lady who was educated in court close to the queen and attended to the queen as a private servant (criada in today’s Portuguese means servant). It used to be an exalted situation, and many younger children of grandees appear among the criados and criadas of the royal household since the 15th century.


    1580. In 16 June 1580 a plot of land was granted to the monastery of St Benedict (São Bento) in Salvador (Brazil). In the description of the limits of the land reference is made “…e pa. p.te da Cid.e parte com terra de Clemençia a Doria…” that is, and in the direction of the town, it is limited by land owned by Clemencia, the one who is a Doria. One should further notice that the way the lady’s name is spelled could be seen as the archaic version of Clemenza, as ç sounded as ts in the 16th century Portuguese spelling.

    1591. A deposition by a priest to the inquisition. The incident described was said to have happened in the house of Clemencia Doria, referred to as a widowed lady who lived next to the monastery of St Benedict in Salvador in 1590.

    1592. The quotation given above, of the deposition of Cristóvão da Costa Doria at the inquisition.


The picture we can infer from these testimonials in the documents is that Clemencia (or Clemenza) Doria had an exalted status in the colony. We can add from second-hand sources that she very likely arrived in Brazil in 1553 with governor-general Dom Duarte da Costa, and we can estimate that she was born around 1535 or later, and passed away after 1590.


She was Genoese, and the daughter of one “André Doria.” How can we identify her father in the Doria pedigree? There are several caveats to be taken into account here. First, “genoese” means, of immediate Genoese stock. She might have been born in Genoa — a very likely possibility — or in Portugal, of a Genoese father. Also, Clemenza was illegitimate, a fact that was however irrelevant both in Portugal and in Italy. Just to mention some Portuguese examples: the Aviz dynasty was of illegitimate stock, as well as the grandest  nobles of Portugal, the Dukes of Braganza. The elder Vasconcellos line, soon to become Counts and Marquesses of Castelo Melhor, again derived from a bar-sinister line; the Pereira de Mello family, Marquesses of Ferreira and Dukes of Cadaval in the 17th century, originated in a string of illegitimacies; the Marquess of Montebello, Machado, had as first known ancestress a 12th century Vasconcellos lady said to be… a whore! — so that one cannot identify who sired her children.


Also one must avoid taking literally the reference to “André Doria,” since names became at that time easily garbled in translation. The British Sudeley became Sodré, in Portugal. Lomellini appears as Nominijm, or even Melim. Paretino Adorno was mutated into Paulo Adorno; his brother Ambrogio Adorno became Diogo, or even Joffo Adorno in Portuguese documents. Eliano Spinola was metamorphized into Lucano, and then Luciano Spinola. So, the safest way to proceed is:


    to look for a Genoese Doria in Portugal,

    who, moreover, was close enough to the Crown to place a daughter as criada da Rainha, as a noble lady in the Queen’s service.


His name — André Doria — in Cristóvão’s deposition should be taken as a guide, or as a pointer; a kind of first approximation. The Portuguese national archives (ANTT, or Torre do Tombo) document about twenty individuals with the Doria family name from 1450 to before 1600. They can be more or less organized into three groups:


    The Doria who settled in the Madeira. These are geographically well defined and clearly characterized.

    The Doria in the Algarve. We identify one Luis “Douria” from Albufeira, 1529, and one “Baltazar” Doria at Loulé, in 1522, both with minor official positions.

    Those that do not fit into the above categories, and they go from Afonso Anes Doria, who received a pardon from King John II in 1490 to Aleramo Doria, who acted as a banker to King John III.


Let us take a closer look at Aleramo Doria. He is attested in a padrão de juros (a kind of bill of exchange) guaranteed by revenues from Lisbon’s customs and dated 1st January 1557. He is described, “alarame doria genoves Vizinho da cidade degenoa elaamorador pr meservir eajudar,” that is, Aleramo Doria, Genoese, born at Genoa and living there, as he served me and helped me [the King of Portugal]… Aleramo Doria lent money “a caimbo,” that is, through an exchange procedure to help finance the Portuguese explorations and military operations in Africa and India, a collective term that included Brazil at that time. The 1557 document guaranteed him the receipt of 80,000 rs of perpetual interest over the customs’ gains, a rather sizable sum, as it would be around $ 800,000  today. (This gives only an estimate of the current value; conversion was made by gold prices; and one should allow for a 30% margin of error.) Aleramo Doria acted through his representative in Lisbon, Benedetto Centurione, probably his kinsman, as our Genoese merchant was the son of Francesco Doria and of Gironima Centurione, a daughter of Lodisio Centurione Scotto, the banker who sponsored Columbus in the Admiral’s first business dealings in the Madeira in 1478. Francesco Doria also financed Columbus, as he lent him money for a 25% share in the costs and revenues of Ovando’s 1502 expedition to the Americas.


We have here a line of Doria merchants one of whose business activities consistently has to do with the financing of the Iberic overseas explorations.


We therefore identify Aleramo Doria as the “André Doria” named by Cristóvão da Costa Doria as his grandfather. Aleramo > “André” is a reasonable enough mutation; and Aleramo was close enough to the Portuguese crown to have a daughter — illegitimate or not — placed as criada da Rainha. There are two more facts to be considered here:


    The Nobiliário de Affonso Torres, a lineage book composed around 1635 in Portugal by Affonso Torres and of which just three copies are known, one of them in the Brazilian National Library in Rio, mentions in the chapter on the Silva family a marriage between one Clemencia de Oria filha de Lourenco de Oria (daughter of Lourenco de Oria) and a Silva de Meneses. The  marriage actually took place between Braz da Silva de Meneses and Clemencia Doria the granddaughter of our Clemenza Doria and her first husband Sebastião Ferreira, through their only daughter Luisa Doria, who married Martim de Carvalho. There is here a confusion between the grandmother and the homonymous granddaughter but how are we to explain Lourenco ? A bad, tentative reading of Laramo, Loramo, or Aleramo’s name as it appears in Portuguese: Alarame, Larame.

    Aleramo Doria the banker had a brother Niccolò. This might justify the name of Clemenza’s eldest son, Nicolau, who was killed in Lisbon. We notice that papponymic procedures are strictly followed in Clemenza’s children: Luisa, very likely due to Lodisio Centurione; Nicolau; Cristóvão, because of the paternal grandfather; Guiomar, the paternal grandmother, and so on.


(The alternative is to look for an Andrea Doria who was influential enough in the Portuguese administration, but so far we have found none.)


We conclude with a sketch of a descent line from Clemenza Doria and Fernão Vaz da Costa. We notice that the da Costa Doria name is still used today by many members of the family.

  1. Fernão Vaz da Costa b. Lisbon c. 1521-25; dec. Brazil, 1567/8, married in 1557 Clemenza Doria, b. Genoa (very likely) c. 1535, dec. Brazil, Salvador, after 1591, widow of Sebastião Ferreira. Several children, of which the second born was:


  1. Cristóvão da Costa Doria bapt. Salvador, 17 July 1560, dec. after 1606. Married Maria de Meneses, d. of Jerônimo Moniz Barreto de Meneses and of first wife D. Mécia Lobo de Mendonça. Parents of:


  1. D. Antonia de Meneses, also referred to as D. Antonia Doria de Meneses in the 18th century Brazilian lineage books. Bapt. 1606 in Salvador (Bahia, Brazil); dec. after 1648. M. Salvador, 17 September 1631 Antonio Moreira de Gamboa, n. Salvador c. 1590, dec. after 1648. Son of Martim Afonso Moreira, b. Setúbal (Portugal) in 1550, dec. after 1622 (Salvador, Bahia) and of Joana de Gamboa. Eldest son:


  1. Martim Afonso de Mendonça. B. 1632 Salvador (Bahia, Brazil), dec. after 1672. Fidalgo da Casa Real, that is, nobleman of the royal household. M. (1st) D. Inês de Carvalho Pinheiro, without issue. M. (2nd) D. Brites Soares, the d. of Sebastião Soares, with issue. M. (3rd), 10 September 1665 at the Monte Recôncavo, D. Joana Barbosa, d. of Miguel Nunes Peixoto and of D. Concórdia Barbosa. Son, of the 3rd marriage:


  1. Gonçalo Barbosa de Mendonça. B.c. 1675, dec. 1737, captain of militias. M. 24 April 1716 at the Socorro church, D. Antonia de Aragão Pereira, d. of Alberto da Silveira de Gusmão and wife D. Isabel de Aragão. Son:


  1. Cristóvão da Costa Barbosa (1731-6 May 1809), lord of sugarcane plantation and mill (engenho) “Ladeira,” S. Francisco do Conde (Bahia). M. cousin D. Antonia Luiza de Vasconcellos Doria (1744-1825), d. of Manuel da Rocha Doria and of D. Ana Maria de Jesus e Vasconcellos, a distant niece of Columbus’ wife Filipa Muniz. This marriage revived in the children the Costa Doria family name. Children:


    José da Costa Doria, lord of engenho (sugarcane mill) “Boa União.” B. 1765, dec. 2 December 1803. M. first cousin D. Luiza Arcângela de Menezes Doria, with descent that used the name Costa Doria.

    Manuel Joaquim da Costa Doria, b.c. 1775, dec. after 1843. M. first cousin D. Teresa Mariana de Menezes Doria, with descent that went on with the name Costa Doria.


Among descendants of this line are to be mentioned:


    Diocleciano da Costa Doria (1841-1920), doctor of medicine and politician; state representative in Sergipe (northeastern Brazil). Implemented major sanitary measures when responsible for educational and health services in southern Brazil.

    João Agripino da Costa Doria (1854-1902), mayor of Salvador (1895), professor of surgery at the School of Medicine in Bahia.

    Antonio Moitinho Doria (1875-1950), who founded the Brazilian Bar Association.

    Architects M M M Roberto (Marcelo, Milton and Maurício Roberto Doria Baptista), leaders of the modern Brazilian school of architecture.

    Gustavo Alberto Accioli Doria (1910-1979), journalist and drama critic, one of the leading theoreticians of modern theater in Brazil.

    João Agripino da Costa Doria Neto (1919-2000), businessman and politician, a former federal representative (1962-1964) from the state of Bahia.

    João Doria Jr (b. 1957), his son, former head of the Brazilian federal tourist corporation Embratur.

    José Carlos Aleluia da Costa [Doria], opposition leader at the Brazilian House of Representatives (2000-2008).


Descended from other lines are many well-known Brazilians like e.g. composer Chico Buarque de Holanda, a 5th gson of D. Joana Angélica de Menezes Doria, sister of D. Luiza Arcângela and of D. Teresa Mariana above.