Paleography - Transcribing - Translating Portuguese doc's

Documents are an important component in our genealogical research as they help building our own family history. So I ask you:

Do you have ancestors from Portuguese language countries?

Did you find manuscripts and/or books containing this very special history?

Do you know what is the content on that record?

Do you need any help transcribing or translating a Portuguese document?

Our ancestors traveled a long way from different countries bringing with them heritage from different languages and cultures, many times very different from the one that we belong. Language, as well as the old writing, becomes a barrier affecting our personal investigation when we cannot understand and read them.

I can help you transcribe and translate these manuscripts from Portuguese to English. I can also conduct further genealogical family research. Many times you will find relevant and unexpected information on a birth, marriage or a death record. The transcript and translation of an original documents will open a new door for your research and will bring evidence for the information you are building.

My contact information is myportuguesegen at, I will be glad to answer any of your questions regarding Portuguese transcripts and translations.

Below you will find some information on how I proceed with transcripts and translations of Portuguese manuscripts. Please take a moment and read some of my clients feedback regarding my work. I will be glad to help you and work on a way to fit your budget. Thank you.

Citation is a must in genealogy. For citing historical records and websites you use in your daily research learn from an expert -  Evidence Explained: History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 3rd Edition Revised

If you are a client, welcome back! Do not forget to post your comment below. I will greatly appreciate your feedback!


When I transcribe a manuscript all the elements of the text are kept exactly as they appear on the original document, including all the abbreviations. While doing an abstract, only the relevant information is provided, including dates, places and full names.

I will use as an example the baptism record of my maternal 3rd grandmother Balbina, from Cabo da Praia, Terceira Island, in the Azores. The digital record is part of Biblioteca Pública and Arquivo Regional deAngra do Heroismo website.

If you are transcribing, it is very tricky if you do not know the original language. In earlier times, it was common to have intricate words besides different styles of writing in a document, as you can see below.


Below is the above document transcribed, the text is exactly as it appears on the original one, line by line, following the way the scribe wrote. Any notation between brackets are information I provide as an explanation for what was abbreviated on the original record. To make easier following and reading the original record, I numbered the lines on the left side, each line corresponding to the same ones in the original document.

1             1829
2             Balbina, filha de João Jaquez e de sua mer.[mulher]
3             Maria do Carmo ella nal.[natural] da Villa de S. Se
4             bastião e ele nal.[natural] e ambos freguezes desta
5             Parochial de Sta. Catharina lugar do
6             Cabo da Praia desta Ilha 3a. nasceo em
7             os quinze dias do mez de Novembro do an-
8             no de mil oito centos e vinte nove. Foi Ba
9             tizada por mim Vicente Toste Coelho Vigro.[Vigario]
10           proprio desta da.[dita] Parochia, em os vinte
11           e dois dias do do.[dito] mez, e como logo lhe im
12           puz os Stos.[Santos] Oleos: foi Padrinho Franco.[Francisco]
13           Mdo. [Machado] cazado com Rita Ignacia nossos
14           Parochianos Era ut Supra.
15           Vigro  Vicente Toste Coelho

If you are looking for a translation, I have the same above document translated below. The text describes what is in the original record but do not attain to its original format of writing, line by line, as I have done above. Portuguese and English differ in many ways in structuring the grammar of sentences, but the result does not change its original content.

Balbina, daughter of João Jacques and his wife Maria do Carmo. The mother is a native of São Sebastião and the father a native of Santa Catarina Parish, at Cabo da Praia, Terceira island, where both are parishioners. Balbina was born in 15 of November of 1829 and was baptized by myself, the Vicar Vicente Toste Coelho, from the same Parish, in the 22 of the same month and year. Francisco Machado, married to Rita Inácia, was the Godfather and both are parishioners of this church. The date is as above. Signed by the Vicar Vicente Toste Coelho.

I want to give you another example. The record below is an example of patterns in family names and surnames that can happen in Portuguese records. In this specific one, the family is honoring a deceased loved one, naming the grandchild with the same name as his grandfather. In the past, names in the Portuguese culture did not follow rules as we are used to follow today and they did not necessarily follow a patrilineal form.


 Transcript by Isabella Baltar

The child, Bartolomeu, was baptized on 30 Aug 1671. Manoel [?] and Ysabel Fernandes are his parents. The godfather and godmother are Francisco das Neves and Anna Gonsalves. The record infers that Francisco and Anna are children of Bartolomeu Fernandes, deceased, and Catarina Gonsalves.

With this information we have a clue for who maybe the parents of Ysabel Fernandes, the child's mother. I believe her parents are Bartolomeu Fernandes and Catarina Gonsalves because of her last name, and she is naming her child after her father's name, who was probably deceased in a date close to Bartolomeu's birth. Francisco das Neves and Anna Gonsalves are both her brother and sister. This hypothesis needs confirmation with further research and is a great lead in someone's research.

Last, but not the least, do not forget, evidence provided by a record will bring your research to a higher level. Do not forget to cite your findings. Elizabeth Mills is a must to have author in every serious genealogist shelve. If you want to learn how to cite all your sources precisely, including websites, I suggest Evidence Explained: History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 3rd Edition Revised


  1. Isabella - thanks again for the outstanding work you did in tracing and translating my Azorean lineage all the way back to the 1600's. Your knowledge of the history of the island and your facility with finding and translating birth and marriage records are fantastic. I have learned quite a bit from you and it has enhanced my genealogy research in invaluable ways! I highly recommend Isabella services.

  2. Dear Isabella,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful transcriptions and translations of three sixteenth century Portuguese texts that were pertinent for my thesis. Your service was invaluable in understanding the specific content of the documents. You have a wonderful skill set! Thank you again!

  3. Boa tarde .... Caro Isabella,

    First off this is so AWESOME what you have done here, I applaud you!!! Wow, this all helped so much....I do have a question thou and I wanted to run it by you first in asking... I see that some of the records from Sao Roque, Ilha do pico only go to about 1901...where do you find the births after 1901, Deaths too. ? I'm desperately trying to find those, from my great uncle. Their last name was Avila Bettencourt, he may have dropped the Bettencourt though. He came to america with 4 of his 9 children, he went back though to take care of the rest, because the mother died sometime between 1918-1920. there was..1 boy and 4 girls and there was a set of twins in that too. I was so honored and proud to see the info you have put on here and I found the missing part to my grandfather, it's taken me over 34 year to complete that journey and I bless you for that so much, it just overcame me with emotions. I just wish I could find out what happen to the rest of my cousins from Eduardo Avila's side,my great uncle. Right now his only granddaughter that is left here in the states would be at peace knowing what happened to her uncle and aunts. If you could steer me in the right direction to get that info, I'd be so humbly honored. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank You again for all the awesome work you have done here, from one genealogists to another, Thank you!

    1. Hello, I'm so glad that my blog is helping you with your genealogy and I hope I can continue improve it, people like you are those who pushes me to go ahead and continue doing this work. Regarding your question about São Roque, Pico island, I just looked at CCA and they are all online, until 1910, baptisms, marriages and death. After that period the civil registration took place on documenting those events. If you are having difficult to access them, let me know writing to my email at: myportuguesegen at gmail dot com and I will send you the links.
      Looking forward hearing from you.

  4. Isabella is great. She has brought me further back on my ancestral research than I could have ever thought possible. Nobody in my family has ever had this information and I am grateful for it. I feel like each of these people (my ancestors) have been re-discovered by her and that they are now honored because of it. I feel like each of these people are my friends. I am where I am because of them.

  5. Isabella,

    Thank you very much for your transcription and translation of my family's Sao Jorge baptism and marriage records. I was so excited to read the words written so long ago! It made my day!

    Your work was quick, and you care about what you do. I also liked the nice touch of the title page with the photograph.

    This is just the beginning! I hope to find many more records and have you transcribe and translate them.

    Thanks again.

  6. M search is at a dead in with the first ancestor found as Manuel J Pimentel born 1851 married to Anna George. Evelyn Freitas, mother was Berniece E Rodriques.

    1. Hello, if you need any help to proceed with your research, you can send me an email to
      myportuguesegen @ gmail dot com
      I will gladly help you.

  7. Isabella,

    Thank you so much for your skillful and helpful translation of my ancestor's marriage record from the parish registers of Lages do Pico, Azores from the early 1800s. The information from the record was helpful to my research. I was especially happy with your attractive presentation of the document with the church photo along with the original Portuguese record together with the English. translation in a nicely laid out pdf.

    I would not hesitate to utilize your services again and I highly recommend your service to other researchers.


    Tim Riley

  8. Isabella,
    I cannot overemphasize how delighted I am with the work you have done on my wife's genealogy. You have been incredibly professional and very fast and fastidious in your work. That you have been able to find her Azores relatives back to the early 1700s on the island of Flores has been remarkable! I am not finished with having you research her family but I just wanted to take this opportunity to post on your blog so that I could highly recommend you to anyone searching for ancestors with Portuguese roots especially in the Azores! You get my highest recommendation!!

    1. Patrick, it is been a pleasure working with you and your family. Thank you so much for your support and incentive. Isabella

  9. Isabella,
    Thank you so much for your work on my wife's Azores genealogy. Your work has been incredible. Finding her ancestors on Flores back to the early 1700s is amazing. I am not done with having you explore her roots there but I did want to post on your blog how satisfied I am with your work and to recommend you highly to anyone looking for help with Portuguese roots especially in the Azores! You are incredible. Your work is extremely professional and it is done quickly with great reports for each of the searches you do. I can't thank you enough!!

  10. Hi Isabella

    I found my ancestors from the 1800's birth and marriage certificates at the Madeira archives, as I do not speak Portuguese I dont have a clue what it says and would like to have it translated what is your rates please.

    Thank you

    1. Charmaine, that's great you found some of your ancestors. I will be glad to help you. Please send me an email to myportuguesegen at and I will forward my services folder. Thank you for contacting. Isabella

  11. Isabella,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your great work, courtesy and expertise. I got stuck on Ancestry in the late 1800’s and I knew I had to find someone who knew how to navigate the waters of the Azores. I am incredibly impressed by your ability to decipher the cryptic writings of the obscure documents you find and your ability to communicate with the people necessary to get these documents. I’m also impressed with your reports, as they are professional, concise and compelling. I keep re-reading them over and over. Now, we are back to the early 1700’s and I am waiting to hear back from the Portuguese Consulate - When I hear from them, we return to Pico to find out more. I look forward to working with you soon!


    Wayne Allen Kimes , NC

    1. Wayne,

      I enjoy every research I do in family history! Every little bit piece of new information you got from my reports counts in double on my side. When I am able to interact with new people and search for their past families, like I did for you, I also have the opportunity to learn more from those who lived our own history in the Azores, and be grateful to their heritage and to be a part of it.

      Thank you for working with me.



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