Paleography - Transcribing - Translating Portuguese docs

Do you have ancestors from Portuguese language origins? Have you found manuscripts and/or books containing this very special history? I can help you with transcripts and translations of those texts into English. Documents are an important component in our genealogical research as they help building our own family history.

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 well as the old writing, becomes a barrier and affects our personal investigation when we can't understand and read them.

Many times you will find relevant and unexpected information on a birth, marriage or a death record. Transcript and translation of original documents will open a new door for your research.

When transcribing a manuscript all the elements of the text are kept exactly as they appear on the original writing, 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.


Following 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 made by myself as an explanation for what was abbreviated. To make easier reading the original document, I numbered the lines on the left side, each line corresponding to the same ones in the 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

Here I have this same document translated. 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.

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 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.

Do you need any help researching, transcribing or translating a Portuguese document? I can help you transcribe, translate, and conduct further genealogical research. You can contact me sending an email to myportuguesegen at gmail dot com for more information about these services. 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.


  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. Thank you very much provide translation services for birth and death certificates and other documents.
    Documents Translation Services

  5. 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.

  6. 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.


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