Whether you live in Portugal or have ancestors who did, we can help you identify your family’s origins and trace your Portuguese ancestry.
Records for Tracing Portuguese Ancestry
If you have Portuguese ancestry, the two main sources for your family lines are civil registration records and Catholic Church records. In order to conduct the most efficient research possible you’ll want to keep in mind some specific dates and historical events. In Portugal, civil registration officially began in 1878 for non-Catholics, and in 1911 for everyone. So if you’re looking for events that happened prior to these dates your best bet is probably the Catholic Church records.
Tracing Portuguese Ancestry: Understanding Historical Context
As part of the reforms of the Council of Trent in 1563, parish priests were required to record the births, marriages, and death of every member of their parish. Because of this, it is not uncommon to find church records going back to very early time periods. However, the amount of detail in each record is variable. Also, in 1910 the leaders of the newly established First Portuguese Republic required that all vital records created by the Church be transferred to the government, so it’s important to be aware of where the records that you’re looking for might be held. Some are in the national archives, some are in regional archives, and some were unfortunately lost during the transfer and may or may not still exist. However, the good news is that many of the records that do still exist have been digitized, which can make it a lot easier to locate them without having to conduct onsite research in Portugal.
Finding Your Ancestral Hometown
To research your Portuguese family history you’ll first want to find out the specific hometown where your ancestor(s) came from, and enough additional information about them that you can identify them in the records for that area. Additional information includes things like occupation; dates of birth, marriage, or death; names of parents, siblings, spouse or children; and religion. This is especially important if your ancestor had a common name or if you don’t know the specific town and have to search a broader area, since you’ll likely find several potential matches and will need to determine which one is yours. To find out this information you can start by talking to family members and collecting documents from the latter part of your ancestor’s life.
Our Team of Professional Genealogists Can Help
Whether you are just starting out with researching your Portuguese ancestry or if you have already identified a town of origin and just need help accessing onsite records, our experts can help!