The British contribution to Brazil’s Independence

War graves at Gamboa

The English cemetery in Rio de Janeiro sits on a piece of land, in the district of Gamboa, that was donated to the British by the Emperor Dom Joao VI in 1809.  Over the years, many famous Brits were buried there, and the following story tells of some of them:

The British contribution to Brazil’s Independence

Unless you have studied Brazilian military history, you are probably unaware of the contribution English, Irish, Scottish – and even German – officers, seamen and soldiers made to the successful Independence of Brazil. Everyone has heard of Lord Cochrane, who is buried in Westminster Abbey, but has a monument in Gamboa cemetery. Other officers died in Brazil and are buried here.

After the war of Independence, many of the non-Brazilian officers were discharged, but  the Brazilian Navy List of 1835 still contained the names of twenty-two English, Scottish and Irish veterans, a number of whom stayed on in Brazil to attain the highest ranks in the service.  Of the remaining thirty-nine who had been recruited during 1823-5, seventeen had resigned or returned home at the end of their five-year contracts, nine had died or been killed in action, two had become invalids, five had deserted and six had been dismissed for incompetence, frequently the result of excessive drinking.

Following the end of hostilities of the Cisplatine War with Argentina, in the 1820s, Brazil’s simmering regionalism and growing economic hardship resulted in a spate of colorfully named rebellions: the ‘Cabanos’ in Pernambuco 1832‑1835 and in Pará 1835‑1836; the ‘Sabinada’ in Bahia in 1837‑1838; the ‘Balaiada’ in Maranhão in 1839‑1840; and the ‘Farrapos’ in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina which dragged on for a decade from 1835.

These crises caused a partial mobilization of the Brazilian Armed forces. In 1836, the number of ships in commission was increased to thirty, but a rapid expansion in manpower proved as difficult to achieve as it had been in 1823. This time, the government mounted a recruiting campaign in the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, instead of Ireland and Germany, as they had done in 1827.

The Brazilian Navy was prominent in the suppression of all of these outbreaks, as were its remaining British officers. Captain William James Inglis and Lieutenant Richard Norbert Murphy were killed during the bloody ‘Cabanos’ rebellion in Pará. Commodore John Taylor  (Gamboa grave 1421/1) led the force which restored order, assisted by Captains William Eyre (Grave 1077) George Manson and Bartholomew Hayden (Grave 324/5). In the south, it was Commodore John Pascoe Grenfell who suppressed the ‘Farrapos’ rebellion, with Captains William Parker, Richard Hayden and George Broom (1743/1) under his command.

For more information on the British contribution to Brazil’s Independence, click here 

By Chris Hieatt

Courtesy Google, Brian Vale, and Tony Martin.