Family letter from Inês Fernandes to her cousin, João Gonçalves, master in a sugar mill
The author gives her cousin, father of her child, news about her condition and that of the family. Claiming that she and her son are hungry, she asks him to send her both a license and allowance so that she can embark and join him in Brazil.
João Gonçalves, born in Madeira, lived maritally with his cousin, Inês Fernandes, with whom he had a son. However, since the marriage between the two was denied by the Church, he was forced to emigrate to Brazil, were he married another woman, a widow named Maria de Oliveira. He was accused of bigamy but was considered not guilty.
«Sir. Due to the great desire of receiving news from you, I don’t get tired of writing through every way I can. As this ship was to depart, I wrote you these lines, an adventure I have done before, without ever receiving news from you. I don’t know what should be the reason for your disregard. I, once again, consider it to be the usual disregard. I ask you, for the love of God and for His mother’s soul, to remember this forsaken orphan and her son, who endures long periods of hunger, because, as you are well aware, I have no relative to provide me anything, because your cousin Gaspar Delgado refused me the signed paper he left here. If he had it, he would collect it because he owes for it. People can trust no one. Your cousin Gaspar Delgado is master and lord of the cotton mill and, therefore, they all have remedy, except for you when you left your hometown. If you don’t come back this year, please send me license and provision to pay António Barradas. My aunt Isabel Sardinha, lent me ten thousand réis to give you, but now I owe her the remaining. If you send me the license to go, I can go on the ship. A relative would come with me. And this is what I will do if you don’t come back this year, because I can’t suffer any more torments, since I only earn enough to pay the rented house and, being such a high value, my aunt has no one to pay it on her behalf. News from your brothers, our friends: they are with Pero Sardinha. Your sister, the one who’s married, is well with her two boys. The single one is staying with your uncle Gaspar Delgado. If I had the authority, I would have already brought her home. I have nothing else to say, but to tell you that your son and I, we stay here, praying for your life and health. Written today, ten days of June of ninety two. From your wife, Inês Fernandes. »