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The Surveyors
JTR's Colorful Families: GENN
Joanne's Genn Research Notes

The Genn Family
of Canada
A family history researched and compiled by David Genn and his cousins




1 Origins

2 Anjou, France

3 Yorkshire, England

4 Virginia, British America

5 Maryland, British America

6 Falmouth, Cornwall, England

7 Pernambuco, Brazil

8 Liverpool, Lancashire, England

9 Canada

Chapter 7 - Pernambuco, Brazil

A family history researched and compiled by David Genn and his cousins. If you wish to contact us regarding this story or any other family connection that we may be heir to, please write to:
David Genn, 7894 East Glen Place, Sooke, BC, Canada V9Z 0J8
Phone:  250-642-3750
Email: davgenn(at)


James Maddison Genn, son of James and Peggy Genn, sailed from Falmouth, Cornwall to Recife, Brazil sometime before 1840, the date is uncertain. While in Brazil James Maddison Genn married Maria Severina da Rocha Lins. The Lins family was a prominent and wealthy family of north eastern Brazil and of Portuguese origin. James Maddison Genn and Maria had two sons, Carlos Lins Genn, born 4 January 1843, and Diogo Maddison Genn, born Friday 13 December 1844. References in this chapter to "Carlos" and "Diogo" in this chapter mean these sons.

Documentation for this period is sparse. We have some photographs from Emily (Genn) Lewis, daughter of Diogo. A letter written at Florence Cottage, Falmouth, in 1933, has yielded some clues. Of Diogo's effects, we have his birth certificate, marriage certificate and death certificate, his travel diary dated 1874 and his passport. The passport is endorsed by the Consular General for Brazil in Liverpool, England, in 1874, 1875 and 1876. We also have the 1916 marriage certificate for Alberto Carlos Genn, son of Carlos.

Anthony Genn, son of Diogo, wrote about what he knew of his family history. These documents survive and their content is included herein. Unfortunately, Anthony was two years of age when his father, Diogo, died and ten years old when he last saw his mother. What he knew of his past, he would have learned from his sister, Emily Genn and his brother, Reginald Genn. While Anthony's writing has given us a trail to follow and has ultimately led to the following compilation, some of his information is now shown to be in error. We will be interested in trying to understand and explain some of the errors.

Maria Emilia Souto Maior Genn, of Olinda, Brazil, granddaughter of Carlos has more recently provided us with her recollections of the tellings of her father, Alberto Carlos Genn, son of Carlos. She has provided a somewhat different picture than the one provided by Anthony. We have allowed the contradictions to remain as part of the story. For one reason, it is better at this stage to protect a few errors than to erase a single clue. Errors can have a basis in fact and we have an obligation to try to uncover the fact. Secondly, we may sense some of the feelings and interpretations of the descendants of Carlos and Diogo as the different renditions are passed down their respective paths.

Diogo's birth certificate shows that he was born on 13 December 1844 but that the birth was registered at the British Consulate at Pernambuco, Brazil, 24 July 1861 (16 years later). The informant is identified as Jose Jacamo Tasso, Merchant. The profession of the father, James Maddison Genn is also identified as a merchant.

The Birth Certificate also provides the maiden name of Diogo Genn's mother as Maria Severina da Rocha Lins. Diogo Maddison Genn was age 16 when his birth was registered with the British Consulate. He may already have been registered as a Brazilian and this additional registry may have been necessary to establish his British citizenship in order to facilitate his relocation to, and future business ventures in Liverpool, England.

The Falmouth, Cornwall, parish church records the baptism, 4 January 1844, of Charles James Genn, son of James Maddison Genn and Dona Maria Severina da Roche Lins Genn. The date of birth is given as 5 January 1843. The father's occupation is recorded as Merchant of Pernambuco, Brazil. It would appear that Charles James Genn and Carlos Lins Genn are one and the same.

A photograph in the Emily Lewis collection is identified as Maria Lins Genn. This is Carlos' and Diogo's mother. The name is written in accordance with the Portuguese convention of given name first, followed by family name, followed by married name. A second photo of a similar, but older, looking woman we now construe to be the sister of Maria Lins Genn.

The letter written at Florence Cottage, Florence Place, Falmouth, August, 1933, was to explain the origin of a gold necklace. It reads as follows:

"The Necklace was a Bracelet given to Mother (Ellen Cornish) by Uncle James (James Maddison Genn), Father's (William James Genn) brother, who was first Manager of a large Ranch in Brazil & then married the only child of the owner, he brought her to England to see his people, she was not much over 12, and brought the bracelet for a present for Mother. It caught in everything, & years after Father when he was at Boston had it made in to a Necklace. The lace is old Irish Point Lace given to Mother by the late Mr. T??mman, who was a recognised Authority & Collector of old lace. Uncle James was the great Grandfather of the Genns in Victoria B.C."

The first page of the letter bears no signature and it is likely that there was a second page. Florence Cottage was the home of the Genn sisters, daughters of William James Genn: Julia (Dux) Genn, Ellen (Auntie) Genn, Charlotte (Charlie) Hayward, after she was widowed. The sisters were born between 1848 and 1857. One of them could have still been living there in 1933 and written the letter. James Maddison Genn was deceased by 1864, so the visit and the gift of the bracelet to "Mother" was made before this date. Ellen Cornish (Genn) was most likely the recipient. The letter is partly supportive of, and partly contradictory to, some of our other information.

The Genn Family Tree, written by Anthony Genn, Son of Diogo Genn, 14 August 1955, at the Glenshiel Hotel, Victoria, BC, states as follows:

"Grandfather James Genn was born in England. Later he took a sailing ship to Brazil and bought an estate in Olanda (Olinda), Brazil. The estate was a coffee and tobacco plantation. The home was large and built of native stone. There he married the widow of a Colonel Madison in the early 1800's. (Have no information of Grandfather Genn's life prior to his arrival in Brazil). The Madison estate was an adjoining one and the Madisons and Grandfather became close friends. After Colonel Madison died grandfather married his widow. Mrs. Madison previous to her marriage to Colonel Madison was a Miss de Miranda and of pure Spanish blood and her family name was very well known and highly respected. There were no children born from the union of Colonel Madison and Miss de Miranda. Grandfather was a strong Royalist and all Royalists were very much disliked by the natives of Olanda in that period and some years later there was a general insurrection took place and all the Royalists were driven from this part of Brazil, their estates pillaged, many of them killed and homes burned. Friendly natives working on the estate notified our Grandfather in time for he and his wife and son Deogo Madison Genn to collect what was necessary in clothing etc. and escape on an English sailing ship that was in port and ready to sail before the insurrection arrived at Grandfather's estate. Eventually the ship arrived at its home port of Liverpool where some few years later our Grandfather Genn passed away. His widow later returned to her own people in Brazil. There was one son born from the marriage of James Genn and Mrs. Madison and he was named Deogo Madison Genn and he was born in Olanda, Brazil and later educated in England."

A second document by Anthony Genn titled, Family History, basically supports the foregoing but is contradictory on a few points. Here Anthony claims that his Grandfather James Genn:

"married in Olinda to a Spanish beauty, a young widow of Colonel de Maranda, age 26. At this time, she, previous to her marriage to Colonel de Maranda, was a Miss Madison whose parents were Spanish Grandees. There were three sons born of this marriage of my Grandfather Genn with Mrs. de Maranda, viz:- John, William and my own father, Deogo Madison. Owing to the Revolution in South America about 1850, all the Royalists were obliged to flee the country for their lives, the Revolutionists seizing all Royalist estates in the troubled countries.

“Grandfather Genn got safely back to England with his three sons after considerable trouble and risk. Our Grandmother remained in Brazil for some time and later visited England to be with her family for a short while, then returned to her own people in Brazil and died there, her husband died in England shortly after this."

Anthony goes on to say, "Grandmother Genn's people, the Madisons, also the de Marandas, were strict Roman Catholics and when Grandfather Genn refused to have his three sons baptised and brought up Roman Catholics, the entire Genn family were completely cut off from any and all interests in Grandmother Genn's estate in Brazil, and still is. My father, Deogo Madison Genn had a very considerable business as a general merchant, dealing largely in importing sugar, coffee and cigars etc. and also his firm were Marine Insurance Underwriters and had offices in Paris and other cities at one time."

Anthony Genn is clearly in error in the source of the name Madison. It is not Spanish or Portuguese. His grandfather was baptised James Maddison Genn in England. It would appear that Anthony's father had one brother, Carlos (Charles) and John and William were Diogo's uncles. The Brazilian relatives were Portuguese, not Spanish. Anthony's grandmother's sister may have been Mrs. de Miranda. This would account for the cousin of Diogo Genn who was listed in the Liverpool census for 1871 at Diogo's address, described as: "Joseph J. de Miranda, age 18, student, born in Pernambuco, Brazil, cousin to Diogo Genn."

Maria E. S. M. Genn recalls that Sister Miranda had been a nun who was a member of the Sao Jose School in Recife and of the Doroteias order. This was possibly the daughter of Joseph J. de Miranda. Anthony Genn's sister was named Bertha de Miranda Genn.

The Brazilian Empire (1822 to 1889), the only monarchy in South America, was ruled by the Portuguese house of Braganza, and was led by Emperor Dom Pedro II de Alcantara, grandson of King John VI of Portugal. Dom Pedro II was an enlightened and respected monarch who was able to spare his country from many of the upheavals which afflicted the Spanish speaking republics of South America. Civil hostilities were developing in the Province of Pernambuco during this period between a strong Brazilian nationalist republican element and the British and other foreign settlers. The Nationalists, opposed to Emperor Dom Pedro II, strongly resented the pre-eminence which the British and other foreigners had secured in the economic life of Pernambuco. Britain and Brazil eventually severed relations for the period between 1863 and 1867.

An insurrection, with xenophobic overtones, took place in the Province of Pernambuco, Brazil between 1848 and 1850. According to Anthony Genn, James Maddison Genn, being a foreigner and a monarchist supporting Emperor Dom Pedro II, had fallen into disfavour with the local nationalist inhabitants of Recife.

Until the Emperor's forces regained control, monarchists and foreigners were being driven out, their estates pillaged, homes burned and many were killed. James was warned by some loyal employees that his turn had come and he was in imminent danger. He escaped with his wife Maria and son Diogo on an English ship and landed at the port of Liverpool, England. They established a residence near there in West Derby. Anthony Genn makes no mention of Carlos. James Maddison Genn's brother, John Hawke Genn, also lived in the Liverpool area at the same time. Anthony Genn suggests that Dom Pedro II maintained a contact with Diogo Genn after the Genn family relocated back in England.

According to Anthony Genn, his grandfather, James Maddison Genn died in Liverpool. James' death could not be found in English civil records. He is reported as deceased in the records of his son's marriage, 29 June 1864. Chances are that he was deceased by 24 July 1861 when his son's birth was registered by Tasso. His widow, Maria Lins Genn, according to Anthony Genn, eventually returned to Brazil and died there. Maria E. S. M. Genn is of the opinion that Maria remained in England.

Jose Jacamo Tasso became closely involved with the Genns while they were in Brazil. Tasso owned an adjoining estate. Tasso's magnificent grave monument at Santo Amaro Cemetery, Recife, revealed that he was born in Lisbon, Portugal, 10 October 1796 and died in Pernambuco, 5 June 1859. His wife was D. Helena Joaquina Tasso, born in 1800, died in 1855.

A second Jose Jacamo Tasso died on 18 July 1876 and we assume this to be the son. He was described as single, age 58, (born, 1818) an Italian born in Portugal. Cause of death was stated as being the consequence of a monkey bite. It would have been this Tasso that was the informant when Diogo's birth was registered in 1861 and who Maria, Diogo's mother, maintained a close association with after the death of Diogo's father. Tasso's will disclosed a considerable fortune and identified a brother, Jorge Jacamo Tasso and three sisters. The will left a house to a certain Madame Melane and also freed all Tasso's slaves. Emperor D. Pedro II had offered Tasso the Order of the Rose for his war service, further supporting the Royalist alliance.

Diogo, after returning to England, operated as an importer of Brazilian produce. It is believed that Jose Jacamo Tasso was also involved in the business. In 1870, Diogo named a son Hubert Tasso Genn. A signed photo of Tasso appears in the Emily Lewis collection, and Tasso is mentioned six times in Diogo's diary.

The connection to Jose Jacamo Tasso may prove to be the main source of the trouble in reconciling the stories we have from their various sources. All the evidence suggests that after the death of Diogo's father, Tasso became somewhat of a step father to Diogo.

We are led to believe that Tasso was involved romantically with Diogo's mother "the widow of James Madison". Anthony Genn's brother, Reginald had suggested that Diogo or his father had died in Brazil from a jaguar bite. Tasso died of a monkey bite. Diogo was not in Tasso's will.

Much of what Anthony Genn says better applies to Tasso than to his actual grandfather, James Maddison Genn. He was writing more than 100 years after the events took place and with no direct connection to them. These switches and discrepancies, on consideration, become quite believable. For this theory to have substance, Anthony Genn's grandmother, Maria Lins Genn, would have had to have spent much of her remaining years in Brazil rather than England.

Diogo's passport records visas for Brazilian and Portuguese ports on the following dates:

Para ? February 1874
Maranhao 28 February 1874
Para 10 March 1874
Para 16 March 1874
Rio de Janeiro 6 April 1874
? 30 August 1875
Para 4 February 1875
? 12 April 1876
Maranhao 14 April 1876
Ceara 22 April 1876
Maranhao 15 March 1876
Ceara 18 March 1876
Pernambuco 19 March 1876
Lisbon 15 February 1877
to England 25 June 1877

The visa dates are compatible with those noted in the diary. Enclosed in the passport was a document titled, Commercial Review and Current Prices of Herques & Co., P. O. Box 1073, No. 85 Pearl St., New York, 7 March 1876. The document appears to be a cargo inventory for the steamer, John Bramall, and provides quantities and pricing for such goods as cotton, sugar, borax, coffee, jacaranda, Florida Water, pitch, rice, codfish, pork lard, biscuits, tar, rope, cinnamon, meat, kerosene and flour. The document is printed in Portuguese.

Also in the pocket of Diogo's passport was a two line obituary notice from a newspaper: “POTTER ? On May 30 at Para, Brazil, William Ero Potter, of Oxton and Liverpool, aged 4?”. The name Potter is also noted at the end of Diogo's diary in Emily's hand. A search for Potter may yield some additional clues.

The diary describes Diogo Genn's travels, leaving Liverpool by rail on 8 January 1874, sailing from Southampton via Portugal, Canary Islands and crossing the Atlantic to St. Vincent, then arriving at Recife on 25 January 1874. The rest of the diary describes Diogo's travels from Olinda (near Recife) north along the coast to Ceara (Fortaleze), Maranhao, Para (Belem), back to Pernambuco (Recife), then south to Bahia (Salvador) and Rio de Janeiro by 21 April 1874, Diogo returned to Pernambuco on 28 April 1874 and left the same day for England, arriving about 12 May 1874.

A note in the diary written by Diogo Genn's daughter, Emily Genn (Lewis), reads, "The next voyage after this Papa was so ill, nearly dead, and never went away again. Emily".

A summary of the diary appears in Appendix II. Diogo Genn died in Liverpool, 23 October 1877, age 32.

According to Anthony Genn, "Father died in Liverpool, England in 1877 from the effects of giving up his seat on the inside of a coach journey in France to a lady and then being obliged to ride outside on top of the coach and got soaking wet in a rainstorm, which resulted in his getting congestion of the lungs, from which he died shortly after reaching home in Liverpool".

The family story passed on by Maria E. S. M. Genn of Olinda, Brazil, granddaughter of Carlos has added a little warmth and family comfort to the rather harsh picture presented by Anthony Genn. In Maria's rendition we first find James Maddison Genn on board a ship from England bound for Brazil.

The first port of call was Fortaleza in the State of Ceara where it was boarded by Maria da Rocha Lins who was on her way to visit relatives in Recife. Maria's parents lived in Ceara. James Maddison Genn and Maria Lins met on the ship. As James later related to his son Carlos, he had dreamed during the voyage that he would meet a girl and fall in love. And so he did. This story was carefully passed on by Carlos to his son Alberto, then to Maria E. S. M. Genn. This version tends to refute that Maria was the daughter of a rancher that employed James.

Maria E. S. M. Genn recalls that after their marriage, James Maddison Genn and Maria Lins Genn went to England to live. The christening of their son, Charles James Genn in 1844 in Falmouth would suggest that Falmouth is where they lived at that time. We make the assumption that Charles James Genn is Carlos.

Alternately, Charles James Genn could have died and Carlos could have been born later. Finding Carlos' death record in Brazil should resolve this. Diogo's birth certificate states that he was born in Pernambuco, 13 December 1844. The family appears to have maintained homes in both countries.

James Maddison Genn appears to have maintained his ties with the Church of England. At the same time he escorted his wife, Maria, to the Catholic Church. As Alberto related it, on their way to church, James would lift Maria on his arms to cross large puddles. This story tends to take the edge off Anthony Genn's rendition regarding religious conflict. Maria maintained a strong sense of belonging to Brazil. During her time in England she kept with her a small bag of Brazilian sand as a memento.

Carlos Lins Genn was schooled in England in Engineering. He took an engagement with the Beberibe Water Company which supplied the potable water for Recife. As with other service and utility companies in Brazil, the Berberibe Water Company was a British firm. Carlos was engaged by them in England and his knowledge of Portuguese may have created the opportunity for him to locate in Brazil. Although Carlos was baptised in the Church of England, when he arrived in Brazil to work, he had converted to Catholicism.

Carlos is not mentioned by name in Diogo's diary so we might assume that he had not yet arrived in Brazil by 1874. Alternately, Diogo may have known his brother by a nickname. For example, he mentions sleeping at Zaza's in Olinda several times. Carlos didn't live in Olinda. Only once in the diary does Diogo mention going to Mother's. He makes no direct reference to her, only her place. She may have still been in England. Alternately she may have been deceased by this time. In the years following Carlos is not known to have visited his mother, nor did he mention his mother's house in Recife or Olinda. This reinforces the theory that she lived and died in England.

Carlos Lins Genn married Emilia (Emily) Vianna. They had four children:

Jose Carlos Genn, born about 1879.
Alberto Carlos Genn, b. 28 Nov. 1885, d. 31 Mar. 1964.
Maria Matilde Genn, b. 2 April 1887, d. 1981.
Diogo Genn, died in childhood.

Carlos and his family lived in a house owned by the Beberibe Water Company in the district of Dois Irmaos, Recife, near the place of his work. Carlos maintained a deep connection to England, evidenced by his attempt to persuade his son, Alberto Carlos Genn to study in England, then join the British Navy. Carlos' wife Emilia Vianna Genn did not visit England.

Carlos Lins Genn met his death at his place of work in 1897. A conflict with a disgruntled employee resulted in the employee dumping a dead goat in the city water system. When Carlos made the discovery he became so enraged that he suffered a heart seizure and died. Carlos' body was carried by fellow workers to his home.

Carlos' death left the family without a means of support. His eldest son, Jose Carlos left home and probably went to Rio de Janeiro. The second son, Alberto Carlos, age 12, went to live with relatives, the Acioly Lins family. Here he was required to wear a suit and tie to partake in meals, which suggests a touch of aristocracy. Living conditions were good and he received an education. Alberto Carlos Genn then worked in an office and his earnings allowed him to support his sister, Maria Matilde. Alberto Carlos then opened his own office in international business. He married Maria Adalgisa. She was well educated and cultured and was able to correspond in French with an associated company, Grasse Essence.

The Genns of Recife evolved as follows:

Jose Carlos Genn married Adelina Fernandes. They have children: Emilia, Costorina, Yvone, Carlos Nelson, Alberto Lins, Ligia and Filda. This branch of the family has established in the area of Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos Nelson Genn has children: Marcia and Marcus.

Marcia Genn has children: Leonardo, Monica and Flavia.

Alberto Lins Genn has children Eneida Genn and Luiz Gustavo
da Costa Genn.

Alberto Carlos Genn married on 2 December 1916 to Maria Adalgisa Arruda Souto Maior, born 17 October 1895, died 17 May 1955. They had one child, Maria Emilia Souto Maior Genn, born 21 September 1934.

Maria E. S. M. Genn married 6 June 1959 to Manoel de Barros Neto, born 14 July 1926, died 15 July 1985. Their children are:

Andre Genn de Assunção Barros, born 12 March 1960, married 12 July 1990 to Valeria Gondim Sampaio, born 9 June 1960.

Antonio Carlos Genn de Assunção Barros, b. 15 March 1962, married 23 May 1987, to Edna Natividade da Silva, born
6 August 1962.

Joao Mauricio Genn de Assunção Barros, born 23 July 1963,
married, 27 February 1994 to Cristiane Ferreira Gomes, born
29 May 1964.

Manuel Genn de Assunção Barros, born 15 February 1967,
married 3 May 1997 to Regina Maria Fotin Barros, born
27 January 1971.

In 1923 Alberto Carlos Genn purchased a residence at Av. Conselheiro Rosa e Silva, 1616. Maria E. S. M. Genn was born at this address and the house, now converted to medical offices, is still owned by the family.

Maria Matilde Genn married Jose Cassimiro Fernandes Salgueiro. Their three children are:

Antonio Carlos Genn Salgueiro, born 1922, died 1931.

Maria do Carmo Genn Salgueiro, born 28 January 1924, married to Goncalo da Silva Aguiar.
Fernando Genn Salgueiro, born 8 July 1926, married to Rosilda Maciel, and their children are:

Roberto Maciel Salgueiro

Carla Maciel Salgueiro, born 22 June 1963, married to Jhones Carvalho de Barros.

Paula Maciel Salgueiro, born 22 June 1966 and has a daughter Tamala Salgueiro.

Fernando Jose Salgueiro, born 3 January 1969.

Renata Maciel Salgueiro, born 12 January 1977.

Diogo Genn (2) died during childhood.

The new generation is evolving as follows:

Andre Genn de Assunção Barros and Valeria Barros have a son:

Diego Gondim Genn de Barros, born 6 November 1995.

Antonio Carlos Genn de Assunção Barros and Edna da Silva Barros have a daughter:

Mariana da Silva Barros, daughter, born 3 September 1995.

Tiago da Silva Barros, son, born 3 September 1998.

Joao Mauricio Genn de Assunção Barros and Cristiane Ferreira Gomez have children:

Morgana Gomes Genn, daughter, born 16 October 1995

Arthur Gomes Genn, son, born 13 April 1997.Manuel Genn de Assunção Barros and Regina Maris Fotin Barros have a daughter:

Bruna Fotin Genn Barros, born 10 December 1998.

Revised: 19 Feb 2004

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