A History of Algarve Expats – Part 1

Immigrants and Expats in Lagos from 1897 to 1972. Who were the immigrants and expats that lived in Lagos during the 19th and 20th centuries? It’s an interesting question without a simple answer.

The different types of records reflect government policy towards immigration and provide information about the immigrants and expats (immigration records, naturalisation records, police records and others). The Arquivo Municipal de Lagos (AMLGS) holds one book that identifies the immigrants who have chosen to live in Lagos for an extended period of time. 

From 1897 to 1972, the Livro de Registo de Bilhetes de Residência de Estrangeiros (Register book for foreigners residence cards) recorded 1,030 registrations for permission of residence or renewal of those already with permission (for one year or some months). To know exactly how many (legal) immigrants and expats were in Lagos in this period, a deeper analysis of these records is needed.

The book is organised by year. In each year, it gives us the names, nationality (initially entered in the field of the name) and the length of stay. From 1906 it began to include filiation, age, marital status and place of birth. From 1916 it also included the occupation. After 1931, the number and date of the identity card was added and from 1966, the place of residence. It is a manuscript book and the information fields change a little bit over time, giving more information.

Why were they here? To start a business, pursue a new job, join a spouse or parent, bring family members, escape from a past, religious or political issues or was it to live in a sunny place? 

The first records in 1897, that are possible to identify, are (at least) 14 from Spain, one from France and three from Austria. From Spain, one is Barnabé Gomes Formosinho, a surname that later became popular in Lagos.

Regarding “industrials” and “fabricantes” from 1916 onward we have the following: Giorgio Novak, “industrial”, 50 years old, from Austria; Hyriacos A. Pappaleonardos,“industrial”, 26 years old, from Greece; Manuel Ojeda Perez, “industrial”, 65 years old, from Spain; Demosthenes A. Papaleonardos, “industrial”, 44 years old, from Greece; Paolo Cocco, “gerente de fábrica” (factory manager), 35 years old, from Italy (first registered in 1910).

Marie and Giorgio Novak

What was the reason they decided to move? We don’t know, but the name Novak is related to the canning industry in Lagos. In later records, when the book started to have the occupation listed, we know that his occupation is “industrial.” We have records of Giorgio Novak until 1949, when he was 82 years old. We found an interesting articlefrom Lena Strang, Unravelling the Past in Tomorrow Magazine April 2014 edition (pp.4-6) about Mr. Novak and his house in Lagos.

Paulo Coco became an important name for the canning industry in Lagos. He also sponsored the building Cine Teatro Império at the Rua Cândido dos Reis, in Lagos, according the Ata da sessão de Câmara of 29 May, 1946.

Record of Formosinho 

Record of the Novaks

In 1918, we find the first references to Joseph Marie Renault “fabricante”, 46 years old, from France. In 1919, the first references to Venceslao F. Sasso, “industrial”, 44 years old, from Yugoslavia appear and Salvatore Cocco “fabricante”, 33 years old, from Italy. In 1934, Eugene Leopold Boulain “industrial”, 55 years old, from France and in 1938, Francisco Martins Graña “empregado industrial” (industrial employee), 47 years old, from Spain. In 1966, Leonard Walter Cutter “químico industrial” (chemical engineer), 61 years old, from England is listed.

When I read these records, I’m able to recognise some names from the interesting work of the Architect Armando Amaro about the canning industry of the Algarve during the 19th and 20th centuries. But many more names are recorded in the Livro de registo de bilhetes de residência de estrangeiros that deserve to be known.

Part 2 – to continue


Arquivo Municipal de Lagos (AMLGS) –  Livro de registo de bilhetes de residência de estrangeiros (AMLGS – E122/P6/301/1).

Arquivo Municipal de Lagos (AMLGS) – Ata da sessão de  29 de maio de 1946. Livro de Atas da Camara Municipal de Lagos. Liv. 15/40 (1945-1949).

Marta Nogueira works for Arquivo Municipal – Câmara Municipal de Lagos

Main photo: Wedding Francesco Cocco – 1924 Courtesy of Fototeca Municipal de Lagos


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