AddThis Smart Layers

The de Carvalho Brothers from Brazil who faced the firing Squad

Aside one of the inner pathways in Ladywell cemetery lies a cruciform shaped headstone. One of those remembered on one side of the headstone had an illustrious history as a naval architect and inventor, before becoming a political prisoner who died in broken spirits whilst living exile in London in 1898. His last recorded address was on Algernon road, Ladywell. His name was Trajano Augusto de Carvalho 'Chief Constructor of the Brazilian Navy', whose death it was said brought sorrow to many English homes. Born in 1830 in Brazil, he quickly established himself as a pioneering engineer in battleship construction, who conceived and patented a design called the 'Trajano careen' to ships hull which greatly aided the speed, cargo capacity and fuel savings in the building of the Brazilian Navy. The first of the ships, a corvette, received the name Trajano by the suggestion of the last Emperor of Brazil Don Pedro II in homage of the inventor. He spent many years in Europe inspecting the construction of battleships which he designed for the Brazilian Navy (some used in the bloody conflict with Paraguay in the 1860's) and was good friends with Sir Nathaniel Barnaby who was Chief Constructor of the Royal Navy.

Trajano de Carvalho (undated)

On the obverse side of the headstone, the names of two of his sons Alvaro (aged 28) and Arthur (aged 26) are inscribed who died together on the 17th May 1894 at Desterro, Santa Catharina (on the Atlantic coast of Brazil) and as noted below are a poignant reminder of the savage reprisals that were visited on those who took part in the Brazilian Naval revolt –known as the ‘ Revoltas da Armada’ which broke out in Rio de Janeiro in 1893 against President Marshal Floriano Peixoto ‘ The Iron Marshal’.

Family headstone in Ladywell cemetery

According to the Rio News (April 16 th 1895) Captain Trajano de Cravalho, the well known constructor, has returned from Europe, arriving here on the steamer, RMS Thames on the 9th. Captain Trajano is one of those who have suffered most from the ferocious tyranny of the ex-dictator. Arrested on the 16th February 1894, he was kept in prison without trial, undergoing the bad treatment that was given to all the political prisoners, until the 6th September. Of his three sons who took part in the revolution, two were captured and barbarously shot in Santa Catharina and the third still suffers from a wound which he received in one of the engagements in this port. The latter has returned to Europe with his father.*

Maybe Arthur and Eduardo are featured in this photograph which dates from the armed revolt of 1894?

The Jornal do Comércio of Rio de Janeiro, in its edition of May 8, 1895, published the article entitled "Episodes of the civil war", with the report of an eyewitness, crew member of the battleship Aquidaban, describing some of the shootings that took place in Fortaleza of Santa Cruz de Anhatomirim, in April 1894, in the end of the Armada Revolt and the Federalist Revolution.

Among those shot were the French engineers Buette and Müller; field marshal Manoel de Almeida Gama Lobo d'Eça (Barão de Batovi) and his son Alfredo da Gama d'Eça; brothers and first lieutenants Álvaro Augusto de Carvalho and Artur Augusto de Carvalho (sons of the naval engineer, honorary first lieutenant Trajano Augusto de Carvalho); Lieutenant Colonel Sérgio Tertuliano Castelo Branco; the major physician Dr. Alfredo de Paula Freitas; captain-of-the-sea-and-war Frederico Guilherme de Lorena and his two nephews, first lieutenant Delfino de Lorena and the aspiring navy officer (or navy guard) Pedro de Lorena, the judge Francisco Vieira Caldas, among other officers of the National Guard and Army not named.

The city of Desterro was renamed Florianopolis in 1893 after Marshal Peixoto, known as the 'Iron Marshall' due to his ruthless leadership.

According to the Paris Correspondent of the London Times (September 13th 1894) - REPORTED WHOLESALE EXECUTIONS IN BRAZIL - Lieutenants Arthur and Alvaro were amongst 68 Brazilians executed (by firing squad) on the morning of the 25 th April at the fortress of Santa Cruz, Santa Catharina, according to the orders of Marshal Floriano Peixoto without even the semblance of a trial, after having been arrested on the 21st April.

Trajano de Carvalho's obituary: The Rio News 

* The Passage of Humaitá." A shell burst illuminates the night scene ( c.1868).By the Brazilian admiral and watercolourist Trajano Augusto de Carvalho, 1876–1942. The third son of Trajano de Carvalho.