ABBÉ FARIA and the CONSPIRACY
by Alfredo de Mello
Caetano Victorino de Faria, a Brahmin Christian, born in Colvale, in the north of Bardez district, just on the south bank of the river Chapora, devoted himself to ecclesiastical studies when young. After taking lesser orders, he married Rosa de Sousa, daughter of Alexandre de Sousa, nicknamed Concro, a rich man, of course of Brahmin origin, in the village of Candolim in the south-west of Bardez near the sea..
It is the custom in India for the bride to enter into the family of the groom, but in the present case, since the bride was an only daughter, it was Caetano Victorino who went to live in the house of his father-in-law. Maybe this exception to the rule gave rise to the dissensions and unsavoury quarrels that followed. Rosa, as an only daughter, and heiress of a great fortune, brought up with the indulgence characteristic of these two attributes, was haughty, with a dominating character, and could not reconcile herself to life of a married woman, submitting herself to the power of her husband, as was the hallowed custom, and this gave rise to perpetual domestic agitation. Caetano Victorino was evidently a man of strong character, clever and ambitious, because any other lesser man would have been glad to marry a rich woman, sole heiress, and his role would be only to procreate and have a good life.
The tribulations that poor Alexandre de Sousa suffered during six years, without being able to bring about marital peace, mined his health until he died. As there was no successor, nor hope of his daughter bearing a child, he willed one third of his inheritance in favour of two nephews, sons of his brother Manoel de Souza, whose male descendants were known in the eighteenth century with the common name of Concros.
After seven years' marriage, and exactly ten months after the death of her father, Rosa gave birth on the 30th May 1756 to a son, who was called Jose Custodio Faria. He was baptized on the 7th June, as per birth certificate appearing in Document 49, fol 123: "On the seventh June 1756, I, friar Manuel de Jesus e Maria with the permission of M.R. Father Fr. Manuel deAssumpcao, rector of this church Our Lady of Hope of Candolim, baptized, and put the holy oils to Joseph Custodio, born since eight days, son of Caetano Victorino de Faria, and Rosa de Sousa. The godfathers were father Joao Simôes,living in Sirola and Celestina Maria Luiza de Souza, who lives in this parish." signed: Fr.- Manoel de Jesus Maria.
The birth of the son did not bring about a truce between the parents, who, in common accord, decided to separate, and Caetano Victorino became a priest, whilst Rosa de Sousa went to the convent of Santa Monica of Goa, where she became a nun.
In 1771, Father Caetano Victorino decided to take his son to Europe and both father and son sailed on the 21st February 1771 on the ship "S. Jose", on a long but felicitous voyage sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, and arriving in Lisbon on the 23rd November 1771.
During this voyage, he struck up a friendship with the former Secretary of State in India, Henrique Jose de Mendanha, who, incidentally, was recalled and headed for prison in Limoeiro by order of His Majesty, for the blame of the unsuccessful attempt in the conquest of Piro, against Tippu Sultan, in the year 1768. The friendship which he made with this judge and other letters of recommendation which he carried to the Kingdom, opened the way for Caetano Victorino Faria to acquaint himself with the principal people in the Court of Lisbon; but during conversations with father Fr.Francisco, the Poet, the latter recommended him to abstain himself from these acquaintances, and that he should take a different course, which the disgraced Mendanha also approved. It must be borne in mind that although King Jose I reigned, the real ruler was the famous Marquis of Pombal, Prime Minister.
Faria was recommended to the father master Fr. Joao Baptistade S. Caetano, a Benedictine, who listened to him, and after a chat of four hours in the Convent of Estrela, the latter decided to help this priest in his plans, in view of the fact that caution was needed in such a delicate matter in the Court. As a result, Fr.Joao Baptista talked to the Nuncio, and informed favourably regarding Father Caetano Victorino Faria and his son Jose Custodio.
What were father Caetano Faria's plans in Lisbon, and especially in Rome, are not known in the documents available today, but it is certain that the letters he wrote to Goa by the first monsoon (1) after his arrival in Lisbon, dated 1st February 1772, and addressed to the Pintos of Candolim, he declared that he was about to travel to Genoa, on the way to Rome, taking along letters of recommendation of the Nuncio in Lisbon to the Cardinal, Secretary of State of the Vatican, and other dignitaries of the Vatican, as well as special instructions; all were made with great caution and secrecy.
The other channel of introduction of Caetano V. Faria with the Grandees was through the Counts of S. Vicente, whose son Miguel Carlos da Cunha had arrived in Goa as a military officer in the year 1756. In fact, he had gone to India under the name Miguel Carlos de Tavora, and after this surname was made extinct by law, he adopted the name of da Cunha, which also belonged to his family. This military officer had married a lady of poor means, but as a compensation, besides a grant from the royal Treasury, the Government had given him the coconut grove of Sinquerim, which had belonged to the Jesuits - who were expelled in 1759 by Marquis of Pombal, with their property seized by the State - but Miguel Carlos was prodigal and a great squanderer. With his salary plus the above mentioned revenues, he could not maintain his family, and he was obliged to resort to the generosity and alms of the Pintos of Candolim, who were close friends and neighbours of Father Faria. The latter did not miss the opportunity to mention to the Count that his son and family were practically guests of Antonio Joao Pinto. The Count was much obliged and willing to extend his influence and favour, upon which offer, Father Faria delivered to the Court a petition in the name of Mr. Ignacio Pinto for being appointed General Treasurer of the Bulla da Cruzada, which appointment indeed materialized. All these details are known by a letter dated first of February 1772 sent by Caetano Victorino Faria to the aforementioned friend in Candolim, Antonio Joao Pinto. (2)
Incidentally Miguel Carlos da Cunha became eventually a Lieutenant Colonel and died in 1813, as governor of the fortress of Cabo de Rama, in south Goa. There were many sarcastic and humourous anecdotes about him; his extravagancies and ravings were the gossip of Goan society for decades.
Both Farias, father and son went to Rome in 1772, where the older studied for his doctorate and returned to Lisbon. He left his son Jose Custodio to enter the College of Propaganda Fide, under the sponsorship of Portugal's King Jose I. Whilst Father Caetano Victorino became the doyen of the Goan community in Lisbon, and gave help and recommendations to the influential people in Court in favour of his countrymen, the son Jose Custodio finished his course of Theology in 1780, after having become a priest. In gratitude, he intended to dedicate his Thesis to King Jose his patron, but since this King had passed away, he dedicated it to the Queen Maria I and D. Pedro III. (3)
Upon his return to Lisbon, Jose Custodio Faria was invited to preach in the royal chapel. After climbing the pulpit and facing the Queen, the King, and the distinguished Court, young Faria started stammering timidly, but his ever watchful father, hidden underneath the pulpit, uttered the Konkani injunction "KATOR RE BHAJI" , which nobody else understood except young Faria. His father ordered him to "snipe away with the scissor the bhaji vegetable", thereby meaning:" Go ahead, don't be afraid, you know more than the whole congregation". With this adrenalinic vocal shot from his father, Jose Custodio delivered an eloquent sermon which was much appreciated and applauded.
Wily Father Caetano exaggerated his importance in Lisbon to his countrymen, by leaking to his friends the Pintos of Candolim in Goa, that he was the confessor of the Queen, but this seems to be a bluff, even though this title appears in the Great Portuguese-Brazilian Encyclopaedia; however, this is rebutted in the document N§ 31 of the book of J.H.da Cunha Rivara, where the author quotes a letter from Inocencio Francisco da Silva addressed to Mr. Jacinto Caetano Barreto Miranda: "I don't think it possible to say truthfully that father Caetano Victorino was ever confessor of the Queen D. Maria I; in the year 1757 in which by decree of the 19th September, the Jesuits were expelled from the Court...the following confessors were chosen for the crown princess D. Maria and the infantas her sisters, viz Father Dr. Jose Pereira de Santa Ana... until his death on 31st January 1759. In February, the confessor chosen was Dr.Fr. Ignacio de S. Caetano...who continued until his death at age 69 on 29th November 1788, directing always the conscience of theQueen. He was suceeeded by D. Jose Maria de Mello, ...bishop of Algarve, and it was during his ministry that the Queen became mad...Therefore in the interval between 1757 and 1794, it is not possible to put Caetano Victorino as confessor of the Queen." (4)
Between the years 1780 and 1785 several Goans had gone to Lisbon, and logically all flocked to the house of Fr. Caetano Victorino Faria, who was the unofficial ambassador of his fellow countrymen, inasmuch as he had managed to have some influence in the Court.
Father Caetano Francisco do Couto, a Goan who had been governor of the bishopric of Cochin, had been fired by the Portuguese bishop Fr. Manoel de Santa Catharina. The former sailed to Lisbon in the year 1781, complaining about the bishop and seeking promotions.
Another father Jose Antonio Goncalves, professor of philosophy in the seminary of Chorƒo, appointed there by the aforementioned bishop of Cochin, who was also governor of the archbishopric of Goa, had also been dismissed. Embittered and discontented with the bishop, he too sailed to Portugal in the year 1781; and in order to ascend the ladder of hierarchy in priesthood, he took a degree of doctor in Rome, in the year 1782.
These disgruntled priests gathered in the house of Caetano Victorino Faria and his son Jose Custodio. Other Goans, including Jose Antonio Pinto of Candolim, who was a student, and two Vicente brothers, one student in the navy, by name of Joaquim Antonio, joined in these social gatherings. Living together, it was natural to talk about things going on in Goa, and from these debates there arose the first idea of an uprising in Goa, which would drive the Portuguese out of the Government of the State, and thus conferring the high posts of running the State to native Goans, especially to those of the Brahmin caste, to which they all belonged. It seems that father Caetano Francisco do Couto and Jose Antonio Goncalves aspired to be promoted to bishops which were then vacant in the Padroado of India, namely in Craganore, Meliapur and Malacca.
At this time there were in Lisbon two Catanar clergymen, of the Syrian-chaldean rites in Malabar, originally founded by the Apostle St. Thomas, the "unbeliever" who had migrated to India around A.D. 43. To this day these congregations are known as the Syrian Christians and they proliferate precisely on the southern coast of Malabar. The new Christianity brought along in the sixteenth century, by the Catholic Portuguese was trying to dominate these Catanar sects, and caused a schism. Although the lands and ports were no longer under Portuguese suzerainty, the Padroado granted by the Pope to Portugal in Asia, still continued in the sphere of religion.
These two Catanar priests managed to get in the good graces of the Queen D. Maria I who protected them, and also the benevolence of Pope Pius VI, and in common accord among the two sovereigns, lay and religious, father Jose Cariate was elected and confirmed as Archbishop of Craganore.
This promotion, the first of its kind, was ill received by the two Goan fathers, who being of the Latin church, reputed themselves as much more worthy than the Malabar Syriac to occupy the head of the Craganore See. They complained to the Secretary of State, Martinho de Mello e Castro, who listened to them and counselled them to return to Goa, in the certainty that the Archbishop of Goa, their superior, would grant them promotions according to their merits. The two Goan priests complained bitterly to the Secretary of State about the contempt with which the Portuguese treated them in Goa, and suggested that, instead of sending Portuguese officials from Lisbon, the administration of the government as well as military and ecclesiastical jobs be given to the native Goans, who were educated enough. In this manner, Portugal would get the best advantages from the State of India, and only thus would it be opulent and happy.
This"paradoxical utopia" (Cunha Rivara dixit) could not be envisioned by the Government in Lisbon, and such pernicious ideas fomented by these priests deserved only indifference and contempt. During the government of Marquis of Pombal, the rights of citizenship of native Goans were reaffirmed and specifically declared equal to those of the Portuguese from the Metropolis. The Secretary of State detected that these priests were primarily interested in becoming bishops, but not in Portugal, as they were only interested in serving in India.
The two priests Jose Antonio Gonsalves and Caetano Francisco do Couto returned to India sailing in April 1785 in the fleet of the three ships "Senhor Jesus Resuscitado", "Santa Zeferina" and "Princeza do Brazil", which arrived in Goa on the 1st of May 1786. Father Gonsalves landed in Ceylon, and only travelled to Goa by the beginning of 1787.
A conspiracy was being schemed among a few Goans, and here there were links with Joseph Francois Dupleix, French Governor of Pondicherry and the Nawab Tippu Sultan, ruler of Mysore. Dupleix was married to a lady born in Goa, and known in history as Jan-Begum. Her real name was Joana Albert, daughter of Isabel Rosa de Castro and a French doctor J. d'Albert, and granddaughter of a Portuguese Tome Rodrigues de Castro and whose mother was Indian. Joana de Castro, married to Dupleix, was a great collaborator of her husband in the Government of Pondicherry and other French settlements in India. Her proficiency in the languages of the country were of immense help to Dupleix in his confidential negotiations with the native princes, and Tippu Sultan in particular. (5)
Tippu Sultan had sent three envoys to France to establish links with King Louis XVI in Versailles, ostensibly to establish a commercial treaty. Dupleix had in mind to conquer the island of Goa with the aid of Tippu Sultan, who would keep for himself all the other territory of Goa adjacent to the islands of Goa. If this project had taken shape, it is doubtful if it would serve the interests of the Goan conspirators, as no doubt Dupleix and Tippu Sultan would have the upper hand, and would leave the conspirators stranded. The conquest of Goa was dreamed by the French . The Government of Goa had no inkling of any subversive element within Goa, but feared the plans of the French and therefore sought diplomacy by means of cordial correspondence between the Governor Francisco da Cunha e Menezes with Colonel de Montigni in September/October 1787 who was the French diplomat in Poona, the seat of the Mahratta kingdom. (6)
However, these projects did not enter seriously in the thoughts of the French government of Versailles, which had more weighty problems to deal with at home, Instead, Dupleix was recompensed by being made Marquis, and decorated with the "cordon rouge".
Tippu Sultan, however, kept in mind the invasion and conquest of Goa, but other urgent matters, distracted him from this conquest, due to his skirmishes with the English and other Indian princes.
During 1787 in Goa, the Portuguese Governor had plenty of grave problems to deal with: on the one hand the declared war against Bounsulo in the north of Goa, a perpetual enemy and bad neighbour. On the other hand, the fear of invasion on the part of Tippu Sultan who had conquered the lands of Canara and Sunda, up to the fortress of Piro on the southern frontier, lost in 1768. The King of Sunda, despoiled of his domains, sought refuge in Goa under the Portuguese flag. \
It was between the 31st July and the 5th August that the Governor came to learn from different sources and places, that a conspiracy was brewing and would take place on August 10, 1787. On the 31st July, father Pedro Caetano Lobo, of Bastora, vicar of Tivim, and two other Goan clerygmen had revealed to the now Archbishop Fr. Manoel de Santa Catharina, what was going to happen. On the 5th August, the notary of Aldona in Bardez, Antonio Eugenio Toscano reported to the Governor that some clergymen were trying to excite the natives to rebel and expel the whites. This denunciation was not taken seriously by the Governor, but on the same evening, the commander of the legion of Bardez, Manoel Godinho de Mira, accompanied by lieutenant Nicolao Luiz da Costa came to inform about the impending revolt, disclosing the names of the rebels. Consequently orders were given in secret on August 6 to apprehend the subversive heads and accomplices.
The leaders of this revolt, nipped in the bud, were none other than the two disgruntled priests Jose Antonio Goncalves from Piedade, and Caetano Francisco do Couto, from Pangim. Father Goncalves got wind of the police action and managed to flee from Goa, disguised, and ending his life exiled in Calcutta.
Eight other conspirators managed to get away to the Mahratta land, among whom were the three Noronha brothers, one of them Ignacio, a priest who fled to Bombay, three other priests Pedro Fernandes, Diogo Caetano do Couto, and Jose Manoel Ribeiro, and two military petty officers, Gerardo Ferreira and Pedro Sousa of the legion of Ponda.
A total of fortyseven people were imprisoned, of which fourteen were priests, including the chief rebel Father Caetano Francisco do Couto and Joao Baptista Pinto, twelve soldiers, among which one captain, four lieutenants, and the rest corporals. Among the latter was Manoel Caetano Pinto, of Candolim, lieutenant of the Ponda legion, his cousin Manoel Pinto of Saligao, a civilian. One sole Hindu Narba Naique, the Dessai of Ponda, was made prisoner.
It is intriguing to note that this conspiracy is commonly known in Goa as the Revolt of the Pintos, when only three Pintos were involved, and one of them was declared innocent. Later, by a letter intercepted by the authorities, addressed to his brother father Joao Baptista Pinto already jailed, it was discovered that the student in Lisbon, Jose Antonio Pinto was also involved, as he declared his intention to serve in the army of Tippu Sultan. Lt. Ignacio Caetano Toscano of the legion of Bardez was evidently the brother of the notary Antonio Eugenio Toscano who denounced the conspiracy to the Portuguese GovernorFrancisco da Cunha Menezes, 79th Governor of the "Estado da India".
The news about this conspiracy reached Lisbon only on July 21,1788 by the mail sent through the ship "Nossa Senhora da Arrabida", and the Secretary of State Martinho de Mello, imparted instructions to proceed with the law, and the sentences imposed by the court in Goa. According to the confessions, the conspirators aimed at subtracting the whole State from the subjection, obedience and government of Her Majesty, destroy the State and found a new republic, in which the government would be composed of Goan natives. Couto and other priests invoked that it was the will of God, and that they had dispense of the Pope. [While I am writing this chapter, taking as basis the book of Cunha Rivara, a Portuguese civil servant , I do believe that this was the first attempt at independence from Portugal, just two years before the French Revolution of 1789.]
Of the fortyseven, fifteen were hanged on December 13, 1788, mutilated and decapitated, three served life sentences in the galleys of Angola; two were sentenced to ten years' prison in Mozambique, five sentenced for life in the galleys of Goa, and eight were absolved, found innocent, and freed, including Manoel Pinto of Saligao, the Hindu Narba Naique, Dessai of Ponda, and Dr. Manoel Francisco Gonsalves, brother of the fugitive Fr. Jose Antonio Gonsalves.
The Governor knowing full well how embarrassing it would be to pass judgement on the priests involved in the conspiracy, had them sent to the Kingdom in Lisbon, as prisoners, who sailed from Goa on March 29, 1789 in the ship "S. Luis de Santa Magdalena."
In 1802, the vicar of Ponda, Manoel da Expectacao was declared innocent and returned to Goa.
After eighteen years in prison eight priests were freed and sent back to Goa, already forgotten by their countrymen. Father Caetano Francisco do Couto, the ringleader, feigned lunacy when he was interrogated and was sent to the convent of S. Francisco da Cidade, for medical surveillance, and finally interned in the Tower of S. Juliao da Barra.
Thus petered out the conspiracy of 1787.
However, the judiciary procedures gave circumstantial evidence that father Caetano Victorino Faria, the patron of the Goans in Lisbon, was a partner and had known all the plans of the conspiracy, and when the Secretary of State learnt about the details of the conspiracy in July 1788, he ordered some Goans residing in Lisbon to be apprehended, but it was too late. Jose Antonio Pinto, the two Vicente brothers and Jose Custodio Faria, son of Caetano Victorino had fled to France, to go back to India overland, and Jose Antonio Pinto had mentioned to some of his friends in Lisbon, that in France they would meet the ambassadors of Tippu Sultan in Versailles, as mentioned before in this narrative. Nothing came of it.(2).
Source: Memoirs of Goa, Alfredo de Mello (Chapter 18 — posted on Goanet)
Artwork: Dom Martin