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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Cintra Cottage photographed in 1865

Cintra Cottage was one of the first dwellings built on Woodberry Down.  I'm not certain exactly where it was but there are two contenders. One option is a group of four houses built on the south side of the road near the junction with Lordship Road in the early 1820s (referenced in another discussion here). I read in one account that the cottage was thatched. The image above might just show a thatched cottage. This would accord with the 1863 OS map that shows 'Thatched Cottage' in the location that would fit with Option 1.

On the other hand in his autobiography which includes a section on his childhood in Woodberry Down, architect C H Reilly (born in 1874) includes the following passage:

St Olave's church was built in 1893. This, along with the other reference I found of Cintra being a thatched cottage all makes Reilly's cottage sound like a strong contender for Cintra. Cruchley's detailed map of 1847 shows a building at the location Reilly describes and labels it "Lodge"

The first occupant, and possibly owner, Antonio Joaquim Freire Marreco (1787-1850) was an interesting fellow. Born in Portugal, Maerreco left for Brazil in 1808, together with King João VI and the Portuguese Court, who fled the invading Napoleonic troops and settled in Rio de Janeiro. In 1820, the King returned to Portugal and Marreco returned with him. He left for England in the early 1820s and set up in business as a wine importer with William Harrison and his son, a railway engineer.

Business apparently prospered and by 1825 he had moved into a newly built cottage, "Cintra" (long the home of Portugal's monarchs). Apparently a portuguese composer composed some piano music with the title "Cintra" and dedicated it to him. 

Perhaps Marreco moved into "Cintra" because he was feeling flush following some news from Portugal and published in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on 13 August 1825:

The Portuguese government has published decree, declaring that it is not convenient for it to continue the working of the coal mines, "already discovered, which may be discovered," in the kingdom of Algarve. Permission is granted to certain persons, who are named, to work them. Two of the parties, Antonio Joaciuim Freire Marreco, and Henrico Jose ua Silva, are described as Portuguese merchants in London.

Marreco was clearly well-connected in Portuguese London Society. Whilst at Woodberry Down, João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, Viscount of Almeida Garrett stayed with him. Garrett was a Portuguese poet, playwright, novelist and politician.

By 1837, Maerreco was secretary of the refugee commission in London and was appointed Portuguese representative in London of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Brazil.

On 17 Sept 1833, the Globe newspaper carried a report of him leading the formal adieu on the departure from London of the Queen of Portugal. (Maria II had been visiting London as part of an extended tour of European capitals following the absolutist uprising led by her uncle, fiancé and regent Miguel, who had proclaimed himself King of Portugal on June 23, 1828. Maria was restored to her throne in 1834.)

This was his farewell speech:

He married Anna Laura Harrison (17 years younger and William Harrison's niece) in July 1834.

Obviously a man of many talents, Marreco helped to set up the world’s first association for chemistry: the London Chemical Society. Although short-lived, this society published a journal, in which chemistry and politics are intertwined.

Records show that by 1829 Marreco had dissolved a London business he ran with Anna's father. Before long he had relocated to County Durham where he became engaged in railway projects, including with the renowned Stephenson family.

In 1841 Marrreco was recorded as a bankrupt in Newcastle. Soon after he moved his family to Lisbon in his native Portugal where he advised industry on railway and mining technology. Notices about marriages and births in the English press in the years following his death record him as having being given the Portuguese honorific 'Comendador'.

Following his death in 1850, Anna returned to England with her 11 children. Below is a picture of her, marked on the back "Aunt Jinnie Mrs Frier-Marreco". I am assuming that this was taken at some point after her return to England.

Marreco's great-grandson and namesake was a British barrister who was a junior counsel at the Nuremburg trials.

My information for this short article came chiefly from contemporary newspapers and the following publications:

a. Freire Marreco e eu, Um SéCulo Depois, Maria Filomena CamõEs, From Journal of Boletim da Sociedade Portuguesa de Química, N.o 120, Jan – Mar 2011

b. Book of Abstracts from 5th International Conference on the History of Chemistry: Chemistry, Technology and Society, by Colin Russell

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Replies to This Discussion

Fascinating, Hugh! Having lived in Portugal for 6 years in the early 1990s, I find these links extremely interesting.


Most interesting, Hugh.  I have forwarded to a friend from a centuries-old Portuguese family here in Hong Kong.  There are many locals with Portuguese names here.  Most are the descendants of Chinese-Portuguese intermarriage.

Glad you both enjoyed it. It seems like for so many places where the British ended up in Asia, the Portuguese and Dutch were there first. I spend some time each year in Malaysia, Geraldine. No doubt you'll know Melakka and its Portuguese-Dutch-British history.

What I find interesting when I do these wee micro-studies is how they rarely end up being just local. They always end up showing how our local history is very much connected way beyond our little corner of North London. Whether it's a commercial connection like the birth of the British rubber industry, the local craftsmen who made part of the Greenwich Observatory and the House of Commons, or it's personal like the local kindertransport hostels or the development of the Hurlingham club or the Russian emigres seeking safety after the Russian revolution, it's following the links of what might seem at first glance to be flat local history that is one of the things that fascinates me most.

Ah, yes, I have visited Melakka - such an interesting place, with brightly-painted Dutch buildings around every corner.  In Southern India, too, you can find remnants of the Dutch, Portuguese and Chinese, and even a few Jewish synagogues.  Food survives the centuries as well, skipping from continent to continent, and there are still Keralan Jewish recipes to be found.  Macau's national dish is Portuguese African Chicken and very good it is too!

You are so right that wherever we went, the Portuguese had been there first.  Still, who would have dreamt there would be a corner of Portugal in Woodberry Down.  Life is full of surprises.  Keep digging, Hugh.

Absolutely, Hugh and Geraldine - fascinating how wide-ranging these connections are, and how early the Portuguese arrived in various places across the globe.

I've long been wondering about today's Portuguese community in Harringay. Anyone?

Hello! :)

Not very good at History here but I am a Portuguese national living in Haringey since 2001. The Portuguese community here was very small when I arrived but is now much bigger. I often hear the language when walking around, especially in Wood Green.

Amazing research yet again Hugh. Makes me what to explore the Portuguese side of my family - my great, great, great , great grandmother. When we lived off seven sisters rd  near Stamford hill school in the 90's there were a few Portuguese families  in the area, some quite large.

That's interesting. I suppose there have long been quite close connections between the two countries so we perhaps shouldn't be surprised, but it's nothing I've heard about before. 

I see two of my pictures have disappeared, I'll put them back.

I've been surprised yet again at how far the internet carries HoL's wee voice. 

Last week I was contacted by a curator at the New York Public Library. He wrote:

I used your article to establish the birth and death dates of Marreco in a Library of Congress Name Authority Record

And why was he interested? Well, his particular specialism includes Mary Shelley, authour of Frankenstein. Apparently Marreco and Mary Shelley's family became friends

We have a manuscript letter from Mary Shelley (the author) to him from the 1830’s. The letter is published, but “F. Marreco” has long been considered “unidentified” by Shelley scholars — the post on your site I read today helped me put all the pieces together.

The NYPL curator also told me that William Godwin, the philosopher (Mary Shelley's father) mentions dining with Marreco at Mary's home along with other literary luminati including Almeida Garrett. As I ~mentioned in my original post, Garret also stayed with Marreco in Woodberry Down. (By the by, Shelley's mother was famed early women's right campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft - who opened a school just down the road from Woodberry Down, in Newington Green).

I never cease to be amazed by just how many connections can be made from the tiniest threads of history, and just how far those connections travel, both in the past and in the present day.

An unexpected bonus for your research, Hugh.  What a place of discovery for a historian the internet has proved to be.

Link to Library of Congress Authority Record featuring your favourite local website!



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