Considerations on the origin of the family Canto, in Nobiliário de Famílias de Portugal of Manoel Joze da Costa Felgueiras Gayo
There has been much questioning of the credibility of the most remote origins registered by Felgueiras Gayo in his work Nobiliário de Famílias de Portugal. One of these origins which seems to raise critics' indignation the most is the origin of the medieval Canto family. In conversation with colleague genealogists we could through research on internet put an end to this exaggerated questioning, finally directing light to the truthfulness, even though not complete, of the information supplied to us by the Portuguese genealogist. It is certain that perhaps pretension itself had been the motive of such questioning: by doubting the truth of the said information, one was at the same time trying an identification of Mossem João do Canto, founder of the family, with John, 3rd Earl of Kent (1330-1352), of House Plantagenet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John,_3rd_Earl_of_Kent). This was a connection which didn't prove itself nor by title, nor by context, nor by heraldry, but Felgueiras Gayo gives other information which makes possible the identification of the true Mossem João do Canto, English Knight and founder of the medieval Canto family in Portugal. For being treating of very known characters in British history, using Wikipedia or Wikimedia as reference shall suffice.
Let us transcribe here what Felgueiras Gayo wrote about the Cantos in Nobiliário de Famílias de Portugal.
'N 1 Os Cantos descendem de Mossem João do Canto q foi Conde estavel do Princepe de Gales, q veio a Castella a favor do Rey D. Pedro contra seu irmão D. H.e era Cavalheiro Inglez e natural da provincia de Kent q na lingua antiga Britania se dezia Caint, e na Latina Cantium a qual provincia no tempo dos Angalos Saxones era Reino Particullar de q era Cabeca a Cidade de Cantuaria chamada depois Cantorberey e dipois foi Condado Soberano q no anno de 1036 possuia Godinho Conde de Cantio ou de Kent Princepe de tanta graduação q cazou com Thira Irmão de Kanuto Rey da Dinamarca e teve f.o a Edita m.er de Eduardo 3.o Rey de Inglaterra, e he possivel fosse Mossem João do Canto descendente da Caza dos Condes de Cainte'
The deduction we want to put forward is based principally on the following factors:
1. Title of Constable
2. Relationship to the referred Prince of Wales
6. Passage through Portugal
Firstly, for point 2., let us make the identification of the Prince of Wales referred by Gayo: it is Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG (15 Jun 1330 – 8 Jun 1376), which indeed came in favour of King D. Pedro de Castella against the latter's illegitimate brother, D. Henrique de Trastámara. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward,_the_Black_Prince)
Gayo's biggest mistake, we think, is having made the connection of Canto with Kent or Cantium, connection which is not for us here to investigate whether comes from his sources or himself. Gayo is prudent when saying "he possivel fosse Mossem João do Canto descendente da Caza dos Condes de Cainte" (what would lead to House Plantagenet), or, he's not sure of it, which is a point in his favour because we think we can prove that not to be the case.
Let us now, for point 1., make the identification of that one which in fact held the title of Constable of Edward of Woodstock: Sir John Chandos, Viscount of Saint-Sauveur in Contentin, Lieautenant of France and Vice-Chamberlain of England, Constable of Aquitaine and Seneschal of Poitou, in France during the Hundred Years' War, b. Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire, d. 31 Dec 1369, famous commander of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chandos)
Let us see the chronological and phonetic coincidences, points 3. and 4.: both John, 3rd Earl of Kent and Sir John Chandos lived more or less at the same time. Both names could have been registered in Portugal and modified to "Mossem João do Canto". It seems to us, however, much more likely that Chandos become Canto than Kent, phonologically.
Let us now move to heraldry, point 5.: the arms of Sir John Chandos are "D'argent à la pile de gueules" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blason_Jean_Chandos.svg). The arms of the Canto are equivalent, "De vermelho, canto de prata em forma de ponta diluída" (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canto_(apelido)), as registered in the ancient Portuguese armorials, the same arms with the colors inverted, common changes in heraldry.
As for point 6., there's a quantity of bibliographic sources in internet which cite the passage of Sir John Chandos through the Iberian Peninsula, which are not for us to list here.
It is therefore deducted that the founder of the referred family Canto in Portugal is Sir John Chandos, d. 1369.
I make an expression of gratitude to João Monteiro Gomes and Manuel Abranches de Soveral for information which incited us to this discovery.
Felgueiras Gayo, Manoel Joze da Costa, Nobiliario de Familias de Portugal, Facsímile de Impressão diplomática do original manuscrito existente na Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Barcelos, Portugal, Agostinho de Azevedo Meirelles e Domingos de Araujo Affonso, 17 volumes, Oficinas Gráficas da Pax, Braga 1938-1941, purl.pt.
Felgueiras Gayo, Manoel Joze da Costa, Nobiliário de Famílias de Portugal, Carvalhos de Basto, 2ª Edição, Braga, 1989. vol. III-pg. 274 (Cantos).
Permanent references in Wikipedia and Wikimedia:
Herculano de Lima Einloft Neto
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Complementations to the presented connection -- 2011-06-20
Cf. João Monteiro Gomes, Genealogical memory dated 1621-02-05, redacted by Manuel do Canto de Castro, grandson of Pedro Anes do Canto, whose integral is to be found in Genealogias da Ilha Terceira, of Antonio Mendes and Jorge Forjaz, volume II, titulo Canto, pp. 761-764, registers "Donna Maria enes de cantos filha do Comdestabel Moizem Joam de Cantos", "Cazou esta Donna Maria enes do Cantos com hum fidalgo que se chamaua Lopo gomes de lira filho de Affonço gomes de lira natural de Galiza". She was married to Lopo Gomes de Lira, Alcaide-mor of Tui and then, widowed, to João Fernandes de Sotomayor. "No mosteiro de sellanoua esta uma sepultura metida na parede com hum letreiro que dis aqui Jás Donna Maria anes do Canto Rica donna molher de Joam fernandes de Souto mayor". With issue from her first marriage. The form Cantos utilized by Manuel do Canto de Castro reinforces further point 3. of our deduction, the phonetic connection of Chandos and Cantos. Cf. Cristóvão Alão de Morais, "Mª do Canto filha de Mosem Jº do Canto".
Says João Monteiro Gomes (author's translation): "Dead after 1386, she was buried in the abbey of Celanova, the nobiliaries say she came to Portugal with D. Filipa de Lencastre, as her companion (that part is wrong, my note). Through this documentation it is evident the high status she held given her performed marriages, however there's no documental trail so far, of the male lineage descendency of João do Canto, which is unusual notedly to the listed Afonso Anes do Canto, from whom it is said that the Canto from Madeira and Açores descend. His presented male lineage descendency, following Felgueiras Gayo, was copied by many other genealogists, but is in my view, considered merely illustrative, lacking therefore tight documentation, as presented.
His supposed third-grandson (of João do Canto) João Anes do Canto, was the first of which there is documental notice, he was a merchant in Guimarães, and father of the celebrated Pedro Anes do Canto. Between João do Canto (Chandos) until these four generations later, about one hundred years past, there's a documental void, of which nothing has been found so far, creating with this the doubt of fantasy or reality, in these first generations of the Cantos in Portugal and Açores. To be conferred."
To me it seems one more case of miscarried or lost documentation to be found, complemented or compensated by contextual information.
Herculano de Lima Einloft Neto
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil