A Letter From Carmen Vaz

The earliest records of the name Vaz, that I know of, originate in Arab controlled Spain, around 1000 AD. here many worked for the royalty as bankers and moneylenders (mainly because then, these occupations were forbidden to gentiles, but allowed to Jews) whatever the case, at some time they must have been in good favor with the King of Spain, because they were given lands and Noble standing. I have never seen the crest, but I do have a description from "El Diccionario Nobiliario de Espana" literally translated it says: Vaz - in Galicia - shield of arms: On a background of red divided into four squares by a level gold cross whose extremes join a border of gold, carried in the center a star of blue. The border of gold with eight hasps of green. During the Inquisition of 1492 most of the the Vaz's escaped Spain by moving into Portugal. However a few years later all the Jews were expelled from there too. I have no records of any Vaz's after that until the late 1600's except for a Martin Vaz de la Torre, a Portuguese cartographer whom supposedly had an island named after him, in the Atlantic, slightly north east of Rio de Janeiro. (only detailed maps show it) After the 1600's, Vaz's re-appear in the Netherlands, England, and Italy. But due to anti-Semitic sentiment most moved on to the colonies in the Americas, like Curacao and Jamaica. In Jamaica they became very wealthy and owned large plantations and (embarrassingly) many slaves. There are many Vaz's in Jamaica now (one was prime minister in the 1970's) most of them are african-americans. I can trace my Vaz ancestry back to 1830, Curacao. I know that once the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Americas were liberated from Spain and Portugal, the Vaz's moved onto the mainland, converted to Catholicis, and dispersed throughout South America. I will ask my relatives if they know of any connections with a Maria Antonia Vaz in Parana, Brazil. I would greatly appreciate...if you get the chance and break the language barrier...if you could ask your husbands relatives if they have heard of a Jose Vaz, Jacobo Vaz or a Finias Vaz...three brothers, that left for the eastern coast of South America (the Guianas, Surinam and Brazil) to start import/export companies around the 1880's. These would be my great-uncles. I have no records of their outcome or descendants. I hope the above information is of use to you. Carmen Vaz