Vitoria Correia de Sá

José Carlos Vilardaga (Universidade Federal de São Paulo)

Date of death: 1667

Member of the Sá family, one of the most dominant in Rio de Janeiro in the 16th and 17th centuries. Married to Luis de Céspedes Xeria, governor of Paraguay. Administrator of one of the most important sugar mills in Rio de Janeiro.

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Vitória Correia de Sá (? -1667) was a member of the Sá family, created by Rio de Janeiro important potentates since the 16th century. She was married to the Paraguay governor, Luis de Céspedes Xeria and manager of one of the most important sugar mills in the Rio de Janeiro city. She was the daughter of Gonçalo Correia de Sá and Esperança da Costa Machado. According to some authors, Esperança was Francisco Machado’s daughter, and her marriage took place in São Paulo, as Gonçalo spent some years there overlooking the mineral activities under his father’s responsibility. Gonçalo de Sá was a member of the influential Sá clan in Rio de Janeiro and chief captain of Capitania de São Vicente between 1626 and 1628. Vitória’s grandfather was Salvador Correia de Sá, called “o Velho” (“the Oldman”), who was Rio de Janeiro governor (1568-1571 and 1577-1598), Pernambuco governor (1601-1602) and mines superintendent of the Southern Division (1614-1630). Her paternal uncle, Martim Correia de Sá, was also São Vicente captain (1620-1622) and Rio de Janeiro governor (1602-1608 and 1623-1632). The marriage of Vitória to Luis de Céspedes Xeria would have occurred in her uncle’s house while he was governor, when Xeria was appointed Paraguay governor in 1625, but could only take office in 1628, after a turbulent trip he made to Rio de Janeiro and from there to São Paulo, from where he left for Paraguay through the river Tietê in a trip of 19 days (Barata, s / d; Brasilhis; Boxer, 1973; Coaracy, 2009; Rudge, 1983).

The wedding would have occurred in May 1628. As a dowry, the couple Vitória and Xeria received part of the land where the Engenho do Camorim was located, in Jacarepaguá, erected by her father, Gonçalo Correia de Sá, in 1622, with a chapel dedicated to São Gonçalo de Amarante, also ordered to be built by Gonçalo in 1625 (Peixoto, 2019). According to the dowry deed, on this occasion the mill had “40 people from Guinea and natives and 2 copper boilers from the same mill and more copper as necessary to bear with the so-called 40 ‘pieces’ equiped with the said mill, as the donors said that two blackmen from Guinea gentile, a blacksmith and a potter, would be included on this account three young men, a carpenter and two sawmills from the land Gentile (…) (Rudge, 1983: 36). The mill lands were part of a large sesmaria donated in 1567 by Salvador Correia de Sá, but which ended in his own hands at the end of the 16th century. The Engenho d´Água was installed in them in 1590, one of the oldest in Rio de Janeiro. Salvador has given the sesmaria to his sons Martim and Gonçalo in 1594. The western half of the sesmaria remained with Gonçalo only, while the other half was shared between the brothers (Abreu, 2010; Fridman, 1999; Lima and Peixoto, 2020; Rudge, 1983: 25-26).

Dona Vitória de Sá has only met her husband in 1630. In the meantime, she took advantage of a power of attorney given to her by her absent husband in the Paraguayan lands. She went to Paraguay through São Paulo, then known as “forbidden way,” as it was considered as an illegal entry to Spanish lands towards America’s countryside. On her trip, she was accompanied by “domestic servants” and by her cousin, Martim de Sá’s son, Salvador Correia de Sá e Benevides; in addition, a sertanista from Santana de Parnaíba, a town near São Paulo, at the jungle entrance, also escorted her, André Fernandes, called by the Guairá Jesuit priests as “the worst pirate in the jungle” (Vilardaga, 2020). Boxer (1973), asks if Fernandes was really in this trip with her, insinuating that he had already gone and met Vitoria’s entourage already in Paraguay. However, priest Francisco Trujillo, mentioned that Fernandes had not only accompanied Vitória de Sá, but has also carried a lot of goods and black slaves which he had traded during the trip as a smuggler, and has planted a Portuguese flag in Assunção, an insult to Your Majesty; and that he has also taken with him on his return trip more than 500 indigenes who would be sent to the sugar mill of Xeria and Vitoria in Rio de Janeiro. It is Trujillo who still gives the alert that Xeria himself has sent a Paraguay inhabitant to bring his wife and agree on the invasion at the Guairá Jesuit settings through the São Paulo sertanistas. (Cortesão, 1951: 389-398). Indeed, Céspedes and Xeria government matches with the great departure movement of pennants which left São Paulo between 1628 and 1632, which have destroyed the Jesuit missions located in the Spanish Guairá. Similar to her husband trip, followed by a bandeirante, Manuel Preto, Vitoria’s trip has also provoked controversy, as it demonstrated the agreement between Paraguay governor, mills owners and Rio de Janeiro governors, and also São Paulo indigenes’ enslavers sertanistas. (Boxer, 1973; Mello, 1958; Vilardaga, 2014). It is Boxer (1973) who recalls that the Jesuits, in 1629, have blamed Dona Vitória, still in Rio de Jnaeiro, for having intercepted their letters, by informing her husband in Paraguay.

Anyway, Vitoria has arrived in Assunção by the end of 1630 and, according to former Paraguay and Rio da Prata governor, Hernandarias de Saavedra, on a letter to the king, she was welcome in the city “under the stick of the Blessed Sacrament”. (AMP, 1925: 267-269). It is not known until when she stayed there. Her father, Gonçalo, has managed the Camorim mill in the absence of Xeria and Vitória until he died on 1633. Surely, Dona Vitória was already in Rio de Janeiro city in 1634, as she has taken part on the western half sale of the sesmaria land which Gonçalo shared with his brother, Martim, also deceased on 1634. Dona Esperança has sold it to her nephew, Salvador Correia de Sá e Benevides, having Vitoria as witness and signature. (Rudge, 1983) After facing long processes at Audiencia de Charcas, Céspedes Xeria has finally established in Rio de Janeiro and has joined his wife in the mill management. Both did not have children.

Dona Vitória was widowed between 1640’s and beginning of 1650’s, since on a Xeria’s son will, homonym, in Assunção, dated of 1651, there is a statement informing that the father had recently died and left a “number of servants and two mills with many slaves” (ANA, NE 172, 1659). The widow kept strong relationships with the Benedictines in Rio de Janeiro, with whom she had sugar business, and for which order she left her heritage, when she died, on a will dated of August 1667. She has left four houses, the mill with the church; 122 African people enslaved, creoles, indigenes, and mamelukes, and three cattle sheds. She was buried in Mosteiro de São Bento in Rio de Janeiro city. (Araújo, 2014; Peixoto, 2019).


ANA, Archivo Nacional de Assuncion, Seccion NE, 172, 1659. Testamento de Luis de Céspedes Xeria.
Published documents:
“Razões que se contestam ao Governador do Paraguai D. Luis de Céspedes Xeria por haver proibido aos jesuítas a passagem pelo caminho do salto do Guairá. 1631”. In: Cortesão, J. (1951). Jesuítas e bandeirantes no Guairá (1549-1640). Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca Nacional, pp. 389-398.
“Carta de Hernandarias de Saavedra ao rei. Santa Fé, 23/06/1631.” In: Anais do Museu Paulista, T.II. São Paulo: Officina do Diario Oficial, 1925; p.267-269.

Abreu, M. de A. (2010). Geografia Histórica do Rio de Janeiro (1502-1700), v. 2. Rio de Janeiro, Andrea Jacobsson Estúdio.
Boxer, C. (1973). Salvador de Sá e a luta pelo Brasil e Angola.1602-1686. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional.
Coaracy, V. (2009). Rio de Janeiro no século XVII – Raízes e Trajetórias. Rio de Janeiro: Documenta Historica.
Fridman, F. (1999). Donos do Rio em nome do rei. Uma história fundiária da cidade do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor; Garamond.
Rudge, R.T. (1983). As Sesmarias de Jacarepaguá. São Paulo: Livraria Kosmos Editora S.A.
Souza, J. V. de A. (2014). Para além do claustro: uma história social da inserção beneditina na América portuguesa, c. 1580 / c. 1690. Rio de Janeiro: Eduff.
Vilardaga, J. C. (2014). São Paulo no império dos Felipes: conexões na América Meridional (1580-1640). São Paulo: Intermeios/Fapesp.

Book chapters:
Vilardaga, J.C. (2020). Conexões e percursos luso-castelhanos da família Sá na América Meridional durante a Monarquia Hispânica (1580-1640). In: José Manuel Santos Pérez; Ana Paula Megiani; José Luis Ruiz-Peinado Alonso. (Orgs.). Redes y circulación en Brasil durante la Monarquia Hispánica (1580-1640). Madrid: Silex, pp. 435-464
Periodical articles:
Mello, A. R. de. (1958). Contrabando e bandeirismo no segundo quartel do século XVII. Revista de História, 17, 36, 341-352.
Lima, T. A.; Peixoto, S. A. (2020). Engenho do Camorim: arqueologia de um espaço açucareiro no Rio de Janeiro seiscentista. Revista de Arqueologia, 33, 1, 98-125.

Peixoto, S. A. (2019). Jacarepaguá, a “planície de muitos engenhos”: uma arqueologia do sertão carioca, Rio de Janeiro, séculos XVII ao XIX. Volume I. (Tese de Doutorado). Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro/Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.
Barata, C. E. de A. (s/d). “Correia de Sá”. Genealogia Fluminense (04 de maio de 2021). Recuperado de:

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