The Story of Henrique Mendes,
Ship Owner (1880-1970)
    Henrique Mendes

            Henrique J. Mendes arrived in New Bedford on the Schooner Serpa Pinto from the Island of Brava, Cape Verde on May 2, 1898.  The schooner departed April 9, 1898 from Brava. Henrique was from the Island of Fogo.  His final destination is listed as “New Bedford” on the passenger list (List or manifest of Alien Immigrants for the Commission of Immigration).  Mendes was recorded to be literate, single, and having $18.00 on his person. For his occupation, “factory” was registered.

            Henrique was born on January 20, 1880[1] in S. Filipe, Fogo, Cape Verde and was the fourth child in the family. Henrique Mendes was the son of Jose Mendes and Charlotta Freita(s) Mendes.  Jose Mendes was from Montemor-o-Novo (Alentejo), Portugal.  Carlota Freita(s) Mendes was born on the Island of Brava in the Cape Verde Islands. Jose was an entrepreneur; he owned a bakery in Fogo before passing away in 1894 when Henrique was fourteen years old.[2]  Jose and Charlotta had several children: Manuel, Francisco both of Brazil, Maria, Eugenia and Rita Mendes. Rita died at a very young age. She was also the youngest child in the family.[3]

            After arriving in the United States on May 2, 1898,[4] Henrique took right to the water. He then worked on a whaling ship and earned thirteen dollars for six months.[5] He had several other jobs before purchasing his first schooner.  Henrique then worked at a cranberry bog for Mr. Mack Peter in Wareham, Massachusetts.[6] Later he shoveled coal in Providence for twenty-six cents an hour.  In Wareham, Massachusetts, Henrique owned a grocery store.[7] 

After gathering enough money he purchased his first vessel.  From that point on he made several other purchases but he will be remembered most for the Schooner Ernestina.  The schooner was purchased for seven thousand dollars under his daughter-in-law’s name, Louise Mendes because she was an American citizen.[8] Henrique did not have the entire amount to purchase the schooner so he worked in a wool factory in East Weymouth during World War II to earn the difference.[9] 

Adilino is the son of Henrique and Candida (Abreu) Mendes. After purchasing the ship in 1948 Adilino, his wife Louise of 59 Kempton Street in New Bedford, MA and many other people from the community all joined hands and fixed what was then the Effie M. Morrissey.  The schooner was in desperate need of attention because it was scuttled after a fire broke out in the galley.  While fixing the ship Adilino and Louise recall their fondest memories of their “baby daughter at the time…[when] she was rocked to sleep by the movement of the ship.  Adilino said, ‘Kids used to play on the ship all the time.’”[10]  The baby Adilino was referring was his daughter Elaine (Mendes) Monteiro.  Adilino and Louise had three other children: Donald J. Mendes of New Bedford, Rev. Joseph A. Mendes of New Bedford , and Rev. Robert J. Mendes of Richmond, VA. Donald J. Mendes from a marriage to Bernadette De Barros had three children: Courtney, Kendra, and Isaiah Mendes.  Rev. Joseph A. Mendes  married Amelia and had six children: Cynthia, Rachael, Nathan, Natalie, Daniel, and Micah.  Rev. Robert J. Mendes  married Analina Soares and have four children: Sherrie, Christine, Lee-Ana, and Marcel.

We recently heard from Lawrence Mendes (Jr), Adilino's grandson with more information  to add to this webpage. Adilino had three other children with a woman named Diana May Pina Mendes named Lawrence (Sr), George and Larry.

Henrique worked vigorously to purchase his first vessel and he continued to do so: 

“Henrique owned seventeen different vessels over the years.   One was named Emma after one of his daughters.  He bought the Wm. A. Grosier in 1914, the Ernest T. Lee in 1919, the Charles L. Jeffrey in 1927, the Frank Bernard in 1935.  He also had ships named the Arnold and the Savoia.  He kept the Effie M. Morrissey under American registration and under that name for one year, until 1949 when he sailed her to Lisbon and renamed her after his thirty-four year old daughter, Ernestina.”[11] 


Ernestina (Lisbon, Portugal) was the first child between the marriage of Gertrude and Henrique Mendes.  They had four other children: Ema Mendes (Lisbon, Portugal), Joseph Mendes(Providence, RI), Arnaldo J. Mendes (Scituate, MA), and Filomena[12] (Cape Verde).

Ernestina Mendes married Luis Silva Rendall and had two children: Maria, and Ema.

Joseph Mendes married Maria and had one child Henrique Mendes.  After Maria had passed away from leukemia he married Audila and had five children.  He married again to Maria Albertina and they had a child named Albertina Mendes.

Arnaldo J. Mendes’ first wife was Mezarate.[13]  Arnaldo then married Maria De Montserrat and had two children: Mary Lou Mendes of Connecticut and Arnold Mendes of Bridgewater.  Mary Lou married and changed her last name to Quinn and had two children: Angelina and Aidan Quinn.  Arnold had three children: Michael, Sheena, and Kiana.

[1] The Packet Can’t Complete.  CVHIST02.DOC

[2] Traudi Coli’s conversation with Joseph Mendes

[3] Ibid.

[4] List or manifest of Alien Immigrants for the Commission of Immigration

[5] Wolf of the Sea Captain Henrique Jose Mendes In His Early Thirties.  Joseph Sena Mendes.  2000 

[6] Ibid.

[7] Source: Traudi Coli

[8] “The Morrissey Rises Again As Schooner Ernestina”

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid

[11]  “The Morrissey Rises Again As Schooner Ernestina”

[12] May also be known as Felismina; adopted

[13] Spelling not confirmed

Obituary for Henrique Mendes

Capt. Enrique Mendes, 90, a former resident of Ann Vinal Road, Scituate, and 59 Kempton Street, New Bedford died October 14, 1970 in Fogo, Cape Verde, where he retired in 1957 after more than half a century as a ship owner and skipper of many of his own vessels. Funeral services and burial were in Fogo.

Capt. Mendes was born in Fogo, Cape Verde on January 20, 1880 to Jose and Charlotta Mendes of Brava. In 1898, when he was 18, he sailed for New Bedford where he went to work on a whaling ship until he earned enough to buy his first schooner. In his lifetime, he owned 17 ships and was a principal figure in the Cape Verdean packet trade which brought thousands of Portuguese Islanders to this country and carried supplies back to the Islands about 300 miles off Dakar. It is estimated that half the Cape Verdeans in Scituate arrived in the United States in his ships.

Between 1914 and 1935, four of his ships sank under him in Atlantic gales. After each loss, he worked at various jobs until he raised enough money to buy another schooner. Just before and during World War II, he lived in Scituate for six years and worked at the Hingham Shipyard.

In 1948, the Mendes family bought a famous schooner, the then 70-year-old Effie M. Morrissey, which was renamed the Ernestina. For a decade, he sailed her between Cape Verde and Providence, RI usually with his son, Arnaldo, as navigator. His son, who has lived in Scituate for 14 years, was the skipper for several trips.

In addition to Arnaldo, who lives at 25 Damon Road, Scituate, Captain Mendes is survived by his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Mendes, who recently returned to Fogo after a two months' visit here; three daughters, Mrs. Ernestina Rendall, wife of Louis Rendall, governor of the Portuguese overseas province of Angola in Africa; Miss Emma Mendes, a language professor at Serpa Pinto College in Angola; and sister Filo Mendes, a nun in Fogo; two other sons, Adilino Mendes of New Bedford and Joseph Mendes of Providence, RI, 18 grandchildren and one grandson, George Mendes of Forest Street, Marshfield. z

Obituary for Arnaldo Mendes

-From “The Patriot Ledger,” January 2, 1998

Arnaldo J. Mendes,

76, tall ship captain

SCITUATE – Arnaldo Jose Mendes, 76, of Lisbon, Portugal, formerly of Scituate, a former machine operator and tall ship captain, died Wednesday at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, after a short illness.

Mr. Mendes was a machine operator for Plymouth Rubber Company in Canton for over 25 years.

He was a former owner and captain of the Schooner Ernestina, a tall ship given to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  He was one of the last captains to bring immigrants to the U.S. across the Atlantic under sail.

He is survived by his wife, Maria De Montserrat Mendes; a son, Arnold Mendes of Kingston; a daughter, Mary Lou Quinn of Hull; a brother, Joseph Mendes of Providence, R.I.; three sisters, Ernestine Rendall and Ema Mendes both of Lisbon, and Felismina Mendes of Cape Verde Islands; five grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated 9 a.m. Saturday at Holy Family Church, East Taunton.  Burial will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Taunton.

Visiting is 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Crapo-Hathaway Funeral Home, 350 Somerset Ave., Taunton.