The Tonse Fernandes Prabhu family is a Mangalorean Catholic clan based in Tonse in the Udupi district. The earliest known ancestor of this family was Angelo Antonio Nicholas Fernandes of Divar, in Tiswadi. Before Angelo's birth, the family resided in the locality of the Church of Our Lady of Piety, known as Nossa Senhora de Piedade of Divar.[1]

Their conversion to Christianity took place in the 14th century by Fransiscan and Dominican friars long before the arrival of the Portuguese at Divar Island, Goa, where the Christian population then consisted of a dozen families of Brahmin descent.[2]

The family then possessed rich agricultural lands in the area. Family history records the arrival of the Jesuits in 1542 and the mass conversion of 20,000 persons and the opening of the Jesuit college near Divar.[3]

Diego Fernandes migrated from Goa to Kallianpur in 1739, establishing a firm foundation for the growth of a very large and successful line of descendants among whom an estimate of 1953 enumerated 1 Archbishop, 1 Bishop, 2 missionaries, 19 Jesuits, 20 secular priests, 1 Carmelite brother, 2 Christian brothers, 25 nuns and a large number of others prominent in civilian life.[2]

In 1739, Diego Fernandes was in Government service in charge of survey and revenue at South Salcette. Fearing repurcussions from the Portuguese for the death and destruction wrought by marauding Marathas, he left hearth and home for the hospitality and refuge of the Ikkeris in the south.[2]

Here, he found employment under a wealthy Hindu merchant. He visited Goa many times, but was dissuaded from returning to his old homeland by periodic outbreaks of famine. Gradually, he rebuilt family fortunes, accquiring land and siring five children, from whom many of the prominent Mangalorean Catholic families of today claim descent.[2]

During Tipu Sultan's round up and deportation of the Mangalorean Catholics to Seringapatam in 1784, the family of Diego Fernandes at Kallianpur was left unmolested by the Sultan, after representations were made by Hindu landlords to let them continue cultivating their fields.[4]

Similarly, upon receiving intimations of the impending roundup, a prominent priest, Fr. Joaquim Miranda disbanded the order of Monte Mariano at Ferangipet sending the seminarians home, to prevent them from getting caught up in the roundup. Among them was Nicholas Manuel Fernandes who survived Tipu and went on to marry Isabella Menezes in 1807, fathering five children and a large number of grandchildren.[5]


Name Born Died Remarks
Stephen Fernandes 1885 1957 City Magistrate of Poona in the early 20th century
Maisie Lobo 1919 1994
Praxy Fernandes 1926 2001 Attained distinction as the Finance Secretary (Government of India)
Michael Lobo 12 September 1953 Author of three self-published books on the Mangalorean Catholic community



  • Prabhu, Alan Machado (1999). Sarasvati's Children: A History of the Mangalorean Christians. I.J.A. Publications. ISBN 9788186778258 .

External LinksEdit