The pioneer of Karachi

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

If you have visited Karachi, you might have chanced upon a township known as Cincinnatus Town. It is named after Cincinnatus Fabian D’Abreo, a much-respected councillor of the Karachi municipality in the early 1900s, who set up the township for the Goan community in Karachi.

Cincinnatus was born in Goa on 24 September 1862. His father Manuel D’Abreu from Abreuvaddo in Saligao was probably the first Saligaokar to migrate to Sind in 1846, three years after the conquest of that province by the British.

Cincinnatus D'Abreo, Karachi Goans pioneer : Saligao Serenade

Cincinnatus D'Abreo

Cincinnatus was educated at St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi. However, he had to discontinue his studies at the age of 16 and seek a job to earn a living, due to the unfortunate death of his father. At that early age he was first employed by the Civil and Military Gazette Press as a clerk. Two years later he joined the well-known British business establishment of Forbes, Forbes and Campbell, dabbling in the import and export trade. In 1889, at the age of 27, he joined the Sind commissioner’s office as an ordinary clerk. In 1895 he was promoted to the high position of assistant collector of Sukur and finally was elected president of the municipality.

In 1897 Cincinnatus returned to Karachi, where he occupied various posts such as assistant collector of customs, and salt & shipping master. He had a brilliant record of service and was appointed acting collector of customs on two occasions. He was a councillor of Karachi Municipality for many years and made a remarkable contribution to civic life in Karachi as well as to the Karachi Goans community as the Goan voice.

Cincinnatus bust at Karachi Goan AssociationCincinnatus D’Abreo was instrumental in starting the Karachi Goan Association (earlier known as Goa-Portuguese Association, Karachi), whose stately building shall ever stand as a monument to his patriotic zeal. He also played a part in the launch of the Indian Flour Mills, the Union Press, and above all, the Indian Life Assurance Company, of which he was secretary for many years. He was also one of the directors of the Karachi Building and Development Company.

The portrait of Cincinnatus depicts him as bald-headed, with enquiring and penetrative eyes in a round face, with a black flowing beard and attentive ears. He was known to be of serious nature and upright character.

Through the good offices of Cincinnatus, a number of people from Saligao migrated to Sind, which was then a part of Bombay Province, and settled in Karachi, where they have done well for themselves as part of the Karachi Goans community. These included families such as the Vazes of Donvaddo, the de Melos of Sonarbhat, the Sequeiras of Sequeiravaddo and the Saldanhas of Demelovaddo.

In 1917 Cincinnatus retired from service and devoted himself to various social activities. He was the Goan voice and held in high esteem not only by the Karachi Goans  but also by the people of Karachi, who chose him among the 12 leading citizens of Sind. Thus honoured by all, he breathed his last on 25 January 1929. As reported by the London Times, the Karachi Goans paid grateful homage to Cincinnatus, by carrying, in relays, his coffin from the church to the cemetery.

13 comments on The pioneer of Karachi

  • Chris D'Abreo

    I am the great grandson of Cincinatus D’Abreu and found this item very interesting – I beleive the spelling of the name has changed to D’Abreo though I am not sure when or why …

    • Claire Jutsum

      Cincinatus D’Abreo was my dads grandfather – his mother was Gwennie. She had three sons but died in childbirth with the fourth. Her sons were Leslie, Roy and David. Roy recently passed away but Leslie is still alive living in Toronto, Canada and David is living in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. There was some controversy over the correct spelling of the surname so all three sons took the following surnames:

      Leslie Jutsun
      Roy Jutson
      David Jutsum

      My dad is David Jutsum and of course he says that his spelling is the correct spelling !

      I don’t know if this helps with any family trees? I also have a sister, Alice Jutsum.

    • Claire Jutsum

      I made an error which was only just pointed out to me.. ! My dads mother was Margaret not Gwennie who was her sister. My dad had mentioned Gwennie a lot but that’s because she helped bring him up ie. wennie was his aunt.

      It is strange how spellings change. My middle name is D’Abreo. Maybe at one point the ‘u’ looked like an ‘o’ and it simply changed that way?

    • Dr Colin D'Silva

      Hello, where do you live now? My grandfather was the foreign trade controller at Karachi and knew your great grandfather. I’m trying to do some research and trace my roots. Perhaps you can help me.

      Look forward to hearing from you.


  • Vanessa Gomes

    i am a great granddaughter of Cincinnatus Fabian D’Abreo (they spelt his name this way on his death notice) he was married to Mary Josephine. Does anyone know anymore more info (children, parents, great grand parents) Thanks

  • Jules Fausto de Sa

    Dear Vanessa,
    I saw your mail and do believe that I might be able to help you as I have managed with the help of others to build up a tree. Please contact me via my email I would however like to have your Branch of the tree if possible. Are you the grandchild of Joseph and Dolly D’Abreo?
    PS: I used to live in Cincinatus Town in Karachi hence my interest in the family.

    • Marylou D'Mello

      Dear Jules

      I’m the grandchild of Joseph and Dolly D’Abreo. Is it possible for you to share the tree that you have built with the family as I remember sending a couple of family members’ names to someone who was trying to gather info about my great grand dad.

  • Farid Ahmed

    I don’t know whether cincinatus was the uncle of Miss S D’Abreo or not but I think he was. Miss S D’Abreo was the founder of Jufelhurst School situated in Garden East Karachi. If anybody confirms this that he was the uncle of Miss D Abreo. Also there is a Jufelhurst forum on facebook. If there is any grandchild of Miss S D Abreo then he/ she must visit that forum and share the memories of Miss D Abreo. Thanks

  • I was reading the various articles about cincinatus D’abreo. As you can see my name is also Dabreo and originated from Madeira. The Dabreos landed in St Vincent in the 1800′s and I have been informed by my aunt that some of the Dabreos also migrated to neighbouring islands. We are also very interested to trace our family tree. Some of my family are currently doing the family tree on facebook and I would appreciate it if you could add some input to this as I feel cincinatus D’abreo could have some connection to me. You can log onto facebook and ask to join the Dabreo family tree. I hope to hear back from someone soon , thank you

  • Adrian Dmello

    My maternal grandfather was Joseph Francis Dabreo.

  • Jules Fausto M de Sa

    Dear Claire,
    I do apologise for the delay in sending you this message. Yes, I did note the mistake made by you as Gwendoline was your great Aunt. Anyway all’s well! I see that you are UK based! I live in the Croydon area.
    I grew up in Karachi in a part of Town named after your illustrious ancestor Cincinnatus D’Abreo. My ancestor too, was in Karachi at the same time and these Pioneers built the Goan Portuguese Association in 1886 which went on to move to its present location and was re-christened as the Karachi Goan Association. I still remember being awed by the Marble Bust of Cincinnatus D’Abreo which stood in the Library. He was as you may know the longest serving President of the Institution.
    We are trying to establish his connections to his native Saligao and beyond. I see that almost all of his descendants now live in Australia, UK, Canada and the US.
    The D’Abreo version would have come through the British Links. Many families after leaving Goa to greener pastures in British India chose to modify or even change their surnames to blend with the environment. So names like Athaide became Hyde, Fernandes became Fernes, D’Souza became Dickson and so forth! There is another lot which swapped over names; so Condillac de Souza became Souza Condillac, Vincent de Souza became de Souza Nicholas, etc.
    Should you wish to know more than please contact me on my email.

  • Alita Castellino D'Souza

    Dear Jules Have you managed to locate Emmanuel Castellino who was a lawyer or his children (Karachiwallas). I only knew Celine . Pardon me for not keeping intouch. -the reasons are many and varied. By the way I did receive a mail from you mentioning that we were cousins . Oh,to hear that word “PRIMA” again. My Computer went caput and I lost alot of information. If possible do update me again. Obrigada


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