Extortion letter, signed with the alias Antonio Chuço (Antonio, the Pike), sent to Roberto Lucas, English merchant.
The author threatens the recipient with death if the latter doesn't deliver 25 coins to liberate a man from the Limoeiro jail.
In the first quarter of the 19th century, extorsion letters became a very typical practice in the Limoeiro jail, near Lisbon. Prisoners, pretending to be highwaymen, contacted people outside jail, threatening them with all sorts of ruinous events in the case they didn't hand in a certain amount of money. The frequentness of this practice was possible also because of the political and social turmoil associated with these first years of Liberalism.
«You'll do me, by hook or by crook, the favour of sending someone to hand in to the prisoner Andrade, at Limoeiro, in the dungeon, the amount of 25 coins, since it is to set free this prisoner, who is my fellow and a member of my gang. I'm António Chuço, captain of gangs, and Taborda's fellow. As soon as you receive this letter, you will send someone to deliver it, in his hand, on Friday 9th, and if you fail me, you'll be killed. Beware of what you're getting into! Commenting on this, to whoever it may be, will cost you, since I know that, almost every week, you go to your warehouses. They will be torn into pieces, and I'll set fire to your warehouses, and I'll break down as many barrels of wine as the ones you have there. We will cause you great damage. If you don't protect my hands and my collegues hands, I can also rob your yard, which is in great position to do so. Beware of what you're getting into. I'm leaving to the Galveias, to the fair and, from there, I will depart to Cuba and, on my return, I'll go to Lisbon, along with 12 fellows to go to Torres Vedras. And then I'll send you what I've asked you to send to the prisoner. Pay attention to the fact that I had met you before and never meant to hurt you, as I was saving it for a moment of distress. That moment has now arrived, we should help each other. Therefore, send them on Wednesday and hand in this amount to the prisoner at 6 o'clock in the afternoon and, whoever delivers it, must sit down on 1 of the guard stones, which are next to the Limoeiro stairs, near the first small bed, in the guard's bed of vegetables. As soon as the prisoner sees you seated, he will yell twice «Ó José, ó José!» After this scream, you will then hand in to prisoner what you have taken. Don't go before he yells, this I order you not to. Take care of this, without fail.
January 4th, 1823
Your servant, the captain of the gangs,
the António Chuço»