Private letter sent by a prisoner in Limoeiro Jail, who signed as Pepe Bulante, bandit, to Manuel Teles.
The author threatens the recipient with death if the latter doesn't deliver 15 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.
«I hope you're in good health, your family support, the same way we are, thank God, as we write this letter. We are settled in the darkest places there are in this region. We are writting you this letter to let you know that we are fifteen men, sons of troubles, who wander from street market to street market, taking care of whoever takes care of us and offending those who offend us. As you and your father have been honourable men, we now declare you that one of our fellows is arrested in Limoeiro, in the new court jail and, therefore, we are in the need of those fifteen coins to set him free. This way, you will send them to the jail in question, without fail. The holder who will deliver the money must ask for the prisoner António Justo as soon as he reaches the grilles of the new court jail. And all this money delivery must be made in the greatest secrecy for, if it is not so, you will pay for it in some other way. These are our coats of arms. I don't want anyone to know about this letter, secret and more secret! And beware that, if you fail to send the money until the twentieth this month, without fail, you will lose your life as soon as we find you on the way to some street market, as we are always meeting each other and there's always time for bad actions. If you do this, you can rest your mind and go anywhere without fear, because we will defend you and I'll come to you at a certain place to thank you for this favour. But that is only in case you send those coins to the holder, showing these signs to the prisoner. He will show you similar ones. You can hand him the coins because that will be him. The fifteen of us are from the village of Santa Olaia and our chief is from Albuquerque.