Zé do Telhado, nickname of José Teixeira da Silva, was born on June 22, 1818 and died in Malanje (Angola) in 1875. He was a soldier and a famous Portuguese robber. Chief of the most famous gang of the Marão mountain range, Zé do Telhado is known for “robbing the rich to give to the poor” and, therefore, many consider him the Portuguese Robin Hood.
Of humble rural origins, at the age of 14 he went to live with his uncle, to learn from him the profession of castrator and keeper of animals. He married, in February of 1845, with his cousin Ana Lentina de Campos, of which he had five children.
He had extensive military experience started at Cavalry 2 headquarters, the Lancers of the Queen, and took part against the party of the Septembrists and the restoration of the Constitutional Charter, in July 1837. Defeated, he took refuge in Spain.
On his return, a revolt erupted in the country against the anticlerical government of Costa Cabral, and when the Revolution of the Maria da Fonte begins, on March 23, 1846, Zé was involved as one of the leaders of the insurrection. He placed himself at the orders of General Sá da Bandeira, who had also joined. He assumes the rank of sergeant and distinguishes himself in such a way in the bravery and military qualities that, in the expedition to Valpaços, receives the rank of Knight of the Military Order of the Tower and Sword, of Valor, Loyalty and Merit, the highest decoration that still today exists in Portugal. However, his “party” is disgraced, it pits tax debts that can not afford and is expelled from the military.
Already as “Zé do Telhado”, robber chief, carries out a great number of assaults throughout the North of Portugal, during a very troubled period that coincided with the request of greater resistance of D. Miguel, in the exile with his government, to his partisans who attempted to form guerrilla groups throughout the country.
The country’s best-known gangster ends up being caught by the authorities on March 31, 1859 when he tried to escape to Brazil. He was imprisoned in the Prison of Relation, where he met Camilo Castelo Branco..
On December 9, 1859 he was tried and sentenced to perpetual deportation in the West Africa Portuguese Colony. The sentence was commuted to 15 years in prison, on 28 September 1863. He lived in Malanje, trading in rubber, wax and ivory. He married an Angolan woman, Conceição, from whom she had three children. Known among the locals as the “kimuezo” – the man with big beards – he lived comfortably. He died at age 57, a smallpox victim, and was buried in the village of Xissa, municipality of Mucari, a hundred miles from Malanje, and a mausoleum was erected for him.