|An unusual letter sent to William Pease Theakston, land agent, in 1908 threatening to burn and destroy haystacks belonging to William Mitchell of Alconbury, farmer. The author, who did not sign this letter, was a Robert Dew the younger of Alconbury, aged 53 (he thought), a bricklayer and labourer who had lived in Alconbury all his life.. He had sent similar letters in 1903 and 1905, and had signed these. He was brought to trial in 1910 - a handwriting expert from London, Thomas Henry Gurrin, was called to the stand to give evidence as the to handwriting of all the correspondence, and Frederick Hinde was called to give evidence that he had photographed the said letter. The case was referred to the May Assizes, where Robert Dew was proved guilty and sentenced to 9 months hard labour.
Reports of the case can be found in the Hunts Post of March 1910, and the court papers (including the original of this letter) can be found in the 1910 Quarter Sessions papers in Huntingdonshire Archives
The letter reads - "Rec'd March 30th 1908. Alconbury 13/3/08 Sir We as Alconbury labiours we dont want to doe For Mr Rust Aney harm As your are both gentleman But we entend of seting fire to old Mitchels stacks and Burn him Cleane Haught[?] so sooner you give im Notice the Better We are Cleare im out in House and out. Sined Alconbury farm labiours. We Will Not Have Such A fool In the place".