On This Day …

25th May, 1870

From the Sydney Morning Herald, 27th May 1870

One of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers, Captain Thunderbolt is dead. Shot down by Constable Alexander Binney Walker near Uralla after a long chase.

By the age of twenty, Frederick Ward had already begun a life of crime. Stealing horses was what he was first arrested and sentenced for. Following that, he added escape from gaol and went on to become the bushranger as he was known, with the alias Captain Thunderbolt. He most commonly robbed the mail coaches by hiding out behind Big Rock near Uralla, but his list of crimes also includes robbery of hotels, stores homes and even a toll-gate — seventy-seven crimes in all.

Although he was a thief, he must have been otherwise pleasant in character, for he was known as the gentleman bushranger. He was apparently polite, agreeable to look at, and he avoided violence where he could. He was an excellent horseman and only rode the best — or stole them as the case may be.  And there was romance in his life as well. He lived and rode with Mary Ann Bugg, a half-caste aboriginal, for many years, but they separated a few years before his death.

His life may have been short — he was only thirty-five when he died — but he is known as one of Australia’s most successful professional bushrangers.

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Published in: on 25th May, 2012 at 3:02 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for telling us about this anniversary. His pleasant character makes me start wondering. I think there’s a good chance he, and many others, wouldn’t have felt the need to turn to bushranging if he’d been alive now, when Centrelink help people who need it.
    One of the highlights of a good holiday we took when the kids were smaller was to Forbes, where Ben Hall and his group of fellow bushrangers had meetings in the basement of an old hotel. I could feel the creepiness down there, but the building has burned down since then.
    Hey, have any ideas for a story with a lovable bushranger hero?

    • You bet I have ideas, Paula! Problem is having a lovable bushranger hero without condoning crime…

  2. Reputations are funny, aren’t they? And people have such contradicting layers. Gentleman bushranger. Good for selling papers. I bet some of his victims had other words for him. Glad to see you found the romance thread! 😉

    And I think Paula’s right. Had benefits been available, the story of some of these outlaws might never have been lived with such abandon.

    • That’s what I think, Dotti. If I were facing his gun in a holdup I don’t think I would have liked him much. I have a book which tells his love story here, but I haven’t read it yet. 🙂

  3. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing about Captain Thunderbolt’s anniversary.

    • Glad you enjoyed, Adam. 🙂


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