Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thunderbolt

The fascinating character and exploits of the gentleman bushranger Fred Ward, a.k.a. Thunderbolt, born at the Hawkesbury in 1836, have been the subject of many books. Carol Baxter's recent offering Captain Thunderbolt & His Lady, the true story of Frederick Ward & Mary Ann Bugg is a very readable version of the story.
Carol is an excellent researcher, but the mass of detailed historical material about Thunderbolt is a challenge to anyone, and she missed the snippets about his exciting life which are included in my recent book Southwark Luck.
The 1868 timeline on Carol's interesting website thunderboltbushranger.com.au suggests that the 'Whitefoot' anecdote on pages 245-6 of my book could well be true, even if the 'sly grog shop' part of the 1863 escape story was purely a family legend. Theft of the horse 'Whitefoot' was never reported to the police (therefore it does not appear on Carol's website listing primary sources), but Thunderbolt was active in the Bingara/Warialda areas during parts of 1868 and reference to his hideout on Gravesend Station is credible. In 1868 Gravesend Station was being managed by Ann Forrester's eldest son Charles Robert Martin, who was a few years younger than Thunderbolt.
Charles was a much younger cousin of George Forrester, who was a squatter at Narran Lakes and on the Barwon River by the 1850s. By May 1868 George was regarded by disapproving officialdom as a harbourer of Thunderbolt - as briefly mentioned on page 310 of Southwark Luck (with fuller details to appear in my proposed book about George Forrester, still in early draft form).

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