The Captain's Lady: Mary Ann Bugg

"The Captain's Lady: Mary Ann Bugg. "

by Kali Bierens (Ward)

Published Oct, 2008

Review by Barry Sinclair June, 2009

This book was written by Kali as part of her requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Aboriginal Studies, Uni. of Tasmania. Kali received top marks for this well researched book on Mary Ann Bugg. It is certainly the best researched book written to date on the story of Mary Ann's relationship with Frederick Ward and of Mary Ann's Aboriginality. Kali did much of her research through the Aboriginal community of NSW. As she argues, “ it was the Aboriginal knowledge of the country that enabled the white bushman/bushranger to survive in an unfamilar land.”

On page iii Kali writes A closer examination of events reveals that Thunderbolt’s Aboriginal wife, Mary Ann, was crucial to his survival. Yet she has been erased from the legend. Many of our folk heroes could not have survived without the support of Aboriginal Australians. However the mateship ethos continues to exclude both Aboriginal people and women.”

This book reveals the positive, yet seldom acknowledged, contribution the Aboriginal people have made on the development of Australia. Mary Ann was better educated than the majority of the white Australians living in country areas and did much to educate Thunderbolt during their life together. Mary Ann was certainly responsible for the escape of Thunderbolt from Cockatoo Island with Fred Britten, making them the only prisoners to successfully escape.

On page 22, Kali states: “ Bushrangers who formed unions with Aboriginal women became recognised as kin and therefore were expected to reciprocate by sharing their loot. In return they were shielded from detection, supplied with fresh horses, rations, and vital information. The value of such alliances should not be over looked”. This alliance certainly contributed to Thunderbolt being the longest serving Bushranger.

This is certainly one of the best books on the life of Mary Ann Bugg to date. It is a must read for anyone doing research on Thunderbolt or interested in the study of race relations on the colonial frontier.

For a link to a full copy of this book where a copy can be downloaded, go to:-

The book can be read for research purposes at Newling Heritage Centre, at the southern end of Dangar St, in Armidale or at the Uralla Library.

If anyone has further provable facts or comments to add to these reviews please

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Barry Sinclair
Unit 15, Valentine Cl
129 Lanhams Rd
Winston Hills

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