Significant "Thunderbolt" Dates

On examination of the lists of crimes he committed, long periods of time went by when he appeared to be inactive. Researchers have never been able to account for these periods of inactivity

In order to account for this time, we put the list of his crime dates and the his family's most important anniversary dates (Births, Deaths, marriages etc) together. This showed up some interesting facts previously unknown. The drowning of his Uncle George, in 1854 led to the beginning of his career as an outlaw. His family soon started targeting Tocal station to steal their horses in retaliation for George's death.

During recent research into the life of Fred Ward, aka "Captain Thunderbolt", it would appear that "Fred" was really the quintessential family man. It also became abundantly clear that Fred took time off from his career of Bushranging to look after his family, when his wife was pregnant. Prior to and after his second child Elizabeth Ann was born in West Maitland in 1864, there is a 12 month period of inactivity. When his third daughter Mary Ann was born at Wallabadah in August 1866 he took about 9 months off from being a bushranger. He was even known to have worked on a property to the west of Wallabadah township during that period, without being troubled by the police.

This would make him the first Australian male to take " paternity leave" , indicating his great love for Mary Ann.

The Red & Blue coloured references are personal significant dates.

         1788    Michael Handley Thompson Ward  b. Middlesex
         1788    Sophia Jane Elizabeth Ann Crolson  b. Middlesex
   9.3.1809    Daughter Sophia Jane  born Holborn, London
         1813    Michael & Sophia Married, London
         1814    Michael convicted of stealing Liquor with Thomas Dodman
May  1815    Michael sailed on Indefatigable. July Sophia sailed on Northampton
          1816    Daughter Sarah Ann Ward Born Wilberforce

July  1832   Sarah Ward applied for permission to marry John Haswell, permission was refused.
May  1833   Frederick Ward born at Wilberforce near Windsor illegitimate son of Sarah Ann Ward
          1834    Mary Ann Bugg born at Stroud
          1835    Sarah Ann married John Garbutt. Moved to Cooyal  Station - Mudgee
          1839   His mother, Sarah Ann married William Shepherd
          1843   Sarah Ann had married (?) Edward Edwards
          1846   Family moved to Maitland after Michael gained freedom

         1848    Mary Ann  married Edmund Baker & moved to Cooyal Mudgee
Early 1848   Sarah Ann & Edward Edwards moved to the Warialda Area
    By 1850   His uncle William owned “Lambs Valley” property near Maitland
         1850   His uncle George married Charlotte Nixon in Armidale
       1854   His uncle George was drowned droving cattle from Tocal station to Maitland

  21.4.1856   Sentenced for possession of  stolen horses belonging to TOCAL Station -10 years
   1.7.1860   Released on ticket of leave to work at Mudgee on  Garbutt’s Cooyal Station
         1860   Mary Ann had returned to Stroud
 Late1860   Fred Followed Mary Ann to Stroud & Married her in Stroud
 Sept 1861   Fred had to report regularly to police in Mudgee. Being late  for muster he was arrested & charged
                    with not attending muster & having in his possession a horse which he could not prove was his. He was

                    returned to Cockatoo Island to serve the remainder of his previous sentence plus a further 3 years
                    for horse theft
26.10.1861*Daughter - Marina Emily born Stroud
                          11.9.1863  Fred Ward & Fred Britten escaped from Cockatoo Island with help of Mary Ann
                           Oct 1863  Robbery of hut at GOSTWYCK RUN
                            21.12.63  Toll-bar robbery at RUTHERFORD - assumed the name "Thunderbolt"
   2.9.1864 *Second Daughter - Elizabeth Ann born West Maitland
                            5.1.1865  Various robberies near BOURKE
                          20.2.1865  Station robbery at BOKHARA RUN
                          17.3.1865  Robbery at MOGIL MOGIL STATION
                          19.3.1865  Robbery at COLLYNIMBI
                          21.3.1865  Dray robbery at BARWON RIVER
                          24.3.1865  Station robbery at BOREE RIVER
                          19.4.1865  Mail robbery and horse theft near MANILLA
                          20.4.1865  Horse theft near BARRABA
                          24.4.1865  Hotel robbery at BOGGY CREEK
                          24.4.1865  Hotel robbery at MILLIE
                          26.4.1865  Talawanta Station robbery near BOURKE owned by William Beaumont & William McLeay
                            8.8.1865  Mail robbery at OAKEY CREEK
                          Nov 1865  Robberies between GUNNEDAH & MURRUNDI, particularly at Breeza, Werris Creek
                          8.12.1865  Hotel robbery at QUIRINDI
                          9.12.1865  Hotel robbery at CURRABUBULA
                        10.12.1865  Hotel and mail robbery at CARROLL
                        26.12.1865  Robbery at BURREN BURREN
                        27.12.1865  Hotel, store & station robberies near COLLARENEBRI
                        28.12.1865  Hotel robbery at MEROE
    Late1860’s Sarah Ann and Edward Edwards  moved to the Ebor area near Warialpa, Hernani
         1866   *Third daughter - Mary Ann Ward born Wallabadah
                         25.8.1866   Mail robbery near MANILLA
                           3.2.1867   Mail robbery near MANILLA
                         25.2.1867   Store and hotel robberies at DENISON DIGGINGS
    25.2.1867   Young Thomas Mason joined Fred Ward to replace pregnant Mary Ann
                         21.4.1867   Horse theft at MOONBI
                         21.4.1867   Mail robbery near BENDEMEER
                           5.5.1867   Hotel and store robberies at BONSHAW
                         22.5.1867   Mail robbery near MANILLA
                         30.5.1867   Mail robbery near WALLABADAH
                         26.6.1867   Mail robbery near MURRURUNDI
                           6.8.1867   Mail robbery near WYBONG CREEK
                         21.9.1867   Mail robbery near CHAIN OF PONDS
   Mid 1867    *Frederick Wordsworth Ward (Jnr) born - baptised Wesleyan Methodist Tamworth Distict Circuit.
                       Birth Reg in 1868. Birth contributed to Mary Ann’s death.
                       31.10.1867  Thomas Mason arrested & tried as an assistant of Thunderbolt
  17.11.1867    Mary Ann dies of pneumonia at Hope Hill on the south bank of the Berami River, near Denman, NSW
     Jan 1868    Fred Ward joined by Will Monckton at Yarrowyck near Uralla.
                        25.1.1868   Mail robbery near FALCONER
                        28.1.1868   Mail robbery near TAMWORTH
                        30.1.1868   Mail robbery near TAMWORTH
                          6.2.1868   Mail robbery near GLEN INNES
                        17.3.1868   Mail robbery near TENTERFIELD
                        19.3.1868   Robbery near TENTERFIELD
                        21.3.1868   Robbery near TENTERFIELD
                          6.5.1868   Horse theft at ABINGTON
                        25.6.1868   Robbery at BINGARA
                        18.7.1868   Store robbery at ROCKY CREEK
                          4.9.1868   Robbery near BUNDARRA
                      14.10.1868   Store robbery at WELLINGROVE
                        5.12.1868   Robbery at OBAN
      After the Oban hold-up Will Monckton left Thunderbolt & gave himself up to the police
                      18.12.1868   Mail robbery at BINGARA
                          8.6.1869   Robbery near BARRABA
                        14.4.1870   Robbery near MOREDUN
                        25.5.1870   Various robberies near URALLA
   25.5.1870  A “Captain Thunderbolt” was shot and killed near Uralla by Constable Walker
   28.5.1870  “Thunderbolt” sighted by 2 policeman at Glen Innes races with his famous horse Combo & chased him to
                       Wards Mistake where police abandoned the chase. On returning to Armidale they submitted their report
                       to the Sergeant in charge. I believe this report is still in the Police Archives in Sydney and
                       goes to confirm many of the family stories.

   August, 1870 Frederick Ward, Sarah Shepherd & Fred Jnr where taken by Alf Dorrington, a landowner near Uralla, to Morpeth to catch a boat to America. As a thank you, Fred gave Alf Dorrington a sum of money which he used to place a magnificent tombstone on the grave of his recently deceased Aunt buried in the Bendemeer Cemetery.This gives final link to the proof of the fact that it was not Fred Ward shot in Uralla by Constable Walker.
If anyone has further provable facts to add to this please

Email :

or write to me at
Barry Sinclair
PO Box 75
NSW 2358

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Last updated on Friday, March 15th, 2011