This Timeline documents all the information discovered for bushranger Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg for the year 1863, with associated source-references. Many of the referenced newspapers are now accessible online (see Online Newspapers). For further information about Fred's accomplice, see Frederick Britten.
Copyright Carol Baxter 2011
24 Oct 1863: Fred Ward and Fred Britten robbed hut at Gostwyck Run, south-east of Uralla; 27 Oct: when waiting at Big Rock (now Thunderbolt’s Rock) near Uralla to rob the mail, they encountered police and in a shoot-out Fred Ward was wounded; c.28 Oct: the men hid in one of Mr Stitt’s shepherd’s huts; 31 Oct: a newspaper reported that the bushranger pair had separated (which was almost certainly incorrect, and possibly deliberate misdirection).
Sources for: Stephen Grainger, Sergeant, Armidale; later Sergeant at Murrurundi (but not listed in SRNSW Online Index to Registers of Police perhaps because he resigned in 1865) and William Reynolds
NB. the Armidale Express reported that Sergeant Grainger fired the shot that hit Fred when the bushranger was standing behind a tree firing back at him, however the sawpit men who tended Fred reported that the bullet had entered the fleshy part at the back of his knee and exited the front, indicating that he had his back to the trooper who shot him. The SMH’s Uralla correspondent reported that the mailman, who saw everything, claimed that it wasn’t Grainger but Senior Constable Reynolds who fired both the first and the wounding shots. The Tamworth Examiner’s detailed account reported similarly, suggesting that this is the most reliable account of the actual shooting (perhaps mailman Galvin provided the information himself when he returned to Tamworth), and The Empire’s report claims the same. The various accounts of both the Gostwyck robbery and the shoot-out state that one man was tall, around 5’11” or 6’0”, and the other shorter, around 5’7”; the Armidale Express claimed that the taller man was shot and the sawyers who tended the wounded man that afternoon also said that the injured man was tall, whereas the Bendemeer correspondent of the SMH claimed that the shorter man was shot. In fact, Ward and Britten were the same height, around 5’8”, and Ward later displayed and discussed the scar from the injury, confirming that he was the man shot that day.
9 Nov 1863: Two men bail up stockman employed by Messrs Morse and Tourle of Balala when on main north road about 3 miles from Kentucky, in vicinity of Big Rock; c.20 Nov 1863: youth coming from bush between Kentucky and Tyrrellis encountered two armed men lying in ambush a short distance from the road
17 Dec 1863: Robbery of Merriwa mail at Hall’s Creek (now Gungal) supposedly by the man who soon became known as Captain Thunderbolt
NB. This was reported in the Police Gazette although no surviving newspapers refer to the crime. Jim Hobden in Thunderbolt describes the encounter and notes that his information is extracted from the Singleton Times (19 Dec 1863), but this issue has not survived.
21 Dec 1863: First reference to ‘Captain Thunderbolt’: man calling himself Captain Thunderbolt robbed the Campbell’s Hill toll-bar between Rutherford and Maitland; he breakfasted at the Spread Eagle Inn at Rutherford then bailed up various people before calling out a challenge to a constable who said he was only ‘airing his horse’ and fled to Maitland; Fred returned to the Spread Eagle Inn for a couple of hours then left and took the road to Anambah; a constable encountered him talking to tenant of Mr G. J. Cobb’s and pulled a pistol on him but Thunderbolt rode off and the constable couldn’t keep up with him; police tracked him as far as Singleton where they lost his trail; 23 Dec: police returned to Maitland; 24 Dec: attempted further hold-ups near Singleton and police headed after him again, but failed to catch up with him; 31 Dec: Constable Edward Purcell was brought before West Maitland Bench charged with neglect of duty and disobedience of orders in failing to apprehend Thunderbolt and was fined and, a few days later, dismissed; 2 Jan 1864: Maitland Mercury reports that the bushranger ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ was an old offender named Ward, formerly connected with the horse and cattle stealing gang that had worked out of Lamb’s Valley, and that he had apparently taken refuge in the Tangorin Mountains (east of Singleton)
29 Dec 1863: Questions asked in Parliament about the bushranger in the Maitland district
 Armidale Express 31 Oct 1863 p.2 (x2); Sydney Morning Herald 29 Oct 1863 p.4, 30 Oct p.4, 2 Nov pp.4 & 8, 10 Nov p.2, 13 Nov p.8, 18 Nov p.4, 3 Nov p.4; Argus 14 Nov 1863 p.6 (from Tamworth Examiner 31 Oct); Maitland Mercury 3 Nov 1863 p.2 (from Armidale Express 31 Oct), 22 Dec 1863 p.3; Empire Oct 1863
 Grainger – NSWPG 1862 No.41 (10 Dec 1862) p.252, 1865 No.7 (15 Feb 1865) p.56 & No.32 (9 Aug 1865) p.286; Police Service Registers: William Reynolds [SRNSW 8/3252 No.777; Reel 3043]
 Sydney Morning Herald 1 Jun 1870 p.5
 Sydney Morning Herald 13 Nov 1863 p.8, 23 Nov p.4
 NSW Police Gazette 1864 No. 2 (13 Jan 1864) p.14
 Maitland Mercury 22 Dec 1863 p.3, 24 Dec pp.2 & 3, 26 Dec p.2, 29 Dec p.2, 2 Jan 1864 p.2; The Empire 25 Dec 1863 p.2, 2 Jan 1864 p.5; Armidale Express 2 Jan 1864 p.2 (from Maitland Mercury 24 Dec); Sydney Morning Herald 22 Dec 1863 p.4; NSWPG 1864 No.1 (6 Jan 1864) p.7
 Sydney Morning Herald 30 Dec 1863 p.2