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Frederick Wordsworth Ward (aka Captain Thunderbolt) (15th May 1833–25 May 1870)) was an Australian bushranger renowned for escaping from Cockatoo Island with the help of his wife Mary Ann Bugg, and for committing over 200 crimes over six and a half years across the northern section of the state of New South Wales.
He is the son of Sarah Ward, daughter of Michael Ward, a convict. He was born at Wilberforce in New South Wales in May 1833. He became a groom and horse breaker by the age of 20.
Ward became involved in a scheme to steal horses and was arrested, leading to a sentence of ten years with hard labour at Cockatoo Island. He was released after four years and given a ticket of leave to his sister’s property at Mudgee in 1860. After his release, he followed Mary Ann Bugg to Stroud where he married her and settled down, until he arrived late for monthly muster at Mudgee a few days before his first child was born and was accused of stealing the horse he was riding. He was sent back to prison to finish his sentence, plus a further four years for horse stealing.
On September 11, 1863 he escaped with the help of Mary Ann Bugg, who had swum across the shark infested waters to Cockatoo Island, carrying with her tools to help Ward escape. Ward, Bugg and another prisoner, Fred Britten, made a daring swim for freedom and the couple soon became notorious bushrangers, committing crimes ranging from highway robbery to horse stealing and earning Ward the name Captain Thunderbolt. They operated widely across the Hunter Valley-Tamworth-New England region from 1864 to 1870. On one occasion they even rode as far west as Bourke. During this time, Ward and Mary Ann Bugg managed to have four children.
On May 25, 1870, Thunderbolt was shot dead by Constable Alexander Walker after a long chase on horseback, however, a few Uralla locals claim that it was his brother, William (Harry) Ward, who was killed at this time and not Fred Ward.
Thunderbolts grave lies in the small town of Uralla, NSW.