The following is an account of one of the many bizarre moments in the career of Fred Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt. Ward’s reputation as a successful, gallant and daring highwayman doesn’t hold up tremendously well when scrutinised and in fact the bulk of the time he was in the bush he kept his head down and avoided the spotlight, punctuated with small scale robberies on the roads. One such incident is that which was reported on 7 January 1864 in The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser:
CAPTAIN THUNDERBOLT – This new addition to the gentry of the road, with his euphonious appellation, has played some of his freaks in this district lately. During the past week he stuck up two of Dr.Glennie’s boys, near Glendon Brook, on the road between Singleton and the Paterson. The boys happened to have nothing else in their possession but a few marbles, which he contemptuously returned to them. In letting the boys go, he enquired for the name of their father, and, on being told, he said that he knew Dr. Glennie well, and that the doctor was a clever fellow; he then rode, away. We learn that on Sunday morning last he demanded breakfast at Mr Brooker’s, at Mirannie Creek, which was given to him, but he did not molest anyone, as he was well known by Mr. Brooker as a man of the name of Ward, formerly an old hand in that neighbourhood, until, according to a colonial phrase, he “got into trouble” Ward has also been seen during the past week in various other places between here and the Paterson, and the police have not been idle in making enquiries after him.
*FYI: “euphonious appellation” is fancy talk for “pleasant sounding name”.
Source: “SINGLETON.” The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893) 7 January 1864: 3.