[From The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser]
Information reached this town, on Thursday last, that Thunderbolt was again on this side of the country, encamped on a mountain situated near the head of the waters of the Little Manning, quite crippled. The informer is a female, who states that she has been with him for the last ten months, that she engaged to attend on Mrs. Thunderbolt during her confinement, after that occurred she wanted to leave, but that he prevented her by keeping her tied up, and it was only the other day she effected an escape. She states that Thunderbolt is hurt in the back from a fall off his horse, also suffering from a bad knee, preventing his getting about without assistance ; that his wife had herself had to put him up on horseback ; his wife always accompanies him (dressed in men’s attire) out to plunder ; that she has a large butcher’s knife fastened on the end of a stick, rides up alongside the cattle and with this instrument she hamstrings the beast, and then kills it. They principally live on beef (very seldom they have flour), wild yams, and wattle gum. The last place they stayed at they remained from June to January, near to a station of a Mr. Parnell, and were never molested. The informant made her escape while Thunderbolt’s wife was out after beef ; she wandered six days through the bush before she came to an inhabited place, and three days from there to Stroud, living on yams and wattle gum during that time. She asserts that there is no one else with Thunderbolt except his wife and three children. He has in his possession ten head of horses, and all are in low condition. This woman is well acquainted with the other bushrangers’ career, and was a schoolmate of Dunn’s.
The following incident has just crossed our minds, and has not been made public before, which we have every reason to believe has been committed by this villain. About a month ago the premises of Mr. John Higgins, jun., near Gloucester, were broke open during their absence, and a quantity of flour, sugar, tea, &c., stolen therefrom—also one horse from a paddock—and up to the present time no tidings of the robbers or goods have been obtained. This woman now states that on one occasion Thunderbolt stated he was going to stick up Higgins’s station, and was gone three days, and, on his return, brought a quantity of flour, tea, sugar soap, two butchers’ knives, some spoons, and
a pair or two of blankets, one horse branded LL, with star on forehead, and which corresponds with the missing one. This statement agrees so much with the things lost, that there is hardly any reason to doubt but what he is the thief.
Sergeant Finlay, and troopers Cleary and Underwood, of Dungog, started to day in pursuit, the woman also accompanying them in disguise. At Gloucester the police intend to secure the services of a blackfellow, as guide and tracker, and we hope shortly to be able to report a capture of the whole of them.
But we fear that by the time the police arrive at the spot he will have shifted his quarters in some other direction, as it was nine days before the woman reached here.
Stroud, 23rd March, 1866.
The following extract, from the Manning River News of 24th March, shows that another body of police were also on the track of Thunderbolt:—”Bushranging on the Upper Manning — A hut belonging to Mr. Higgins, who lives near Gloucester, was robbed a few days since, and a report was soon after in circulation that Captain Thunderbolt, being hard up for rations, had taken this method of supplying his most urgent wants.
This person knows the Upper Manning well, having been formerly in Miss Kelly’s employ, when he passed by the less pretentious name of Ward, and it is thought that, finding the country which has recently been honoured with his presence too hot for his comfort, he wishes to rusticate among us for a season. We are glad to say that the police, under the direction of Mr. Garvin, are on his track—that they are accompanied by a black tracker—that the fugitive was not far ahead when last heard from—and that there is at least a fair probability of coming up with him shortly.”
“CAPT. THUNDERBOLT, ALIAS WARD, THE BUSHRANGER.” The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893) 29 March 1866: 2.