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Captain Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt's Cottage

Fred Ward worked at Tocal before becoming the notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

Fred was the youngest of 11 children of Michael and Sophia Ward. He was probably born in 1835 at about the time his family moved from Wilberforce to Windsor. The family then moved to Maitland in about 1846. Fred's father was a convict and his mother a free immigrant.

In August 1856 the lessee of Tocal, Charles Reynolds, indicated that he had known Fred Ward for some years. Reynolds said "He was employed by me for a year as stockman and horsebreaker. One William Ward, his brother, was also in my employment for 8 or 9 moths after [Fred] left me." Fred was also employed on Tocal for a fortnight mustering in early 1856.[1]

Oral tradition says that while working at Tocal Fred Ward lived in the overseer's Cottage which was built around 1835. It is the association of Ward with this cottage that has led some to call the building 'Thunderbolt's Cottage'.[2]


1. Trial transcript 1856 (transcribed by Carol Baxter). For futher details see Carol's website www.thunderboltbushranger.com.au.

2.Further information is available in the book Captain Thunderbolt - Horsebreaker to Bushranger which you can buy from Tocal [details]

painting of Thunderbolts Cottage

Visit Thunderbolt's cottage at Tocal [opening details]