Thunderbolt at Wellingrove

Bushranger visits

Article from TROVE

Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW : 1856 – 1861; 1863 – 1889; 1891 – 1954), Saturday 24 October 1868, page 4

To the Editors of the ‘ Armidale Express.’

DEAR SIRS—It is not often you are troubled with any correspondence from this township, but yesterday we were visited by rather strange customers—”Captain Thunderbolt” and the boy—so I will tell you the truth of his behaviour while here, as many false reports have been told even to ourselves in the short time that has elapsed since his visit (about 20 hours).

He and the boy rode down to the inn and had nibblers brought out to them; they then came into the store, and bought a box of matches, went down to the inn again, and rode through the town. I said to my mother, ” They look like fellows on the sticking-up suit,” and before we had finished talking, they rode up. Thunderbolt got off his horse, quite close to me, and asked if I was Mr. Maund? I said yes. He then said, ” I came to stick you up—stand!” holding his revolver close to my face. I answered him coolly, “Stick up be blowed! I have no money.” He then asked if any other men were about? I said yes, my brother was somewhere about; so he motioned to the boy, who had his revolver in his hand, and told me to stay there (on the store verandah) whilst he went inside.

In a few seconds I thought my wife would be very frightened and was going into the house. The boy said, “Don’t you move,” and presented his revolver at me. I said I would, and went into the house, met Thunderbolt in the front room, and told him if he wanted rations I would give them, but not to frighten my wife. He looked at her and said, ” I never molest a woman. I never beg, but I do rob. I was driven to it.”

He walked out of the house and told us (my brother in law William Hood, my mother, brother, wife, and self) how he had been imprisoned for a deed he did not commit, but knew who did, and would not tell; how he was confined in a solitary cell for ten months, and six weeks, on bread and water, how he then asked to see the governor of the gaol, and asked him why he was treated as he was?—had he committed an unnatural offence?—and that the governor said no, but he had tried hard to escape, but never would get his liberty; that be (Thunderbolt) said he would in less than a month, and did in a fortnight; and that he had been a robber ever since.

I told him he was not Thunderbolt, or at all events not Ward; he said he was, and asked me when I saw him last? I told him the day his brother George was drowned in the Hunter. He said, ” Ah, yes! I soon got into trouble after that and recognised me. I told him I would not know him; he was so much altered. He said those who never saw him knew him, but those who had did not; however, he was too well known. Mr. P. C. Campbell and Mr. Duncan McIntyre rode down to the inn and through the town. He said it was not Reynolds— he knew that because he knew him for he shot him once. He stood by his horse, with his revolver stuck in his belt, for about two hours, telling us of many of his adventures, one of which I will tell you.

At some place, he said, the troopers followed him for two hundred yards—he could swear no farther—and the report (he had read it) was six miles. ” And now,” he said, ” you talk of people being honest. I’m a robber, and at one time I lived with a gentleman whose name I’ll not mention, and in one season helped to run in and brand seven hundred head of cattle that he and all of us knew were ‘nuggets’; he is protected by law, but I’m an outlaw.” He also said he would have stuck up the inn but saw no men about. I told him it was a poor widow that kept it. He said, ” I’ll not rob her, then.” He took nothing from me but what he paid for except a little rations and some rum. Two customers came and were served, and my brother and self walked in and out of the house several times; he did not watch us in any way.

I have been asked, couldn’t I have shot him? I could so far as time and opportunity allowed, but would not, for the manner in which he behaved. At the same time, I hope I never will see him again. —

Yours truly, J. E. MAUND.

Wellingrove, Oct. 15tfa, 1868.