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Title: 'Mrs Thunderbolt': Setting the record straight on the life and times of Mary Ann Bugg
Contributor(s): Roberts, David  (author)orcid ; Baxter, Carol  (author)
Publication Date: 2013
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Abstract: The life and times of the 19th century bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Wordsworth Ward), and his Aboriginal accomplice, Mary Ann Bugg, have long been the subject of speculation and confusion. Thunderbolt roamed across vast areas of New South Wales over seven years from 1863, eluding police, robbing travellers, stations, pubs, stores and mailmen, until his fatal capture by police at Uralla in the New England in May 1870. Mary Ann Bugg - the mother of Thunderbolt's children and for four years his 'chief lieutenant and right-hand man' is an important historical figure in her own right. She attracted strong contemporary interest, has been long remembered in history, fiction and folklore, and remains a subject of considerable historical debate. As with Thunderbolt himself, there has been dispute over key aspects of her story. As Jillian Oppenheimer noted in her 1992 biographical essay on 'Thunderbolt's Mary Ann', 'the myth and reality [have] become difficult to distinguish'. In this article we set the record straight, tracing the evolution and lineage of certain stories concerning the life and exploits of Mary Ann Bugg. Historians who lacked the technical research expertise and access to vital archival and genealogical data have generated much misinformation concerning her. With new evidence we can now test some conflicting assertions, providing clarity and certainty on a number of issues, while casting new light on aspects of her story. The principal points of contention that can now be settled are: Who was Mary Ann Bugg? Did she assist Captain Thunderbolt in his celebrated escape from Cockatoo Island? Was she the woman, 'Yellow Long', who died in the Hunter Valley in 1867? And if not, what became of her? In the process of answering these questions we reveal something of the genesis and propagation of myth and the convergence of fact and folklore in Australian history.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 99(1), p. 55-76
Publisher: Royal Australian Historical Society
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1838-7381
Field of Research (FOR): 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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