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Australia Mary Ann Bugg, the Aboriginal bushranger erased from Australian folklore

13:55  17 november  2019
13:55  17 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Captain Thunderbolt probably wouldn't have survived as long without the help of Mary Ann Bugg , who taught him to read and nursed him back to heath after he was shot.

Mary Ann Bugg (7 May 1834 – 22 April 1905) was one of two notable female bushrangers in mid-19th century Australia . Mary Ann Bugg was born at the Berrico outstation near in 175 Gloucester

Mary Ann Bugg doesn't fit the stereotype of a 19th-century woman.

Mary Ann Bugg was Captain Thunderbolt's scout, informer, lover and confidante.© ABC News Mary Ann Bugg was Captain Thunderbolt's scout, informer, lover and confidante. Often dressed in men's clothes, she was an expert horse rider and skilled bush navigator who roamed across NSW robbing travellers, stations, pubs and stores while eluding police.

Most history books mention her as the partner of the infamous Captain Thunderbolt, the "gentleman bushranger" famed for escaping from jail on Cockatoo Island — but Mary Ann has every claim to being just as iconic.

Mary Ann was a proud Worimi woman, born of an Indigenous mother and convict father near Gloucester on the mid-north coast of NSW.

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Mary Ann Bugg had developed relationships with and bore children with several different men. One such man was Fred Ward AKA Captain Thunderbolt. Shortly after their meeting, Ward was found guilty of violating his ticket-of-leave parole. He was sentenced to Cockatoo Island, from which he escaped.

Mary Ann Bugg had developed relationships with and bore children with several different men. One such man was Fred Ward AKA Captain Thunderbolt. Shortly after their meeting, Ward was found guilty of violating his ticket-of-leave parole. He was sentenced to Cockatoo Island, from which he escaped.

In 1860 she met Thunderbolt, whose real name was Fred Ward. Before his capture in 1870, she acted as his scout, informer, lover and confidante and bore him three children.

Captain Thunderbolt is immortalised in statue form on the corner of Thunderbolts Way at Uralla, NSW.© ABC News Captain Thunderbolt is immortalised in statue form on the corner of Thunderbolts Way at Uralla, NSW. Thunderbolt is recognised for having the longest bushranging career in NSW, but it is unlikely he would have survived for so long without Mary Ann's help.

She taught the illiterate Thunderbolt to read. She helped provide food and shelter, spread false information to help him stay ahead of the authorities and nursed him back to health after he was shot.

Thunderbolt remains a legend, a popular folk hero and major tourist drawcard in New South Wales, where a highway is named in his honour.

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Mother: On Mary Ann Bugg 's birth certificate her mother is named as "An aboriginal woman". SOURCE: James Brigg Convict Records WikiTree Hill End Family History - May Ann Bugg Over 2000 bushrangers roamed the Australian countryside, from the convicts who escaped until just after

Explore genealogy for Mary ( Bugg ) Ward born 1834 Stroud, New South Wales, Australia died 1905 Mudgee, New South Wales There are only three known female Australian Bushrangers Mary Cockerill aka Black Mary an Aboriginal who rode with the bushranger Michael Howe, Elizabeth

Mary Ann Bugg is less well known and some even say she's been erased from the Thunderbolt legend.

And for one of her biographers, that's part of a bigger problem, where many Aboriginal people responsible for the survival of Australian folk heroes have been airbrushed from the history books.

Who was Mary Ann Bugg?

Mary Ann's story marks her as an uncommon woman for her time.

Mary Ann Bugg taught Thunderbolt to read, gave him food and shelter, and helped him stay ahead of authorities.© ABC News Mary Ann Bugg taught Thunderbolt to read, gave him food and shelter, and helped him stay ahead of authorities. Though many relationships between settlers and Indigenous people on the frontier were violent and unequal, her parents' union was long-term and consensual. Mary Ann was the eldest of their eight children.

She and her siblings were sent to an orphan school in Paramatta when she was five years old.

As a result, she had a degree of literacy uncommon among people of her race and class, says historian and author Carol Baxter.

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Mary Ann Bugg had developed relationships with and bore children with several different men. One such man was Fred Ward AKA Captain Mary Ann Bugg was one of two female bushrangers . she was known as the captains lady and the captain was captain thunderbolt aka fredrick ward. no one

Mary Ann Bugg was the eldest child of assigned convict James Bugg and his Aboriginal "wife" Charlotte and was born at the Australian Agricultural Company's Berrico outstation on 7 May 1834.[1] A further seven children were born in the aftermath, with her parents marrying in 1848.[2] Late in 1837

"This was a woman who had no place in society," she says.

"She was educated at a time when Aboriginal children weren't educated. You've got this child who's a mix of two worlds, neither of whom accept her."

This degree of European learning would help Mary Ann in her later encounters with the justice system — after she began bushranging with Thunderbolt.

Fights with police

One early brush with the law came while Mary Ann was heavily pregnant in 1865.

Police descended on Thunderbolt's camp, but instead found Mary Ann and two of her children.

The Native Mounted Police patrolled the colonial frontier from the late 1840s until the early 20th century.© ABC News The Native Mounted Police patrolled the colonial frontier from the late 1840s until the early 20th century. Instead of leaving quietly, Mary Ann taunted the police for their failure to capture Thunderbolt.

"[She] sprung like a tigress upon one of the police, ribboning his uniform, and taunting him with cowardice for seeking her apprehension instead of Thunderbolt's," according to a contemporary account in the Maitland Mercury.

In the face of Mary Ann's fury, the police had no choice but to leave her at a nearby station while they continued to hunt for the male bushranger — who later returned to rescue her.

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Bushranger Frederick Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt robbed in New England and north-western NSW in the 1860s with his part- aboriginal wife Mary Holding a contract from publishers Allen & Unwin for a book about bushranger Frederick Ward and his part- Aboriginal lover Mary Ann Bugg , I innocently

Limited Censored YouTube Video: Mary Ann Bugg - Australian female Bushranger (Published on Jan 10, 2019). Australian Meditations. Published on Jan 10, 2019. Aboriginal only meeting - Lidia Thorpe.

Two years later, Mary Ann was apprehended by police on charges of stealing 12 yards of fabric, which she claimed she bought at a nearby store.

Unable to present a witness or a receipt, she was sentenced to three months in jail.

Mary Ann wrote her own petition to the governor. Public support poured in, with one letter to the local newspaper referring to the arrest as a "gross injustice".

After further investigations, the inspector-general of police found Mary Ann had been "wrongfully convicted" and recommended her immediate release.

Life on a violent frontier

Mary Ann Bugg brought up her children at a time when the NSW government was enlisting Aboriginal trackers and troopers from Queensland to drive people off their traditional land and prepare the way for European settlement.

The organised squadrons were recruited from properties on the fringes, where hunger, disease and malnutrition stalked them.

Without any kinship connections, or sympathy for local clans, the strangers had a reputation for cruelty.

But not all relationships on this brutal frontier were based on exploitation and violence.

In an honours thesis about Mary Ann Bugg, Kali Bierens argues the bushranging pair were typical of the occasional collaborations between Aboriginal people and white settlers.

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There are three known female Australian Bushrangers : Mary Ann Bugg , a half Aboriginal who rode with Captain Thunderbolt; Mary Cockerill aka Black Mary , an Aboriginal who rode with Michael Howe; and Elizabeth Jessie Hickman who ran her own gang in the area which is now covered by the Wollemi

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Thunderbolt's relationship with Mary Ann meant he was included in Kamilaroi kinship obligations, Bierens writes, sharing his loot with local people.

In return, he was supplied with fresh horses, rations and shielded from detection in their country.

"Reciprocal relationships that developed between Aboriginal and settler Australians represent the essence of the Thunderbolt legend," Bierens writes.

Bierens argues that convicts, the landless poor and Aboriginal people identified strongly with the image of Thunderbolt as a hero of resistance, who gave voice to their shared struggle against a system of oppression and injustice.

But she believes these courageous Aboriginal figures have never been given the attention they deserve.

"Visitors to 'Thunderbolt Country' can [today] sample a Thunderbolt pie, indulge a glass of Thunderbolt's Shiraz, pose for a photograph at Thunderbolt's rock," Bierens writes.

"The spirit of Thunderbolt lives on in Uralla. However, it seems a pity that there is not recognition for the important role his Aboriginal wife played in the partnership."

Later years

Some retellings of the Thunderbolt legend hold that Mary Ann died a tragic death from pneumonia in 1867, and was mourned by Thunderbolt, who died three years later at Uralla, NSW.

An engraving from 1870 shows Constable Walker shooting Captain Thunderbolt in the chest.© ABC News An engraving from 1870 shows Constable Walker shooting Captain Thunderbolt in the chest. However, Carol Baxter says this is based on a misunderstanding of the primary sources.

Her research concludes it was another Aboriginal woman who died after being taken as a lover by Thunderbolt, and that Mary Ann actually outlived her famous partner by another 35 years.

According to Baxter, Mary Ann and Thunderbolt parted ways for good in 1867. In the decades afterwards, she gave birth to at least five more children, became a nurse, and married another man.

She may even have circulated the myth that she was Maori, concealing her heritage at a time when Aboriginal children were often removed to be raised on missions or reserves.

In Baxter's history, Mary Ann died at the age of 70 in Mudgee on April 22, 1905.

There are no statues or monuments to celebrate the role of Mary Ann or other Aboriginal people in keeping the bushranging legend alive.

"Mary Ann was someone who tried to fight for her own voice in a society that didn't want to give her a voice, a society that had no-one backing her up," Baxter says.

"She is one of the most unusual women of her time."

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