I am cheating here, but all I know of this lady is what I’ve read on other web pages and I don’t see any point in regurgitating what other people have said better.
Of the many web pages about Mary Ann, the Wikipedia article does seem the most comprehensive. Although the best thing to read would be The Captain’s Lady: Mary Ann Bugg written by Kali Bierens as an Honours thesis.
To add some content to my post, this is from Charles White’s “History of Australian Bushranging, Volume 2”
One person knew all his secrets, sympathised in all his troubles, sheltered him, watched for him, and proved a faithful friend. That person was a woman, and it is questionable if ever bushranger had a ‘mate’ more serviceable or more devoted.
‘Thunderbolt’ had a long reign, and during five or six years his name was kept prominently before the public, while his person was eagerly sought after by the police of the district chiefly infested by him. He was a terror to the mailmen of the North, and, sometimes alone, sometimes in company with others, ‘stuck up’ the drivers, rifled the mailbags, robbed the passengers, and then leisurely decamped. His paramour did not accompany him in his raids, but was generally near at hand in some secure camp, to which ‘Thunderbolt’ would resort when hard pressed by the police or in want of provisions. She was an intelligent, pleasantlooking half caste, able to read and write fairly well, and more refined in her speech than many of her European sisters, having been carefully trained in her younger days. At one time she was in the habit of riding about in man’s attire, collecting horses or information, procuring supplies, or doing any other odd jobs which it would be unsafe for her comrade to engage in. It was by her means and through her indefatigable exertions that ‘Thunderbolt’ was enabled for so long a time to evade capture; and although the police arrested her on a charge of vagrancy, nothing could be proved against her, and she was released, again to serve the master whose critical fortunes she had elected to follow.
On more than one occasion, when hard pressed for food in some lonely retreat in the bush, and when a visit to any settler’s house or wayside store would have furnished a clue as to the hiding place, she was known to hamstring a young calf (using a sharp shear blade fastened to the end of a long stick for the purpose), cut up the carcase, and carry the meat to the ‘camp.’ During a portion of the time she had several children with her, but towards the latter part of 1866 she went ‘down the country’ and left all but one, the youngest, with some of ‘Thunderbolt’s’ friends. She proved faithful to her hunted paramour to the last, and, as will be seen farther on, ‘Thunderbolt’ proved faithful to her, inasmuch as at great personal risk he found for her a comfortable resting place in which she could breathe her last.
[skip a few pages]
Towards the end of 1867 ‘Thunderbolt’ made his appearance at the house of a settler on the Goulburn River, near Muswellbrook, and told the woman of the house a story which at once aroused her pity. His faithful mistress was sick unto death, and he desired to secure for her a little comfort during her declining hours. He had nursed her for some time in their secret camp; but the rough life which she had been compelled to lead and the constant anxious look out which she had kept had undermined her health, and she was slowly dying. Would Mrs. Bradford take pity on her, admit her to the shelter of the house, and permit her to breath her last beneath a roof? It would not be safe for him to attempt to bring the woman to the house, but he would describe the place so that it could be easily found if Mrs. Bradford would agree to perform this act of charity; otherwise, he would seek aid from the clergyman (Rev. Mr. White), who happened to be in the neighbourhood, and ask him to report her condition to the police, and have her attended to, for he must leave the district, which was getting too warm for him, at once.
Mrs. Bradford readily consented to do as ‘Thunderbolt’ desired, and herself proceeded to the spot described by him, and found the poor halfcaste woman lying helpless and speechless in an extemporised camp near a cave on the mountain side, sheltered from the sun’s rays by some boughs. Without delay a cart was procured, and ‘Yellow Long’ – that was the name by which she was commonly known – was slowly carried to Mrs. Bradford’s house.
‘Thunderbolt’ had stated correctly that she could not live many hours. It was seen that she was dying, and while one messenger went to inform the police another was despatched for the clergyman. The latter arrived shortly before the woman died, and the police immediately afterwards. It was only natural, of course, that ‘Thunderbolt’ should seek aid and shelter for his faithful paramour in her dire extremity, and it was not less natural that he should desire for her decent burial after death. Yet, in comparison with some of the early bushrangers, he was singular in this respect. The reader may remember how Michael Howe turned upon the woman who had served him so faithfully and in cold blood shot her down when she was running by his side endeavouring to escape from the police. The sick woman must have been a constant source of danger to ‘Thunderbolt’ during the month preceding her death, yet he tended her carefully until all hope of recovery had fled, and did not scruple to reveal his hiding place in order to secure for her an easy death bed. When the police subsequently visited the camp they found one of the bushranger’s horses tied up near the place; but the bushranger himself had disappeared, and search for him proved fruitless.
(There is some debate–see the two links above–about whether the woman referred to the last bit is actually Mary Ann, or whether they’d had a fallen out and he’d taken another woman, but the general opinion seems to be it was.)
(I have ONE song that mentions Thunderbolt, guess what the mp3 player just gave me?)
And now, unless there is someone I have overlooked, I shall head south to see what I can do with someone who is possibly the most interesting but has had relatively little attention. (And no, not Kate.)