Mary Ann Bugg (with Meg Foster)

This week, it’s a Foster duet as we’re joined by Dr. Meg Foster (no relation) to talk about Australia’s legacy of bushrangers, and her recent book Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers. If you don’t know who the bushrangers were, don’t worry, that’s the first thing Meg explains.

Our discussion focuses on Mary Ann Bugg, a mixed-race Worimi woman often left out or misrepresented in bushranger sagas.

Learn more about Meg and her work at

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Listen to the Patreon bushrangers super spectacular featuring Allison Epstein, here:–

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Vulgar History Podcast

Mary Ann Bugg (with Meg Foster)

November 15, 2023

Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. My name is Ann Foster, and this is a special episode that has been a long time coming, frankly. 

I’m going to set you back several months. Summer 2023, I was listening to the BBC History Extra podcast, which is an excellent podcast, they talk to authors about new books about history and things. What caught my attention was that their guest was someone named Dr. Meg Foster and I thought, Foster? That is also my last name. So, you know, just in a sort of Foster-to-Foster way I was like, well, let’s see what this is about. And what she was talking about was bushrangers, which at that point, I did not know what that word meant. But I listened to the episode, it was so fascinating. What bushrangers are, and we’re going to talk about this in-depth in the episode, but they’re basically bandits in colonial Australia. And not only that, but Meg, we’re going to call her Meg, Dr. Meg Foster, she’s a historian of banditry, that’s one of her credentials, which is just the most iconic thing I could ever imagine. If I had been told when I was a young history undergraduate student that you could specialize in banditry, my whole life might have changed. 

Anyway, Meg is on the podcast now but again, I said this was a long time coming so I listened to the episode I was like, this is fascinating. So, I bought a copy of Meg’s book, which is called Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers. Effectively, I reached out to the tits-out brigade to ask if there is anyone in Australia because I have some questions about bushrangers. What Meg’s book is doing is deconstructing the myth of bushranging and I was like, but what is the myth of bushranging? How have people in Australia traditionally been taught about this? So, someone named Kate, thank you so much, Kate, answered all my questions about bushrangers, Ned Kelly. Thank you so much, Kate, official Australia correspondent. I guess another thing I want to mention too is that I know there are a lot of Australian listeners, that’s been one of the groups who I hear feedback from pretty regularly, people asking, “Are you going to do someone from Australia?” And I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t found quite the right person, and then I read Meg’s book, Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers and one of the people in it is named Mary Ann Bugg and that’s who this episode is about. 

I’ll say that the book chapter, I was like, this isn’t quite enough for a whole episode, really. But I was so excited about bushrangers. Patrons will know, simultaneously and coincidentally, friend of the podcast, Allison Epstein was also really into bushrangers this past summer. So, Allison and I did a special Patreon podcast just basically talking about how much we love bushrangers. I got Allison to rank the different bushranger names because the names are great. We’re going to talk in this episode about Captain Thunderbolt, is one of them, there’s also Captain Moonlight. Incredible names. Anyway, I was just excited about bushrangers, I talked to Allison about bushrangers and then eventually I was like, well let’s just see what Meg is up to, maybe she’ll be able to come on this podcast and I was so excited that she was. I think my email to her was like, “I’m writing to you as a Foster to another Foster, do you want to do a Foster X Foster podcast?” Anyway, she did, it was the most complicated timing to figure out because the time difference from Saskatchewan, Canada to Australia is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, it all worked out, both of our internets worked, and it was great. 

And so, I mean, I don’t know, I feel like I’ve just given a lot of ado, so without further ado, this is my conversation with Meg Foster about Mary Ann Bugg but also, she really helps explain bushrangers and their cultural context in Australia so I can’t wait for you to hear this. It’s so exciting to me.  


Ann: So, I’m joined today by Meg Foster, no relation. Welcome, Meg.

Meg: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ann: I’m really excited to talk to you for all kinds of reasons but first, can we just talk about the fact that your last name is Foster, and my last name is Foster? You’re in Australia, where were your Fosters originally from? Was it Scotland?

Meg: My dad is actually a Kiwi so from New Zealand, but I think they emigrated from England at some point. Shamefully, I don’t know a lot about my family history that far back. I should probably know a little bit more than I do.

Ann: Mine is all sort of back and forth, Scotland, England, it’s all sort of conflated. But I feel like spiritually we have a connection because can you explain what your… The banditry, how do you have this degree in studying bandits? What is that? Explain that, please.

Meg: Yeah, yeah sure. Technically my PhD is in history, but yeah, the umbrella term is banditry studies, so looking basically at people who run away and live in the “wilderness.” We’ll talk a little bit about the fact that it’s not exactly wild, there are Indigenous people, but usually, it’s white guys who run away to live in the wilderness through the proceeds of crime, the idea being that there are no honest means to survive in the wilderness, so banditry usually involves robbery or burglary or housebreaking. But that’s the kind of criminal subset that I’m really interested in, particularly in the case of Australia. 

Ann: And your degree is in the history of banditry, is that right?

Meg: So, it was a PhD in bushrangers in Australia. So yes.

Ann: Oh my god. [laughs] A PhD in bushrangers! This kills me, this is great. [Meg laughs] If I had known these were possibilities when I was a young undergraduate choosing my major, the fact that you could… Anyway, that’s great. Go on.

Meg: Thank you, thank you. I mean, it’s something that I kind of fell into, I guess? But yes, so bushrangers are bandits that are particular to the Australian context. They’re national heroes in Australia which is something that’s quite unique to us; not many nations celebrate criminals as their national heroes, that’s quite distinct. But to Australians today, these bandits are seen to represent this kind of underdog rough form of justice, there’s this idea that they’re more just, more true than the authorities and their antiauthoritarianism are values that Australians like to believe that we hold as a country. But obviously, this tradition that we celebrate today has longer historical roots and those roots and the messy entanglements of, what are these white guys doing? Why did they become celebrated and where are people of colour in this story? That’s something that I’m particularly interested in.

Ann: I heard an interview you gave on the BBC History Extra podcast where you were talking about bushrangers and I was like, this is so interesting. So, then I got your book and was reading it and I was explaining this to anyone who would listen, [both chuckle] I was just like, “Did you know about bushrangers?” I was trying to explain it to my friends like, in Canada or the US, trying to explain how they were heroes and they’re kind of like the cowboy myth in America…? And then also, there’s sort of a Robinhood element, like in England. So, one of my friends was asking, “Oh! So, did they give to the poor?” I’m like, no, they took from the rich and they didn’t take from the poor but there wasn’t a benevolent aspect, they were just kind of like, badass guys doing what they needed to do. Is that right?

Meg: Yeah, yeah that’s right. Once again, it’s kind of important to disentangle the myth from the reality. A lot of these bushrangers would say they only rob from the rich or say that they treated women particularly well, whether they actually did or not was another story. But tapping on that Robinhood thing, obviously, Robinhood is still a cultural figure in the 19th century, in the 1800s, in the early Australian colonies, so it would actually serve a bushranger well to draw on these noble robbing outlaw traditions to try and get off the hook. So, if you’ve got a jury of your fellows there, you want to seem to be noble or fighting some type of moral battle as opposed to just a degenerate criminal out for their own good or to kind of advance their own interests. So, once again, that myth and reality is important. 

Particularly in the 1860s in Australia, there was an attempt to kind of make bushrangers seem like noble highwaymen. So, in the British context, this idea that there are these nobles down on their luck and they become highwaymen in Britain, that’s the myth. And so, in Australia, bushranging in that time, there are some unique elite bushrangers who draw on that tradition explicitly and say, “Actually, I am very chivalric and I’m very polite to women and I’d never rob a woman. If I robbed a poor man on the road, I’d give him back enough to go to the next station and catch a coach somewhere. I’d give back items of sentimental value.” You have hostages who are very well treated and who are kind of entertained so that’s another thing as well. So, there is an attempt to create somewhat of a mystique around bushranging in their own times and to draw on those international connections as well.

Ann: Can we talk about how and why and when these British and Irish white men started showing up in Australia?

Meg: Yeah. So, bushranging actually started with the colonization of the Australian colonies by the British in 1788. So, convicts from Britain were sent to Australia as punishment. The punishment was exile, essentially, and the idea was that there would be a colonial outpost that they were hoping would become self-sufficient and that’s how the country of Australia as we know it today, the European tradition, kind of came about. 

The first convicts very quickly escaped to live in the bush and there were quite a few reasons for that. In the early years, there were really big issues when it came to transporting goods to the other side of the world, so there was an issue with rations and some convicts ran away to try to actually hunt and get more food for themselves. But there is, very early on, this idea of freedom; freedom from tyranny, freedom from oversight by the colonial state, so that’s kind of some of the convict origins of bushranging. 

Our first bushranger was actually a 6-foot-tall African man named John Caesar, also known as Black Caesar, and that’s something that most Australians today don’t know. The kind of typical bushranger from the colonial period is a man named Bold Jack Donahue, also known as The Wild Colonial Boy, but he’s operating in the 1820s, well after Caesar is operating in the late 1700s. This origin point is quite interesting as a launchpad I think to look at well, if our first bushranger was a man of colour, why is it that Australians only know of and celebrate these white bushranging men? What is that about? And why is that the tradition that we hold? And why don’t the average Australians here know about these other people?

Ann: You’re here bringing all the expertise and I’m just remembering what I’ve read, basically from the book that you wrote. Because the whole bushranger myth really caught on around 1900, I want to say, when Australia was like, “Let’s have our own national identity.” So, just a couple decades after these people were being chased down by the authorities, suddenly they’re like, “Actually, those are our national heroes, let’s celebrate them.” So, they chose the white ones to celebrate because they were intentionally deciding, this will be our national identity… sort of thing?

Meg: Yeah, yeah exactly. So, my argument is that bushranging is meant to have ended in 1880 with the execution of the most famous bushranger in Australia called Ned Kelly, listeners might be familiar with his very distinct helmet that was actually made from a plough that was bashed into this very weird, almost knightly armour, very rectangular armour, very impractical, very heavy. He died in 1880 and then by 1900, 1901 actually, when the Australian colonies federated, there was this quest to actually ask, who are we as Australians, as a distinct colonial type? And there was this kind of push both to say, what is unique, but also, how do we connect ourselves to this broader masculine Anglo world? We still want to seem to be connected to Britain in some type of way but instead of like a parent-child relationship, more of a relationship of equals or the child has grown up, type thing. 

So, these bushrangers become really handy because they show this kind of manly, masculine strength. They also kind of naturalize a white settler presence, so the idea that these men could be at home in the bush, they could use the bush to their own ends, makes them seem like they’ve earned their place there and they belong in the Australian context. And it also, very nicely obscures the fact that this is dispossession, this settlement, this country is founded on the dispossession of First Nations peoples who had been in Australia for tens of thousands of years before 1788 when the white convicts came. 

So, it’s a very handy national mythology. And that distance between when real bushrangers were threatening real people, taking livestock, taking goods, and not being as discerning as the myth makes out in terms of who they were robbing, enough time had passed for people to put on their rose-tinted glasses and to just celebrate and lean into the heroic narrative and forget those messy, sticky details that really show that bushrangers could be villains as much as they could have heroic qualities as well.

Ann: Things you say and things that I read in your book as well just keep making connections in my mind between the American cowboys and the bushrangers. Part of what you just said a minute ago too was cowboys were originally, I think, mostly Black people and the original Lone Ranger was a Black sheriff and then the myth became of white people and Hollywood really expanded on that. It seems like a similar thing in this as well. 

So, this brings us to your book Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers. You’ve got, I think there are five distinct people who you profile, is that right?

Meg: Four individuals, four people.

Ann: Yeah. So, how did you come to choose which people you were going to profile for this book? 

Meg: Yeah, it wasn’t a conscious choice at the very beginning. I was trying to find as many other people, so women and people of colour, who’d been excluded from this tradition as possible. But the four I ended up writing about in the book were really the four that I had the greatest archival trace on. So, although white criminal men were obviously denigrated by the authorities and the well-to-do classes of society, we have way more about their lives, these white bushrangers, even if it came to these political arguments, well, how do we prevent other white men becoming bushrangers? Well, let’s look at their upbringing, let’s look at their education, let’s look at these push factors that may have led them into crime. But for these people of colour who I look at, there are none of these stories about their origins, there’s no real interest in them before they start engaging in crime and a lot of that is very heavily racialized because they’re believed to be degenerate or to be naturally predisposed to crime because of their race. 

So, it was really difficult to piece together the lives of these people. And so, the people in the book were the ones I could find the most material on. Even then, it took me a decade to actually create the book and write it properly because I didn’t just want to look at each of these people through colonial eyes, I didn’t want to just see them the way that white colonists saw them as these colonial boogiemen, in some instances, or as these nefarious criminals. I wanted to see them as people and I wanted to try to recreate, as closely as possible, what they saw their own world, what they saw their own actions in relation to. So, that took a very long time. So, that’s another reason why there are only four individuals and the ones in the book are the way they are. Also, narratively, it becomes quite handy because of the trajectory of when they operate, I can look at a broader span of Australian history by looking at that chronology of how each individual’s life story intersects with these broader trends in Australian and global history in general. So, it was quite handy in that way as well.

Ann: So, you outlined these four different, specific individuals in your book and the one that I wanted to focus on in our discussion today, for many reasons, one of which is that this is ostensibly a women’s history podcast, although I talk about all kinds of people at this point. Mary Ann Bugg, I think her story is so… What you were talking about, just Australian history but also everything that her story has to do with the role of Aboriginal people, it gets into the status of Māori people, it’s quite expansive. Clearly, the research you did here, talking to some of her descendants, but also, she was in court a lot so I would imagine the court case records would be useful. So, could you set up… Well, maybe first what people might know about her and then we can kind of dive into the research you did to explain the real story.

Meg: Yeah, yeah thank you. So, Mary Ann Bugg is most famous in Australia today for being the partner of a white male bushranger called Captain Thunderbolt, very extravagant name. So, in some depictions of his story, she’s kind of like a loyal sidekick, someone in the background wanting to help out but never a protagonist in the narrative, always on the sidelines. There’s one particular myth that she’s meant to have swum across Sydney Harbour to try to liberate Thunderbolt from prison at one point, that’s actually a myth [laughs] even though it seems quite extravagant. My point is that even by looking at that myth, she’s still only interesting in our story because she’s helping her white male partner who is the main guy, the main one we’re focused on. 

Her story is way more interesting than these kinds of myths and legends really lead us to believe. So, she was born in the 1830s to an Aboriginal Worimi woman mother and a white convict father and she’s actually incredibly well educated. Her father saves up money to send her to Sydney to be educated when she’s younger. She marries quite young and has a couple of partners before she actually meets this guy, Captain Thunderbolt, whose real name is Frederick Ward and she goes on the run with him and she goes on the run with him with their children, she’s also heavily pregnant while on the run from the police as well and she’s… She’s a massive badass. She’s not afraid to speak her mind or to push back, both physically and vocally, against the structures that are trying to oppress her. 

At one point, where I open the chapter, she’s heavily pregnant and she’s being caught with these stolen goods in her possession. Thunderbolt has left the camp and she and her children are there and caught by the police and she refuses to go quietly. She taunts the police, she calls them cowards for taking her in and not looking for Thunderbolt, and at one point, while heavily pregnant, she’s meant to have leaped off a horse and ripped an officer’s shirt to ribbons. She’s also very savvy and willing to use whatever she has at her disposal to survive. You can really see this in this story where she is heavily pregnant and claims to be going into labour partway through when the police have caught them, you know, “Contractions have started, you have to leave me.” So, they leave her at a nearby station and the police go away on the hunt for the main bushrangers again. Lo and behold, as soon as the police leave, the contractions miraculously stop and she’s able to escape. I love that story because it does speak to something of her character and her ingenuity and her incredible will to survive in these very oppressive conditions in colonial Australia.

Ann: Can you talk too about, you mentioned her parents. So, just the context in which an Aboriginal woman and white man would have married was… I was just relooking at this chapter of your book; you were saying there weren’t a lot of white women in Australia because it was white male convicts being sent there. So, if men wanted to get married, if they wanted a female partner, it was going to be someone Aboriginal but then there were laws and things set up to discourage that. Can you talk about that side of things?

Meg: Yeah, yeah of course. So, the gender imbalance from the early colonies stayed well into the middle of the 19th century, so there were way more white men than there were white women. There was kind of this tacit agreement that it was okay for a white man to have an Aboriginal partner as long as that Aboriginal female partner wasn’t recognized through the legally binding and moral and spiritual connection that marriage was meant to bring. 

So, the foundations of the colony, New South Wales in particular, there’s a real kind of murkiness around what these relationships between white convict men and Aboriginal women looked like. In some instances, there does appear to have been coercion, women were stolen, and they were assaulted. But in other instances, there appear to have been real loving relationships between the two. In some instances as well, if we look at Aboriginal cultural practice, we can see that a lot of groups, including the one that Mary Ann Bugg’s mother was from, the Worimi, had a diplomatic practice where if a newcomer comes into your area, one way to incorporate them into your community into your group as kin, is to send an Aboriginal woman, almost as a diplomat, to establish relations with the highest man in that group and then once they’ve had, kind of, sexual connections and forged this relationship not only are they part of the aboriginal group, but they have responsibilities to that group as well in terms of providing for the community. We can see that James Bugg, Mary Ann Bugg’s convict father, actually did provide for the community; he gave them food from the stores when he was an overseer of the Australian Agricultural Company. This background context of these very intricate relationships between white men and Aboriginal women.

But the frontier context is also a really important one. At the same time, you also have very fierce resistance by Aboriginal people to try to reclaim their land from the newcomers as well. This also seems to have formed a part of Mary Ann’s early life. When she was one year old, her father was attacked by a group of Aboriginal people, it doesn’t appear to be her Aboriginal kin, it seems to be another Aboriginal group, but her mother actually discharged a gun at the assailants and saved her husband from being killed, essentially. In some previous stories in this myth about Mary Ann’s life said, “Aboriginal mother chose the white people over her own people.” But if you look at the material, and as I go into in the book, there’s actually more evidence that this is a different Aboriginal group or that this may actually have been an instance of Aboriginal men trying to claim back Aboriginal women when they were frequently being taken or coerced or enticed to be with white men and these strong Aboriginal kinship networks and family networks had been really impacted and thrown into, not a state of disarray, but definitely not as strong and in a state of flux where it’s quite a tumultuous time in Aboriginal communities in that respect as well.

Ann: I like the information you give in your book about her mother Charlotte because you just see, if Mary Ann was growing up and her mother was the sort of person who whips out a firearm to, you know, when they’re being attacked, she’s growing up seeing that women are equal partners or at least that women are fearsome, they’re not just sitting there hiding. They’re taking a stance and that’s very much what Mary Ann grows up to be like.

Meg: Completely, completely. That’s something that’s been completely excluded from any type of story about her before. The idea is that if she thinks about bushranging or resistance at all, it will be through being partnered to a white bushranger, that’s her frame of reference. It’s like well, no, there’s actually a long, very deep-rooted tradition of Aboriginal resistance fighting and also this family tradition as well of her mother actually saving her father and potentially even protecting Mary Ann as a baby herself from being attacked or injured in some type of way. 

So, I think it’s really important to expand our frame of reference and this is where looking at someone’s entire life instead of just this little snippet where they encounter the law or where there are colonial court records, et cetera, that’s when we start to get this really rich and nuanced picture about these people as individuals and get to see those broader connections that would otherwise remain hidden.

Ann: I’m just looking at the part of your book where you’re talking about that stuff. From the Aboriginal perspective, this mode of resistance… So, as a Canadian person who had never heard of bushrangers until six months ago, it seems to me that perhaps the myth that was presented was these white convicts came in, the Aboriginal people were taken by surprise, and it was the white bushrangers who were the great rebels doing these things. Where actually, the Aboriginal people, there was resistance from them as well and that seems to be not as talked about. Is that sort of correct?

Meg: Yeah, completely. I mean, in Australian bushranging tradition today, Aboriginal people are not really thought of at all or if they are, they’re thought of as maybe trackers who were assisting white policemen hunt white bushrangers down. But it’s actually incredibly intertwined and complicated. If we go back to that early convict history in particular, there were real concerns that Aboriginal resistance fighting was going to intersect or combine with white bushrangers at one point. There’s an instance, actually Mary Ann Bugg’s family’s instance of frontier warfare that I just outlined where Charlotte discharges this gun, it’s not the only Aboriginal resistance fighting in the area. There are actually several more properties around there that are compromised and where white men were actually killed by Aboriginal resistance fighters. 

But white colonists refused to believe that Aboriginal people were intelligent enough or capable enough to come up with such a coordinated lightning strike. So, this myth started circulating that it was actually a white bushranger who was leading these Aboriginal people and getting them to commit these types of crimes. There is absolutely no evidence to support this, that there was a white bushranger that was telling Aboriginal people what to do, the idea being that Aboriginal people were too unintelligent or were dupes, all these racist tropes around them. But there was a real concern by the colonial authorities that both white bushrangers and Aboriginal resistance fighters were going to undermine the foundations of the colony. 

Because when you think about it, you’ve got this outpost on the complete other side of the world from Britain, communication takes months between them, you’ve got these little pockets of white settlement but on this seemingly boundless Aboriginal country, and aboriginal people strike with lightning speed, they’re known for the raids on goods and houses in particular. And so, some of these tactics that are associated with white bushrangers, so lightning raids, taking goods, taking guns as well, are things that Aboriginal people did as well as a form of resistance fighting. So, they’re both threats to the authorities. 

But I make a very conscious effort in my book to only look at Mary Ann Bugg and the other Aboriginal bushranger, Jimmy Governor, who was operating in 1900, I choose them and look at them as bushrangers because this is the 1860s when Mary Ann is on the run from the law, frontier warfare is meant to have ceased in New South Wales by that time, and these are both two individuals who make active claims or have an active connections with white bushranging as we think of it today. What I really don’t want to do is look back with my white colonial term of bushranging and say, “All these Aboriginal people in the early period of the colony, what we’re calling resistance fighting, that was actually bushranging.” You can’t just use a colonial label and whack it on, especially because that diminishes and undercuts the fact that this is resistance fighting, this is pushback for colonization, this is an attempt to stop dispossession and we need to see it on those types of terms. It’s warfare.

Ann: Yeah, it really reminds me just of what I’ve read about Canadian history where I live, but also in American history when it’s been filtered down through the white people who founded these countries. So, they describe what the Indigenous people are doing in a way that serves the narrative that they want people to believe.

Meg: Completely. 

Ann: And from what you’re describing, the modern concept of Australia is a pretty recent country so they kind of, out of whole cloth, they sort of invented, “Here’s our national identity and here’s how things have been.” So, the fact that they were building up the bushranger myth so quickly after it had happened. But also, at the time when bushrangers were doing their thing, white bushrangers, the Aboriginal people were being kind of like, “Oh yeah, but they’re not really doing it.” The fact that writing said, “Oh, they were all following a white man,” it was rewriting history as it was happening which is so obvious looking at it now but at the time, they were just building a narrative and people bought into it, I guess.

Meg: Also keeping in mind that these are the types of sources that we have left. What we have first is that white narrative, what we have first is that illusion or overshadowing of any alternate possibilities and it’s very easy to read primary documents and think, “Oh okay, there was a white bushranger who was leading Aboriginal people in resistance, in these kinds of attacks.” But then it’s up to us as historians to actually be critical and go back and look at the evidence and try not to take this material for granted. Just because we have written documents, does not mean that what they describe is true. We need to actually look at them against a whole swathe of material, including in some instances Aboriginal oral histories and other types of sources that were discounted by earlier groups of historians. So, I think that’s part of this rereading and this re-understanding is being very critical about the sources, being aware that there will be absences and there will be silences and we can’t take any of these narratives for granted.

Ann: And then we get into… So, Mary Ann Bugg ends up arrested and she’s arrested for vagrancy, is that what the initial…?

Meg: Yes.

Ann: There’s so much context around that. Can you explain the whole thing about Aboriginal people versus white people and who is a vagrant and who is not? Can you explain that whole messy thing?

Meg: Yeah. It’s super interesting. So, for anyone who is listening and is interested in legal history, there’s a whole thing there. Vagrancy was a very common public order offence at the time. Essentially, if you can’t prove that you have a fixed place of residence and a fixed form of income, you can be charged as a vagrant. But interestingly, in New South Wales there was a particular clause that discounts Aboriginal people from being vagrants, the idea being that they can’t be punished for, “living as their ancestors have lived.” The idea being that Aboriginal people are naturally nomadic, they move from place to place, they’re itinerant, and so you can’t stop or punish Aboriginal people for this. So, obviously that in itself is quite loaded, the discourse around that. You’ve got these so-called or self-described benevolent white men being like, “We’re not going to punish Aboriginal people for this,” but Mary Ann is convicted of vagrancy and there’s this whole debate as to whether she has actually been, “civilized,” and if she has been, “civilized” and I put this in very heavy air quotes.

Ann: She is, I’m witnessing the air quotes.

Meg: Yes. [both laugh] If she has been appropriately “civilized” then the vagrancy act can apply to her because she’s not living as her ancestors have lived, she’s been “lifted up” out of that state of primordial Aboriginal tradition – once again, very heavy on this being a colonial view – that would mean that she’s entitled to be convicted under this particular act. There’s a huge discourse around this. There are people talking about the fact that she has actually been educated, so the convicting magistrate presents documents higher up the food chain to the Attorney General saying, “I know her father, I know she has actually been sent to Sydney to be educated,” and she’s actually more educated than a lot of colonial white men at this stage too. 

One of the concerns about the bushranging outbreak of the 1860s by white bushranging men is that one of the reasons they’re committing bushranging is that there aren’t a lot of schools in these rural areas, they don’t have a lot of education or religious instruction. So, she’s actually an outlier. There’s evidence she actually taught her partner, Captain Thunderbolt, to at least write his name because when he was previously imprisoned on Cockatoo Island, he just signed “X” for his name. But after his time with Mary Ann, he actually can sign his whole name. 

Anyway, back to the story about vagrancy, there are these very stark debates: is she civilized enough? Is she just a poor pitiable Aboriginal woman who has been oppressed by this law that’s not meant to apply to her? In the end, she’s released. She’s actually released on a legal technicality, but the newspapers still referred to it in terms of this racial discourse: is she civilized enough or is she just an Aboriginal woman in her natural state? Meanwhile, she slips between the cracks, she gets out and it’s unclear whether she’s aware of this discourse, but it is clear that she’s not going to wait on ceremony to find out why she’s released. She goes straight back on the run again and meets up with Thunderbolt.

Ann: And there was a thing when she was arrested too, she was claiming to be his wife, or she was using his last name, not Thunderbolt, tragically, his actual last name which was Ward. Can you explain that decision and why she might have done that in that instance?

Meg: Yeah, so I should foreground by saying there’s no evidence she and Frederick Ward ever married but she said they were married by a travelling minister. So, there’s this kind of plausible deniability there in that there were travelling ministers and actually trying to consolidate a lot of colonial paperwork back in that day was quite difficult. So, it was kind of a plausible story that she may have been married. 

Now, looking back at the archives, she does not appear to have been married but it was a very handy and useful strategy because it legitimized her relationship with Ward, for one thing. So, it made her appear as someone who is entitled to his support and that was her defence against this vagrancy charge. She’s not a vagrant as her husband keeps her. So, like all good women, good wives, she wasn’t expected to go out and fend for herself if her husband provided for her through the proceeds of crime, that was his doing, that was his crime, but she was being provided for by her husband. So, it legitimizes their relationship. 

As we were talking before about marriage and the politics of marriage in Aboriginal people and white people in colonial Australia, it also makes it appear that their relationship is not just something that is casual. It is not something that can kind of be cast aside or looked over by white colonists because she’s using a white frame of reference, this frame of marriage, to actually legitimize that relationship. As you motioned to before, her white convict father petitioned the church in Australia for about seven years to be allowed to marry her Aboriginal mother. So, Charlotte and James Bugg were eventually married but even then, there’s this discourse around well, is this Aboriginal person “civilized” enough to enter into the sacred state of marriage, do they know enough about the church? And so, she’s very aware of the politics of marriage and using it as a very savvy strategy when you’re trying to get off a vagrancy charge.

Ann: She’s back on the run, if we’re looking at this chronologically, she finds Thunderbolt again. Can you talk a bit about the thing, she invented or there was some sort of way she did horse sealing, or I forget what it was… But she had some sort of spear or something that she used?

Meg: Oh, she’s meant to have hamstrung cattle. So, she’s meant to have dressed in men’s pants, which obviously… And sorry, I don’t know whether American/Canadian listeners it’s the same. I know in the UK “pants” means underwear. I don’t mean underwear, I mean trousers, I should say.

Ann: No, “pants” is a word we use on this podcast a lot. A lot of the women I’ve profiled end up wearing pants. When I got to that part of Mary Ann Bugg’s story I was like, “I have to talk about her on the podcast because she’s wearing pants!”

Meg: [laughs] I mean, incredibly practical right, when you’re riding around in the bush trying to evade the authorities, it’s a lot easier to ride astride and to wear men’s pants than it is to ride side saddle in a huge skirt. So, she’s meant to have worn men’s pants and hamstrung cattle so she’s meant to have had a sheer blade tied to a spear to have ridden up behind these cattle and cut part of the thigh so that they couldn’t walk anymore and to stop them from running away and then prepared the meat accordingly. 

This is also brought before the court as well. This is used to say, I guess, to try to undermine the respectable persona that Mary Ann is trying to present before the court, of her as this poor, pitiable woman who is just a loyal wife. The arresting officer says that she dressed in men’s pants, she’s hamstrung cattle and she volunteered this information when she’s been captured as well. It seems in terms of berating the police, she may have gone a little bit too far in this respect because it came back to bite her. But she resists these charges, she said that she didn’t wear men’s pants of hamstring cattle, but we do have other sources that support this story. 

It seems that once again, she’s very aware of her audience, she’s very aware of when she has to maintain this respectable public persona and it wasn’t going to fly to own up to either of those things when facing the court and trying to get off a charge for vagrancy.

Ann: I love that she was let out on a technicality and the way you described it it’s like, she was let out and was like, “Great, I’m just going to go find my guy, take my six children and hit the road,” which she did. And she found them.

Meg: Completely.

Ann: And so, then there’s this myth of her death, can you explain? For a long time, people thought that she died shortly after this.

Meg: Yeah, so in 1867, under the alias, Yellow Long, also known as Louisa Mason, she’s meant to have died in the bush. This lends a kind of tragic element to the Thunderbolt myth, the idea being that he’s lost his lady love and therefore he goes even more headlong straight into crime because he’s got nothing left to lose. That’s completely not true. [laughs] But I should say that it’s a very enduring myth. I’ve given public talks in Australia and people always bring it up, the instance of her death in ’67, it was so sad and so tragic. But it never happened! There was another person called Louisa Mason who died under these circumstances. 

Mary Ann seems to have left Ward willingly after this time. She actually goes on to start a whole other family, she gets married, she has other children and she’s actually reunited with this partner called John Burrows and she’s actually previously had a child with Burrows. So, this is more of a reunion than the beginning of a new relationship. Burrows is actually her longest partner, and she actually ends up living until the age of 70, she dies after 1900, so 1905. She’s a woman who was a nurse, who has owned property, who has had over ten children, she’s had a lot of children to different partners. But Burrows is her most enduring relationship, most children produced to him but also her longest love, if we can look at it through that lens through the record. He’s the one who she’s actually built a life with, and he’s completely erased from this myth about her life. 

The other thing that’s very interesting about the end of her life is not just the fact that she was able to fade from public view after being so notorious, after being in the newspapers, after being on the radar of the police and the authorities, the fact she was actually able to slide from public awareness actually shows a great deal of strength and ingenuity and that in itself is something to be celebrated, especially as an Aboriginal woman at this time. 

The other element that’s really interesting is that on her death certificate, it actually says that she’s Māori and she’s from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. This was shocking to me because she’s someone who is renowned for her Aboriginal heritage in her own time, and it seems that one of her children actually is the notary on the death certificate, so they’re the ones who put down this Māori ancestry. But way back in the 1860s, there are a couple of newspaper articles that seem to mention Māori heritage, so it seems like it’s something that’s a legend, a myth that was started by Mary Ann in her own lifetime. And then, of course, my next question is why? [laughs] Why would someone claim that? I think there have been some, I guess, insinuations that she was trying to completely distance herself from her Aboriginality. But once again we need to look at context, we need to look at what’s happening at that time. 

So, on the one hand, Māori had always been viewed in higher esteem in white colonists’ eyes in Australia than Aboriginal people. Although obviously, Māori were still colonized by the British, they seemed to be a warlike people, they had forms of agriculture that the British could easily identify, they had forms of hierarchy and group structure that mapped onto more closely what the British were expecting when it came to those types of things; there were designated chiefs for example. So, Māori had always been viewed in a higher esteem than Aboriginal people who were seen to be the lowest of the low and that’s also later in the 1860s, when we get into, more heavy racial discourse. They’re seen as the lowest rung on the evolutionary ladder, the closest to primordial man as existed. This is obviously incredibly racist and not true. One reason she may have claimed Māori ancestry is to try to have that higher esteem, to use the pigmentation of her skin that you can’t deny but to shape that, to change that and tap into this broader understanding of Māori as higher. But more importantly, I argue, is actually what is happening to Aboriginal people at this time in terms of government intervention. 

So, the longer colonization goes on, the more the colonial government intervenes in Aboriginal people’s lives. They try to control them and at the end of Mary Ann Bugg’s life, we have the beginning of what would be known as the Stolen Generations where white authorities basically gave themselves the power to tear Aboriginal children from their families, especially if they were of mixed ancestry, and to put them in institutions under the guise of civilizing them and lifting them up but of course, they were only ever educated to be domestic servants if you’re a girl or farmhands if you were a boy. These institutions are now widely recognized to have been places of immense abuse, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. 

So, by actually shifting the narrative around her own ancestry in her own lifetime and claiming to be Māori, Mary Ann Bugg actually protected her family from being stolen. She protected them from that level of surveillance and intervention that other Aboriginal people had at this time. This wasn’t something that was Mary Ann alone, there were other Aboriginal people, especially if they had lighter skin or had mixed ancestry, who had made similar claims to not have Aboriginal ancestry and to kind of put that ancestry somewhere else in order to try and protect their freedom essentially, their independence, and their humanity from being eroded or compromised by the colonial state.

Ann: That was all… I didn’t know about the different status of Māori people versus the various Aboriginal groups in Australia and that’s so fascinating and so weird and it really shows how artificial these constructs are.

Meg: Completely. 

Ann: Yeah. Anyway, so again, as you were saying, everything she’s done, it shows such a savviness. She really sees what’s going on and she knows how to… It’s like, I’m going to present myself as a married woman, she just kind of knows how to survive and how to do right by her children and descendants and was successful in that. Considering everything going on in her life, she lived to a pretty decent, old-adjacent age, I would say.

Meg: Completely, completely. I mean, I think her story really encourages us to rethink how we imagine success. Especially when we think of banditry, success is you get away with the booty, you get away with the goods. There are even these legends about people like Thunderbolt who are not meant to have been killed, he was killed in 1870. But there’s a group of people today who believe that Frederick Ward, Captain Thunderbolt, escaped and got away to America and started this new life. There’s no evidence for that. But here, you’ve got Mary Ann Bugg who did get away from that life, who did live to the end of her long days, but in a kind of obscurity and anonymity that actually speaks to the success of her life and her incredible survival skills. I think we really need to rethink how we define success because actually by flying under the radar, that’s how she was able to truly live.

Ann: I think it’s admirable, just for the people who I profile on this podcast, I’ve talked about a lot of criminals and whatever, and it’s rare and kind of nice when you hear about somebody– There was the Chinese female pirate, often called Ching Shih, and she took a deal with the government and retired and allegedly ran, I forget, a brothel or something, into her old age and was just like, “I’m good.” And I thought that’s the goal! Not to keep being thrown into jail time after time your whole life. To be able to fade into the background, that shows how good, how talented Mary Ann Bugg was.

Meg: Completely. 

Ann: To be so notorious and then just fade away, seemingly.

Meg: Yeah, exactly. Make it appear to be fading away but actually make very active steps to carve a space and a life for herself and her family that she wanted.

Ann: And maybe it doesn’t make as exciting, you know, a movie or something but it makes a much more satisfying life story I would say.

Meg: I agree.

Ann: I didn’t warn you about this at all but because we’ve talked about Mary Ann Bugg so much, I think we need to… I have a scale that I judge people on for my podcast and I’d love to have your input to include her in that. So, there are four categories and they’re all judged from 0 to 10 of how much you think this is represented in her story. The first category is Scandaliciousness, how scandalous… [laughs]

Meg: Her life story or her story on the run?

Ann: I think the most Scandaliciousness she had was when she was on the run. So, on the run, in court, the highest level she would have reached at all would have been what, you think?

Meg: She was pretty notorious so, 9… and a half. [laughs]

Ann: 9.5, sure. A half is always fine. The next category is her Scheminess. So, that’s not just “Ha-ha, I’m making a scheme,” but resourcefulness, cleverness, being able to pivot.

Meg: Oh, 10. 11. [both laugh] 11 out of 10.

Ann: More, if possible, yeah. The next one might be more challenging. The reason I have this scale, and they’re all measuring different sorts of things because especially in women’s history there are different people who are remarkable in different ways. The next one is Significance. I’ll let you interpret that as you will. So, there are some people who are so scandalous for a time and then they’re forgotten about. When you’re looking at somebody like Cleopatra or somebody who like, to world history, great significance. But I also look at people where it’s like, her descendants turned out to be this important Prime Minister or whatever.

Meg: Yeah, I mean that’s interesting. I would say that she has not had her due when it comes to actually looking at the significance of her life, even the significance when it comes to descendants. She has so many descendants today because she had so many children. But also, in terms of, I think you can actually use her story to understand so much about Aboriginal people and settler colonization and banditry and crime. In that sense, I think she’s incredibly significant. In terms of that rationale, I would give her a 10. [laughs] And also noting my personal bias because I think she’s incredible.

Ann: Yeah, I think that’s really important too. The longer I do this podcast… I always do this scale because I set up this scale and you can’t change the scale partway through. But yeah, things like significance are hard to quantify for somebody who is not a queen of whatever, it’s like, well what is the significance of a person? I like how you described it: she has so much significance that has yet to be fully celebrated.

Meg: Mm-hm. And significance doesn’t mean universal recognition. If anything, you can be significant, like bringing back hidden figures like the ones I do in my book is part of being like, actually, these people are and were significant and the reason they’ve been forgotten is not because they weren’t important, quite the contrary. So yeah, that’s kind of where I sit in relation to that point. 

Ann: So, the next one, and in the context of her story I’m curious what you’re going to say. The last category is what I call the Sexism Bonus. This is when I’m telling a story about someone who was a queen of whatever and then her husband locked her up in a tower for 25 years because he thought she had an affair or something. That would be a 10 on the Sexism scale, that got in her way in a real way. How much did sexism hold her back? I feel like, and with her story, there is so much racism and classism, but I feel like not a lot held her back actually.

Meg: Yeah, I think if anything, she uses the sexist standards of the time to her own advantage when it suits her. Leaning into ideas of like, fragile femininity or “I need to be provided for or protected,” or whatever. 

Ann: Or like, “Oh no, I’m giving birth!” [laughs]

Meg: Exactly, exactly. She actually uses that as a weapon where otherwise it could have been an obstacle. So yeah, the evidence we have I would say pretty low. Not because there wasn’t sexism but because she actually repurposed it. 

Ann: Yeah, which people and that’s always fun when they do.

Meg: So, maybe a… 4?

Ann: Sure. So, let me just add this up, real quickly. So, 33.5 is her total score. 

Meg: Okay.

Ann: Which, I mean, I don’t know… I’m just seeing where she lands on this score. That’s just outside the top 10 of people I’ve ever done.

Meg: Wow!

Ann: Anything above 30 is always respectable. I’m trying to see if there’s anyone… Oh, I mentioned the Chinese pirate Zheng Yi Sao AKA Ching Shih, she has a 35. So, Mary Ann Bugg is just slightly below her; two people who like, had a comfortable retirement. I love this for her, I love this high score because yeah, honestly, thank you so much for going through that with me. I read your book and I was like, oh, I really want to talk about her on the podcast but I’m not personally able to.

Meg: No, thank you. Thank you for letting me share her story. As many people as I can I think should hear it.

Ann: Can you quickly, you know, everyone should read your book obviously, but who are the other three people who you profile in your book?

Meg: Yeah, so the book opens with the life of a man known as Black Douglas, his real name was William Douglas, and he’s actually African American. Yeah, I won’t give too much away about his story. Then we have Sam Poo who is a Chinese bushranger from the Fu Chien province of China. And then finally, apart from Mary Ann, we also have another First Nations bushranger called Jimmy Governor who operated around 1900. So, as we know from the context, he’s operating at a time when bushranging is meant to have ended and when the national bushranging legend is starting to really come about so his story is very interesting for the fact it kind of messies up those really nice, neat periodizations I was talking about before.

Ann: Also, I do want to clarify, you mentioned that William Douglas was African American, and I want to contextualize that you’re not just saying that he was Black. He was from Philadelphia. He was literally American. I just want to clarify so people know that’s literally what you mean.

Meg: Yeah, yeah. So, there’s a bit of American history in the book as well. Once again, interesting, I start from the Australian perspective, and he’s known as this colonial boogie man in the 1850s in Victoria. No one cares about where he came from, no one cares about his origins. He’s just known as Black and that’s enough but obviously, there’s a very specific heritage that he has and a very specific journey he went on to even get to the Australian colonies to begin with. So, yeah, shameless plug, read my book to find out.

Ann: Exactly. And I do also want to mention Sam Poo, who is from China. I was just like, oh! Of course, people would have gone from China or any Asian country to Australia, in terms of proximity, that makes sense. But I’ve just never heard of a historical Chinese person in Australia, that’s not something I’ve ever encountered.

Meg: Yeah, that also goes around the whole white Australia myth as well. The colonists did not want these people from Asia coming to Australia. They actively, one of the reasons we federated, to the great shame of our nation, is because Australians wanted to control immigration to make it white because the British kept saying that people from India and China in particular should be allowed in and white colonists were like, “Nope, we need to federate.” One of our first laws was an immigration restriction act. That’s something that a lot of Australians today think, oh Chinese miners came over in the Gold Rush, that was it. But there was a longer history of Chinese immigration and Sam Poo’s story really taps into that as well. There’s an indentured labour story that links to the end of the convict period and that’s something that I hope to bring into the mainstream discussion about Australia’s relationship to Asia.

Ann: And so, your book, Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers. I want to say that I was able to get a copy of it in Canada, so clearly, it’s been published in other countries, not just in Australia.

Meg: Yes, yes. There are world distribution rights. On paper at least, every country should have a distributor and they make some copies to order as well in places where there isn’t a direct license. So yeah, it should be accessible.

Ann: Which is good. For me, everything I know about Australian history is largely from this/the Heath Ledger movie about Ned Kelly so… [laughs]

Meg: Mm-hm. [laughs] I was going to bring that up before. I feel like that’s what a lot of Australians know about Australian history in terms of bushranging history, they think Ned Kelly, Heath Ledger, or Mick Jagger actually played Ned Kelly in the ‘70s. So yeah, longer history of hotties playing Ned Kelly, but I think that’s an extra podcast.

Ann: Oh, I already did that podcast. I did a movie review of Ned Kelly on my Patreon. I think I read when I was watching that movie that one of the first movies made in Australia like a silent movie, a silent short, was about Ned Kelly, I think.

Meg: It was actually the first major motion picture in the world. It’s not just Australia, it’s globally, it was the first full major motion picture was The True History of the Kelly Gang

Ann: So, to me, that’s so recent to when they were running around to be like, “Actually, these guys were heroes.” The turnaround was really shockingly quick from, like, executing him to being like, “Actually, he was a hero.”

Meg: Yeah, I mean there were very quick attempts to censor material as well. So, there’s a very big concern on the part of the authorities to be like, “We don’t want to celebrate these guys and condone crime and make out like everything is fine. We don’t want the common people to relate to this.” And so, there were attempts to shut that down very quickly after Ned Kelly was executed, his sister actually created a play about the gang and their life and she plays herself, surprisingly. That got shut down, the censorship reasons, to try and stop celebrating crime. So, there are definite government attempts to intervene and to quash that sentiment, but it obviously endured into the present day. 

Ann: Into, this is mentioned in your book, and I love it as a detail, the Sydney Olympics opening ceremonies, there were a bunch of people in costume as Ned Kelly, dancing or something. [chuckles]

Meg: Yeah, with guns blazing, basically fireworks coming out of these huge guns. So, yeah, this is another very interesting element of the whole bushranger mythology is for something that was previously an anti-authoritarianism, grassroots, underground hero cultural product, it’s now been legitimized and chosen by the authorities, by the government, to represent the entire nation to the world in something like an Olympic Games opening ceremony. So, you could say it’s come full circle from being decidedly criminal and the authorities are aghast to being wholly accepted and embraced as a symbol of the nation at large.

Ann: I have one more question for you that’s an Australia-based question. This episode is going to be coming out on or around Halloween, which I believe is not a major holiday in Australia, but you do have various fancy-dress things and people wear costumes to school for various reasons. Is it true that children would dress as Ned Kelly with just cardboard paper armour helmets? Is that something you’ve seen?

Meg: Oh, definitely. People dress as Ned Kelly all the time for all sorts of reasons, including incredibly obscure ones like for athletics carnivals. You know, people might dress up in a gorilla costume for something, people dress up in Ned Kelly costumes. But there are also die-hard fans who will get together and dress up in Ned Kelly costumes. I recently went to a regional museum in New South Wales where a local blacksmith had made his own replica Ned Kelly armour. So yeah, all the way from school children through to adults, there are varying degrees of Ned Kelly armour so it’s pretty omnipresent. If you come to Australia, you will see that iconography, whether it be on a bumper sticker, mailbox, someone dressing up, the tourist trade, liquors, plays… Yeah, it’s pretty… everywhere.

Ann: Yeah. Anyway, that’s a whole other discussion for another day, Ned Kelly himself. 

So, your book is available and if people want to keep up with what you’re doing, are you on social media at all or do you have a website you want to share?

Meg: I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be on Twitter/X considering the way it’s going but I do have a Twitter at the moment, it’s @MFoster_History and I can be found by googling Meg Foster but put in “historian” because there’s an actor from the ‘80s who is also called Meg Foster who you might get confused by. That’s not me. And yeah, I’ll try and keep posted that way. I’m thinking of creating a website, but we’ll see how that goes.

Ann: Perfect. Thank you so, so much for talking with me on this episode. I was really looking forward to this and it lived up to all my expectations.

Meg: Oh, thank you. That’s very sweet. Thank you for having me.


So, Meg’s book Boundary Crossers: The Hidden History of Australia’s Other Bushrangers is available all over the place. I was able to get it in Canada, I’m sure you can get it in other places as well. I have a little link in the show notes if you want to buy it from When you buy stuff from there, a little bit of money kicks back to help support this podcast. I do also want to say that since we recorded this past summer, Meg is commencing a post as Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the University of Technology in Sydney in 2024. So, she’s just, like, killing it, going around talking about bandits all over Australia and you love to see it! As a Foster, I love to see other Fosters thriving in this way. 

Other things to talk about that we usually talk about at the end of all the episodes. As I mentioned, people in Australia have been reaching out asking me to please do a person from Australia. I’m so happy to finally have been able to do it in this comprehensive way and I was really happy also that it was an Indigenous Australian person who we were able to talk about. If you have suggestions of people who you’d like for me to talk about on this podcast or if you’re from a country– because I said a long time ago that I want to do at least one episode from each country where there’s a member of the tits-out brigade. So, if you’re from a country that has not yet had an episode, let me know that too. You can reach out to me at, there’s a little message contact form, or you can also email me directly, I’m also on Instagram and Threads @VulgarHistoryPod where my DMs are open, you can also message me that way. 

If you want to support the podcast with merch, if you’re thinking of holiday gift-giving or whatever… If you go to you can see all of our, honestly, iconic and also ridiculous merch. We’ve got John Knox saying, “Whooores!” We’ve got the Renaissance Reformation Girl Squad, Mary Shelley Goth Queen Mom Friend, just so many phrases from the show, basically all of which were suggestions from you all that you would like to see as merch. Anyway, you can get that there. There are sales going on constantly. If you go to that site and there’s not a sale, wait a day and there will probably be a sale. But I always try to update my Instagram Stories when there is a new sale. If you’re outside the US, like in Australia, and you want to get merch, a better option is at Redbubble, so, the shipping is a bit better from that site. 

You can also support this podcast on Patreon, I mentioned before that Allison and I did an episode just gushing about how much we love bushrangers. Allison ranked all their names. So, if you want to support the Patreon you get access to these bonus episodes, so if you pledge at least $5 or more a month. Or honestly, if you just want to listen to that episode, you can log on, find that episode and do a 7-day free trial and hear it. So, you can support the podcast for as little as $1 a month, and for $1 a month you get early, ad-free access to all episodes. It’s at that $5 or more per month that you get bonus content: the after show, So This Asshole, Vulgarpiece Theatre, where we have discussed, because Allison and I had a bushrangers era this summer, we got Lana also to watch the movie Ned Kelly starring Heath Ledger. And what else do I say? 

Also, if you want to join the Patreon, you can also join for free, there’s a free membership option now and what you can do with that is join the Book Club, which is where we’ve been talking about Let the Dead Bury the Dead by Allison Epstein, which, there are no bushrangers in that book but it’s a great book. This week actually, I was just double-checking when you’re listening to this because, you know, I’ve got to make sure I’m saying the right dates. So, you’re listening to this in the middle of November, this upcoming Saturday I’m going to be recording live with Allison where I’m going to be talking with her about the book and asking questions, my own questions, but also your questions. There’s a post there in the where you can leave your questions for Ask Allison Anything, AAA. And yeah, the discussions will always be open. If you want to come in and look at any of the book club posts and talk about this amazing book, Let the Dead Bury the Dead by Allison Epstein, join the book club at 

There are transcripts available of this podcast available at and they’re kind of going from the newest ones backwards. So, if you like to read your podcasts, if you want to cite this podcast in your history university course or whatever, that’s where you can find them. These are done by Aveline Malek from The Wordary, thank you so much to Aveline and to The Wordary for providing these transcripts.

I do also want to remind you about our brand partner, Common Era Jewellery, which is a 100% woman-owned small business using recycled gold and makes their pieces to order. Why I partnered up with them is because they have a collection called The Difficult Women Collection which is basically tits-out people like Boudica, Cleopatra, Agrippina, and Anne Boleyn, as well as mythological figures like Medusa, which I have the Medusa necklace and Aphrodite. So, their pieces are available in gold and silver but also in gold vermeil, which is a more affordable option. Anyway, the Anne Boleyn pendant, I’ve been waiting, and I will let you know the instant that I know that it’s ready but later this month, Anne Boleyn is going to be available in gold vermeil. If you want to get some of the pieces from Common Era Jewellery, just go to or use code VULGAR at checkout for 15% off. 

Honestly, I’m so excited I got to talk about bushrangers finally. Mary Ann Bugg, iconic, We Stan. And I’m really happy to have this connection now with the Australian listeners, who have been waiting for a long time for an Australia-based episode. I want to say to people from other countries, I do have stuff on the way, coming up in the next little while like New Zealand, I see you, Ireland. Anyway, lots of other places. So, if you have a suggestion or request of who you’d like to hear talked about on this podcast, let me know!

Until next time everybody, keep your pants on and your tits out! 

Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster and edited by Cristina Lumague.

Transcribed by Aveline Malek at



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