Thomas Coward

Thomas Coward

Tom Coward and Inspector Hunt.

Born on 7 July 1834 Thomas Coward arrived in South Australia on the Fairlie in 1840 and at various times lived in Melbourne, America and Queensland. While in Queensland he became Goldfields Warden on the Normandy River and at Byerstown in 1875 and Emu Creek in 1876.

Coward, like Alexander Tolmer, took part in three gold escorts between Mount Alexander and Adelaide.

Later, while reminiscing Coward said that their weapons were muzzle loading carbines, swords and holster pistols. For maximum security they would sleep during the night on top of the gold. They would make an early start for the last part of the trip to Adelaide, which went through ‘a sandy scrub, a God forsaken country without a drink of water until we got to dear old Langhorne’s Creek’. The publican there ‘must have been very short of eggs after we had left’, he said, ‘as they used to chase the fowls until they laid’.

After they had delivered the gold they would sit on the grass and hand over any letters they might have had from the diggers. Many of the women were almost wild with delight at receiving a line from their husbands, brothers, sons or lovers. There was often considerable difficulty in deciphering the names on the envelopes. ‘We had carried them so long in bad weather that the writing was almost obliterated, but bless your heart, the women could make it out.

Then when we got back to the diggings, I have seen a man with a shepherd’s pannikin three parts full of gold telling a trooper to help himself to a nugget because he had brought him a letter from his wife’. After his promotion, Corporal Coward took part in P.E. Warburton’s exploration party in 1858 and also accompanied John McDouall Stuart on one of his earlier expeditions. In 1859 Lance Corporal Coward was posted to Angepena Police Station. Coward Springs, on the Oodnadatta Track was named after him. Coward died in 1905.

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