- Published: 02 September 2012 02 September 2012
Background to a crime
William Troden was one of the bushrangers jailed for the attack on Henry Aldridge and others.
In the record of William Troden's imprisonment on Queensland's St Helena Island held by the Queensland State Archives, there is an image of him (at right) as well as a description.
Troden was supposedly born in England in 1833 and arrived in the colony in 1868 on the Balaclava. He could read and write, had brown hair and dark eyes and was 5ft 4 3/4 ins (about 165cm) tall. Under special marks it is noted that he had tattooed on his left arm an ensign of a man and staff, with the words W.Troden on hip, and a flower pot. On his right arm was a woman and, in capital letters, RFPJMTKTST, a dog and bone and Brittania. He had cut mark on his right breast, mark on right hand finger and marks of flogging on back. His number on goal register was 481/75 and his portrait was taken on 1 December 1875. Prison history: Convicted Maryborough 28 September 1868 of highway robbery with arms. Sentence 20 years.
There are also some other notes difficult to decipher which include the words convict and Van D. Land and Pentridge, Victoria. This suggests Troden had previously served time in Pentridge Jail, Melbourne and was a convict to Van Dieman's Land (now known as Tasmania).
A search through the Pentridge records reveals no Troden or Trowden. Troden may not have been his real surname. There was no vessel named Balaclava arriving in Australia in 1868 that can be found in the record which again raises more questions about Troden's identity. As well, the battle of Balaclava was in 1868 which suggests Troden may have been making things up. Perhaps the clincher as to the veracity of the information Troden provided is the fact that he supposedly only arrived in Australia the same year he was convicted. How then was he a convict in Tasmania and in jail in Victoria?
In the 1849 ledger returns of convicts, there was a William Trowden who had arrived in Tasmania aboard the Surrey in 1842 and served a seven-year sentence after having been convicted in Preston, Lancashire, England.
In the public record there is found a William Troden who married an Elizabeth Blue at Forbes, New South Wales in 1862. And in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of 15 November 1924 on Page 20 there is a notice that reads: TRODEN Children and relatives of William Troden, goldminer, who was married to Elizabeth Blue at Forbes, NSW, in 1862 should communicate with Clayton Utz & Co, solicitors, 280 Castlereagh St, Sydney. Information from any source will be appreciated. See http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28072625
A search of census and birth records in the UK also fails to shed any light on Troden. There has been nothing yet found that confirms his identity.