Background to a crime

William Troden was one of the bushrangers jailed in 1868 for the attack on Henry Aldridge and others near Gympie in Queensland.

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 as well as a description (See bigger image at end of article).



William, aka Podgy, Troden.

Troden was supposedly born in England in 1833 and arrived in the colony in 1868 on the Balclutha. He was a miner who 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 a cut mark on his right breast, mark on right hand finger and marks of flogging on his back.

His number on the 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 (possibly).

This suggests Troden had previously served time in Pentridge Jail, Melbourne, and was a convict in Van Dieman's Land (now known as Tasmania).

Doubts on his name

A search through the Pentridge records reveals no Troden or Trowden. 

Neither can I find any record that the Balclutha was either a convict ship or an immigrant ship. It certainly was a passenger and goods vessel that went to various ports throughout Australia.

Another element to the confusing information attached to Troden's record 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 as suggested by the notes on his record?

It's likely that Troden came to Queensland on the Balcutha, which is why that vessel's name is on his record.

Convict past?

My best guess is that Troden did come to Australia on a convict ship. But he's not found in the convict records, so the real truth about him remains unearthed.

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.

Given Troden was supposedly born around 1833, is it likely that a nine-year-old would receive such a severe punishment? 

There is no way of knowing whether this is the same Troden who ended up in a Queensland jail.

Highway robbery

But it's certain that the man known as Troden who was convicted in 1868 was known as a bushranger as The Sunday Mail newspaper reported in 1939.

However, that report is somewhat inaccurate in that it attributes Troden and Blake's conviction to holding up a coach.

The article suggests that Troden and Blake held up a number of coaches and were involved in gun battles. It seems they may have been the ruffians mentioned in this and other reports.

Possible marriage



1924 newspaper notice.

Also in the public record there is found a William Troden who married an Elizabeth Blue at Forbes, New South Wales in 1862.

And inThe 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-article218717058

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.

FOOTNOTE:  At least one other person has written about Troden and Blake more recently. This report is very similar to my 2008 article Bushrangers at Imbil.



William Troden's prison record.



The second page of Troden's record that shows his conviction.