HAA007 MAIN: The "Egyptian" Boy - Benjamin Naden (1823 - 1882)

"Front of Newgate from the Old Bailey", British History Online www.british-history.ac.uk

"Front of Newgate from the Old Bailey", British History Online www.british-history.ac.uk

At the age of 14, Benjamin NADEN (alternatively spelt NADAN, NADIN) was tried in London's Central Criminal Court on 23 August 1838 [3]. According to the proceedings, it is possible that it was Benjamin's companion who stole the goods, but the fact that Benjamin also ran and was subsequently chased and caught resulted in him being implicated along with the other boy. This conviction and sentence now became a blot on Benjamin's seemingly otherwise clean record.

After that previous experience before the court and his sentence of a flogging, it is impossible to say what Benjamin must have been thinking when he was once again brought before the court and tried in the Central Criminal Court on 24 October 1838, only two months after his first conviction [4]. We have cause to wonder if he was telling the truth when he cried out, "It was not me--it was another boy."

Was it possible that Benjamin may not have actually carried out either of these offences? However, the witness testified he was "certain it was him" and Benjamin's fate was sealed.

The record of the second conviction proved extremely difficult to locate as Benjamin's family name was erroneously listed as "HAYDON" instead of NADEN.

Transported beyond the Seas

Benjamin was received from Newgate Prison on 10 Nov 1838 onto the Hulk, EURYALUS moored in the Thames. an entry was recorded in the Hulk Register [5]

Having served approximately five months on the Euryalus, Benjamin Naden was then transferred to the convict transport ship, Egyptian at Sheerness, which departed on the voyage to Van Dieman's Land on 5 Apr 1839 with 190 convicts, of which, 180 were boys [6].

Arrival in Van Dieman's Land

The Egyptian arrived in Van Dieman's Land on 19 Aug 1839 and after 136 days (one of the longest voyages that year). Having suffered much in gales they were, at last, discharged off the ship. 

A Convict Indent was drawn up and gave a comprehensive description of each for each boy [7].

For young Benjamin Naden, Van Dieman's Land was as far from the streets of London as it was possible to be.

A description was recorded in the Description Register for young Benjamin Naden [8]. Interestingly, he gave his 'Trade' as "Paperstainer", while the previous Hulk Register record stated he had no 'trade'.

Description Record, Benjamin Nadan [sic] No. 492, p.472 CON18-1-7 (TAHO)

Description Record, Benjamin Nadan [sic] No. 492, p.472 CON18-1-7 (TAHO)
Transcription: Name Nadan [sic] Benjamin;  No. 492;  Trade  Paperstainer London;  Height without shoes   4/7;  Age 14; Complexion  Sallow;  Head  Round;  Hair  Brown;  Whiskers   - ;  Visage  Oval;  Forehead  Med;  Eyebrows  Black; Eyes  Hazel;  Nose  Med;  Mouth  Med;  Chin  Med;  Remarks  Freck[le]s

According to Benjamin's Conduct record [9], no charges were recorded between his arrival on 19 Aug 1839 and 20 Jan 1842, that is, during the time he might still have been at Point Puer.

It is not entirely clear if Benjamin was originally sent to POINT PUER, although what looks like "P.Art" appears at the bottom of the page in the "Rationing" area on the Conduct record. Many other boys from the hulk Euryalus were sent there, so it might be safe to assume he was sent on to that institution.

In 1842 it is believed that Benjamin, now 17 years of age, had been transferred to New Town Farm barracks in Hobart Town. From January 1842 onward he had several appearances before the court and punishments.

Stephen Orr, gives an interesting snapshot on the arrivals of convict boys in Van Diemen's Land in his article, Lost Boys of Point Puer [10] :

"Five months later you and 100 other 10 to 14 year olds are lined up in the bleak southern capital and inspected by farmers and factory owners in search of free labour. It’s called the Assignment Scheme, but you’ve got another name for it. After a hellish journey, packed into a dark hold, fed on gruel and biscuits (just in case you were in any sort of condition) the Board has decided you are, after all, no good for coal mining, quarrying or building roads. So, it’s back to the barracks, and the thieves and murderers destined for the Port Arthur penal colony. By now you’re learning how to protect yourself from abuse, to obtain your share of food and water, to stay sane at an age when other children are playing with tin soldiers and paper windmills. Soon, you learn you’ll be sent to Point Puer Boys’ Prison. The name is muttered as some sort of omen, or warning, or damnation. You realise it doesn’t sound good."

Timeline for Benjamin

A timeline has been drawn up which lists the notable events in Benjamin Naden's life. 

A notation on the Conduct Register shows that he received a Ticket of Leave on 19th September 1844, and his Free Certificate "4 1/4" [fourth quarter?] of 1845. He was a convict for exactly 7 years.


It was on 25th September 1845 when 22 year old Benjamin sought permission and was approved to marry [11]. The following 4th February 1846 he married Mary Maginnis (ex ship Mary Ann) at St George's Church, Battery Point [12].

It is calculated that sometime in the following year they had son, Henry, and according to Henry's NSW death record, he was born in Hobart Town in about 1847. There has never been a record found of his birth in Tasmania and we are left wondering why this would be the case.

Departure from Van Diemen's Land

Benjamin Naden departed Launceston for Port Phillip per ship SWAN on 21 September 1848 [13].  Male passengers only were listed on this shipping record, but we assume Mary and their son Henry went with him.

Life in Victoria

Little is known of Benjamin Naden's life in Port Phillip. He and Mary had a daughter, Sophia, who was baptised at St Francis' Catholic Church, Melbourne on 21st May 1849. The parents were registered as Benjamin Needon [sic] and Mary McGinnis [sic]. [14]

Mary and Benjamin may have separated in this year, as we find that Mary remarried in 1856 in Geelong and her Condition is given as 'Widow 1849' [15].

Benjamin worked as a Bootmaker for himself in Flemington and also, it seems, for others but for Benjamin life is not without further brushes with the law:

Benjamin Naden brought before court charged with 'robbery in a dwelling house'. Mount Alexander Mail, Victoria, Friday 26 July 1861, page 4 (TROVE)

Benjamin Naden brought before court charged with 'robbery in a dwelling house'. Mount Alexander Mail, Victoria, Friday 26 July 1861, page 4 (TROVE)

His son, Henry Naden (aged about 13 at the time), is mentioned in the above newspaper article [16], so it seems that Benjamin still had his son with him at this stage, while Mary may be assumed to have had custory of their daughter, Sophia. 


Benjamin Naden died in the Benevolent Asylum, Hotham, Melbourne on 15th January 1882. Cause of death was "Paralysis Congestio Pulmonalis", which suggests a stroke. It is interesting that on this record there is no mention of his ever have been in Van Diemen's Land. He is recorded as being 'not married' and having no children. He was 59 years old and had been away from London and his family for 43 years. [17].

His story continues with his son, Henry, who became my 2x Great-Grandfather. Somehow, Henry Naden found his way to the far west of NSW and worked as a Stockman in the 1870s on a pastoral station that was 'beyond the limits of settlement' [18].