William Henry Roden


DEATH OF BIRMINGHAM POLICE CONSTABLE

William Henry RODEN was born in 1846 at 141 Camden Street. His parents were William RODEN, a boot and shoe maker from Coleshill, and Martha LOVETT from Sutton Coldfield. In 1851 the family lived on the Hagley Road and in 1869 William married Sarah BONSOR of Baginton at the Parish Church of North Harborne. William then worked as an omnibus conductor.

In May of 1872 William joined the Birmingham Police Force as a 3rd class police constable, warrant number 4698. He rose quickly through the ranks and by December 1882 was promoted to 1st class long service at 30 shillings per week and in October 1886 was awarded 3 stripes of merit for general efficiency. His collar number was now R32 and he worked in the hackney office where records were kept of all Birmingham hansom cab drivers and where their licenses were purchased. His position as Assistant Cab Inspector was one of trust. William's police record was almost 100% with no serious discipline incidents.

William and Sarah and their seven children lived at 5 Bellis Street. On Whit Tuesday, 23 May 1893 William left for duty at 8:20am as usual and returned home for his dinner at 1:30pm and left again 15 minutes later. By 2:00pm he was chatting with Inspector Frank JARRETT of the Explosives Department outside the police offices on Moore Street. Along came DC Elijah TINGLE who was invited by William to have a friendly bout with the boxing gloves. (Apparently it was not unusual to have boxing gloves at police stations to develop the muscular powers of the officers.) In the course of this encounter William stepped back to avoid a blow, missed his footing and fell against the wall. He laughed as he got up and wanted to continue but Tingle declined to do so as William's nose appeared to be bleeding slightly. Later in the afternoon he felt unwell and went home but as he stepped off the bus he caught his foot on the curb and fell on his side. He was assisted home at around 3:30pm by an unknown young man.

He did not tell Sarah what had happened, only that he had had a fall. He went back to work later that night and worked regularly until 2 June. On the Friday of the week of the fall William saw the Divisional Police Surgeon, Dr. J.T.J. MORRISON, but did not tell him about the accident, only that he felt unwell. When the doctor saw him again on 5 June, William was advised to go into hospital but Sarah would not let him go. William's sister, Martha Cliff RODEN, was a trained nurse and took care of him. He died, aged 46, on 9 June of brain hemorrhage and at the post-mortem and inquest it was discovered that 12 years previously he had been assaulted and his head injured badly which probably contributed to his death. The verdict was accidental death.

However the story does not end there, for on the day of the funeral, Sunday 13 June, the Police Band, with the usual number of Officers and Constables, was ordered to report to Superintendent LILLIS at Ladywood Station at 1:45pm and proceed to the house of the deceased and thence to the cemetery at Warstone Lane.

The funeral procession included Deputy Chief Constable WILCOX, Superintendents BEARD and LILLIS, a large number of other officers as well as about 100 constables. Several firemen also took part in the march from Bellis Street along Monument Road and Hagley Road to the cemetery. It must have been a remarkable sight as a feature of the procession was the long string of more than 100 cabs driven by the cabmen of the city by whom William was greatly respected. William Henry RODEN was buried in The Church of England Cemetery at Warstone Lane, public grave number B 1647.