From the beginning of chapter 10 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace:
There was living at Somers Town at that time a little man named Jakobs.
He was a man of some character, albeit an unfortunate person with “something behind him.” The something behind him, however, had come short of a lagging. “Carpets” (three months’ hard labour) almost innumerable had fallen to his share, but a lagging had never come his way.
I met some obscure points in this second passage:-
Firstly I didn't get the meaning of "man of some character" as every one has a character already! Then I found by searching that "character" may mean "good reputation", but how can someone, who had received many sentences of hard labour, be a man of good reputation?!!
Does "something behind him" mean "he has a bad history"?