Preview: The Liam Peters Collection


Seven (7) previously unpublished photographs by Thomas J.Nevin or pertaining to Thomas J. Nevin’s photography from the 1870s were scanned and submitted to this weblog by private collector Liam Peters in December 2010. The brief descriptions below of each item will be expanded into an article for each photograph within the next few months.


1. A hand coloured vignetted portrait of a bearded man in semi-profile which is printed verso with the rare Nevin & Smith stamp bearing the Duke of Edinburgh’s feathered insignia (1868).

2. A cdv of the cottage built by Thomas’ father John Nevin which overlooked the Derwent River and adjoined the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (the house or its former site is currently located at or next to the address 270 Lenah Valley Road). The verso bears the handwritten transcription “T.J. Nevin Photo” and dates to ca. 1868 when John Nevin published his poem “My Cottage in the Wilderness” and Thomas J. Nevin submitted this photograph to the Wellington Park Exhibition.

Continue reading

Categories: Kangaroo Valley Hobart, Liam Peters Collection, Private Collections | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the patent slip 1855

Despite the large number of ships docking at the port of Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) from the beginning of the 1800s to the 1850s, whether bringing convicted criminals under sentence of transportation, or merchandise for the settler population, there was no patent slip where ships via South America and South Africa could safely be repaired after such long voyages of four months or even longer. Captain Edward Goldsmith used the patent slip at Sydney Cove NSW on return voyages from Hobart to London via Sydney for the repair of his ships during the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s. While on an extended stay with the Parrock Hall from London to Sydney in November 1844, departing January 1845, he drew up a proposal for a patent slip at Hobart to be presented to the colony’s governor Sir William Denison who reviewed it in 1849, and suggested it would best be situated behind the Commissariat Stores, the site now part of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Historic Precinct.

State Library of NSW
Patent slip belonging to the Australian Steam Navigation Co.[Sydney]
Digital Order Number: a353001
Creator Garling, Frederick, 1806-1873
Date of Work ca. 1859-1871
Call Number DGD 3
Presented by Sir William Dixson, 1951

The patent slip at Sydney was used by Hobart ship owners the Maning Brothers for coppering and repairs. F. A. Maning was a neighbour of Captain Goldsmith’s at Davey Street, Hobart. His conversion and non-return of a diving apparatus belonging to Captain Goldsmith for the salvage operation on the wreck of the Catherine Sharer in 1855 ended up in a Supreme Court trial.

“She was coppered and thoroughly repaired at the patent slip at Sydney about two years ago.

Sale of the Lord Hobart by the Maning Brothers
The Hobart Courier Hobart 25th October 1848


Arrival of Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip
Sydney Morning Herald 13 December 1849


The New Patent Slip has been brought out by Captain Goldsmith of the Rattler. It is capable of heaving a steamer of 1000 tons burthen, or vessel of 800 tons. Hobart Town Courier

Contractors for Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip
Colonial Times 29 July 1851


Tenders will be received at the counting house of the undersigned, until 12 o’clock on Friday, 1st August, for the works necessary in laying down a Patent Slip in the Government Domain.
Plans, specifications, and all necessary particulars, may be learnt on application to
Davey-street, July 4, 1851

This diagram shows the original shoreline, now the TMAG Historic Precinct. The site next to Numbers 1, 2 and 3, the Commissariat Store, the Bond Store, Courtyard and Water Gate, behind the Commissariat Treasury were considered to be the ideal site for a patent slip by the Governor, Sir Wm Denison in 1849. However, by 1851, with difficulties associated with modifications to the Old Wharf, the patent slip was relocated to the Queen’s Domain, on the foreshore of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

TMAG Information board nailed to  the ground

Information board and Commissariat Store, TMAG Historic Precinct
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr

Sir John Franklin’s nephew, William Porden Kay, was appointed to redesign the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1842. The intention was to include areas for public enjoyment beyond the purely economic and scientific purposes the gardens already served. He was the Director of Public Works in 1855 when he wrote the Report on Captain Goldsmith’s Patent Slip. The Report covers the years 1849 to 1855, from the first date of Captain Goldsmith’s proposal of a patent slip, to Captain Goldsmith’s receipt of timber in November 1854 on condition work started on the slip within six months. The report details the frustrations, delays, obstacles, objections and unreasonable conditions placed on Captain Goldsmith prior to his sale of his interest to the McGregor brothers..

William Porden Kay1842
Royal Botanical Gardens, Hobart Tasmania
Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

MAPS of the Port of Hobart 1839 & 1854

Hobart and Domain 1839 (TAHO Collection)

Hobart Van Diemen’s Land 1854
Frankland’s Map, dedicated to Sir Wm Denison (TAHO Collection)

on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by Wm Porden KAY

State Library of  NSW
Title: Report on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by the Director of Public Works, 1855
Creator: Kay, William Porden
Date of Work: 1855
TRANSCRIPTS and Photos Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr

Page 1:


Patent Slip
In 1849 Capt Goldsmith proposed the importation of a patent slip, and requested that a piece of ground might be allotted to him on which to place it. Sir Wm Denison in reply expressed himself so fully committed of the advantage that could accrue to the Colony by the erection of a patent slip for repairing vessels trading to the port, as to be willing to do every thing in his power to further so desirable an object, and suggested a site at the back of the Commissariat Treasury, to which Capt Goldsmith agreed.
The terms on which this was to be granted were, 1st the ground to be leased to -

Page 2:


to Capt Goldsmith for 66 or 99 years at a nominal unit of 1/- per annum; 2nd that the patent slip should be erected thereon of sufficient dimensions for vessels between 600 and 700 tons; 3rd the Governor furthermore offered to fill in the ground to the required height, provide and drive the necessary piles and grant the loan of a diving Bell on Capt Goldsmith’s undertaking that all vessels belonging to the British Navy, to the Local Government or the Convict Dept., should be allowed the  use of the Slip, at one half the charge to other vessels of equal tonnage.
In February 1849 Capt Goldsmith expressed his acquiescence in these terms and, in December 1849 reported the arrival of the Slip,

Page 3:


and again acquiesced on the conditions above mentioned, requesting that the Land fixed upon might be at once leased to him.
In January 1850 the Director of Public Works furnished a list of the piles required, with a statement of what their cost would be to the Government, including driving them and the filling in required, as previously agreed to be done by the Government, amounting to £1016.19.0. and in the same month a plan for the piling was arranged between the Director of Public Works and Capt Goldsmith, and submitted to the Lieut. Governor.
This having been approved, Capt Goldsmith was informed /in Feby 1850/ that the Government would at once commence driving the

Page 4:


the piles, but would not be bound to do so within a specified time.
The Director of Public Works was shortly afterwards /in May 1850/ directed to remove a portion of the Commissariat Wharf to make room for the Slip, and the Deputy Commissiary General was apprised that such had been done.
Between this period and January 1851, some negotiation took place as to a change of site considered necessary by the objections made by the Commissariat to their wharf being interfered with and by the works which His Excellency at that time contemplated for the formation of a dock behind the Commissariat. Capt Goldsmith was consequently compelled

Page 5:


compelled to seek elsewhere for a suitable site, and in January 1851 submitted a plan of one in the Domain which the Lieut Govenor agreed should be given up for the purpose, and ordered to be marked out, authorising Capt Goldsmith to occupy it until a Lease could be prepared.
On this being reported performed [sic ?] by the Director of Public Works, in February 1851, Capt Goldsmith stated his readiness at once to commence the work and submitted a tender which he had received for driving the piles, and as the Government, on a former occasion had agreed to perform this work for him, he requested that timber to the amount of the tender £325 might be given to him in lieu of such assistance. This

Page 6:


This proposition His Excellency would not at first entertain on the grounds that the stipulated assistance could be given to Capt Goldsmith at a much cheaper rate by the Government driving the piles themselves.
It however appeared on further consideration that the quantity of timber required by Capt Goldsmith would cost the Government only about £120, and they would be relieved from all responsibility as to the stability of work work executed by them. It was therefore on the 26. March 1851, agreed that the piles and timber, about 5000 cubic feet, should be given to Capt Goldsmith, as an equivalent for the non performance of every condition promised by the Government except the

Page 7:


the loan of the Diving Bell.
About this time also Capt Goldsmith again applied for a lease of the ground and in June 1851 submitted a draft lease of the allotment in question, which was referred for the opinion of the Director of Public Works and the Law Officers of the Crown. From the latter it appeared that various legal difficulties stood in the way of the execution of the lease, and here the subject appears to have dropped until October 1852, when Capt Goldsmith again applied for his lease, on which it was determined to nominate by Act of Council, some person as the Lessor of Crown Lands, who would then be in a position to grant the Lease in question

Page 8:


This decision was communicated to Capt Goldsmith in November 1852, informing him that in the mean time, he would be undisturbed in his possession as heretofore.
In October 1853 intimation was given to Capt Goldsmith that the Officers above named had been appointed and that the Lease could be at once executed, and on the 20 January 1854, the Crown Solicitor forwarded a counterpart of a lease which had been executed, and on which Capt Goldsmith was bound to complete the work by a certain period.
On the 9th November Capt Goldsmith applied for 12 months’ extension of this time on the following grounds. 1st that had His Excellency’s

Page 9:


Excellency’s intention to drive the piles for the Slip at the back of the Commissariat without delay as stated in the Col Scys letter of February 1850 been carried out, Capt Goldsmith’s part of the agreement could have been then at once commenced and completed before the discovery of gold in the adjacent Colonies had caused the enormous rise in the price of wages and materials which then took place.
2ndly the unavoidable delay which took place in the supply of the timber stipulated to be contributed by the Govt. 3rdly the failure of the parties with whom Capt Goldsmith had entered into the Contract for driving the piles, to complete such Contract, on the

Pages 10 and 11:

TRANSCRIPT Pages 10 and 11

ground of the delay in supplying the timber and the consequent measured rate of wages. And lastly the long period of uncertainty as to the lease of the site which to a certain extent prevented his entering into an other contract. Two very severe attacks of illness and family afflictions further contributed to retard Capt Goldsmith’s operation, and under the circumstances, his request was acceded to, on the Condition that the work should be commenced within six months of that date by Nov. 14th 1854.
The stipulated quantity of timber has now been supplied to Capt Goldsmith and his receipt for the same filed in the Office of Public Works,

TRANSCRIPTS and PHOTOS Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr

State Library of NSW
Title Report on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by the Director of Public Works, 1855
Creator Kay, William Porden
Date of Work 1855
Type of MaterialTextual 
Records Call Number Ak 12 
Physical Description 1 folder of textual material (12 pages)
Administrative / Biographical Note
Master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) worked in Van Diemen’s land from 1830 to 1856 before returning to England.General 
Keyword subjects:
Maritime Names Goldsmith, Edward, 1804-1869
Subject Shipbuilding — Australia
Place Hobart (Tas.)

Failure of trust had marked Captain Goldsmith’s experiences with Hobartonians since the year of departure of his good friend, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane Franklin in 1843. Sir William Denison, the Colony’s governor in 1849 was most enthusiastic about Captain Goldsmith’s plans for a patent slip, but the government’s refusal to recompense him fully for expenses in building the twin steamer the Kangaroo, had already led to major disappointment. The final insult came with the government not meeting their own terms of agreement in promising assistance to build the patent slip.

Then there was the Supreme Court trial in July 1855 with his neighbour, Mr. F. A. Maning over his neglect to return Captain Goldsmith’s diving apparatus imported at the beginning of 1855. Personal tragedy also beset him:  his eldest son Richard Sydney Goldsmith, a clerk at the Union Bank, died of fever in August 1854, Hobart, aged 24 yrs. Even though Captain Goldsmith was absent for at least eight months of every year, departing London around August in the northern summer, arriving in Sydney and Hobart in summer in November, commanding fast traders, barques and brigs such as the Wave, the Janet Izzat, the Louisa and his finest, the Rattler, the local authorities in VDL unfairly expected his continuous and devoted attention to the construction of the patent slip despite the obstacles they placed in its execution.

By November 1855, and despite the all the admiration bestowed upon him over two decades for enriching the colony with the import and export of plants, livestock, agriculture, engineering and luxury items for its wealthy settlers, Captain Goldsmith began the process of selling up all property. His disillusionment with the Colony was considerable; losses both personal and financial could never and would never be compensated. He departed Hobart for London with his wife and only surviving son Edward Goldsmith jnr in February 1856, settling back at Gad’s Hill, Higham, Kent as a neighbour of Charles Dickens . His ties to his wife Elizabeth’s family in Hobart, however, remained strong. In his will on his death (1869), he bequeathed property in Kent to his nieces Mary Sophia Day and her sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, wife of photographer Thomas J. Nevin, daughters of his brother-in-law Captain James Day, his First Mate and Navigator on voyages to VDL during the 1830s and 1840s.

Notice of Captain Goldsmith’s sale at the slip, Hobart Courier, 12th November 1855.


12th November 1855
Unreserved Clearing Sale of the well selected and thoroughly seasoned Gum, Planking, Knees, Treenails, English Pine Spars, Yards, Cut Deals, Huon Pine in Logs; also Pitch, New Ten-ton Launch, Punts, &c, &c,, at the Yard of Captain Goldsmith, Government Domain.

Without doubt, the major factor in Captain Goldsmith’s decision to leave Tasmania permanently was considerable monies owing to him by the Government for the construction of the twin ferry, the Kangaroo, and the reneging of agreements concerning the site location and lease, supply of timber and driving of piles for the patent slip. From late December through to February 1856, the colonial newspapers in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane made it known that the contractor, Captain Goldsmith, was paid in small amounts totalling less than £1000 in cash, plus £256 in timber, while his own outlay exceeded £6000 “without any charge for his own time, interest of money, use of yard etc“. The real costs to him personally, he claimed, were higher than £9400. The Colonial Secretary offered just £5000 to Captain Goldsmith and no more. The initial unrealistic estimate of £4000 by Sir William Denison, which paid a deposit on the machinery, the engineer’s dues and little else, was further compounded by inadequate supplies of timber from Port Arthur and Cascade due to scarcity of prison labor, a matter put to a Select Committee inquiry into corruption within the Convict Department. In total, the whole cost of this little ferry amounted to more than £17,629 (Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January, 1856). Captain Goldsmith left Tasmania grossly out of pocket and undoubtedly soured by memories of functionaries who had taken advantage of his generosity and good will.

Debts owing to Captain Goldsmith
Colonial Times, 21 December 1855

1866: The Patent Slip
Although the stereograph (below) bears Samuel Clifford’s label on verso, it was probably taken by his younger partner Thomas Nevin in the early 1860s, as were many of the prodigious output of stereos printed and stamped by Clifford in the decade 1868-78. Clifford may have reprinted it after 1876 when he acquired Nevin’s stock of commercial negatives while Nevin continued in civil service. Similar examples of Nevin’s stereographs reprinted as a single image by Clifford or vice versa are of the Salmon Ponds, The Derwent River at Plenty, and other commercially viable and touristically appealing scenic representations. However, this stereograph and the single image below were taken at different times and from slightly different vantage points, and while purporting to represent Government House, in fact both images foreground the patent slip as the stronger signifier. Nevin certainly had an interest in the history of this slip because Captain Edward Goldsmith was Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s (his wife’s) uncle. He may have taken it to be forwarded to her uncle as a memento of troubled times

The figure of a man leaning against the tree near the fence in the stereograph is missing in the single image, as is the second barque, but all other details are identical.  The single image was taken at closer range, suggesting two photographers and two cameras, spending an afternoon at the slip. Note that the single image does not bear Clifford’s name nor any photographer’s name, but is nonetheless attributed to Clifford by its inclusion in an album bearing his name.

Title: New Government House [from the Patent Slip]
Creator: Clifford, Samuel, 1827-1890
Publisher: [ca. 1865]
Description: 1 stereoscopic pair of photographs : sepia toned ; 9 x 18 cm. (mount)
ADRI: AUTAS001125298653
Source: W.L. Crowther Library
Notes:Title printed on photographer’s label on verso
NB: image is color corrected for display here in this article

Title: Government House from the Patent Slip
In: Tasmanian scenes P. 4, item 8
Publisher: [ca. 1865]
Description: 1 photograph : sepia toned ; 11 x 19 cm
Format: Photograph
ADRI: AUTAS001124074907
Source: W.L. Crowther Library
Notes: Title inscribed in ink below image ; date noted in pencil at lower right of image on album page ; item number noted in ink at centre left of image on album page
Exact size 105 x 184 mm
“Tasmanian scenes” also known as “Clifford album 1″

1880s: credit due to Captain Goldsmith
Details of the transfer of the lease of the patent slip from Captain Goldsmith to Alexander McGregor from the Launceston Examiner, 21 January 1881, were outlined in an article looking back at ship building in Tasmania.

Launceston Examiner, 21 January 1881


The twin steamer Kangaroo was built in the year 1854, under the immediate supervision of the late Governor Sir William Denison, R. E., by the late Captain Goldsmith, formerly of the London traders Waverley and John Izat, at the Imperial expenditure, regardless of cost. Her timbers, which (says the Mercury) are still as sound as ever, were the pick of the forests of Tasman’s Peninsula, and her machinery was the best of the day. She was designed for the purpose she still serves, as a huge floating bridge between Hobart and Kangaroo Point, and was built on that portion of the Queen’s Domain known as McGregor’s patent slip. During the progress of her building a long lease of the site was granted to Captain Goldsmith by Sir William Denison, on condition that he laid down what was then much needed – a patent slip. The conditions of the lease were, however, unfulfilled by him, but the hon. Alexander McGregor purchased Captain Goldsmith’s interest in the lease, and forthwith carried out its conditions by laying down the slip, now carried on by his brother, Mr. John McGregor, on the Queen’s Domain.

Title: “Waterwitch” cutting at McGregor Slip 1890
ADRI: PH30-1-7500
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

A brief history of the Patent Slip and other Hobart slips was published years later, in 1882:

“To Captain Goldsmith, who came to the colonies in charge of one of the London traders, the credit of introducing patent slips into Hobart is due.”

This is an excerpt from “Shipbuilding in Tasmania“, a detailed account of this patent slip written with the benefit of 30 years hindsight, and printed in The Mercury Friday 23 June 1882. Read more at this link.

The Domain Slipyard ca.1878, 1900 and 2014
Former site of Goldsmith’s and McGregor’s patent slip, now TasPorts Domain Slip

Title: Whaling ship “Velocity” at McGregors Slipyards 1878
TAHO Ref: ADRI: AUTAS001125641035

Above: the Kangaroo, built by Captain Goldsmith in 1854 on the Domain slip ca. 1900 (photo TAHO)
Below: the Ocean Dynasty on the Domain slip 2014 (photo KLW NFC)

Above: View towards Government House Hobart from the Domain slip 2014
Below: TasPorts Domain slip 2014
Photos © KLW NFC 2014

The Domain Slipyard, Hobart Tasmania 2014
Photos © KLW NFC 2014

Categories: Biographica, Descendants and In-Laws, KLW NFC Photography, Newspapers, Ships and Captains | Tags: , , , , , ,

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the diving apparatus 1855

When lending your stuff to a neighbour ends up in court …

Diving suit and apparatus, Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR. Siebe Gorman advertisement.

January 1855
Captain Goldsmith’s diving apparatus arrived at the port of Hobart, Tasmania, on the Earl of Chester from London on 5th January 1855.

Source: Shipping Intelligence. (1855, January 6). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 2. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from

TRANSCRIPT (excerpt)

5. – Earl of Chester, barque, 517 tons Moncollis, from London September 13, with general cargo. Passengers-Mr. Jeffreys, Mr. Mrs and Miss Sealy and one child, and 18 emigrants Agents, Crosby, & Co
Per Earl of Chester, from London-Two whale boats. Mrs Seal ; 11 cases merchandise, 19 casks do 48 cases do, 17 bales do, 4 pairs bellows, 2 handles, 17 rough shares, 4 weighing machínes, 12 copper furnaces. 12 vices. 6 pkgs gig shafts, 100 elm stocks, 600 ash felloes, l8 planks, 79 iron pots, 42 camp ovens and covers, 4 anvils, 49 tons coals, 30 tons pig iron, G. & T. Dugard, 30 hhds beer, 50 casks bottled do, 15 hhds brandy, 19 do rum, 1 box samples. 5 cases fruits. &c , 3 pkgs agricultural implements, 1 hhd cider, 50 boxes sperm candles, William Knight ; 100 cases port wine, 100 do sherry, 90 do brandy, 100 casks ale, 1do porter, 181 cases merchandise, 1 trunk do, 9 casks do, 7 bundles do, 20 hhds rum, 10 do brandy, 5 do gin, 100 firkins butter 24 pockets hops, Nathan, Moses & Co. ….
etc etc … Brown and Co. ; 50 cases bottled beer, 60 do, do, F. A. Downing; 4 boxes merchandise R. S. Nicholson ; 3 pkgs. a diving -apparatus. Edward Goldsmith ; etc

Although not stated specifically that the diving apparatus which arrived was from the Siebe Gorman Co. it was new when Captain Goldsmith lent it to Mr. F. A. Downing. These advertisements and company background note are courtesy of the website The Vintage Showroom:

Founded by Augustus Siebe and his son in law Gorman, Siebe Gorman and Co. were a British company that developed diving and breathing equipment designed for commercial diving and marine salvage projects. The Augustus Siebe helmet gained a reputation for safety during its use on the wreck of the Royal George in 1840. The combination of safety and design features became the standard for helmet construction throughout the world, some of which were incorporated into the design of modern-day space suits.


The Neighbours at Lower Davey St. 1855

Frankland’s Map of Hobart 1854 (TAHO Collections)

By mid-1855, Captain Edward Goldsmith, his son Edward and wife Elizabeth were preparing their final departure from Hobart in February 1856. Their household goods were put up for auction at their house at 19 Davey St. Hobart (The Courier 9 August 1855) . Notable among their neighbours gazetted in 1854 and 1855 were the photographer Douglas T. Kilburn, brother of the photographer to Queen Victoria, William Edward Kilburn (1818-1891), and ship owner, salvage operator and general merchant Frederick. A. Downing.

The Hobart Town Gazette 1854.Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
Thanks to Michael Sprod, Astrolabe Books Salamanca Place Hobart

Neighbours of Captain Goldsmith at lower Davey Street, Hobart:
Landlords 1854 from No. 20 to beginning of lower Davey Street.
Smith (house), Peter Oldham (house), Kilburne [sic] (house, empty), Capt. Goldsmith (house)
Lieutenant Nunn (house), Wilson’s estate (Wilson’s Brewery),  R. Pitcairn (house),  J. James (office and cellar), R. Walker (house and store), F.A. Downing (store)

The Hobart Town Gazette 1855.Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
Thanks to Michael Sprod, Astrolabe Books Salamanca Place Hobart

Neighbours of Captain Goldsmith at lower Davey Street, Hobart:
Reverse list of Landlords 1855 from the beginning of lower Davey Street to 22 or 23 Davey
Frederick A. Downing (store), Peter Nichol (office), John Ferguson (house), George Moore (office), Robert Pitcairn (house), John Leslie Stewart (house and brewery), William Bayles (house), Edward Goldsmith (house), Douglas T. Kilburn (house), Frances Gill (house)

June 1855
The loss of the Catherine Sharer was reported widely in the press, including later reports of arrests and criminal charges and rumours the vessel was carrying 900 gold watches.

This vessel was blown up by the explosion of a quantity of gun- powder, a part of her cargo, in D’Entrecasteaux’s Channel early on Thursday morning. In consequence of the unfavourable weather, nothing was known of the occurrence here till yesterday morning The Catherine Sharer, a barque of about 500 tons, Captain Thomas, left London for this port on the 13th February, with passengers and a general cargo. She reached Port Esperance on the  6th instant, and let go her anchors off that port for the night. Between eleven and twelve o’clock the alarm was given that the barque was on fire, which was the fact, and every exertion was of course made to subdue it, but these were, after a time, found to be utterly useless. The boats were then lowered, the passengers and crew embarked and got safely on shore. There were nine tons of gunpowder on board, and just about four in the morning the upper parts of the barque, with the masts and most of the cargo, were hurled In every direction by the force of explosion of the powder which the fire had then reached. One portion of tho mast, weighing two cwt, was thrown into the bush, and fell half a mile from the water’s edge, so terrific was the cxplosion. What of the Catherine Sharer is now left rides “a wreck upon the waters ” The mail was saved. It was torn open by the force of the explosion, and was picked up two miles from where the vessel dropped anchor. The passengers were brought up here yesterday morning by the schooner Annie, in a  destitute and most deplorable state. They were instantly housed at the Immigration Depot, where they now are. They are deprived by the explosion of such goods as they had on board, and from the necessity of hastily leaving the burning vessel they had no time to gather even the necessary articles of apparel. There is one of the seamen in custody on suspicion of having set fire to the vessel. The captain and remainder of the orew are endeavouring to save such goods as the fire spared. A special messenger was sent to Francis Burgess, Esq , the chief police magistrate, who reached here yesterday morning. Mr. Burgess immediately took  the necessary steps to inform the authorities to secure such of the lading as was capable of being recovered. The chief constable at once despatched a portion of the water police, who still remain there. The Mimosa steamer was despatched by Kerr, Bogle, and Co , this morning early, to render assistance. Mr Symons sent Sergeant Pittman and four constables by her. The Governor has also despatched H M. sloop-of-war Fantome to the scene. A great number of the packages and cases distributed by the explosion are marked ” R. L ” and are supposed to have been consignments to   Mr R. Lewis, of this town, to whom many letters were found addressed. The passengers, cabin, were Mr Louis Abraham, Mrs. Bradley and child. In the steerage were Mr. and Mrs   Sparrow, Mr and Mrs Phillips and two children, Mr. and Mrs Finnin and two children, Mr. and Mrs Somerville and two children, Mr and Mrs Shaw and six children, Mr. and Mrs Powell, Mr Hinds, and Miss M. A Rothwell. The ship’s papers  are not yet in the hands of the agents , but further information will be obtained on the return of the Mimosa, which steamer is expected to-night.- H T Connel, June 11th.
With reference to the catastrophe which happened to the Catherine Sharer, on the coast of Van Diemen’s Land, the Tasmanian Daily News remarks: -There are two points to which we feel bound to call the especial and earnest attention of our readers. “We have been given to understand, in the first place, that the Catherine Sharer contained nine tons of gunpowder and forty tons of lucifer matches , we have been further informed that these were secretly conveyed on board after she had cleared at the  Customs, in fact, that her anchoring at Puilset where the shipment was made, was a mere ruse. We cannot indeed vouch for the correctness of this statement, as we are not certain that our authority is one on which we can entirely rely, if, however, we are rightly advised, we must say that the most serious blame attaches to those who, from whatever motive, could have permitted even for a moment, the juxtaposition of such dangerous   materials. It is difficult indeed to conceive how any could be so reckless and regardless, of their own danger as to allow such in- flammable goods to be placed side by side, and apparently without any adequate provision against accident, in the same vessel. The lives of the crew and passengers, almost all of them probably ignorant till too late of the nature of the cargo, have thus been jeopardised in the most culpable manner, and on every account we trust that the Government will order that a strict investigation   into the whole matter be at once held, and that, if it be proved that heedless carelessness has been committed, a representation to that effect be made to the home authorities.

 Source:DESTRUCTION OF THE CATHERINE SHARER. (1855, June 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from

Catherine Sharer sold to F. A. Downing

Sale of the wreck Catherine Sharer to Downing
Launceston Examiner 28 June 1855

Mr. Guesdon sold on Monday 400 sheep, ex City of Hobart, at 26s. 6d. per head. ‘Ihe wreck of the Catherine Sharer was sold yesterday, by Messrs. W. Ivey and Co. to F. A. Downing. Esq., for the sum of £300. Two elegant cottagess at Battery Point were submitted to public competition by Messrs. Worley anod Frodsham, and bought in at £1850. – Courier.

Source: COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1855, June 28). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899), p. 2 Edition: AFTERNOON. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from

Anchor of the Catherine Sharer, Narryna Museum, Battery Point, Tasmania
Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Katharine Sharer. (Katherine Shearer, Katherine Sharer, Catherine Shearer). Wooden barque, 512/440 tons. Built at Sunderland, UK,1850; reg. London, 612/1854. Lbd 120 x 25.5 x 19.4 ft. Captain Thorne. From London to Hobart Town, anchored for the night off Port Esperance, almost within sight of her destination. on 6 June 1855. About midnight she was found to be on fire, forcing passengers and crew to abandon her before the flames reached her cargo which included about nine tons of gunpowder. At 4 a.m. on the 7th the fire reached the gunpowder, and the ship blew up. Her upper-works were totally destroyed, a piece of mast weighing two-hundredweight coming down in the bush half a mile from the water, and the hull sank in nine fathoms of water. The schooner Annie picked up the passengers, many in their night attire only, and took them to Hobart, along with a crewman who had been arrested on suspicion of arson. Later the paddle steamer Mimosa picked up the rest of the crew and some salvage. Nothing appears to have been proved about the alleged arson. A diver employed to locate the wreck drowned in doing so, September 1858. Consequently, the wreck itself remained more or less undisturbed until 1929, when it was rediscovered by Marine Board diver Joseph Hodson. [TS1],[ASW6],[LAH]

From:  AN ATLAS HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN SHIPWRECKS. J.K. Loney. A.H. & A.W.Reed Pty Ltd, 1891. Hardcover, just jacket, 120 pages, index, bibliography. Mono prints and basic charts.

In Court December 1855
Mr. F. A. Downing borrowed Captain Goldsmith’s new diving apparatus and related items for conversion to salvage the wreck of the Catherine Sharer, but did not return them. Captain Goldsmith took his complaint to the Supreme Court for the value of the machinery etc.

This was Captain Goldsmith’s statement on being cross-examined, reported in The Colonial Times on December 18th, 1855:

Cross-examined-The agreement was, that if the government should not require the apparatus, Mr. Downing might keep it for three months, and if he had delivered it up at the end of three months, I should have said nothing about it. I demanded the apparatus in person in two or three days , after the three months had expired, and I made an offer to him at the same time to sell him the apparatus at the London price, with interest of the money, I think £180. He declined to purchase at that price, and in a very abrupt way too. He said he would send me back the appa- ratus immediately. An application was afterwards made for it by Mr. Worley, the auctioneer, as my agent. I had offered it for sale to the government, at the cost price, with interest of money added to it. I can’t tell what the cost price was. The government declined to purchase
Re examined-The price I was willing to take at the end of the three months was less than the amount I now claim. I find the value is higher. I value it at £220, and should be glad to take it back again at that price.
Mr Miller here said be was willing to give it up at that sum.
Captain Goldsmith would take it if delivered up immediately.
It was then arranged that the apparatus should be returned within a week, Mr. Downing undertaking to send a boat for it at once, and the case proceeded with respect to the rent.
Witness (in reply to the Attorney-General) said he could not say what was a fair sum per month for the hire of the apparatus. The apparatus had been advertised for sale by Mr Worley, in expectation of its being returned, but he was disappointed.
Mr. Miller addressed the jury on the question of damage.
His Honor in charging the jury, told them they would have to give a verdict in the first place for £22 9s. 10d., the value of the articles admitted, then for £220 the agreed sum for the apparatus, on condition that it be not returned within a week.
As to the amount to be given for the detention, they would give £75 for the first two months. It would be for the jury to say what was a fair amount for the other four months.


HOBART TOWN. Two civil cases were tried in the Supreme Court on Monday before the Chief Justice. The first was Goldsmith v. Downing, for the conversion of certain diving apparatus, &c. lent to Mr. Downing to enable him to recover property from the wrecked Catherine Sharer, and which the defendant had appropriated; £220 claimed for the value of the apparatus, £22 ifs. I Od. for certain other articles; and a sum for the use of the apparatus to the present time. Verdict for plaintiff.

Source: HOBART TOWN. (1855, December 20). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899), p. 2 Edition: AFTERNOON. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from


Before His Honor the Chief Justice, & the usual Juries of Twelve
This was an action brought by Captain Goldsmith, against Mr. F. A. Downing for the conversion of a Diving Apparatus, lent to the defendant to enable him to recover property from the wreck of the Catherine Sharer, at Port Esperance, and which he had appropriated to his own use: the plaintiff claimed £212 10s 9d, as the value of the apparatus, and a sum for its use to the present time,
Captain Goldsmith deposed to the value of the machinery, and to the amount claimed for its use, namely £479 10s 9d : an agreement for hire was, also, proved, for £75 for two months.
The Jury assessed the amount claimed at £392 9s 10d.

Source: SUPREME COURT.—MONDAY. (1855, December 19). The Hobarton Mercury (Tas. : 1854 – 1857), p. 2. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Porcelain jar from the barque Katherine Sharer with coloured scene of Pegwell Bay, Cornwall which would have contained potted shrimp, made by Pratt & Co.1850s., Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

View more items from the Katherine Sharer at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania


Source:MUNICIPAL COUNCIL. (1855, December 18). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 3. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from


Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Categories: Biographica, Ships and Captains | Tags: , , , , , ,

Thomas Nevin, informant for surveyor John Hurst 1868

Hurst memoir front page

From Rabbit Traps to Rembrandts
A Memoir by Nevin Hurst. (West Hobart, Tas. : Knocklofty Press, 2007).
Photo © Copyright KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

This case of disambiguation of names associated with photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s family is more interesting than any other. A living descendant of the Hurst family in Tasmania, namely fine arts dealer William Nevin Hurst, who calls himself simply Nevin Hurst,  (Masterpiece Gallery, Hobart) has maintained a family connection to photographer Thomas J. Nevin (his phone call to a grand son of Thomas Nevin, emails to this blog), but this claim appears to be based not on a genetic relationship but rather a friendship relationship between two neighbours at New Town Tasmania – photographer Thomas J. Nevin and Nevin Hurst’s paternal ancestor, North West coast surveyor John Hurst.

The Nevin family home, built by Thomas’ father John Nevin snr ca. 1858, was located on land in trust to the Wesleyan Church on an acre above the Lady Franklin Museum, Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, New Town. The Nevin and Hurst families were not only neighbours in New Town Hobart; they both had historic family connections to Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland, where John Nevin was born in 1808, and joined the Royal Scots 1st Regiment of Foot in 1825. He died at Kangaroo Valley in 1887. John Hurst’s father was James Hurst, a surveyor, born Grey-Abbey, Co. Down Ireland (no date) and died in Hobart (no date). His widow Eliza was born in 1814, died Hobart, 1902 (see gravestone below which was probably erected on her death). Establishing facts about the Nevin-Hurst connection has proved difficult because of the rather amusing tendency of living descendant Nevin Hurst, of Masterpiece Gallery, to claim to be related to many people in his memoir, including American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who built the nation’s largest newspaper chain and whose methods profoundly influenced American journalism.

Surveyor John Hurst married Louisa Tatlow on 27th November 1862. The marriage was registered at Port Sorell, a town on the north-west coast of Tasmania on the waterway of the same name, just off Bass Strait, 20 km east of Devonport.His wife Louisa Maria Tatlow was born in 1841 to parents Anthony Tatlow, listed as “Gentleman” and Mary Moore; their daughter was baptised at St Johns, Launceston.

1841: birth of Louisa Maria Tatlow

Tasmanian Names Index
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Female
Age: 21
Spouse: Hurst, John
Gender: Male
Date of marriage: 27 Nov 1862
Registered: Port Sorell
Registration year:1862
Document ID:
ResourceRGD37/1/21 no 582

1868:  Thos Nevin, informant
On the 11th April, 1868, Louisa Hurst, formerly Tatlow, gave birth to William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in the district of Hobart. His father’s occupation was listed as “surveyor”. Their son’s birth was registered on 22nd May, 1868 by Thos Nevin, informant, Elizabeth St., where Nevin was operating from Alfred Bock’s former photographic studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Neither parent was named “Nevin”, either as the mother’s maiden name or the father’s middle name. Yet the child was given “Nevin” as a middle name along with his mother’s maiden name “Tatlow”. As a surveyor, the father was most likely absent from Hobart on business, and requested Thomas Nevin to register his son’s birth at the Town Hall. This is the reason the name “Nevin” appears for the first time in the Hurst family of Tasmania, as a gesture towards to the family of John Nevin snr and his son Thomas J. Nevin, and for no other reason.

Schooling may have brought the families closer together. John Nevin snr and his daughter Mary Ann Nevin were both school teachers in the Kangaroo Valley and New Town area. And the relationship to a family of surveyors may have benefited Thomas Nevin’s photographic work with the Lands Department, which employed photographers as a matter of course by the early 1870s on government commissions. When Thomas Nevin’s own son Thomas James Nevin jnr was born in April 1874, he too was away on business, working at Port Arthur on government commission: Nevin’s father-in-law Captain James Day signed the child’s birth registration as the “informant” on 26th May in his absence

Thomas Nevin’s signature on this document of William Nevin Tatlow’s birth carries his usual abbreviation of “Thos” and flourishes, but minus the “Jas”, of “James”, his middle name. It is similar to his signatures on his marriage certificate 1871, and the birth registrations of his children 1872-1888.

Above: Thomas Nevin’s signatures, sourced from Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Marriage registration for Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Day, 1871
Birth registrations for two of their seven children, 1872 and 1876.

Birth Registration of William Nevin Tatlow HURST 1868
This document is worth a close examination because of the hand-written amendments, specifically to do with the child’s middle names. Someone has initialed changes, firstly to the child’s second middle name, printing more clearly the name “Tatlow”, and left a (barely legible) note in parentheses. The note says:

(Third Christian name and mother’s surname corrected to read “Tatlow” under clerical error (word illegible) of Sec. 36 of the Reg of Births & Deaths Act 1895. See birth reg. No. 595/41 L’ton (inserted) and Marriage No. 582/62 Port Sorrell. )

Detail: 1868 – signature of Thos Nevin, informant, on the birth registration of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst, 22 May with additions and note in parentheses.

Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Name: Hurst, William Nevin Tatlow
Record Type: Births
Gender: Male
Father: Hurst, John
Mother: Tatlow, Louisa
Date of birth: 11 Apr 1868
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1868
Document ID:
Resource007368108_00023 no 10026

Wherever Surveyor John Hurst may have been during 1868 that caused his absence when Thomas Nevin registered the birth of Hurst’s son, he was on the run from the New Zealand police by October 1870. He was working in New Zealand in the county of Westland when he absconded with a sum of money. A charge on warrant for embezzlement was issued, but he supposedly eluded the NZ police, and was believed to have made his way to Melbourne by May 1871, and thence to Tasmania.

This extract from the Tasmanian police gazette of 2 May, 1871, reprinted from the Victoria Police gazette, not only details the charge, it gives a clear physical description of John Hurst, plus his former business interests as a journalist and newspaper proprietor. These aspects of John Hurst’s background further imbricate the Hurst family and John Nevin and his family of Kangaroo Valley Tasmania, both formerly of Grey Abbey, Ireland, in several instances. Firstly, both John Hurst and John Nevin snr were journalists, the former a correspondent with the London Times, the latter a war correspondent during the Canadian Rebellions. Secondly, the Nevin family solicitor and Attorney-General W. R. Giblin, who would have authorised the warrant for John Hurst’s arrest, especially as Hurst was a former employee of the Colonial government’s Lands Dept., would have alerted John Nevin’s two sons – brothers Constable John Nevin and photographer Thomas Nevin, both serving the Territorial and Municipal Police, to inform him in the event of John Hurst returning to his family in New Town. Whether John Hurst was acquitted or convicted is not clear, unless he was arrested in Victoria and charged, in which case the Victorian Public Records Office would hold those details; the Tasmanian police gazettes record no other notice about his being apprehended in their jurisdiction during the next decade.

Warrant for John Hurst, 2 May 1871
Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, Gov’t Printer


EXTRACTS from Victoria Police Gazette of the 2nd May, 1871
John Hurst is charged on warrant issued at Greymouth, New Zealand, with the embezzlement of £5 and other moneys the property of the Paroa District Road Board, at Paroa, county of Westland, on the 25th October 1870. He is native of the north of Ireland, a civil engineer, aged 32 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, but does not look so tall, grey eyes, short brown hair, short sandy whiskers round and under chin, and rather prominent cheek bones. He was employed as secretary and collector to the Paroa Road Board at the time he absconded; was formerly correspondent of the London Times and afterwards proprietor of the Freeman newspaper. He is believed to be in or near Melbourne. – 1st May, 1871. This offender is said to have been employed by the Tasmanian Government in the Survey Department, probably in the Western districts, and may make for that place.

William Nevin Tatlow Hurst dropped the middle name “Tatlow” from all official documents, and as early as 1877.  Enrolled at the New Town Public School as William Nevin Hurst minus the middle name “Tatlow”, he was awarded a prize as a fourth form student, published in The Mercury, 24th December 1877.

Source:No heading]. (1877, December 24). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 2 Supplement: The Mercury Summary For Europe. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

Marriage of Wm Nevin Tatlow HURST 1899
In retrospect, when Thomas Nevin registered the birth of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in 1868, he might have suspected that the child would follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, training first as a draughtsman, then surveyor, and becoming eventually the Tasmanian Surveyor-General and Secretary for Lands. William Nevin Tatlow Hurst married Lucie Evelyn Elizabeth Foster, hospital nurse, exactly 31 years to the day he was born, i.e. on his 31st birthday, 11th April 1899 at St John’s Church, New Town.

Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Name: Hurst, William Nevin Tatlow
Record Type:Marriages
Gender: Male
Spouse: Foster, Lucie Evelyn Elizth
Gender: Female
Age: 27
Date of marriage: 11 Apr 1899
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1899
Document ID:
ResourceRGD37/1/61 no 273

An extensive collection of documents relating to the father John Hurst and son William Nevin Tatlow Hurst is held at the University of Tasmania, at this link:

A collection of pamphlets articles and newspaper cuttings compiled by William Nevin Hurst (1868 – 1947) and notes made by him on topics of historical interest. William Nevin Hurst was a draughtsman and Secretary for Lands. He was the son of John Hurst a surveyor on the North West Coast. RS.23

Source: Tasmanian Sureveyors-General Honour Board

The Lyons Labor Government 1920s (Joseph Lyons front seated centre)
William Nevin Hurst, seated,second last from viewer’s right: incorrectly identified as J. Hurst

Title: Photograph – Labor members of Parliament – M O’Keefe, J Cleary, P Kelly, A Lawson, C Culley, W. Shoobridge, JA Guy, J Belton, JA Lyons, AG Ogilvie, J Hurst and G Becker
ADRI: PH30-1-223
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

The Cemetery Headstone
The family relationship claimed by living descendant Nevin Hurst to the Nevin family is partially based on the wording on the gravestone relating to Mary Hurst, whom he supposes to be the sister of John Nevin snr, and therefore an aunt of Thomas Nevin, but there is no evidence to suggest that John Nevin had a sister, especially one born 30 years or more after him (!), nor evidence that “Hurst” was the married name of James Hurst’s daughter rather than her maiden name. She is listed as the daughter of the Ireland-based family, daughter of James Hurst, not “daughter-in-law”. The wording is as follows:

In Loving Memory of Eliza Widow of the late James Hurst of Grey-Abbey, Co. Down Ireland Born July 12th 1814 Died Sept 19th 1902…
Also Mary Hurst Daughter of the Above died 27th October 1925 Aged 86 years
Also Louisa Hurst Widow of John Hurst born at Westbury 27th May 1841 Died 18th November 192?
Also Edith Rhoda Hurst only daughter of John and Louisa Hurst died 25th January 1926 Aged 54 years
Also William Nevin Tatlow Hurst ISO son of John & Louisa Born April 11, 1868 Died 24 Dec 1946
Also Lucie Evelyn Hurst beloved Wife of Above Born 20 June 1868 Died 11 Feb 1948

The Hurst family headstone, Cornelian Bay
Emailed to this blog courtesy of Nevin Hurst 2010
Copyright Gravesites of Tasmania

The second suggestion sent to this blog by Nevin Hurst (12 June 2012) to claim a family relationship to the Nevin family was that ELIZA, widow of James HURST – the head name on the gravestone – was John Nevin snr’s sister, but no evidence was submitted for that claim and that too has been discredited. Two passengers arrived in Hobart on 3rd February, 1855 on board the Flora McDonald from Liverpool – John Hurst, aged 16yrs old, and probably his mother, Eliza Hurst, aged 40 yrs old.

On November 15th 1856, a large Hurst family of six of arrived in Hobart from Sydney on board the Tasmania, including cabin passengers Mary, James, Eliza, a Miss, a Mrs and a Mr Hurst.

TAHO Arriivals
MB 2 39 1 20 Image 328


Death of Eliza Hurst, Mercury 20 Sept 1902

Marriage of William Nevin Hurst to Lucie Foster, Mercury April 13, 1899

Marriage of John Hurst to Louisa Tatlow, 3 December 1862, Cornwall Chronicle.

Nevin Street South Hobart
John Hurst, son of Irish surveyor James Hurst and friend of the Nevin family of Kangaroo Valley, was a surveyor in civil service, but whether he or his son William Nevin Hurst, who became the Tasmanian Surveyor-General, named this street in South Hobart after the Nevin family of Kangaroo Valley is yet to be determined See this article, Nevin Street and the Cascades Prison for Males.

No Through Road. Nevin St. South Hobart adjacent to the Cascades Prison.
Photo © copyright KLW NFC Imprint 2011 ARR

ERRATA: Apologies in advance to the family of Nevin Hurst, Masterpiece Gallery for any errors here.

Categories: Biographica, Exhibitions and Publications, Kangaroo Valley Hobart | Tags: , , ,

A few drinks on Christmas Eve 1885 at New Town

Title: Maypole Corner of Newtown Road and Risdon Road looking north
In: Allport album III No. 59
Publisher: Hobart : s.n., [ca. 1888] [s.n.= no name]
ADRI: AUTAS001126183722
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

William Curtis was a shoemaker, a friend of William Ross, Thomas Nevin snr’s apprentice at The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart in the early 1870s. William married Philadelphia Henson on 15th October 1873. Both bride and groom were 20 yrs old at the time of their marriage at the Congregational Church, Hobart.

William Curtis, born 1853: parents, siblings and children

Name: Henson, Philadelphia
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Female
Age: 20
Spouse: Curtis, William
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Date of marriage: 15 Oct 1873
Registered: Hobart
Registration year:1873
Document ID:
ResourceRGD37/1/32 no 309

1885 at New Town
In 1885 William Curtis was 32 yrs old, born 1853 and and Thomas Nevin was 43 yrs old, born 1842 respectively. Thomas Nevin’s photographic studio in the years 1880-1888 was located in New Town where he resumed commercial photography after his departure from the Hobart Town Hall residence in early 1881 and continued working for the New Town Territorial and Hobart Municipal Police Forces. He listed his occupation as “photographer, New Town” on the birth registration of his second daughter Minnie (Mary Ann) in December 1884 .

One year later, on or about Christmas Eve, December 24th 1885, William Curtis, Thomas Nevin and and an unnamed “first offender” were celebrating the Season of Cheer with a few drinks when they were each fined 5s. for “drunk and disorderly conduct at New Town“.


…Three cases of drunk and disorderly conduct at New Town, viz., Thomas Nevin, Wm.Curtis, and another, a first offender, were each fined 5s., or seven days.

Source: THE MERCURY. (1885, December 24). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 2.

What was the trouble? And why was the third person not named? It seems that the marriage between William Curtis and Philadelphia Henson was not a happy one. In October 1877, a warrant was issued for his arrest because he had failed to join the whaling vessel Maria Laurie. By late October 1877, the police had arrested him, but within months – in February 1878 – a summons was issued for his arrest, this time for failing to appear in the Police Court Hobart in answer to a complaint of non-maintenance of his wife. The police arrested him in March 1878, and sentenced him to three months at the Hobart Gaol for non-maintenance of wife and family. He was discharged on 26 June 1878. Just weeks later, he was reported as a “missing friend” in August 1878. Who was the friend who reported him missing?

William Curtis, 24 years old, warrant for arrest, 12 October 1877

William Curtis arrested, reported 26 October 1877

William Curtis, maintenance of his wife, warrant for failing to comply,  15 February 1878

William Curtis arrested 22 March 1878

William Curtis, aged 25 yrs, sentenced on 21 March 1878, and discharged from the Hobart Gaol on 26 June 1878, having served a sentence of three months for non-maintenance.

William Curtis, shoemaker of New Town, was reported as a missing friend on 23 August 1878, having left his wife and family without means of support. This notice appeared in the police gazette.

So, by 1885, William Curtis was known to the police, to the police photographer Thomas J. Nevin, and to Thomas’ brother Constable John Nevin. His marriage to Philadelphia Henson in 1873 had failed. By 1883, she had given birth to a child, Thomas Charles Flynn (NAME_INDEXES:1097991, RGD33/1/13/ no 891), whose father Thomas Flynn was a fisherman. And in August 1885, she gave birth to another son, William Flynn (NAME_INDEXES:979111, RGD33/1/14/ no 183). She signed both birth registrations as P. Flynn formerly Henson, Hunter St. Hobart, presumably having divorced William Curtis and remarried, to Thomas Flynn (or not). There may have been a confrontation between Thomas Flynn and William Curtis on the night of 23rd December 1885 which implicated Thomas Nevin as an innocent third party, or even between William Curtis and his ex-wife Philadelphia Flynn nee Henson, which might account for the third party reported as an unnamed “first offender”, involving Thomas Nevin as a friend of both.

New Town Hotels
Where had they been drinking? The closest hotel at the village called Augusta and nearest to the Nevin family’s home and orchards at Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, was the Harvest Home Hotel, whose famously large proprietor T. D. Jennings was photographed by several Tasmanian photographers over a decade, including Thomas Nevin.

Title:Photograph – Exterior view of the Harvest Home Hotel, at Newtown, with the proprietor JENNINGS, Thomas D., standing outside
ADRI: PH30-1-2613
Source:Archives Office of Tasmania

Title: [Thomas Dewhurst] Jennings – 32 stone
In: Allport album IV No. 45
Publisher: Hobart : s.n., [Between 1880 and 1889]
ADRI: AUTAS001126184324
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts


Licensing to retail Liquor
Tuesday, January 18, 1887
Inland Revenue Branch
13th January, 1887
A LICENCE in the form prescribed by “The Licensing Act” to retail Liquor for the period ending 31st day of December, 1887, (provided it be not forfeited before such date), has been granted to each of the under-mentioned individuals:-

ALCOCK, Christopher Talbot Inn New Town
HILL, Thomas Sir William Don New Town-road Hobart
JENNINGS, Thomas D. Harvest Home New Town Road Hobart
MARRIOTT, Henry Maypole Inn New Town Road Hobart
NICHOLAS, Richard Eaglehawk Hotel Colville & New Town-road Hobart
RING, Thomas Queen’s Head Inn New Town Road Hobart
SMITH, John Caledonian Inn New Town Road Hobart
TURNER, Joshua Rainbow Inn New Town Road Hobart

Taken from the Hobart Town Gazette 
Indexed by David J Bryce
Author of “Pubs in Hobart from 1807″,
published date 1997, ISBN 0 646 301470.

Above: New Town from the Queen’s Orphan School yard ca. 1880
Source: UTAS ePrints

Disambiguation: William Curtis
William Curtis, aged 20 yrs old in 1873 was NOT the prisoner William Curtis aka John Curtis who was transported from Plymouth on the Anson in 1843, and who was re-convicted as John Curtis for manslaughter in 1856, sentenced to penal servitude for life.

John Curtis, manslaughter
His Honor impressed on the prisoner the position in which he had stood. He ought to be thankful indeed to a jury of his country that they had not found him guilty of murder. If they had done so no earthly power could have saved his life. His Honor would not do his duty, were he not to pass the severest sentence it was in his power to do. In every case . in which cases of this description came before him, His Honor would mark with the severest punish- ment. Sentenced to penal servitude for the term of his natural life.

Source: SUPREME COURT.—CRIMINAL SITTINGS. (1856, June 9). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 2. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from

Thomas Nevin photographed John Curtis aka William Curtis, 62 years old, on discharge from the Hobart Gaol (and Police Office) in the week ending 10th February 1875. The inscription of the date “1874” and the name “William Curtis” on the verso of his photograph are both incorrect: Curtis was neither sent to Port Arthur nor returned to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur in the years 1873-4.


Thomas Nevin photographed John Curtis aka William Curtis, 62 years old,  on discharge from the Hobart Gaol (and Police Office) in the week ending 10th February 1875. 

Reconvicted as John Curtis

Title: Photograph – William Curtis, convict transported per Anson. Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin
Description: 1 photographic print
ADRI: PH30-1-3232
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

QVMAG Ref: 1985_p_0100
Copy at:

Name: Curtis, William
Record Type: Convicts
Arrival date: 4 Feb 1844
Departure date:1 Oct 1843
Departure port:Plymouth
Ship: Anson
Voyage number: 227
Remarks: Reconvicted as John Curtis
Index number: 16721
Document ID: NAME_INDEXES:1385212
Appropriation List CON27/1/10
Conduct Record CON33/1/49 
CON37/1/ Page 2860
Description List CON18/1/41

Categories: 19th Century Prison Photography, Biographica, Hobart Gaol, Kangaroo Valley Hobart, Police mugshots by Nevin, Supreme Court men | Tags: , , ,

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