In the year 1877, about 300 people resided in the village of Augusta located in the county of Buckingham, Tasmania. It was in the police district of Hobart, the electoral district of Glenorchy, and home to the immigrant family of Thomas J. Nevin.
Excerpt from: Bailliere’s Tasmanian Gazetteer and Road Guide 1877
AUGUSTA (Co. Buckingham) is a postal village and residential suburb of Hobart Town, in the police district of Hobart, and electoral district of Glenorchy. It is situate on the main road from Hobart Town to Launceston, about 2 miles from the former place, and on the New Town Rivulet, which empties itself in to the Derwent, near Risdon. A portion of Mount Wellington overlooks the district. There are no mills or manufactories in Augusta at present, except a pottery. The surrounding district is agricultural to a large extent. There are several coal seams in the district; two or three are being worked, and produce very good domestic fuel. The communication with Hobart Town is by ‘busses and other conveyances which run hourly. The city of Hobart Town adjoins Augusta N.W. There is one hotel in the village, the Harvest Home. The surrounding country is undulating and hilly. The population numbers about 300 persons. There are places of worship as follows: Church of England, Church of Rome, and Wesleyan Church.
Thomas Nevin’s father John Nevin (b.1808 Ireland – d. Hobart 1887) had served in the Royal Scots First Regiment during the Canadian Rebellion 1837-38. He worked his family’s passage to Australia as guard of adult convicts and warden of the 32 exiled boys from the Parkhurst Prison on board the Fairlie, arriving in Hobart, July 1852. With his wife Mary (b. 1812 England – d. Hobart 1875) and four children, he settled at Kangaroo Valley, also known as Kangaroo Bottom, near the village of Augusta. He built a cottage there and tended his gardens and orchard neighboring the (Lady) Franklin Museum on the Ancanthe estate.
John Nevin may have left Tasmania briefly to seek his fortune on the Californian gold fields, but by the 1860s or earlier he was back in Tasmania, happily settled at Kangaroo Valley. He published a poem in pamphlet form “My Cottage in the Wilderness” (held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW) in 1868 in which these brief biographical details are mentioned.
John and Mary Nevin’s children – Thomas James, his brother Jack (William John) and sisters Mary Anne and Rebecca Jane – were born in Ireland but grew up in Kangaroo Bottom at the dwelling which their father built close to the schoolhouse owned by the Trustees of the Wesleyan Chapel:
Thomas James Nevin: (1842-1923) died at age 80
Mary Ann Nevin: (1844-1878) died at age 34
Rebecca Jane Nevin (1847-1865) died at age 18
William John Nevin (1852-1891) died at age 39
They were educated at the Wesleyan Chapel schoolhouse where their father John Nevin taught local children by day and adult males by night (1875), and they helped their parents work the one acre farm and orchard adjacent to the Chapel, owned by Maria Nairn, wife and widow of public servant and politician William Edward Nairn (1812-1869). Thomas Nevin may have photographed William Nairn ca 1868, which John Watt Beattie reprinted ca. 1895:
William Edward Nairn (1812-1869)
Photograph by Thomas Nevin ? ca. mid 1860s,
Reproduced by John Watt Beattie ca. 1895
State library of Tasmania
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
The Nairns were influential in Thomas Nevin’s success in gaining photographic commissions with the Convict Department and the Municipal Police at the Town Hall. William Nairn was assistant comptroller of the Convict Department in 1843, in charge of the prisoners in Tasmania and Norfolk Island. He was departmental registrar in 1855-56 and comptroller-general of convicts at a salary of £800 in 1859-68. He was also sheriff of Hobart in 1857-68. His wife Maria Nairn was a daughter of John Swan, Inspector of Police in the 1870s. When her husband died, his estate of £2200 in Tasmania and £4400 in England was left to his widow.The Nevins leased their land from her until the late 1890s. See the Australian Dictionary of Biography for full details.
Friends and neighbours at Kangaroo Valley and fellow electors in the Glenorchy district included Royal Mail coach operator and patron Samuel Page; Commandant of Port Arthur and MD at the Hobart Gaol Dr John Coverdale; Nevin’s solicitor (from 1868) Attorney-General W.R. Giblin; Under-Sheriff Thomas Crouch; and Police Superintendent Richard Propsting. See this entry, Working with Police and Prisoners.
|From Nevin Public Records|
Above: John Nevin, Kangaroo Valley, and some of his neighbours,
Hobart Town Gazette, November 26th, 1872.
The youngest child, Rebecca Jane, died aged 18 yrs at Kangaroo Valley on 23 November, 1865. This notice was placed in The Mercury:
“NEVIN.- On 10th November, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Rebecca Jane, the beloved daughter of John Nevin, aged 18 years.“
In July 1871, John Nevin’s eldest son Thomas James Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day, daughter of Captain James Day at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, next door to their house.
In 1875, their mother Mary Nevin died at Kangaroo Valley and was buried at the Wesleyan Chapel.
Thomas’ surviving sister Mary Ann married John Carr, son of the late Captain James Carr, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on May 12, 1877.
In May 1878, Elizabeth Rachel’s sister, May Sophia Day, married Hector Charles Axup also at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.
A month later, Thomas’ sister Mary Ann died, aged 34 yrs, at her residence in Victoria. This notice was placed in The Mercury:
CARR. – On July 27, at her residence, Sandridge, Victoria, in the 34th year of her age, Mary Ann, the beloved wife of John Carr, the only surviving daughter of Mr. John Nevin, Kangaroo Valley, New Town.
The NEW TOWN Studio
Collage of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin, and Kangaroo Valley stereo
© The Private Collection of Denis Shelverton 2006-2009 ARR
These two portraits of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin were pasted into a scrapbook by their son George Nevin. Between the two portraits of his “Mar” and “Par”, George pasted half a stereograph showing the path at Kangaroo Valley leading to the Franklin Museum, as it was then called. Completed in 1843 on Lady Franklin’s property, Ancanthe, this little museum was inspired by the Temple of Athene in Athens, and intended to house specimens of natural history and a small library.
The portraits probably date to ca. 1876. Thomas took the portrait of his wife Elizabeth; his own full-length portrait here was probably taken by his younger brother Jack Nevin, also a photographer and civil servant. The two brothers maintained a photographic studio at New Town into the 1880s, although Thomas’ first studio was leased ca. 1865 from Abraham Biggs (also a Wesleyan) at the former premises and studio of his mentor Alfred Bock with the business name of The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Jack began training in administration under the wing of keeper Ringrose Atkins at the Hobart Town Gaol from ca. 1874, eventually taking up residence there and continued Thomas’ commission as prison photographer until the mid 1880s.
Thomas Nevin produced a range of views in the Kangaroo Valley district, including streetscapes, buildings, grave stones, views of Mount Wellington, ferns, visitors to the Franklin Museum and local identities. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery databases list several stereographs (not currently online):
Thos Nevin studio stamp, New Town (TMAG Collection)
Thomas Nevin’s New Town stereographs listed at the TMAG and copied verbatim from the cataloguist’s entries (2005):
Q1994.56.34 ITEM NAME: Photograph: MEDIUM: sepia salt paper stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin [Artist]; TITLE: ‘Lady Franklin’s Museum, KangarooValley’ DATE: 1870c DESCRIPTION : Group of people at Lady Franklin’s Museum, Kangaroo Valley INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: On back in pencil: Mrs A Pedder / and in different hand Lady Franklin’s Museum/ KangarooValley and in different hand again best picture
Q1987.392 ITEM NAME: Photograph: MEDIUM: Sepia stereoscopic views., TITLE: ‘New Town from the Public School’ DATE: 1872.
Q16826.28 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School
Q16826.27 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School
Q16826.1.2 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: ‘School House Kangaroo Valley’ DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder
Q16826.1.1 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: salted paper print stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: ‘School House Kangaroo Valley’ DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder
A later postcard view by W. Little (ca. 1900) of the road leading from Augusta to the Lady Franklin Museum gives an idea of the incongruity of a classic Greek temple in the midst of farms and orchards. The locality was renamed Lenah Valley in 1922, and the village name “Augusta” was simply retained as the name of the main road leading up to the Museum. The house that John Nevin built is the first house visible on left on the hill.
Location: Tasmaniana Library
Photo: W.L. Little. Date: ?
The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley
“T.J. Nevin Photo” inscribed on verso, ca. 1868.
From © The Liam Peters Collection 2010.
John Nevin taught children at the school house by day and adult males by night. By 1868 he had built a new cottage on the land, which he celebrated in a poem titled “My Cottage in the Wilderness.” His eldest son, Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923), by then aged 26 yrs with a successful photographic business at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, photographed his parents at the front of the house.
The digitised version of the Tasmanian Gazetteer 1877 is online at The State Library of Tasmania.
Lady Franklin Museum, Lenah Valley, Tasmania, June 2005.
Photo © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collection 2005-2009 ARR.