In early 1977, Special Collections Librarian at the State Library of Tasmania, G.T. Stilwell, established from archival records (AOT MB 2/98) that parents John and Mary Nevin had arrived in Hobart in 1852 with four children: Thomas, Mary Ann, Rebecca, and William John (Jack). He forwarded this information in a letter to the QVMAG where curator John McPhee was preparing an exhibitions of Thomas Nevin’s photographs of convicts taken in the 1870s. This is an extract of G.T. Stilwell’s letter:
Thomas Nevin was born on 28 August 1842 near Belfast, Northern Ireland (Mrs S[helverton]). He was the son of Private John Nevin and Mary his wife whom he accompanied on the convict ship Fairlie which arrived at Hobart Town in July 1852. John who was one of the guards of this vessel was also accompanied by his other children Mary A. and Rebecca both under fourteen and Will[iam] J under a year old (MB2/98).
Photographs by Thomas Nevin of his siblings Mary Ann and Jack (William J) survive in the The Nevin Family Collections, but no information about the second sister Rebecca was found until recently. This death notice appeared in The Mercury, 23 November 1865:
“NEVIN.- On 10th November, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Rebecca Jane, the beloved daughter of John Nevin, aged 18 years.“
This death notice for Rebecca Jane Nevin appeared in The Mercury on 23 November, 1865. Cause of death is unknown. If she was 18 years old in November 1865, she would have been born ca. 1847, under 4 yrs old when she travelled from Portsmouth on the Fairlie in March 1852. Her father John Nevin wrote and published a poem in January 1866 as a tribute to her short life and suffering, titled “Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin“; the original is held at the University of Melbourne Library Special Collections.
Her mother Mary Nevin (1810-1875) gave birth to Rebecca’s siblings in this order:
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
CLEVER MARY ANN NEVIN
Until recently, little was known about Thomas Nevin’s other sister Mary Ann, photographed by her brother as a stereoscope ca. 1870 and as a vignette ca. 1873:
Mary Ann Nevin (1844-1878), sister of Thomas J. Nevin,
dipping a glass at New Town rivulet, Kangaroo Valley Hobart Tasmania, ca. 1870.
Salt paper stereograph taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Photo © KLW NFC Imprint & The Nevin Family Collections 2012
Thomas Nevin’s vignetted carte-de-visite portraits of himself
and his sister Mary Ann Nevin, 1873.
From © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections 2005-2009 Arr.
The slight variations in pose, framing and backgrounds in these two cartes are typical of the portraiture techniques Nevin used in the posing and production of the bulk of the 1870s Tasmanian convict “portraits” i.e. mugshots taken for the police. Nevin’s portrait here was his business carte-de-visite and his identification photograph used on employment documents.
Mary Ann was placed on the sick list of the Fairlie, on the voyage out, on 23 April 1852, together with her mother, and in the company of some of the 290 convicts and Parkhurst prison boys on board. She was listed as “child of guard”. See this article here and this article here on this site.
About the same time this photograph was taken, Mary Ann was attacked by a cow at Kangaroo Valley, sufficient to warrant medical attention and publication of the event in The Mercury, 1st February, 1873.
Mary Ann Nevin, attacked by a cow, The Mercury 1st February 1873
Their father, John Nevin, was a literate man. He published poetry in pamphlet form (1868, SLNW; 1881, SLTas), and established a night school for males in the school house at Kangaroo Valley, next to the Wesleyan Chapel on the property where the family settled.
Above: John Nevin, father of Thomas, Rebecca, Mary Ann and Jack, applied to the Board of Education to establish a night school for males at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley. From The Mercury, 28 May 1875.
His children were not only literate, his daughter Mary Ann won a Spelling Bee held at the Oddfellows Hall which was reported in The Mercury on 25 September 1875. Some of words the contestants were required to spell were difficult indeed and some are archaic today.
Mary Ann Nevin, sister of Thomas, wins the Spelling Bee,
reported in The Mercury, 25 Sept 1875.
Two years later, Mary Ann married John Carr, son of the late Captain James Carr, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on May 12, 1877:
CARR-NEVIN.- On the 3rd May, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, by the Rev. N. Bennett, John Carr, son of the late Captain Jas. Carr, to Mary Ann Nevin, only daughter of Mr. John Nevin, Kangaroo Valley.
Thirteen months later, she was dead. She died, aged 34 yrs, at Sandridge in Victoria, of causes unknown.
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.
Their mother Mary Nevin had died in 1875, aged 65 yrs, so by 1878, the only woman in the lives of the men, John Nevin, their father, and Thomas and Jack, his sons, was Thomas’ wife, Elizabeth Rachel Day, whom Thomas had married in 1871. There is no recorded marriage (to date) of Thomas’ younger brother Jack (William J.) who died of typhoid fever in 1891 while employed at the Hobart Gaol, aged 39 yrs. Their father John Nevin married again in 1879, at the age of 71 yrs, to Martha Salter, aged 46 years old. The deaths of all these female members of Nevin’s family may have prompted the father to take another wife as a gesture of in locus parentis.