Prisoner John WILLIAMS and his scar 1874

The police gazette description on discharge of this prisoner John Williams noted a scar – “cicatrix on right side of chin”. A strong black mark running from the prisoner’s mouth down his chin on his left side rather than his right in the positive print looks to be an ink mark over the scar, possibly drawn by a viewer years or decades later. The scar appears on the viewer’s right and therefore on the prisoner’s left when facing the photograph, perhaps because the police gazette notice was written from the photograph in the absence of any prior record –  note the lack of detail on the conduct record below. Then again, the glass negative might have been used by the writer of the police gazette notice, fresh from the sitting, in which case the writer was probably the photographer Thomas Nevin or his assistant, his brother Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol. The glass negative would therefore show the black mark extending from the prisoner’s mouth to his chin on his right side, correctly so as the police gazette states, as in this flipped version … More Prisoner John WILLIAMS and his scar 1874

George and Matilda Cherry at Thomas Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

When a carte-de-visite taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the early 1870s was acquired for our private collection in 2013, the sitters were simply described as an unidentified “wealthy” couple. Examination of their facial features and general demeanour alongside earlier photographs showing – potentially – the same two people as their younger selves, prompted further investigation. Once a tentative comparison was made with photographs taken by George Cherry of himself and his wife Matilda in the 1850s-1860s, the possibility emerged that these two might be one and the same. Given the unhappy circumstances of their meagre finances and the failing health of both Matilda and George between 1870-1873, the way they dressed for the occasion, the way they posed and the way they regarded the photographer, led to the conclusion that this couple who sat for Thomas J. Nevin in 1872 may well have been Mary Ann Matilda James (1836-1873) who married photographer George Cherry (1820-1878) at Hobart in 1855. … More George and Matilda Cherry at Thomas Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

Reproductions of Charles A. Woolley’s portrait of Tasmanian Aborigines 1860s-1915

This carte-de-visite print of Charles Woolley’s original photograph of three Tasmanian Aborigines – Truganini (seated on left), William Lanne (centre, standing) and Bessy Clarke (on right), taken in 1866, was reprinted by another photographer’s studio, possibly Thomas Nevin’s, before Truganini’s death in 1876. The owner of the cdv print after purchase attempted hand-colouring of the drape and carpet with crimson. Similar inept hand-colouring was applied to a series of cdvs bearing Nevin’s name inscribed as “Clifford & Nevin” or his studio stamp with provenance in the north of Tasmania (QVMAG, Launceston; McCullagh Private Collection, etc). The provenance of this particular print is from the private collection of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s grandchildren. The word “living” on the printed label, verso of this print, which appears to have been pasted over the back of the original cdv and probably bearing the stamp of another photographic studio, uses the present tense to indicate that Truganini was still alive in April 1869, while Bessy Clarke had died, 12th February 1867, and William Lanne had died, 3rd March 1869, thereby dating the first reprint of this photograph to April 1869 but not necessarily any subsequent prints which could have been produced in every decade until the early 1920s in the name of tourism, especially by John Watt Beattie, when this particular trio was heralded to represent the “Last Aborigines of Tasmania”. … More Reproductions of Charles A. Woolley’s portrait of Tasmanian Aborigines 1860s-1915

Captain Hector Axup and the French lady of Green Island, 1888

“Green Island … is a remarkable island in more ways than one. Formerly a rabbit warren and mutton bird rookery (which perhaps accounts for its rich soil), it has gained a well-earned notoriety under the able management of the present proprietress (of whom more anon) for its extraordinary sheep-fattening properties. Yet this seemed an apparent paradox, for until a comparatively recent date not a blade of grass was visible, although it always bore the palm for the fattest sheep. Many interested in sheep farming paid it a visit for the purpose of solving the mystery. Upon questioning the lady above referred to (who by the way is French, and a devout Roman Catholic) as to what the animals fed on she replied, with the proverbial French gesture, that ‘God was good to give her sheep the instinct and feet which enabled them to dig for their food.’ They certainly thrive remarkably well upon whatever they dig up. One time she only kept a limited number, about 400, and these were all pets. To each of them she gave a French name; and each answered to it when called. About eight years since, one memorable morning, she was almost as much astounded as Robinson Crusoe at the ‘naked footprint’ to observe a narrow ridge of green grass close to the water’s edge, which has gradually extended until now it covers the whole of the island, embracing several varieties, but chiefly barley grass. This enabled her to augment the number to a thousand, all in excellent condition, and considered by a good authority to be a very large number per acre. However, the pets are a thing of the past, and I presume the great increase in numbers has exhausted the good lady’s stock of French names. But to return to the proprietress, whose career has rendered her not the least interesting feature of the island domain. The widow of a captain and owner of a smart bark which years ago traded between Australia and Mauritius, she was at one time well known in several of the seaport towns of Australia. Her stately figure rendered her conspicuous, and she was invariably accompanied with a pure bred Spanish poodle, and a black servant. From a life of almost oriental ease, she was left through the death of her husband to face the stern realities of the battle of life. She settled on what was then a barren and lonely isle, where with an adopted daughter, and no external aid, these two lone women commenced their hermit mode of existence. It would require the pen of a Dickens to do justice to the indomitable pluck and perseverance they displayed, and the massive stonewall fences which traverse the island in various directions are silent, yet speaking monuments of their untiring industry….” … More Captain Hector Axup and the French lady of Green Island, 1888

The case against Henry Stock (var. Stocks) 1884 for the murder of his wife and her child

“EXECUTION OF STOCK.
The execution of Henry Stock, who was convicted at the last Criminal Sessions of the murder of his wife and child, took place at 8 o’clock this morning, in the presence of Messrs. Seager, the Deputy Sheriff; Quodling, the Governor of the Gaol ; Hedberg, Sub Inspector of the Territorial Police ; Smith, the Under Gaoler : Rev. Geo. W. Shoobridge, Chaplain to the Gaol ; Rev. T. M. O’Callaghan ; the members of the Press, and the gaol officials. On Mr Seager asking Stock whether he had anything to say, he replied, ‘All I have to say is that I am innocent.’ When asked whether he had any message he would like taken to anybody, he replied ‘ .No.’ He was then pinioned by Solomon Blay, and he followed Mr Shoobridge to the drop. The condemned man appeared somewhat faint, but his step was firm, and he walked on to the platform bravely and exhibited no signs of breaking down. In his right hand he carried a little bunch of flowers with the following text attached : ‘ He shall speak peace unto the heathen.’ He then mounted the platform, the white cap was placed over his head, the bolt drawn, and the unfortunate man launched into eternity. The operation took over three minutes, Mr Shoobridge continuing the prayer during the whole time. Whilst in gaol Stock was respectful to all the officials. Up to the time of his death he made no confession. On Sunday night his rest was partially disturbed, but this morning he eat [sic – ate] a hearty breakfast of fish. The body was cut down after an hour’s time and examined by Dr. Turnley, who pronounced the body to be dead. His remains were conveyed at 11 o’clock to Cornelian Bay. Mr A. J. Taylor took cast of his head.” … More The case against Henry Stock (var. Stocks) 1884 for the murder of his wife and her child

Clients posing with Thomas J. Nevin’s big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer

When this young woman presented herself at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (Tasmania) in the early 1870s for her portrait, he posed her standing next to his big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer, her right side to camera. For good measure, he placed the vase in the shape of a hand holding a cornucopia on top of the stereo viewer – an ornament which appears in some of his other portraits of women – and lightly tinted the flowers on printing the photograph, probably in the hope of brightening the scene otherwise made sombre by this young woman’s deflected, melancholy gaze. … More Clients posing with Thomas J. Nevin’s big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer

Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

Joseph Walmsley, 14 years old, one of 267 convicts transported on the Isabella (2), arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 19th May 1842. He was tried at Lancaster, Salford Quarter Sessions (UK), transported for seven (7) years for stealing shoes, coppers and money. He had in his possession when arrested a William the Fourth coin. His record (https://stors.tas.gov.au/NI/1443405) was transcribed with “Again transported” at some date, though no record shows how this was literally possible, since he remained in the Australian colonies from 1842 (including three years in a Melbourne prison from 1869-1871) to his death from senility in Tasmania in 1891, at 67 years old (born therefore ca. 1824). Rather, his sentence of seven years was extended to ten years’ transportation in Hobart, 4th July 1850, for burglary. Thereafter, his criminal offences – he was a man “as works for a living” as he put it in 1872 – were a series of breaking and entering, robbery, burglary, larceny, and the occasional swearing at and assault of the constabulary (see records below). When he was photographed by government contractor T. J. Nevin in 1872 on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol, he was 46 years old. … More Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

Prisoner James Martin: criminal career 1860s-1890s

On the top right-hand corner of prisoner James Martin’s convict record, to the right of the words “Transported for” is a sketch of a bird pecking at crumbs on the ground, and below it, the letter “D” enclosing a cross and diamond, signifying James Martin was a (Catholic?) deserter from the army. The note on his Port Arthur record of earnings (CON94/1/1 Folio 143) records the date of his desertion, 8 November 1842, the place, Barbados, and the sentence, court martial, 14 years. But what does the bird signify? … More Prisoner James Martin: criminal career 1860s-1890s

Thomas J. Nevin at his finest: Camille Del Sarte and family 1860s-1870s

Who is this child?
Nine children were born to Camille Del Sarte and Ann Caroline Conroy between 1861 and 1874. Of the six boys, three are known to have survived to adulthood – Leopold Zavier, Camille Frederick and Ernest Ashley; and three did not live longer than 16 months – Francis Henry, Rolland Augustus (registered at birth as Gustavus Rowland at Hobart in 1864 but died in Sydney, 1865, 12 months old), and Henry John (twin of Henrietta Daisy).  Of the three girls, Marie Albertine survived to adulthood, Henrietta Daisy (twin of Henry) died before the age of 12 months, and the third – Madalene – is known to have married as Madeline [sic] Ethel in 1918. The first to survive was Marie Albertine Del Sarte. She was likely a Francophone, or more competently bilingual than her younger siblings, an important factor in what follows. If this confident lad who visited Thomas Nevin’s studio is indeed a son of Camille Auguste and Ann Caroline Del Sarte nee Conroy, his identity could be established from the ages of two of their sons who were 3 to 6 yrs old between 1874-1876 while Thomas J. Nevin was still active at his Elizabeth St. studio. He could be Leopold Zavier (born 1866 in Sydney NSW who died in Victoria 1936). Or he could be Camille Frederick (born Sydney 1873, died Victoria 1960). The third son, Ernest Ashley (born Sydney 1874), was still a baby, less two years old and too young to be a contender. … More Thomas J. Nevin at his finest: Camille Del Sarte and family 1860s-1870s

Captain Edward Goldsmith’s “unwieldy steamer”, the twin ferry “Kangaroo”

Described as “Denison’s Folly” by the colonial press in 1855; a great lumbering vessel by Mr. A. Riddoch the City Coroner in July 1896; an unwieldy steamer by Justice Dodds in October 1896, and a hazard to shipping by shipwreck enthusiasts, the Kangaroo was built by Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith at his slipyard on the Queen’s Domain, Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for the colonial government. It measured 110ft x 40ft x 11ft, consisting of two boats each of 11ft beam. It was strongly built of blue gum and planked with kauri pine. The engines came from London, and were placed on the deck. The paddle wheel, with 13 floats worked in the middle between the two boats. The rudders were at each end. The trial trip took place on September 29, 1855. Commanders of the Kangaroo in succession were Captain Rockwell, Captain Hooper, Captain Taylor, and the O’May brothers Captains Harry O’May, and George O’May. Two incidents involving Captain James Staines Taylor and the Kangaroo are recounted here . … More Captain Edward Goldsmith’s “unwieldy steamer”, the twin ferry “Kangaroo”

The sweetest young brother: thirteen year old Jack Nevin 1865

Of all four siblings – from the eldest Thomas James to his sisters Rebecca Jane and Mary Ann – William John Nevin, known to the family as Jack, was the youngest child with the most to gain from his family’s decision to uproot their lives in County Down, Ireland and start again in the remote British penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land. A babe in arms when they arrived at Hobart in July 1852, and a toddler by the time his father had built their cottage at Kangaroo Valley adjacent to Jane Franklin’s Museum in 1854, Jack Nevin at 13 years old was a beautiful boy, the perfect choice for his older brother Thomas to practice full-length studio portraiture … More The sweetest young brother: thirteen year old Jack Nevin 1865

John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s younger brother Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin (1852-1891) was a wardsman at the Hobart Gaol when James Thornton was imprisoned on 23 July 1889 to serve a sentence of twelve months for “unlawfully wounding” his son-in-law Thomas Webster. Thornton died at the gaol a few months into his sentence, on 4th December 1889. John Nevin gave evidence at the inquest into the prisoner’s death, caused by “exhaustion consequent upon cancer of the mouth”, according to the coroner. The prisoner James Thornton was 79 years old, born in Ireland, a hair-dresser of Liverpool Street, Hobart. His daughter Amy Amilda Thornton married Thomas Webster in 1886, and gave birth to a son, also called Thomas William Webster (b. 9 June 1886) who would become, as a 3 yr old toddler, the flashpoint which triggered Thornton’s stabbing assault on his son-in-law Thomas Webster in 1889. … More John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Alfred Bock and the Bayles sisters

Outdoors, just back from a stroll in the fresh air country air, hat in hand, was the theme chosen for Mary Louisa Bayles’ session at Alfred Bock’s studio ca. 1865.  He stood her next to a circular metal garden table decorated with a metal stand supporting a bowl of artificial fruits and flowers. Behind her, both on her left and right, two plaster plinths were to suggest a patio balustrade leading to steps rising to a terrace just out of frame. Painted on the backsheet to the viewer’s right, the large tree reaching to the top was to soften the edge of the frame in similar manner to the drape which nearly always appears in Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin’s indoor studio portraits. In the distance to the viewer’s left, the smaller tree was to deepen perspective while allowing enough blank space to foreground the pose Mary Louisa chose as a complement to the outdoor decor. Only the carpet appears incongruous in a setting which has so much outdoor furniture. That same carpet with a pattern of large dark lozenges rimmed in white appears in several portraits by Thomas Nevin of private clients. He may have acquired it from H. H. Baily whose studio was located almost opposite in Elizabeth Street. It appears in Baily’s portrait of Sara Crouch who was photographed by Thomas Nevin about the same time, ca. 1872. … More Alfred Bock and the Bayles sisters

Elizabeth Allport nee Ritchie at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio 1876

This photograph taken by Thomas J. Nevin at his studio, the City Photographic Establishment of Elizabeth Allport (1835-1925) is arguably the finest portrait taken of her in her mature years. There is no other photograph – and there were many taken throughout her life – which reveals her sublime grace and character to this extent, a quality due in no small measure to the professional expertise of Thomas J. Nevin. Elizabeth Allport was the elder daughter of Lieutenant Thomas Ritchie, wife of Morton Allport (1830–1878), mother of Curzona (Lily), Minnie, Cecil, Evett and Henry Allport, and a friend to the family of Thomas J. Nevin, his wife Elizabeth Rachel Day and his sister Mary Anne Nevin. … More Elizabeth Allport nee Ritchie at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio 1876

Prisoner James GLEN 1874 and 2003

James Glen was arrested for receiving the stolen plate from Webb’s Hotel, per notice published in the police gazette of 10th February 1871. He was convicted at the Supreme Court on 4th July, 1871 of “feloniously receiving” and sentenced to ten (10) years. The police noted his ship of arrival in Tasmania as the George & Susan, a whaling vessel of 356/343/287 (tons), built at Dartmouth, MA (1809) and wrecked at Wainwright Inlet, Alaska, Aug 10, 1885. In order to have arrived at Hobart on board this ship, James Glen must have joined its crew at Fremantle, Western Australia as soon as his conditional pardon (CP) was granted, working his passage on the voyage prior to the vessel entering the South Pacific whaling grounds. … More Prisoner James GLEN 1874 and 2003

Gifts for Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Hobart 1868

Between 1865 and 1868, the partnership advertised the firm  Nevin & Smith with three types of verso stamps. The most rare and unusual is this one printed for the visit to Hobart Tasmania of Alfred Ernest Albert, the Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria, in command of his yacht HMS Galatea, a steam-powered sail-equipped frigate arriving on 6th January and departing on 18th January 1868 for NSW where, on his return to Sydney, he survived an assassination attempt at Clontarf (12th March 1868). The Children’s Song of Welcome to Prince Alfred. a choral march, was written with lyrics by Louisa Anne Meredith and music by Frederick A. Packer for the occasion. The score was printed with a cover illustration depicting a laurel wreath in green ink encircling the name “Alfred of England”, L.A.M. Del. et Lith. and marked with L.A. Meredith’s monogram. The inside page was printed as a direct address to Queen Victoria. Prince Alfred was presented with an album containing “eighty-three photographs illustrative of the scenery of Tasmania, forty-eight portraits of children born in the colony, and nine plates immediately connected with the Prince’s visit” at his final reception, 18 January 1868. … More Gifts for Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Hobart 1868

Alfred Hope and his landau with Albert Nevin early 1900s

This tattered – and therefore much loved – photograph was found among the family memorabilia of Albert Edward Nevin (1888-1955), the youngest child born to photographer Thomas J. Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day in 1888 at 236 Elizabeth St. Hobart. One of Albert’s children – a grandchild of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin – wrote the inscription on the verso in capital letters: “HOPES CARRIAGE WITH MY DAD ON HORSE BEHIND” – identifying the man on horseback behind the carriage as Albert Nevin. As to the identities of the rest of the group in this photograph, including the identity of the photographer, all is open to speculation. The more senior man seated centre may have been William Hope, owner of the carriage; the younger driver holding the reins his son Alfred Hope who took over his fathers’s horse-drawn cab business in 1913. As a group dressed for a semi-formal occasion in the fashions of the Edwardian period (1890s -1920), their destination might have been the Northall Park race course at Moonah or the Risdon Park race course in Bell Street, New Town, which would explain why Albert Nevin was on horseback accompanying the group. He trained pacers and rode several horses at both tracks: on Saturday 20th February, 1915, at Northall Park, for example, Albert Nevin the rider was reported to make a splendid recovery in the saddle when his mount Dinah Rose’s “gear went wrong” during the second round of the February Cup. … More Alfred Hope and his landau with Albert Nevin early 1900s

Sarah Crouch at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

“SEVERAL Ladies having been long impressed with the desolate state of females occupying the sphere of domestic servants on leaving their situations while seeking others, the following ideas have been suggested: –
“That a society of ladies be formed, the design of which shall be to protect ALL lone female servants, and afford such advice as experience dictates and by judicious care and oversight prevent exposure to many evils which strangers in the colony are subject to; and also to provide a “Home” to ALL female servants willing to avail themselves of its privileges at a rate within the reach of their limited means. The “Home” will be conducted as much as possible in accordance with similar Institutions in London. Such a home will preclude the necessity of the well-intentioned taking up their abode with persons whose object is gain to themselves, though it should be the destruction of their supporters. With this view the ladies have taken a house in High-street, near the New Town Road (a respectable neighbourhood) at a very moderate rent, in which there is a sitting-room, with table requisites for the use of the inmates, and all necessary utensil for cooking, washing, &c – the dormitories furnished with beds, bedding, and everything necessary to the comfort of those desirous of placing themselves under the guardianship of the ladies….” … More Sarah Crouch at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

James McEvoy’s fine fabrics ex Captain Goldsmith’s “Parrock Hall” Sydney 1845

“ALBERT HOUSE,
PITT-STREET.
JAMES M’EVOY, in returning thanks to his friends and patrons for the very liberal patronage bestowed upon him since his commencement in business, hastens to inform them that he has just opened, ex Parrock Hall, a splendid description of goods, consisting of – First rate West of England blue and black cloths; Buckskins, black and white check cassimeres; The most splendid description of shawl pattern vestings; Washing satins, and silk velvets; Figured and plain satins, for scarfs or waitscoats; Corded silk ditto, buff cassimeres. An immense assortment of ducks and drills, unequalled in the colony for strength and durability. And a most splendid assortment of cloths and trimmings for ladies’ riding habits. J. M. also begs to inform the aristocracy and gentry of Australia, that he has in his possession a collection of
LIVERY BUTTONS, With crests belonging to the leading families in New South Wales; and being the only holder of the above in Sydney, he feels proud in asserting that no other house can furnish them. He also respectfully offers his services in procuring from England any crest button which may be attached to a family, at a trifling expense… ”
More James McEvoy’s fine fabrics ex Captain Goldsmith’s “Parrock Hall” Sydney 1845

Captain Hector Axup at the farewell to “S.S. Salamis” Sydney 1900

“In moralising as I paced the deck, sad thoughts would intrude connected with regard to devastating war, and how few of those noble fellows might be spared to come back to their homes and families. However, it is better to keep such thoughts in the background, for wherever our great Empire wants her sons, I am proud to think there are tens of thousands ready, as Kipling puts it, ‘to chuck their jobs and join,’
“Our staunch little bark, the Acacia, of which I am chief mate, completed a splendid run from Sydney to Clarence River in 36 hours, over 300 miles. We load a cargo of iron bark for Lyttelton, New Zealand.” … More Captain Hector Axup at the farewell to “S.S. Salamis” Sydney 1900

“Hair inclined to be curley”: prisoner Henry SMITH aka Clabby aka Cooper

Prisoner Henry CLABBY alias Cooper, 22 yrs old, and locally born (“native”) in Tasmania was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol for the Municipal Police Office Hobart, between 4th-24th January 1874. This photograph of Henry Clabby was originally held at the QVMAG, numbered “142” on recto and transcribed verso in 1915 for display at convictarian John Watt Beattie’s Port Arthur Museum, located in Hobart. It is now held at the TMAG Ref: Q15600. More than sixty photographs taken by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s of Tasmanian prisoners – or “convicts” as they are labelled in tourism discourse – are held at The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. See 56 copies from the TMAG Collection, acquired by this weblog in 2015. Unlike the majority of those prisoner mugshots mounted as cdvs from the QVMAG and TMAG collections which show verso evidence of having been pasted to paper or cardboard and then removed, this cdv of Henry Clabby is clean apart from the curator’s number recto “142”, suggesting it was reprinted in recent times, or even composed entirely as a new artefact for exhibition in the late 20th century. … More “Hair inclined to be curley”: prisoner Henry SMITH aka Clabby aka Cooper

Thomas Nevin, his studio carpet, and pauper William Graves

A prisoner by the name of William GRAVE arrived at Hobart on board the convict transport Lady Montague in December 1852. He was already lame when he arrived. His records stated “A cripple walks with a crutch.” When photographer Thomas J. Nevin assisted the New Town Territorial Police police in the arrest of a well-known identity in the Glenorchy area called William GRAVES in May 1875 , the warrant described the man as “lame of right leg, walks with a crutch”. One month later, when he was discharged from Hobart, his left leg, not the right, was recorded by police as “crippled”. So who was this man, photographed standing on Thomas Nevin’s carpet? … More Thomas Nevin, his studio carpet, and pauper William Graves

T. J. Nevin’s 1870s mugshots the inspiration for 21st century artworks

“The images presented are inspired by photographic images of the prisoners of Port Arthur taken by the Tasmanian photographer Thomas Nevin in the 1870s. The photos were used as mug-shots, legal instruments taken for the police and not meant to be ethnographic artifacts. The images are, however, strikingly beautiful with the expressions and poses of the prisoners allowing us a window into the lives of these men. When Nevin’s photos were first exhibited together at the Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston in 1977 the curator, Mr. John McPhee, noted; ‘These photographs are among the most moving and powerful images of the human condition.’ Through the paintings presented, you can sense the emotions of these long-deceased spirits; their presence is represented as a ghostly imprint on the golden surface of this vast and beautiful land.” – Lisa Sharoun

“I never lost the look of the man” – Kenneth Pomlett
More T. J. Nevin’s 1870s mugshots the inspiration for 21st century artworks

Thomas Nevin’s stereographs from the Pedder collection

Lawyers, barristers, magistrates, politicians, police superintendents, detectives, their families and their prisoners were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin from the late 1860s to the 1880s. The Pedder family of magistrates and police officers, the family of solicitor John Woodcock Graves the younger, the McVilly family of teachers and police officers, and the family of Attorney-General the Hon. W. R. Giblin, all made use of Thomas J. Nevin’s commission with the colonial government’s Lands and Survey Department, the Municipal Police Office and Mayor’s Court, and the Hobart City Corporation to provide them with stereographic views and carte-de-visite portraits. The stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868-1870 of the Lady Franklin Museum, Kangaroo Valley bearing the inscription “A. Pedder” on verso, is one of least four held in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collections. Solicitor Alfred Pedder (1881-1977) may have kept these stereographs by Thomas Nevin from the estate of his father, Police Superintendent Frederick Pedder (1841-1923) who was a colleague of Nevin’s at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart. Alfred Pedder’s daughter Sylvia in turn may have donated them to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in the 1970s … More Thomas Nevin’s stereographs from the Pedder collection

Death of Constable John Nevin in the typhoid epidemic of 1891

“During the years 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1891, the City of Hobart, in common with the principal cities of Australia, was visited by a most severe and extraordinary epidemic wave of typhoid fever. Although, locally the General death-rate from all causes, and for all ages, was not materially increased above the years preceding the epidemic, still the mortality of persons in the prime of life, especially males between the ages of 20 and 35 years, was unusually large. The alarm caused by this severe visitation very naturally raised a keen enquiry into the sanitary condition of the city ; and many intelligent persons, believing that the epidemic was mainly or solely due to local causes, and particularly to defective drainage and other imperfect sanitary provisions, have since made vigorous and continuous demands for a drastic reform of our sanitary system….” … More Death of Constable John Nevin in the typhoid epidemic of 1891

Youngest daughter Minnie Nevin m. James Drew (1884-1974)

Race horses, draught horses and trotters were the focus of Minnie Drew’s family life and livelihood. Husband James Drew entered a starter “Miss Bobby” in the Spring Handicap, January 1917, and younger brother Albert Nevin, recently returned from Launceston with his new bride Emily, was racing his starter “Rosalind” in the Derwent Handicap at Moonah by August. James Drew also showcased draught and dray horses at the annual Hobart Show, selling them eventually when he acquired a motor van for his parcel delivery business. Minnie’s older brother William Nevin established a carrier and furniture removal business which he partnered with James Drew in the 1910s, operating from Morrison St. Hobart Wharf. When siblings May, Albert, George and William Nevin moved to the property  at 23-29 Newdegate St. in 1923 on the death of their father Thomas J. Nevin (once a photographer, always a photographer – he was buried with “photographer” listed as his occupation on his burial certificate), William Nevin maintained the carrier business there until his untimely death in a horse and cart accident in 1927. … More Youngest daughter Minnie Nevin m. James Drew (1884-1974)

Rosanna Mary Domeney nee Tilley at Thomas Nevin’s studio 1870s

Rosanna Mary Domeney’s father John Tilley, licensed victualler who died in 1850, had stipulated that his Trustees Thomas Mezger and Christopher Basstian provide for the maintenance and education of his daughter Rosanna Mary until she married or turned 21 years old, whichever came first, and that the profits from his estate be passed to her for her exclusive use and not of any husband, should she marry. However, when her mother died in 1848, the properties she had inherited from both parents were registered jointly on the Valuation Rolls in both her name and that of her husband William Lemuel Domeney once she was married. Her Hobart address was 75 Warwick St. Hobart by 1872, the year she most likely visited Thomas Nevin for a portrait at his studio. In 1876 she sought to convey the land and four properties described in Title Deed No. 06/2114, dated 15 August 1876 to Trustees William Robert Giblin (1840-1887) and William Ansty Knight “with the concurrence of the said William Lemuel Domeney” her husband, and when both Trustees were deceased by 1889, she transferred their interest to Henry William Chapman and Henry Priest who offered the Warwick Street properties for sale within months of Rosanna Domeney’s death in 1907.. … More Rosanna Mary Domeney nee Tilley at Thomas Nevin’s studio 1870s

Prisoner Richard PHILLIPS 1874

When Thomas J. Nevin photographed this prisoner Richard Phillips in July 1874 at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, on the occasion of the prisoner’s discharge from a two year sentence for housebreaking and larceny, he was confronted with a problem: the prisoner Richard Phillips was blind. The resultant photograph shows a man who is straining to make out the figure of Nevin the photographer standing next to the camera just a metre or so in front of him, his brows and eyelids squeezed tight to the point of nearly blocking out all light. … More Prisoner Richard PHILLIPS 1874

Prisoner George GROWSETT 1860 and 1873

“The prisoner in a most insolent manner said he knew very well that the question was only a matter of form ; he had not been tried at all, and did not consider that he had had a fair trial. The witnesses had sworn what they liked, and he had not been defended by counsel ; in fact, he had been sold like a bullock in Smithfield Market ; he knew very well that His Honor had his sentence ready written before him, and that the whole thing was a matter of form. He knew very well that he should have a long sentence, but His Honor had better sentence him to be hanged, as he should never do a long sentence ; in fact, he could not do it whether he received it or not…” (Mercury 7 September 1860) … More Prisoner George GROWSETT 1860 and 1873

Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Thomas Nevin had operated as a commercial photographer and government contractor since 1868, when W. R. Giblin acted on behalf of his interests in the dissolution of his partnership with Robert Smith advertised as the firm “Nevin & Smith” at 140 Elizabeth St.Hobart. In June 1872, for example, Nevin provided the Lands and Survey Department with a series of stereographs recording the damage caused by the Glenorchy landslip. As likely as not, he also provided lengthy witness reports to the officials at the Municipal Council, to reporters at the Mercury, and to Public Works Department contractors who regularly gathered at James Spence’s hotel The Royal Standard, next door to Nevin’s studio, 142 -140 upper Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (looking south from the corner of Patrick St.). As a contractor himself, he would have taken a keen interest in the meetings at which James Spence’s cohort of contractors’ aired their “grievances received at the hands of the Public Works Department”. … More Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Thomas Nevin and Alfred Barrett Biggs 1872-1876

Posing with an upturned riding crop or cane in his right hand, his left hand resting on the chair where someone decorously placed a book and top hat as signifiers of class and literacy, Alfred Barrett Biggs appears anything but relaxed at the point of capture, despite the casual stance with right leg bent at the knee crossing the left. Although his gaze fell slightly to the left of where Thomas Nevin stood while composing the shot, the exchanges of dialogue between the two men at that point would not explain why Alfred’s eyes fairly burn, they are so bright. Very light or pale blue eyes can cause this sort of look and pin pricks or black dots were sometimes used by studio assistants to accentuate or even animate the client’s eyes when they do appear too pale. Even though Alfred’s eyes do not appear exceedingly light in later portraits taken in the 1880s and 1890s (see Addenda 3 below), his pupils were darkened in this portrait with black ink, and because the alignment of each black dot is slightly askew, Alfred appears somewhat overwrought and anguished. … More Thomas Nevin and Alfred Barrett Biggs 1872-1876

Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

The large wall poster (on right) at the exhibition titled “Photographs of Australian and British Convicts” which opened at the Hobart Penitentiary (the former Hobart Gaol and House of Corrections, Campbell St.) in July 2019 features the mugshot of James Blanchfield taken by Thomas Nevin in 1875, together with a jolly japes biography of the prisoner, finishing with the sentence:

“…at the age of fifty he found himself sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and was packed off to Port Arthur where this photograph was taken.”

Actually, no: as the police gazette states, James Blanchfield was 48 years old on release in 1875, not 50 years old on sentence in 1873, and he spent less than two months at the Port Arthur prison, from 21st February 1873 to 20th April 1873. He served just twenty-six months of a three year sentence, not a five year sentence when he was discharged in April 1875. Additionally, he was photographed, not at the Port Arthur prison as claimed by the exhibition poster but at the Hobart Gaol, the very same site where Thomas Nevin’s photograph of him taken for police in 1875 now looms over visitors to the current exhibition, exactly 144 years later. … More Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

Prisoner John NOWLAN alias DOWLING 1870-1876

This prisoner stated that he arrived free in Tasmania as a sailor on the Bangalore with the name John Dowling, but he might have arrived as a convict with the name John Nowlan on the transport London in March 1851. Shipping documents testifying to his arrival on the Bangalore at any port and under any circumstance unfortunately, if true, are not extant. He was sentenced to five years in March 1870 for indecent assault as John Dowling. He was photographed as John Dowling by T. J. Nevin on release from the House of Corrections, Hobart in December 1874, and convicted again in February 1875 for larceny. A year later, in February 1876 he was convicted at the Supreme Court, Hobart, for rape of a girl between 10-11 yrs old, this time as John Nowlan, alias John Dowling. The sentence for rape was death, commuted to life imprisonment. John Nowlan alias John Dowling was sent to the Port Arthur prison on 25th February 1876 and transferred back to the House of Corrections, Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. on 17th April 1877. A prisoner who called himself John Dowling died at the New Town Charitable Institution, Hobart in 1906 of senilis. … More Prisoner John NOWLAN alias DOWLING 1870-1876

Thomas Nevin, Sam Clifford and the Flying Squadron at Hobart, January 1870

“The Flying Squadron arrived at Hobart Town on Sunday 2nd January. The Squadron consists of H.M.S. Liverpool, 30 gun steam, frigate, 2,056 tons; -H.M.S. Endymion, 21-gun steam frigate, 2,480 tons; H.M.S Scylla, 10-gun steam- corvette 1,467 tons; H.M.S. Liffey, 30-gun steam frigate, 2,654 tons; H.M.S. Barrosa, 17-gun steam corvette, 1,700 tons; H.M.S. Pheobe, 30-gun steam frigate, 2,800 tons. Large numbers of spectators assembled in various spots to watch the little fleet coming up the harbour under full sail. His Excellency the Governor and suite paid a visit to Rear-Admiral Hornby on board the Liverpool. During the stay of the Squadron, the vessels were thrown open for public inspection and thousands of persons availed themselves of the opportunity. The Liverpool was of course the ship which attracted the greatest number of visitors. The officers had a gay time of it during their eight days stay. They were entertained by the Governor to several dinner parties, to a grand ball at Government House, to a lawn party at the same place, followed by an old colonists’ ball, a regatta, a cricket match, in which both the Governor and Admiral Hornby took part, concerts theatrical entertainments, a picnic at Fern Tree Gully, &c., so that time did not by any means hang heavily on their hands, and they must have left the “tight little island” with the impression that they had a jolly time of it, and had been exceedingly well treated….” … More Thomas Nevin, Sam Clifford and the Flying Squadron at Hobart, January 1870

Joseph Somes, Captain Edward Goldsmith and the “Angelina” 1844-46

In all, the month of July 1845 saw Captain Edward Goldsmith make some swift changes to the course of his life and that of his eldest son Richard Sydney Goldsmith. Having swapped his commission to sail the Parrock Hall, due to depart on 15 July 1845 on yet one more round trip to NSW, he sailed instead on that very date for Sydney in command of the Angelina,  Robert Brook’s newest acquisition which was transformed from a female transport ship within months of returning from Tasmania (VDL). Now fitted out as a  merchant barque with a cargo of luxury goods and well-heeled passengers, the Angelina sailed for Port Jackson, NSW on 19th July 1845 with Richard Sydney Goldsmith indentured as his father’s  apprentice thanks to another swift decision on his father’s part to cancel his son’s prior engagement as an apprentice on the Perseverance. … More Joseph Somes, Captain Edward Goldsmith and the “Angelina” 1844-46

A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

This stereograph by Thomas Nevin foregrounds an unidentified young woman, who may have been one of event organiser John Woodcock Graves’ four young daughters – Mimi (b. 1862), Mathinna (Matte b. 1859) Trucaninni (Truca b. 1864), the latter two both given Tasmanian Aboriginal names – or even fourteen year old Jean Porthouse Graves (b. 1858) who collected these photographs of the trip by Thomas Nevin for her album (see her portraits by Nevin below). This young woman with a steady gaze and fully rounded face, however, was possibly in her late teens. As she is sitting next to Henry Dresser Atkinson (1841–1921), she may have been his fiancee Sarah-Ann Ward (b. 1841 Launceston). Their son  Henry Bruné Dresser, born  on 17th  March 1874 at Gordon, Tasmania, was nursed – so legend goes – by Tasmanian Aboriginal  woman Trugernanner (Truganini) (1812–1876). Henry Dresser Atkinson’s first appointment on arrival from England was the Channel mission at Oyster Cove where Truganini’s group had been relocated to her traditional territory. … More A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

Prisoner James ROGERS forges into the leap year 1868

Lavington George Roope deposed : I am a clerk of the Bank Of Australasia, in Hobart Town. The note produced is a £1 note of our bank which has been altered to a £5 note. In the right hand corner the figure 1 has been erased and the word “Five” has been written in. One of the numbers has also been erased in two places. The O and part of the N in the body of the note have been erased, and an F and an I have been substituted. The letter S has been added to the word pound. The word ” at” has been erased in the body of the note. The words one pound in the left hand bottom corner of the note have been erased, and the words five pounds have been written in in old English letters. In the genuine £5 notes these words are in old English letters. The letters O and part of the N printed in green across the note have been erased, and the letters F and I have been substituted, making the word ” Five”. I can trace the erasures in most places but not distinctly in the large letters. … More Prisoner James ROGERS forges into the leap year 1868