Preview of new research 2023

This year we cross the globe to visit the fires of San Francisco, California, USA with Captain James Day (1851); to hear about old friends at Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland from John Nevin snr’s sisters (1855); and to survey the estate of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s many freehold properties at Gad’s Hill, Higham, County Kent, UK (1870), for a closer look at historical documents recently come to hand. These beautifully preserved archival ephemera deepen our knowledge of events in the lives of the preceding generation of photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) and his wife Elizabeth Rachel (Day) Nevin (1847-1914). We also cross the threshold of the 20th century to begin a new private collection called “The Grandchildren’s Albums”. The following are synopses of full articles to come in 2023. … More Preview of new research 2023

Christmas from our Archives

HAND-TINTED PORTRAITS as CHRISTMAS CARDS Red and green sprigs 1874
PHOTOGRAPHIC REDUCTIONS of LARGE DOCUMENTS Cdv of Mercury 1874; fire bell warnings 1878
CHARLES DICKENS and CAPTAIN GOLDSMITH The Gadshill mail box 1859
CHRISTMAS DRINKS at the MAYPOLE Drunk and disorderly at New Town 1885
PRISONERS partying 1881 and SAILORS hugging the holly 1850
CHRISTMAS CONCERT Theatre Royal Hobart ca. 1958 … More Christmas from our Archives

Prisoner John FITZPATRICK and/or John Fitzgerald 1867-1885

John Fitzpatrick per Lord Auckland 2 – not Lord Lyndoch 2 – was 52 years old when T. J. Nevin photographed him on being received at the Hobart Gaol during transfer of several dozen prisoners under remand and sentence between July 1873 and August 1874 from the derelict Port Arthur prison.  There may exist a mugshot taken on the arrest in 1880 of a younger prisoner called John Fitzgerald whose name John Fitzpatrick used in 1870 as an alias – or not, given the destruction of prison records during the Joseph Lyons era of government in the first decades of the 20th century. Fifteen year old John Fitzgerald arrived at Hobart on the same ship, the Lord Auckland 2, in August 1846 as 21 year old John Fitzpatrick. … More Prisoner John FITZPATRICK and/or John Fitzgerald 1867-1885

Captain Edward Goldsmith: imports to Tasmania, exports to everywhere, 1840s-1860s

By 1850 and less than half a century since British occupation, Hobart (lutruwita / Van Diemen’s Land / Tasmania) was a town abundant in exotic flora, in no small measure due to the importation of every kind of fruit, flower and vegetable by merchant mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) of Chalk, Kent and Rotherhithe, Surrey, UK. The press reported on 19 December 1850 that “Captain Goldsmith … has more than any other skipper, added to our Floral and Horticultural treasures”. The botanical “treasures” originated from the Americas, Europe and South Africa, in addition to carefully chosen specimens from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew (UK) and Sydney (NSW). Several were from Captain Goldsmith’s own plantations and nurseries in Kent (UK). Many varieties were imported at his own expense, others were consignments such as Mammoth strawberries for nurseryman Mr. Lipscombe, hops for Mr. Sharland, and a variety of exotic species selected for the Tasmanian Royal Society’s Botanical Gardens which were expected to thrive in Tasmania’s temperate climate. On return voyages Captain Goldsmith exported Tasmanian varieties of potato to assist Ireland in the grip of famine, and Norfolk Island pines to inhabit the otherwise bare hills of the Falklands Islands. From NSW he also imported animal stock such as merinos to improve Mr. Bethune’s bloodlines, and from the bloodstock of the Duke of Richmond he imported three fillies to improve the racing stock of the Lord brothers. There were also quantities of blue gum (eucalyptus globulus), skins of native animals, and indigenous plants conveyed back to Europe, destined for the great exhibition halls of London and Paris (1851-1855). Captain Edward Goldsmith retired to his estate in 1856 at Gadshill House, Telegraph Lane, Higham, Kent, UK. The large marsupial thylacine known then as the “Tasmanian wolf” and in modern times as the “Tasmanian tiger” may have been among the exports of indigenous animals he carried on one of his return voyages to London up to 1855 but the only export of a live thylacine to survive long enough to be photographed in 1865 by Frank Haes arrived at the London Zoo almost a decade later, in 1863, under the auspices of Tasmanian botantist Ronald Gunn. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith: imports to Tasmania, exports to everywhere, 1840s-1860s

In a party mood: prisoner Michael LYNCH (as Horrigan, Harrigan or Sullivan), Christmas Eve, December 24th 1881

Sixty-five (65) year old cook, Michael Horrigan (or Lynch, Harrigan and Sullivan), transported as Michael Lynch per Waverley (1) in 1841, was feeling festive on Christmas Eve, 24th December 1881. He celebrated by breaking into the residence of Alexander Denholm junior at Forcett, south-east of Hobart near Sorell, helping himself to a gold watch and some very fancy clothes. In a party mood, and probably dressed to the nines in Denholm’s tweeds, he then sought out and made sexual advances to Robert Freeman. Charged with indecent assault on Freeman in March 1882, Horrigan received a relatively light sentence of 12 months’ incarceration at the Hobart Gaol. … More In a party mood: prisoner Michael LYNCH (as Horrigan, Harrigan or Sullivan), Christmas Eve, December 24th 1881

Prisoner Cornelius HESTER, photograph by T. J. Nevin 1874

Photographs taken by T. J. Nevin for police and prison administration of two prisoners, Cornelius Hester and James Connolly have survived and are held in public collections. A photograph of Alfred Harrington, if one ever existed, is not extant. It might never have existed since Harrington served out his sentence at Port Arthur. He was not transferred to the Hobart Gaol with the first group of 60 prisoners from Port Arthur who were photographed by Nevin on being received at Hobart between 1872 and early 1873; nor was he included in the second group of 109 prisoners whose names were tabled in Parliament on 23 July 1873 to be relocated to the Hobart Gaol as a matter of some urgency with calls from both members of Parliament and the public at large to close down the Port Arthur prison. … More Prisoner Cornelius HESTER, photograph by T. J. Nevin 1874

T. J. NEVIN’s cdv’s of Wm PRICE and Wm YEOMANS; A. H. BOYD’s testimony 1875

Fresh sets of numbers and names by museum workers subsequently appeared on all these cdvs held at the QVMAG when they were removed from Beattie’s original collection in Launceston and deposited elsewhere for local, national and travelling exhibitions in the late 20th century. With digitisation of these photographic records in the first decades of the 21st century, some public institutions have omitted older, important archival information, and in the case of Thomas J. Nevin’s historically correct attribution as the original photographer, the NLA in particular has compromised their records with speculations about the corrupt commandant A. H. Boyd who did not personally photograph any prisoner during his service at the Port Arthur site 1871-1873. A non-photographer, A. H. Boyd’s name appeared on NLA records against their collection of Nevin’s mugshots for no other reason than to support  the Port Arthur Historic Site’s claim for World Heritage status in 2007, and principally at the behest of a former employee with a personal agenda seeking affirmation through derogation of Nevin’s work, family and descendants … More T. J. NEVIN’s cdv’s of Wm PRICE and Wm YEOMANS; A. H. BOYD’s testimony 1875

T. Nevin cdv at the “Who Are You” exhibition, NGV and NPG 2022

Photographic works extant in public collections taken by Hobart professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin  (1842-1923) in Tasmania during the 1860s and 1870s are regularly displayed at exhibitions held by Australian national galleries and museums. In many cases, a publication in book form accompanies the exhibition. This year’s exhibition titled WHO ARE YOU includes a hand-tinted carte-de-visite of a woman yet to be identified, taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1865-67. The exhibition of 230 works – 79 from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and 160 from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne – represent all visual media of photography, painting, sculpture, works on papers and video. … More T. Nevin cdv at the “Who Are You” exhibition, NGV and NPG 2022

Indigenous elder Truganini and poet Ann Kearney, 1875

John Woodcock Graves the elder (1795-1886), famous for his composition of the song “D’ye ken John Peel”, was a family friend and frequent visitor of Thomas Kearney’s father, William Keaney (1795–1870) of Laburnam Park, Richmond, Tasmania. His son, lawyer and townsman John Woodcock Graves the younger (1829-1876), defended Thomas Kearney (1824-1889) in a dispute in 1875 over the conveyancing of a lease five years earlier, in 1870, to neighbour William Searle for use of a road on his property. The defense was Kearney’s state of intoxication and severe delirium tremens prevented him from knowing what he was doing. Thomas Kearney’s wife, Ann Elizabeth Keaney nee Lovell, showed her gratitude to John Woodcock Graves in June 1875 by writing a poem praising his pretty youngest (non-Indigenous) daughter , Trucaninni Graves, named in honour of Indigenous elder and leader Truganini … … More Indigenous elder Truganini and poet Ann Kearney, 1875

Thomas J. Nevin at William Snelling’s inquest 1875

The original of this photograph of W. Snelling’s family butcher shop featuring five smiling individuals posed out front at the curb may have been taken by commercial photographer and government contractor Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1872-1874 shortly before former coach maker William Snelling’s death from lung disease in January 1875. The image has been disseminated widely across the internet and even offered for sale, in every instance purloined from the Archives Office of Tasmania’s Flickr collection of photographer James Chandler (1877-1945). Since James Chandler was not yet born when this photograph was taken in the 1870s, its inclusion by the AOT among dozens of his works taken in the 1900s on their Flickr page might suggest the date – 1870s – is incorrect, especially as there is no photographer attribution given to suggest another, earlier photographer. However, a number of works – stereographs as well as cabinet and cdv portraits  – which Thomas J. Nevin produced in the 1860s-1880s were not imprinted with his stamp if they were one of several taken in the same sitting or of the same view in the endeavour to obtain the best shot. The fact that Thomas J. Nevin was required to attend William Snelling’s inquest on January 25, 1875, strongly suggests the date given to the photograph is correct, in the first instance, and that William Snelling and Thomas Nevin were closely acquainted. In the second instance, it is the photograph’s provenance which supports Nevin’s attribution. It was in the possession of James Chandler, a distant relative and beneficiary of Thomas J. Nevin’s collections and indeed of his expertise, in the wider family network. James Chandler was related to Thomas J. Nevin by virtue of his mother Mary Chandler nee Genge’s sister’s late marriage – his aunt Martha Genge – to Thomas’ father, John Nevin snr. … More Thomas J. Nevin at William Snelling’s inquest 1875

Lost originals: the Nevin, Genge and Chandler family photographs

A boy and his photograph: no longer “Anon”
Item no. NS434-1-121 – “Photograph – Anon – boy – c. 1870s” from the series “NS434 Photographs of the Chandler, Genge and Hooper Families 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1960” was listed online at the Archives Office of Tasmania but without the digitised image when a Nevin family descendant recently requested a preview and scan. It was a stab in the dark, a random choice from the two dozen family photographs of the Nevin, Genge, and Chandler families from the Chandler/Hooper collection, more so since neither the “boy” nor the photographer was named. The scan provided by the AOT revealed this fine portrait of a very handsome eleven year old boy in uniform, immediately identifiable as a portrait taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1871 at his studio and business, the City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, Tasmania. The Archives Office has since placed the image online … … More Lost originals: the Nevin, Genge and Chandler family photographs

Shorthand, Hansard, Port Arthur, corruption and laughter in Parliament 18th July 1873.

“There is again another argument in favour of a shorthand writer which I am sure the Attorney-General will appreciate, even if it does not commend itself to the Colonial Treasurer; and that is there is at the present moment no record of important criminal trials, or the judgments of the Supreme Court, beyond what can be found in newspapers. Now, I should be the last man to impugn in any way the accuracy of newspaper reports, but I am sure that every reporter will agree, and every thinking person will see, that it is often necessary to cut down reports in order that matter of varied kind may also find a place in the columns of the paper, and that perhaps a point of vital importance to a lawyer may be cast aside for its dry, abstract, unreadable character. Besides this, the files of a newspaper are not a handy book of reference to a student or a professional man. To be of use to him the authorities he refers to must be in a collected form, and to be used by him they must bear the stamp of accuracy and official compilation I venture to assert that if the Government were to publish as is done in some other colonies, the judgments delivered in the Supreme Court, the legal profession would readily purchase the same at a price which would go a long way to recoup the Government the cost of production.” … More Shorthand, Hansard, Port Arthur, corruption and laughter in Parliament 18th July 1873.

Tragedy at Dickens’ honeymoon cottage, Goldsmith’s Plantation, Chalk, Kent (UK)

When Walter Mullender was found dead in Goldsmith’s Plantation with a gunshot wound to the head on Friday 7th March 1930, the inquest was conducted by Deputy Coroner Mr. F. V. Budden,  the purchaser of Charles Dickens’ house for a time (Kitton, Dickensiana, 1886:492). The cottage tenanted by the unfortunate Walter Mullender at Goldsmith’s Plantation in the parish of Chalk was referred to in contemporary press reports of the suicide as the Dickens Cottage and Honeymoon Cottage. Walter Mullender was buried at ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, known as Chalk Church, where Captain Edward Goldsmith was buried in July 1869. … More Tragedy at Dickens’ honeymoon cottage, Goldsmith’s Plantation, Chalk, Kent (UK)

NEVIN & SMITH, 1868: the client with white fingernails

Robert Smith was known to Mrs Esther Mather. She was not happy about the colouring he had applied to a portrait of her brother when he visited the studio she called “Smith’s” in Hobart. She said so in a letter to her step-son, dated 1865. Nothing was known about this partner of Thomas J. Nevin called Robert Smith until recently when portraits and stereoscopes bearing the business name NEVIN & SMITH came to light. Robert Smith may have been an independent photographer prior to forming a partnership with Thomas J. Nevin at Alfred Bock’s former studio. The partnership lasted less than a year and was promptly dissolved in February 1868 following the Royal visit to Hobart, Tasmania of Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria, in late 1867 on his first command, H.M.S. Galatea. Thomas J. Nevin continued the photographic business in his own name at Alfred Bock’s former studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, while Robert Smith departed for Goulburn NSW where he set up a photographic studio before taking to farming and politics. … More NEVIN & SMITH, 1868: the client with white fingernails

Captains, emigrants and convicts: the summer of 1842-3 in Hobart, VDL

Among the 220 bounty emigrants who disembarked at Hobart from the Sir Charles Napier on 29 November 1842 were members of the JUDD family from Barkway, Hertfordshire (UK). Parents Thomas Judd snr and Elizabeth Judd nee Cane [var. Cain] arrived with eight of their children: Elizabeth, Thomas, John, Ann, Rebecca, Susan, Martha and Henry. A remarkable account of the voyage and the tragedy which followed was documented by twenty-year-old Thomas Judd in his diary, from departure in August 1842 to arrival and aftermath, in January 1843. Twenty five years later, Hobart photographer Thomas J. Nevin would hear about this family from one of his sitters, Joseph THOMAS, farmer of Cygnet who married a daughter of the JUDD family, Rebecca Judd, in 1852 only to lose her in childbirth in 1864 … More Captains, emigrants and convicts: the summer of 1842-3 in Hobart, VDL

Best of friends: Emma PITT and Liz O’MEAGHER 1866

The verso inscription on this carte-de-visite – “I say Captain Mackie is not to show his face in Nelson without you Liz O’Meagher” – signed by Emma Pitt, dated 6th June 1866, has created differences in perception as to the identity of the young woman in the photograph, first by the seller (DSFB) on the one hand, and second by the purchaser (KLW NFC Imprint) on the other. Is it a photograph of Emma Pitt’s addressee “you Liz O’Meagher”, or does it represent the sender Emma Pitt herself? The cdv as a multimodal message is quite complex in tenor and text. Emma’s single sentence is a powerful theatrical gesture. She uses the deictic “you” as a cataphoric pointer forward to the name “Liz O’Meagher” without reference to the photograph itself or to the name of the woman it portrays. “This is you” or “this is me” are absent pointers which could identify the subject of the photograph. Liz O’Meagher is clearly intended as the receiver, the addressee, the “you” in script, in textual form on the verso of the cdv but there is the addition of a visual signifier in the message, the photograph of a young woman on the recto of the cdv, whose identity is not altogether straightforward despite comparisons with extant photographic records taken in the same decade and into the 1880s of (potentially) both young women … More Best of friends: Emma PITT and Liz O’MEAGHER 1866

A missing photograph and missing letter: John SMITH (x 2) per “Mangles” and Lord Calthorpe

One of these two men called John Smith per Mangles (1835), prisoner no. 2035 arrived with a letter of reference from his former employer, Lord Calthorpe, addressed to the Governor who would have been Lt-Gov Colonel George Arthur in August 1835 at the time of the ship’s arrival, the letter now apparently lost. The other prisoner called John Smith per Mangles, no. 2045 reportedly absconded from the Port Arthur prison on December 3, 1873. According to the Tasmanian police gazette notice of his escape on December 12, 1873 (p. 203), the police had in their possession photographs of prisoner no. 2045 which they stated they had distributed. Lacking further information, we are assuming the photographs were police mugshots rather than private studio portraits, and that the police had distributed them to colleagues in regional police stations. Those photographs, apparently, are now lost as well. A recidivist who consistently offended from 1860s to the 1880s, he would have been photographed by T. J. Nevin as a matter of course at the Hobart Gaol. … More A missing photograph and missing letter: John SMITH (x 2) per “Mangles” and Lord Calthorpe

Lost and found: one day in 1866 and the scientific racism which followed

In August 1866 at his Hobart studio, 42 Macquarie Street, photographer Charles A. Woolley (1834-1922) would ask of his three sitters, Truganini, William Lanney and Bessy Clark, to bear with him while he rearranged their clothing, repositioned the studio decor, swapped their seating, and gave instructions as to sightlines. This short session, perhaps no more than an hour, resulted in a series consisting of at least four full-length portraits of the trio as a group, each slightly different in configuration and composition. The earliest example to survive from this session, an original carte-de-visite produced by Charles A. Woolley before 1869, has surfaced in the family collections of Woolley’s young contemporary, Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923). … More Lost and found: one day in 1866 and the scientific racism which followed

Prisoner Thomas ARCHER alias Thomas SMITH or James SMITH 1875

Two copies of this one image of a prisoner identified on numerous transportation, gaol and police records as Thomas Archer, alias Thomas Smith or James Smith, are extant in public collections. All three names are associated with the prison ships John Calvin (to NSW) and Tory (from Norfolk Island to Hobart, VDL). Whether the prisoner in this image was known to the police administration as Thomas Archer alias Thomas Smith or James Smith, he was photographed just once at the Hobart Gaol in July 1875. His image was produced at the one and only sitting with government contracted photographer Thomas J. Nevin from his glass negative, and duplicated for police records. One of these copies, most likely the copy held at the Archives Office of Tasmania, was reproduced for print publication or exhibition in the 20th century. … More Prisoner Thomas ARCHER alias Thomas SMITH or James SMITH 1875

Captain Edward Goldsmith and friends, 1849

Francis Knowles, the reporter on the Hobart Courier who did attend Captain Goldsmith’s testimonial that Wednesday in January 1849, was well-known to barrister Edward Macdowell. Back in February 1846 Edward Macdowell had defended a Frenchman, Oscar Tondeur, who was accused of assaulting Francis Knowles – of whipping him about the shoulders, according to one account – because of a published article about the New Norfolk Regatta which Tondeur was led to believe was intended to ridicule his mannerisms and command of the English language. Knowles had likened him to the Punch and Judy “foreign gentleman” character that gained his name from the only utterance  he could muster – “Shallabalah”. The case raised laughter when heard at the Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, where Edwin Midwood, police information clerk, eagerly corroborated barrister Macdowell’s argument in lieu of the “certain ladies” who told Tondeur the slur was indeed Knowle’s intention. Always up for mischief, this was the same Edwin Midwood who most likely contributed to photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s dismissal from the position of Keeper at the Hobart Town Hall in December 1880 when Nevin was thought to be the “ghost” frightening the girls of Hobart Town at night dressed in a white sheet. Since Edwin Midwood never confessed to the prank, he is remembered principally nowadays as the father of another humourist, cartoonist Tom Midwood. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and friends, 1849

Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend” Edward Macdowell 1840s

In January 1849 Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle, merchant mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith, was presented with a silver goblet as a token of appreciation for his services to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land’s horticultural enterprises. The occasion was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 17th January 1849 with Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend”, barrister Edward Macdowell, nominated to make the presentation, but he was otherwise “engaged in Court.” Edward Macdowell was at the Supreme Court Hobart acting as counsel in the defense of John Buchanan, charged with the rape of a six year old child, reported in the press as either Mary Ann Challenor or Challender. A technical error on the part of the judge in this instance led to a pardon pending for the rapist John Buchanan. It was noted he had been capitally convicted of a similar offence in England but escaped punishment “by a technical error”. He managed again to escape the death sentence in the Hobart Supreme Court on a judicial error. … More Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend” Edward Macdowell 1840s

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 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’s visit to 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’s visit to 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