In the year 1877, about 300 people resided in the village of Augusta located in the county of Buckingham, Tasmania. It was in the police district of Hobart, the electoral district of Glenorchy, and home to the settler family of Thomas J. Nevin: his parents John and Mary Nevin, and his three siblings Rebecca Jane, Mary Ann, and William John.
Excerpt from: Bailliere’s Tasmanian Gazetteer and Road Guide 1877
The digitised version of the Tasmanian Gazetteer 1877 is online at The State Library of Tasmania.
AUGUSTA (Co. Buckingham) is a postal village and residential suburb of Hobart Town, in the police district of Hobart, and electoral district of Glenorchy. It is situate on the main road from Hobart Town to Launceston, about 2 miles from the former place, and on the New Town Rivulet, which empties itself in to the Derwent, near Risdon. A portion of Mount Wellington overlooks the district. There are no mills or manufactories in Augusta at present, except a pottery. The surrounding district is agricultural to a large extent. There are several coal seams in the district; two or three are being worked, and produce very good domestic fuel. The communication with Hobart Town is by ‘busses and other conveyances which run hourly. The city of Hobart Town adjoins Augusta N.W. There is one hotel in the village, the Harvest Home. The surrounding country is undulating and hilly. The population numbers about 300 persons. There are places of worship as follows: Church of England, Church of Rome, and Wesleyan Church.
Thomas Nevin’s father John Nevin (b.1808 Ireland – d. Hobart 1887) had served in the Royal Scots First Regiment in the West Indies from 1825 to 1836 and at the Canadian Rebellions of 1837-38. He was pensioned at London, West Canada in 1841. He worked his family’s passage to Australia as a Chelsea out-pensioner guard of adult convicts and warden of the 32 exiled boys from the Parkhurst Prison, accompanied by the 99th Regiment on board the Fairlie, arriving in Hobart Tasmania, July 1852. With his wife Mary (b. 1812 England – d. Hobart 1875) and four children all under 12 yrs old, he settled at Kangaroo Valley, also once known as Kangaroo Bottom, near the village of Augusta a few miles from Hobart. He built a cottage there on the rise above the (Lady) Franklin Museum on the Ancanthe estate, with views to the River Derwent (now demolished). It was his home for more than three decades where he raised his family, buried his daughter and then his wife, remarried, made and exported jam, taught children and adults, wrote about and exhibited wildlife, and tended his gardens and orchards adjoining the Museum until his death in 1887. An affectionate obituary was published in The Mercury, 11 October 1887 by the “boys in the Royals” who “had known him in Canada 50 years ago.”
John Nevin may have left Tasmania briefly to seek his fortune on the Californian gold fields after embarking on the dangerous voyage to Tasmania, especially so with a babe in arms (William John). In 1852, already married and father of four children, he settled happily at Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania. He published a poem in pamphlet form in 1868 titled “My Cottage in the Wilderness” (Mitchell Library, SLNSW) in which he alludes with regret to his days as a “rover” but which celebrates peace, solitude, contentment with his life’s choices, delight in his garden, the security of his wife and children, and the fruits of his industry, despite the death of his daughter Rebecca in 1865.
On 11th, July 1854, John Nevin snr, schoolmaster at Kangaroo Valley, paid £5 at Hobart for the passage of a “relative”. No details of the passenger, the ship or origin of the journey are listed, but the date may coincide with John Nevin’s brief absence at the gold fields.
John Nevin 1854 Schoolmaster Kangaroo Valley Tasmania
Payment of ticket for one relative
Source Citation: Register of applications for immigrants from Europe, of payments received and bounty tickets issues with some monthly and half yearly summaries; Film: SLTX/AO/MB/266; Series: CB7/30.
Eldest son Thomas Nevin, 26 yrs by 1868, with a successful photographic business at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, took a photograph of his parents at the front door of their cottage in 1868 to celebrate (and illustrate) the publication of his father’s poem “My Cottage in the Wilderness“. The photograph with the poem was exhibited at the Mechanics Institute and Wellington Exhibitions, 1868. It may have been lithographed, as were many of his colleague’s Samuel Clifford, for publication. Details in both John Nevin’s obituary and lines in poem describe the location and aspect of the cottage.
From John Nevin’s Obituary (Mercury, 11 October 1887)
DEATH OF AN OLD VETERAN.- There passed away very quietly on Sunday, 9th inst., at the good old age of 79, Mr. John Nevin, who for the last 30 years has lived in the secluded shades of Kangaroo Valley, adjoining Lady Franklin’s old Museum. He lived a retired life on his pension and in working his plot of garden ground at the Wesleyan Chapel, enjoying the respect of all in the neighbourhood as a consistent Christian….
From John Nevin’s poem “My Cottage in the Wilderness” (1868)
A rural building I have founded,
My cottage in the wilderness…
Defend’d by a row of pailing
My cottage in the wilderness…
We can view the Derwent flowing
List to its noiseless current by,
Or at times the fleet skiff rowing
Beyond my cottage windows high;
The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley
“T.J. Nevin Photo” inscribed on verso, 1868.
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & The Liam Peters Collection 2010.
“My Cottage in the Wilderness” by John Nevin, 1868.
Mitchell Library NSW
Photo © KLW NFC 2009 Arr
Above: a glimpse of the Derwent, the view today from 270 Lenah Valley Road, from the original site of Nevin’s cottage where the farmhouse built ca.1890 still stands. Photo Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint.
The Wesleyan Chapel at Kangaroo Valley
The 1858 Valuation Rolls for Southern Tasmania listed John Nevin’s occupancy of the school house and house on one acre, valued at five pounds – £5 – held by the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church.
The 1858 Valuation Rolls for Southern Tasmania
Compiled by Trudy Cowley
State Library of Tasmania
By March 1859, the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church who owned the land had erected a new building for a Chapel and Sunday School.
Wesleyan Chapel and Sunday School opened at New Town
Launceston Examiner 26 March 1859
Wesleyan Chapel Back Road New Town
Launceston Examiner, 9 June 1859
Both the Franklin Museum, erected on the estate established by Jane Franklin, wife of Governor John Franklin, and still known as Ancanthe, and the Wesleyan Chapel were situated on the Back Road, now Lenah Valley Road. Travellers on foot and horseback utilised this road which ran along the New Town Rivulet and over the foot hills of Mount Wellington, to reach South Hobart.
By 1872, John Nevin had leased an additional acre of land nearby for gardens and orchards from Maria Nairn, wife of William Edward Nairn (1812-1869), assistant comptroller of the Convict Department in 1843, in charge of prisoners in Tasmania and on Norfolk Island, and sheriff of Hobart in 1857-68. His wife Maria Nairn was a sister of John Swan, Inspector of Police in the 1870s. The Nairns were influential in Thomas Nevin’s success in gaining photographic commissions with the Convict Department and the Municipal Police at the Town Hall. Thomas Nevin may have photographed William Nairn ca 1868, which John Watt Beattie reprinted ca. 1895:
William Edward Nairn (1812-1869)
Photograph by Thomas Nevin ? ca. mid 1860s,
Reproduced by John Watt Beattie ca. 1895
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
Friends and neighbours at Kangaroo Valley and fellow electors in the Glenorchy district included Royal Mail coach operator and patron Samuel Page; Commandant of Port Arthur and MD at the Hobart Gaol Dr John Coverdale; Nevin’s solicitor (from 1868) Attorney-General W.R. Giblin; Under-Sheriff Thomas Crouch; and Police Superintendent Richard Propsting. See this entry, Working with Police and Prisoners.
John Nevin, occupier of the Wesleyan Chapel, school house, dwelling, and garden leased from Maria Nairn.
Source: Hobart Town Gazette, November 26, 1872.
DEATH of MARY NEVIN (1810-1875)
John Nevin’s wife Mary died suddenly on 13th April 1875. She predeceased her husband, John Nevin and father of their three surviving children – Thomas James, Mary Ann and Jack (William John) – the other daughter Rebecca Jane had died at Kangaroo Valley in 1865 – by twelve years. Her death notice stated her residence as the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley:
Death notice for Mary Nevin (1810-1875), The Mercury, 15 April 1875.
NEVIN- On the 13th April, at her residence, the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Mary, the beloved wife of John Nevin, in the 65th year of her age. The funeral will move from her late residence, on Friday, at 3 o’clock sharp, when friends are respectfully requested to attend.
Last entry; death of Mary Nevin, 13 April 1875, from bladder complications.
Described as “farmer’s wife”. Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Thomas took this photograph ca 1873 of his mother Mary a few years before her death, along with a companion photograph of his father John Nevin. These particular images of Mary Nevin (mother) and John Nevin (father), are scans from prints on sepia newspaper of cartes which had been pasted into the scrapbook of Thomas’ son George Nevin, now held by a great grandson (Shelverton Collection).
Thomas Nevin’s photographs of his parents Mary and John Nevin ca. 1873
From © KLW NFC and Shelverton Collections 2007-2012 Arr
Life’s most significant events took place at the Chapel.
1865: John Nevin’s daughter Rebecca Jane died there aged 18 yrs on 23 November, 1865. He wrote a poem to commemorate her death, published in 1866 titled “Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin : who died at the Wesleyan chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on the 10th November, 1865, in the 19th year of her age” (Melbourne University Library Special Collections)
1871: John Nevin’s eldest son Thomas James Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day, daughter of Captain James Day at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.
1875: John Nevin’s wife Mary, mother of Thomas James, William John, Mary Ann and Rebecca Jane, died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.
1875: John Nevin’s application to the Education Department was accepted to establish a school for local children by day and adult males by night at the school house next to the Chapel.
1877: John Nevin’s only surviving daughter Mary Ann married John Carr, son of the late Captain James Carr, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on May 12, 1877. She died in 1878 at Sandridge, Victoria.
1878: Thomas Nevin’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth Rachel’s sister, May Sophia Day, married Captain Hector Charles Axup also at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.
John Nevin snr (1808-1887) died at age 80 (father)
Mary Nevin (1812-1875) died at age 63 (mother)
Thomas James Nevin: (1842-1923) died at age 80 (son)
Mary Ann Nevin: (1844-1878) died at age 34 (daughter)
Rebecca Jane Nevin (1847-1865) died at age 18 (daughter)
William John Nevin (1852-1891) died at age 39 (son)
Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914) died at age 65 (wife of Thomas Nevin)
The New Town Studio and School Stereographs
Thomas Nevin produced a range of views in the Kangaroo Valley district, including streetscapes, buildings, grave stones, views of Mount Wellington, ferns, visitors to the Franklin Museum, family members, and local identities. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery databases list several stereographs (not currently online):
This is a selection of Thomas Nevin’s New Town stereographs currently in cold storage at the TMAG. The list was copied verbatim from the cataloguist’s entries, online until 2005:
Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870 of the New Town Public School
Verso stamp “Thos Nevin New Town”
Inscriptions “New Town Public School 1870s per G. Stilwell”
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.27
Q1994.56.34 ITEM NAME: Photograph: MEDIUM: sepia salt paper stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin [Artist]; TITLE: ‘Lady Franklin’s Museum, KangarooValley’ DATE: 1870c DESCRIPTION : Group of people at Lady Franklin’s Museum, Kangaroo Valley INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: On back in pencil: Mrs A Pedder / and in different hand Lady Franklin’s Museum/ KangarooValley and in different hand again best picture
Q1987.392 ITEM NAME: Photograph: MEDIUM: Sepia stereoscopic views., TITLE: ‘New Town from the Public School’ DATE: 1872.
Q16826.28 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School
Q16826.27 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School
Q16826.1.2 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: ‘School House Kangaroo Valley’ DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder
Q16826.1.1 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: salted paper print stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: ‘School House Kangaroo Valley’ DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder
Group of people at the Franklin Museum ca 1868
Creator: T. Nevin, stereo
TMAG: Q1994.56.34; and University of Tasmania Royal Society No. 189
Collage of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin, and Kangaroo Valley stereo
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & The Private Collection of Denis Shelverton 2006-2009 ARR
These two portraits of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin were pasted into a scrapbook by their son George Nevin. Between the two portraits of his “Mar” and “Par”, George pasted half a stereograph showing the path at Kangaroo Valley leading to the Franklin Museum, as it was then called. Completed in 1843 on Lady Franklin’s property, Ancanthe, this little museum was inspired by the Temple of Athene in Athens, and intended to house specimens of natural history and a small library.
The portraits probably date to ca. 1876. Thomas took the portrait of his wife Elizabeth; his own full-length portrait here was probably taken by his younger brother Constable John (W.J. or Jack) Nevin, also a photographer and civil servant. The two brothers maintained a photographic studio at New Town into the 1880s, although Thomas’ principal studio was at the former premises and studio of his mentor Alfred Bock with the business name of The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town.
The Road to Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley
From Walch’s Tasmanian Guide 1871 © KLW NFC Imprint 2012
The State Library of Tasmania holds a photograph of a house similar to the cottage built by John Nevin, which may have been taken ca. 1890, but with misleading information. The library wrongly lists this photo as Colonel Davey’s house called Roseway Lodge:
Title: Roseway, Col. [i.e. Colonel] Davey’s house, Kangaroo Bottom, i.e. Lenah Valley (incorrect information)
Publisher: [Hobart, Tas. :s.n., between 1860 and 1880]
Description: 1 photographic print : b&w ; 88 x 139 mm
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
This photograph is NOT of Colonel Davey’s house called Roseway Lodge. It is a photograph of a house up on a hill taken ca. 1890, of another house which Nevin & Smith photographed ca. 1868. Their view of this house was taken at the rear, showing the wall with dark stones – i.e. bluestone – on the other side.
Stereograph by Nevin & Smith of four people outside a house with side extensions
Verso: Nevin & Smith yellow label ca. 1868
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.9
The land currently vacant at 270A Lenah Valley Road shows traces of foundation stones of two houses; this house might have adjoined Nevin’s house.
The original Roseway Lodge was built by James Scott who married Col. Davey’s daughter on land he gave her on marriage. It was located on the site currently occupied by Pura Milk, formerly Bakers Milk, on the banks of the New Town rivulet, at the end of Creek Road and next to the tramway extension which opened in 1922. By 1922 the original Roseway Lodge had been demolished and another house called Roseways had been built in the Victorian style on the same site, mentioned in this article –
INTERESTING DISTRICT BEING OPENED.
The last rail of the Augusta-road ex- tension of the Hobart tramways has been laid and the line will be officially opened on Saturday.
This extension will link up with the city the charming district at present known as Kangaroo Valley but formerly known as Kangaroo Bottom and until recently was included in the Augusta district. In the early days this district was settled by bushmen and sawyers who supplied Hobart Town with large quantities of building timber. In 1815 the property just at the end of the tramway extension was owned by Governor Davey, who built a residence there for his daughter who married Dr James Scott, Colonial Surgeon. The property is still known as Roseway but the house has been rebuilt since then.
Just beyond Roseway Lady Franklin purchased some 400 to 500 acres. That was just after Sir John Franklin, the tenth Lieutenant Governor, was appoint-ed. It is said that Lady Franklin, who frequently visited Roseway, was so charmed with the beauty of the locality that she secured the area above mentioned and it was known as Ancanthe. At that time and for a number of years after the only track to Mount Welling ton was through this property Lady Franklin built a small cottage close to where the Anglican Church now stands, and had a number of bridle tracks cut, for she was very fond of riding through the bush property, which she desired should be regained for the formation of a native arboretum, which the place almost was by nature. Out of her private purse Lady Jane Franklin built that solidly constructed stone building which still retains the name of Lady Franklin’s Museum. Sir John Franklin laid the foundation stone of this building on March 16, 1842, in the presence of the masters and scholars of the Queen’s School, and others. This building was completed in 1843. The builder was the father of Mr Edward White who is still a resident of New Town. The building, although much out of repair, still stands as a tribute to the excellent workmanship of the stone-cutters and builders of 80 years ago. Great regret is felt that this historical building is used as an apple store, but we understand that Alderman F. D. Valentine, who has always taken a deep interest in the welfare of this district, and who was instrumental in getting the cross road, now being built, which will connect it with Glenorchy at Barossa road, is now taking active steps to secure the build- ing and place it in the hands of a responsible body willing to obtain the necessary funds to provide a suitable apple store for the lessee and reinstate the building and put it to some better use somewhat on the lines intended by Lady Franklin.
TRAMWAY EXTENSION. (1922, September 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23626121
This is the original location of Roseway Lodge, foreground, at Kangaroo Bottom:
Title: Photograph – Augusta Road, Lenah Valley showing the property ‘Roseways’ in foreground and a distant view of ‘Malvern,’ owned by W.C Cato
Description: 1 photographic print
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
This photograph shows the location of the original location of Roseways and the Victorian house rebuilt on the site. It is undated, but was probably taken ca. 1920 when photographer W. Little resided in the area and took the postcard view (below) of the road leading to the Lady Franklin Museum. It gives an idea of the incongruity of a classic Greek temple in the midst of farms and orchards. The locality was renamed Lenah Valley in 1922, and the village name “Augusta” was simply retained as the name of the main road leading up to the Museum.
Location: Tasmaniana Library
Photo: W.L. Little. Date: ?
The house that John Nevin built is not visible on the rise to the left. It may be further back behind the house on the hill on the left with verandahs, or it may have been demolished after his death in 1887 and another rebuilt in its place, visible as the first house on the rise, the farm house at 270 Lenah Valley Road located inside the boundary just above the Museum, on land which was sold by the Hobart City Council on it acquisition from the Church Trustees (those originally designated by Lady Jane Franklin). The area is visible in this Southern Met map of 1973:
Lenah Valley (1973).Ref: 5172-18.
Southern Met maps
Archives Office Tasmania
Next to the house above the Museum visible in this view is a vacant block currently listed as 270A Lenah Valley Road.
The bridge in the foreground crosses the rivulet. The Lady Franklin Museum sits below the site where John Nevin built his cottage (now demolished), next to the house (pictured) above on the rise at 270A Lenah Valley Rd. Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR.
RELATED POSTS main weblog
- John Nevin: “My Cottage in the Wilderness” 1868
- Thomas Nevin’s stereo of sister Mary Ann at New Town rivulet
- “Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin” by John Nevin 1866
- John Nevin snr Service Record in the First or Royal Regiment 1825-1841
- On board the Fairlie 1852 with the Parkhurst boys
- Nevins on sick list during voyage out on Fairlie 1852
- John Nevin in the Royal Scots at the Canadian Rebellion 1837-38
- The early deaths of Thomas Nevin’s sisters Rebecca Jane and Mary Ann
- Oral history: Trevor Wilks and the Mary Ann Nevin story at Kangaroo Valley,
- At Lady Franklin’s Museum, Ancanthe
- The New Town studio stamp & stereograph
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery databases