Execution of prisoners SUTHERLAND and OGDEN 1883

Notoriety sells photographs …

Prisoners Sutherland and Ogden
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Ref: Q16478
ITEM NAME: photograph:
MEDIUM: sepia carte-de-visite
MAKER: unknown [Artist]; DATE: 1870s [?]

James Sutherland, aged 13, was tried in Longford on 18th November 1878 and sentenced to three months at the Hobart Gaol for being idle and disorderly. He was discharged from the Gaol on 5th February 1879.

Sutherland discharged 5 Feb 1879

James Sutherland, aged 13, discharged 5th February 1879
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police
, Gov’t Printer
Click on for readable version

If this is James Sutherland on the left in the photograph and it appears to be from similar facial features and expressions in the later photographs, he was photographed around the time of his first offence as a 13 year old. When he was discharged from the Hobart Gaol in February 1879, he was assigned to Webb’s Hotel. This is not an official police record photograph. It is not a vignetted carte-de-visite, the size required to paste to the prisoner’s record sheet. The other boy may be James Ogden, Sutherland’s partner and eventual accomplice in the murder of William Wilson for which they were both executed in June 1883. This unattributed photograph was probably taken at Webb’s Hotel where Sutherland was assigned and required to wear a prison uniform. Given the notoriety of the case and their execution in 1883, this image was no doubt reprinted for display in local newspaper office windows, offered for sale in photographers’ studio windows, and pinned to the walls and windows of the Town Hall Police Office. This version of the image was probably reprinted by the Anson Brothers as an item for sale and display in the window of their shop at Wellington Bridge, Elizabeth Street.

The later “mugshots” taken by Nevin at the Hobart Gaol in 1883 show Sutherland as a considerably more mature boy aged 18 yrs.

The Booking Photograph

NLA Pictorial Accesion No. P1029/43 Sutherland (incorrect information)
Nevin, Thomas J., 1842 – ca.1922 : Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874
Related Links Lists for Pictorial Collections
Accession Nos.: P1029/1-55

Thomas Nevin and his younger brother Constable John (Jack) Nevin took two photographs of James Sutherland in May and June 1883. This was the first, the “booking photograph” taken at the Hobart Gaol on James Sutherland’s arrest and sentencing for murder on 29th May, 1883. Signs of his liminal state between freedom and imprisonment are the clothes, the pipe, and the frank, challenging stare.

The Coloured Photograph
Thomas Nevin had taken a second photograph of Sutherland immediately prior to his execution on 4th June, 1883 at the Hobart Gaol, also called the Campbell Street Gaol [CSG].

Detail: hand-tinting on carte by Nevin of James Sutherland 1883

This photograph is held at the Mitchell Library, pasted next to Sutherland’s death warrant in a volume compiled for the David Scott Mitchell Collection, bequeathed ca. 1907 (Death Warrants VDL, C203). The carte was hand-tinted in a similar fashion to cartes by Nevin of prisoners Bramall aka Johnstone and Job Smith aka Campbell, held at the National Library of Australia. The colouring of these cartes served two purposes: to render a more accurate image reflective of reality, i.e. blue for blue eyes, blue for the prison issue scarf, especially when the man was wanted on warrant; and to profit from the sale of the hanged man’s image to the press and the public. These were called “ornaments of colour”, a term used in reference to Nevin’s tinting of prisoner photographs in the Mercury newspaper account of Nevin’s incident with the “ghost” (December 4, 1880).

Death warrant and carte of James Sutherland by Nevin

Death warrant and photograph of James Sutherland
Mitchell Library NSW C203

The Death Warrant

Above: Justice Sir Francis Smith and the Deputy Sheriff”s confirmation of Sutherland’s execution.
From Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203

TRANSCRIPT of death warrant for James Sutherland:

To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of her Majesty’s Gaol at Hobarton jointly and severally.

Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Tuesday the fifteenth day of May James Sutherland was convicted before the [blank] of the murder of William Wilson and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead – NOW IT IS ORDERED that execution of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said James Sutherland on Monday the fourth day of June at the Usual Hour and Place of Execution and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff –

Given under my Hand and Seal at – Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this twenty third day of May in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty three.

Francis Smith [illegible initial, CJ – Chief Justice]

[black seal attached of the Supreme Court of Tasmania with Royal Arms insignia of lion and unicorn rampant].

Tasmanian death warrants

This is one of two cartes by the Nevin brothers included in the two volumes for Tasmanian death warrants, Mitchell Library NSW. The other carte is a booking photograph of Henry Stock, who was executed 1884.

EXTRACT of the REPORT of THE TRIAL, The Mercury 15-16 May 1883:

Click on images for readable view

etc etc

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