John Nevin’s Wesleyan Lament

JOHN NEVIN snr POETRY
WESLEYANS William GENGE
IN LOCO PARENTIS

Two poems written in the 1860s by John Nevin snr (1808-1887) are extant in public collections: in 1866, he published a poem on the death of his daughter Rebecca Jane Nevin 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” (held at the University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections), and in 1868 he published “My Cottage in the Wilderness“, held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW, in the David Scott Mitchell Collection.

In 1881 John Nevin snr published a third poem titled “Lines written on the sudden and much lamented death of Mr William Genge who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Melville-street, Hobart on the morning of 17th January 1881, in the 73rd year of his age” as a ten stanza lament.

John Nevin snr from the scrapbook of George Nevin
Photo by Thomas Nevin ca 1874. Private Collection.

Thomas J. Nevin took this photo of his father John Nevin snr (1808 Ireland -1887 Hobart) in the studio at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, ca. 1874. He must have decided it appropriate to capture his father in the pose of writing because John Nevin was indeed a writer, a published poet and a journalist. He was also a Wesleyan, a close friend of William Genge, lay preacher and sexton at the Wesleyan Chapel, Hobart. On his friend’s death in 1881, John Nevin penned this lament:

“Lines written on the sudden and much lamented death of Mr William Genge who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Melville-street, Hobart on the morning of 17th January 1881, in the 73rd year of his age” by John Nevin snr
Copy courtesy of the State Library of Tasmania 2006

John Nevin snr saw service with the Royal Scots First Regiment in the West Indies from 1825 to 1837, and at the Canadian Rebellions from 1838 to his discharge on medical grounds in 1841 to Chelsea Hospital and thence back to Ireland. On migration from Ireland in 1852 as pensioner guard of convicts on board the convict transport Fairlie with his wife Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson, and their four children all under 12 years of age, he settled the family at Kangaroo Valley, near Hobart, where he was employed as resident school master at the schoolhouse and Wesleyan Chapel on the property owned by the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church (1 acre) situated above the Lady Franklin Museum. He built a house there, and established a farm and orchard in a garden (1 acre) on an adjoining property owned by Mary Nairn, widow of Edward Nairn, convict Superintendent and Sheriff of Hobart.

John Nevin tenancy Hobart Gazette 26 Nov 1872

John Nevin, occupier of the Wesleyan Chapel, school house, dwelling, and garden
Source:Hobart Town Gazette, November 26, 1872.

John Nevin’s first wife Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson, mother of Thomas James, Mary Anne, Rebecaa Jane and William John (Jack), died at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart in 1875.

The Valuation and Electoral Rolls for the district of Glenorchy, Tasmania show John Nevin occupying the School House and dwelling at Kangaroo Valley bewteen 1854 and 1887, the year he died there in his garden. He applied to the Education Board in 1875 to establish a night school for adult males, and may have been the district teacher, a background detail which explains the numerous stereographs of the school house at Kangaroo Valley and the Public School at New Town taken by Thomas Nevin, held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, e.g. :

Stereograph of Mary Ann Nevin by her brother Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870 taken at Kangaroo Valley near the school in the company of an adult male and children.
TMAG Collection Ref: Q16826-1-2
TITLE: ‘School House Kangaroo Valley’
DATE: 1860s
DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (LenahValley)
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder

New Town Public School
Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca, 1870
TMAG Collection Ref: 16826.27
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

John Nevin father of Thomas 1879 electoral roll

Glenorchy district electoral roll 1879,
John Nevin, father of Thomas Nevin,
Occupancy of the School House and dwelling at Kangaroo Valley

The Tasmanian Pioneer Index lists a second marriage for the father, John Nevin. At the age of 71 yrs old, he married Martha Salter, aged 46 yrs, in Hobart, on the 23rd October, 1879 (Source: Tasmanian Pioneer Index: 711/1879/RGD:37)

The Nevin family were key members of the Wesleyan Chapel congregation of Kangaroo Valley near Hobart. Thomas Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day there in 1871, and her sister Mary Sophia Day married Hector Axup there in 1878. Thomas and Jack’s only surviving sister Mary Ann Nevin married John Carr there in 1877. John Nevin snr also had strong affiliations with the Wesleyan Chapel at Melville Street, Hobart, where William Genge was a lay preacher. John Nevin’s second wife, Martha Salter nee Genge, was the widowed daughter of William and Mary Genge. The discrepancy between their ages at the time of their marriage in 1879 – John Nevin was 71, Martha Salter was 46 – might have caused surprise but there was a reason: they provided the in loco parentis role for  John Nevin’s grand daughter – Minnie Carr. Her mother, John Nevin’s only surviving daughter, Mary Ann Nevin  who married John Carr in 1877, died at Sandridge, Victoria, 20 days after giving birth, The child was fostered by her grandfather and step-grandmother, John Nevin and Martha Salter nee Genge. But she too met an untimely death, aged 20 years, in 1898 due to haemorrhage, which took place at Martha Nevin’s house in Patrick St. Hobart where they had moved from Kangaroo Valley on John Nevin’s death in 1887.

Martha Nevin died in Hobart in 1925, born Martha Genge, 1833, Somerset, England. She married John Nevin in 1879 with the name Martha Salter. Her gravestone at Cornelian Bay (Southern Regional Cemetery Trust) reads: Martha Nevin, daughter of William and Mary Genge.

This photograph (below) is of Martha’s parents, Wesleyan preacher William Genge (1808-1881), the subject of John Nevin’s lament, taken with wife Mary Slade (d. 1891) in Hobart. It possibly dates to the late 1870s, and is unattributed. Genealogical information on the Genge family and photo was provided by Louise Genge (November 2007).

William Genge and Mary Genge nee Slade late 1870s
Hobart, Tasmania. Unattributed.
Photo courtesy of the Genge family

John Nevin 1808-1887
John Nevin burial 1887

Above: Southern Regional Cemetery Trust burial record for John Nevin (1808-1887), Cornelian Bay, Hobart, Tasmania.