John Nevin’s Wesleyan Lament


Four poems written in the 1860s by John Nevin snr (1808-1887) are extant online in the NLA Trove newspaper and gazettes section or available in public collections:

In August 1863, he wrote a lament on the death of his comrade-in-arms, James William Chisholm, titled “WRITTEN on the much-lamented death of the late JAMES WILLIAM CHISHOLM, of Hobart Town, a native of Edinburgh, aged 61 years” which was published in the Weekly Times (Hobart Town, Tas.), Saturday 29 August 1863, page 6.

In September 1863 he published a poem called “Hope” on the topic of slavery in the Weekly Times (12 September 1863), p. 3., online at

In January 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” (which is held at the University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections)

In 1868 he published in pamphlet form “My Cottage in the Wilderness“, held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW, in the David Scott Mitchell Collection.

John Nevin most likely wrote and published several more poems in the intervening years between 1868 and the fifth poem to surface, a ten stanza lament he wrote in 1881 on the death of his friend, neighbour, fellow Wesleyan and in-law, Thomas Genge, 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“.

John Nevin snr from the scrapbook of his grandson George Nevin
Full-length carte-de-visite by his son Thomas James Nevin ca 1874. © KLW NFC Private Collection.

Thomas J. Nevin took this photo (above) of his father John Nevin snr in his 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. This is the lament he wrote on his friend’s death in 1881:

“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
Title:Lines written on the sudden and much lamented death of Mr. William Genge, who died at the Wesleyan Chapel
Author/Creator: Nevin, J.
Publication Information: Hobart : Pratt, printer, 1881.
Physical description: 1 sheet.
Record ID: SD_ILS:542990
Allport Library Pamphlets P 820.A NEV

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, returning to London’s Chelsea Hospital and then back to Ireland. On migration from Ireland in 1852 as a pensioner guard of convicts on board the convict transport Fairliewith 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 (another 1 acre) on an adjoining property owned by Mary Nairn, widow of Edward Nairn, convict Superintendent and Sheriff of Hobart.

Screenshot: John Nevin, occupier of the Wesleyan Chapel, school house, dwelling, and garden
Source: Hobart Valuation Rolls 1866.
Archives Office Tasmania

Screenshot: John Nevin, occupier of the Wesleyan Chapel, school house, dwelling, and garden
Source: Hobart Valuation Rolls 1881. Archives Office Tasmania

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 between 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)

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)

Martha Salter nee Genge, 42 years old, had sailed from Plymouth (UK) on 21st June 1878 on board the Somersetshire. She disembarked at Melbourne (Victoria) and boarded the Tamar for Hobart Town, arriving on 16th August 1878 (Edward Freeman, agents). She was listed an an immigrant, 43 yrs old, without children, a Wesleyan who could read and whose stated qualification was “needlewoman”. She was born in Taunton, Somersetshire, England, to William Genge, her father who was already resident in Hobart, the sponsor who paid the bounty of £16 for her ticket (No. 215). His application, as noted on this document, was signed off by B. Travers Solly on 16th August 1878, and forwarded to Treasury on 22nd August 1878.

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 Minnie Carr 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 lmid 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 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.