Babette Smith on Australia’s Birthstain

Babette Smith on Australia's BirthstainBabette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

Birth Stain p304
Birth Stain p305

These two prisoners were not incarcerated at Port Arthur in 1874 when they were photographed. They were both discharged from the Hobart Gaol on the same day, January 7th, 1874 and were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin during the preceding fortnight up to that date.

Babette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

Discharge of Fleming and Baker, January 7th, 1874

Fleming was arrested several times over the next twelve months for theft, larceny, escape and absconding:

Babette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

Fleming convicted July 1874

Babette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

Fleming absconded on August 4th, 1874, etc etc etc

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1875

The source of these two identification cartes included in Babette Smith’s book on the legacy of the convict era is the Archives Office of Tasmania.

Babette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

page 42

However, Babette Smith’s caption for these two photographs – “… at Port Arthur, ca. 1874” is misleading. She omits the Tasmanian State Archives’ online catalogue wording “Taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin 1874″.

The sources of the Archives Office information, photograph originals and copies were –

  1. the materials donated from the Port Arthur kiosk (see extract above for details),
  2. the collections of photographs taken by Nevin donated by the Allport Law firm as the Pretyman Collection,
  3. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, where many more prisoner cartes were located amongst the Beattie Collection’s convict memorabilia, and exhibited there in 1977.

Most of the AOT’s convict carte collection by Thomas Nevin is now also catalogued at the State Library of Tasmania, indicating provenance from the Pretyman Collection dating from the 1900-1930s. See also Miscellaneous Collection of Photographs – 1900 – 1920 (PH30)

An original carte by Nevin ca 1874 of the Attorney-General W.R. Giblin who commissioned Nevin as prisons photographer was also originally an item in the Pretyman Collection at the AOT.


W R Giblin by T J Nevin ca 1874

W.R. Giblin – AOT Ref: NS1013-1971c
Taken by Thomas Nevin ca 1872-1874

See also the Archives Office of Tasmania digitised records of the original registers of convict names for each ship.

Babette Smith on Australia's BirthstainBabette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

AOT REF: CON14-1-14_00001_L