Prisoner Leonard HAND

Leonard Hand was “attacked in the night” and died ” from natural causes” in custody …

National Library of Australia Catalogue (2007)
Nevin, Thomas J., 1842-ca. 1922.[ sic -1923]
Leonard Hand, native, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874.
1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount: albumen; 9.5 x 5.7 cm.
PIC P1029/64 LOC Album 935
Inscription: “211”–On reverse.

Thomas J. Nevin photographed Leonard Hand on or about the 5th August, 1875, on the occasion of Leonard Hand’s transfer to H.M. Gaol, Campbell Street Hobart from the largely devolved Port Arthur prison, 60 kms away on the Tasman Peninsula.

The police issued a warrant for Leonard Hand’s arrest in their weekly gazette of 9th January, 1866. Hand stayed at large for nearly three months before his arrest, notified on March 30th, 1866. The police described his appearance as “stupid“, whatever that may have signified in 1866.

Warrant issued 9th January, 1866 for the arrest of Leonard Hand.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1866-1870. Gov’t Printer (i.e. the weekly police gazette).


DELORAINE.- On the 9th instant by John Hart, Esquire, J. P., for the arrest of Leonard Hand, charged with an unnatural offence.
18 years old, about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, stupid appearance; wore moleskin trousers, no braces, plaid vest, Scotch twilled shirt, and light striped summer coat.

And the notice of the arrest:

Leonard Hand’s arrest was published on 30th March, 1866.

Vide Crime Report of the 12th January, 1866, page 6.
Leonard Hand has been arrested by Acting Sergeant Coghlan, of the Selby Territorial Police.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1866-1870. Gov’t Printer.

Leonard Hand was convicted in the Supreme Court Launceston in April 1866 and sentenced to 15 years for the offence of “Attempting to commit sodomy.” He was 18 years old, a native of Tasmania, i.e. he was born locally and therefore not a transported convict. He was listed as a shoemaker by trade at the Port Arthur prison in 1868.

The Separate Model Prison records at the Port Arthur penitentiary for Leonard Hand are held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW. In April, May and June 1868, the record below shows that Leonard Hand made shoes seven days a week.

Leonard Hand, earnings from April 1, 1868 as shoe maker
Mitchell Library, SLNSW.
Ref: Convict Department – Separate Prison Reports, 1867-1871 | B 5
Link to record:
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Locally-born Leonard Hand was a special case for the chaplain at the Port Arthur penal establishment, Rowland Hayward, and the surgeon Dr John Coverdale who made a strong representation to the House of Assembly’s committee on penal discipline on Leonard Hand’s behalf in 1873, hoping to remove the prisoner from the isolation of the separate prison. It was evident to Dr Coverdale that rehabilitation was only possible if Leonard Hand (and others) were removed to the general prison community (Weidenhofer 1981:43).

Dr John Coverdale 1870s (in Weindorfer 1981)
His bleeding kit (Powerhouse Museum Collection)


Verdict Natural Causes
Effusion of fluid in the pericardium of sac surrounding the heart.

Leonard Hand was a prisoner at the Hobart Town Gaol, Campbell Street, when his death was recorded on 20th March 1876. The inquest was held at the Royal Exchange Hotel, Campbell St (prop. Ellen Allen). This notice of his inquest was published in the police gazette on April 7th, 1876:


AN inquest was held at Hobart Town, on the 22nd ultimo, before W. Tarleton. Esquire, Coroner, on the body of Leonard Hands [sic], who died in H. M. Gaol on the 20th ultimo, aged 26 years. Verdict: – “Died from natural causes.”

This document, consisting of six pages, states that the body of Leonard Hand was held at the General Hospital after being removed from the Hobart Gaol. Included is a lengthy witness account from William Smith alias Boyan (?), the wardsman at the Hobart Gaol Penitentiary Hospital who said that about three days after Leonard Hand came into the Gaol Hospital Ward, he was “attacked in the night“… Read more of the original document – if you can decipher the script – here.

Jurors, witnesses and verdict on the death of Leonard Hand
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

Inquest: 6125
Alexander McIntyre
Williams Leed (?)
John Large
Chas Woolley
Robin L. Hood
Henry Marriot
John H. Stevens
Henry E. Baggot
C. E. Knight
Robert Ellish
Charles Mazengard
Mark Cruse
Theo Washington Turnley
Willima Boyan (?)
Leonard Hands [sic] 22nd day of March 1876
Native of Tasmania, Free
Aged about 26 years
Died on Monday the 20th day of March 1876
Narural Causes
Effusion of fluid in the pericardium of sac surrounding the heart.

The Coroner’s Report for Leonard Hand
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

T. J. Nevin’s mugshot of Leonard Hand

National Library of Australia Catalogue Note
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.
Gunson Collection file 203/​7/​54.
Title from inscription on reverse.
Inscription: “211”–On reverse.
Also available online :http:/​/​​nla.obj-142913815
Exhibited: “Treasures Gallery”, National Library of Australia, 12 December 2012 – 7 July 2013
Exhibited: National Portrait Gallery, Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait’, 4th December 2015 – 28th February 2016

The mugshot of Leonard Hand held in the National Library of Australia’s collection of 86 “Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874” bears no number on the mount, unlike dozens of these 1870s Tasmanian prisoner mugshots sourced from the QVMAG’s holdings, Launceston, donated there as part of government photographer and convictaria collector John Watt Beattie’s estate in 1930. At least 200 from the QVMAG collection – including the fifty or so removed in 1983 and returned to the TMAG, Hobart instead of the QVMAG, Launceston – bear numbers on either or both recto and verso, and with the same hand-written transcription “Taken at Port Arthur, 1874“. According to the NLA catalogue, this cdv of Leonard Hand bears the number “211” on verso, suggesting it was numbered for exhibition several decades after Nevin’s original capture. Many were salvaged from the Sheriff’s Office at the Hobart Gaol by John Watt Beattie in the late 1890s and removed from the 1870s Gaol Photo Books. In the name of tourism, Beattie with his assistant Edward Searle reproduced prints and mounted cdv’s from Nevin’s original glass negatives, including three panels holding forty uncut prints, labelling them “Types of Imperial Convicts” which he offered for sale in his 1916 catalogue and for inclusion in the intercolonial travelling exhibition associated with the fake convict ship, Success. These copyists in Hobart in the 1900s of the original 1870s mugshots taken for daily police surveillance and prison administration had chosen men convicted in the Supreme Courts with lengthy sentences who were –

  • transferred from Port Arthur to the Hobart Gaol or depot,
  • “received” from a regional court such as Launceston to the Hobart Gaol and courts
  • arrested on warrant,
  • discharged with various conditions (FS, TOL etc),
  • registered as a death in custody.

Just one extant photograph of Leonard Hand is held in public collections, that of the original taken by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin when Leonard Hand was transferred to H.M. Gaol Campbell Street, Hobart during the first week of August 1875. He was not photographed at Port Arthur, nor was he photographed by the Port Arthur prison commandant A. H. Boyd who was not a photographer by any definition of the term, nor involved at any point or at any level with photographing 1870s Tasmanian prisoners. Thomas J. Nevin began the photographing of prisoners when commissioned by Attorney-General W. R. Giblin for police and prison authorities from February 1872 while still a commercial photographer working principally from his studio, The City Photographic Establishment, located one street removed from the Hobart Goal, at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Four months after photographing Leonard Hand at the Hobart Gaol in August 1875, he was appointed to full-time civil service at the Hobart Town Hall for the Hobart City Corporation and the Hobart Municipal Police Office, by which time he had set up equipment on the Hobart Gaol’s premises in a room above the women’s laundry, assisted by his younger brother Constable W. John (Jack) Nevin. Thomas Nevin also set up a photographic studio within the Office of the Inspector of Police, John Swan at that time, which was housed adjacent to the Mayor’s Court at the Hobart Town Hall, above cells located in the basement. His appointment to the civil service as Hall and Office Keeper at the Hobart Town Hall was specifically to take advantage of his experience as a photographer for police, in addition to his background familiarity with military prisoner surveillance.

The Office of the Inspector of Police and Mayor’s Court at the Town Hall issued a ticket-of-leave (TOL) to eligible persons on discharge, and notices were routinely published in the gazettes and newspapers to remind TOL recipients that they were to report to the Office on a regular basis. Photographs were taken and added to the records where none had been taken previously, or to update the records of habitual offenders with long criminal careers.

Cdv of Leonard Hand, lower right
NLA Collection folder housing the cdvs in plastic sleeves
Tasmanian prisoner mugshots – or “Port Arthur convicts 1874”
Taken at the NLA January 2015

Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Verso of cdv of Leonard Hand, top left
Tasmanian prisoner mugshots – or “Port Arthur convicts 1874”
Taken at the NLA January 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Verso of cdv of Leonard Hand, top left
Tasmanian prisoner mugshots – or “Port Arthur convicts 1874”
Taken at the NLA January 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

The National Library of Australia has catalogued these Tasmanian prisoner photographs with the uniform batch edit “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” for their entire collection of 84 convict images, despite wide discrepancies in dates of photographic capture and criminal history of the convicts. Although this particular copy of Leonard Hand’s photograph may not bear Nevin’s stamp on verso, his studio stamp was applied to selected photographs of prisoners to register his copyright, renew his contract, and access his commission to signify joint copyright with the City Corporation until his appointment to the civil service, by which time his copyright was owned outright by the HCC. Those photographs (1 for every 100 registered) of prisoners taken before 1876 bear Nevin’s stamp on verso with the inclusion of the Supreme Court’s Royal Arms insignia (stamped prisoner cdvs are held at the QVMAG and Mitchell Library, SLNSW) which was printed on all documents prepared for the Colonial Government by printer James Barnard.

Full catalogue note:

TITLE Convict Department – Separate Prison Reports, 1867-1871
CREATOR Tasmania. Convict Department
DATE 1867-1871
TYPE OF MATERIAL Textual Records
ISSUE COPY Microfilm : CY 4984, frames 1-105
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION 1 volume – 0.02 Meters
The Separate Prison was located in the colonial penal establishment at Port Arthur, Tasmania. It opened in 1849 and provided the most severe measures of punishment. Here, constant surveillance, solitary confinement and silence were considered the way to reform. The building was a small modified version of the Pentonville Prison in London. It contained individual cells built around a four-wing radial design that ensured constant surveillance, as well as two dumb cells and a separate chapel.
1 October 1867 – 4 July 1871; Each page is headed with the name of a convict and the ship he arrived on. Beneath this are entries in columns under the titles of Week ending, Employment, Class, Amount of Work performed, Conduct, Industry, Signature of Officer in Charge (A.W., John Cassidy, M. McCarthy, and P.M. Guinness), and earnings letter.
Bequeathed by D.S. Mitchell, 1907
Pages are ruled into columns and rows of a table and an account book.
Some entries note, “Discharge to Hobart Town”, implying that the prison is elsewhere in Tasmania.
There are pin holes evident in the pages indicating that there were additional notes and papers.
Volume was bound in July 1933.
David Scott Mitchell bookplate inside front cover.
“D.S. Mitchell” signature at front of original volume.
Titled from handwritten inscription on paper plate affixed to front endpaper of volume, “No.38 / Separate Prison. / Men under strict separate / treatment confined in / the Separate Prison.- / October 1867-“
Embossed on spine, “Convicts / Separate / Prison / Reports / 1867-71”

Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR.

Prisoner Leonard HAND: Addenda

PRISON RECORDS (Archives Office Tasmania)

CON37/1/10 Page 5654

Hand, Leonard
Record Type:Convicts
Remarks:Free. Tried Launceston Apr 1866
Index number:29790
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1398642
Conduct Record
CON37/1/10 Page 5654
CON94/1/1 Page 99

CON94/1/1 Pages 99-100

INQUEST  (Archives Office Tasmania)