Prisoner John MORAN 1874

Prisoner MORAN, John
TMAG Ref: Q15582
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin

Verso: Prisoner MORAN, John
TMAG Ref: Q15582
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin

Thomas J. Nevin’s photograph and mounted carte-de-visite of convict John Moran 1874
John Moran, per Ly. [i.e. Lady] Franklin, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.
Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.
Title from inscription on reverse.
Inscription: “3”–On reverse.
Also available in an electronic version via the Internet at:
Thomas J. Nevin (1842-ca.1922) [i.e. the photographer] 
John Moran per Ly (i.e. Lady) Lady Franklin, Taken at Port Arthur 1874 albumen photograph on carte-de-visite mount; 9.4 x 5.7 cm nla.pic-an24612479

The Archives Office of Tasmania holds this information:
Database No:50512
Moran John 12 Oct 1845 Lady Franklin Norfolk Island To NSW per Florentia. To Norfolk Island 1836. Soldier 99th Regiment. Tried Sydney May 1841.

From being “enlarged” with a ticket-of-leave in January, 1874, John Moran was in and out of the Hobart Gaol on a regular basis. He was photographed by Thomas Nevin on discharge in February 1874 at the Municipal Police Office, Town Hall, and this photo of him was circulated with the warrant in October 1875.

John Moran was granted a Ticket of Leave on 30th January, 1874

John Moran: Discharged 6th February, 1874. TL on Life.

John Moran: Discharged 4th August 1875

John Moran: Arrested 26th October, 1875

John Moran: Discharged 27th October 1875

John Moran: Warrant for arrest 26th November, 1875

John Moran: Convicted 4th December, 1875 Source: Tasmania Reports on Crime For Police Information 1871-1875 J. Barnard, Gov’t Printer.

John Moran died from general decay, aged 78 yrs, as a Prisoner of the Crown at the Hobart Gaol on 30th July 1889.

TAHO Records
Name:Moran, John
Record Type:Deaths
Date of death:30 Jul 1889
Registration year:1889
Document ID:
ResourceRGD35/1/12 no 681

The NLA mounted carte-de-visite is a print from Nevin’s original capture which was acquired by the NLA from the QVMAG ca. 1985 for an exhibition (McPhee, personal communication). The original uncut sepia print was cleaned of scratches and cracks, and re-photographed as a black and white print by Chris Long at the QVMAG in 1985 for reasons known only to himself since they serve no purpose. The original print taken from Nevin’s glass negative of the 1870s was removed from the prisoner’s Hobart Gaol rap sheet and collated into one of three panels, forty (40) in all, by convictaria collector John Watt Beattie and advertised for sale in his catalogue, 1916. Both the original 1874 print and the 1980s reproduction are held at the QVMAG:

Black and white print of John Moran, QVMAG 1985
Reproduced from T. Nevin’s negative 1874
QVMAG Collection Ref: 1985 p 0163

John Moran was not photographed at Port Arthur, despite the NLA’s catalogue entry which suggests there is a handwritten inscription on verso. The inscription “Taken at Port Arthur, 1874” appears inscribed on the verso of many dozens of these cartes of Tasmanian prisoners. The number “3” appears on the verso, too, apparently, and like all these numbers on either the verso or mount ranging from 1 to more than 300, the sequencing has been devised by the copyists for inclusion in an archive decades later, used for exhibitions in the 1920s at Beattie’s “Port Arthur Museum” in Hobart; for an exhibition in conjunction with convictaria from the fake hulk Success at the Royal Hotel, Sydney in 1916; and at the Mechanics Institute Launceston in 1934..

The police photograph by Nevin was taken at the MPO, Hobart Town Hall, between the 2nd and 6th February 1874, and NOT at the Port Arthur prison. This prisoner was one of three men photographed on that date: Thomas FRANCIS and Thomas SAUNDERS were also discharged and photographed in Hobart by T.J. NEVIN between 4th-6th February 1874. Thomas Francis’ carte in an oval mount is held at the National Library of Australia, and a print from Nevin’s original negative is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Thomas Saunder’s carte is also held at the QVMAG.

The methodical copying, printing and cataloguing of the originals, some reproduced from Nevin’s glass negatives, others reprinted from the oval mount conventionally used by commercial photographers working in prisons in NSW and Victoria of the 1870s, were displayed by John Watt Beattie in his convictaria museum in Hobart. Who else but a curator/archivist would write “Taken at Port Arthur 1874 …” on the verso of a photograph, unless the the image was to be directed at tourists as an artefact of Tasmanian history? Not the prison photographer working in situ with government documentation, and as the several copies circulated for police reference were pasted to documents such as the warrant and the prisoner’s criminal record, inscribing the verso would serve no one; it would not be visible. Likewise, printing the verso with a studio stamp would have been a waste of effort and ink. The several extant prisoner cartes which do carry T. J. Nevin’s studio stamp enclosing the government insignia (located at the QVMAG and Mitchell Library, NSW) were used to register his copyright (of a batch per 100 capita), renew his contract, and access his commission. Copyright registration lasted 14 years (Walch’s Tasmania Almanac 1870s-1890s)

Helen Ennis, Intersections (NLA 2004)

Intersections: Photography, History and the National Library of Australia
By Helen Ennis
ISBN 0 642 10792 0
pb, large format 270 b&w and colour photographs.
297 x 240mm 285pp
Publisher: National Library of Australia 2004

Included in this publication with attribution to Thomas Nevin is the carte-de-visite of a Tasmanian prisoner, John Moran, taken from a collection of 84 “Port Arthur convicts” photographs held at the National Library of Australia.

There is no doubt that the early years of transportation to Tasmania’s Port Arthur prison have been the primary focus and fascination for historians. It feeds and feeds off the aggressive promotion of the prison site as the State’s key historic attraction. And it has become the convention and norm of writers to corral one or more of these prisoner ID photographs within their new texts that deal with those early years. Michael Bogle’s recent publication on convicts (2008), as an example, has Nevin’s negative (1875) of convict Charles Rosetta on the front cover, unattributed to Nevin, and wrongly dated to 1917 with attribution to the copyists Beattie & Searle, from the NLA.

Michael Bogle ConvictsMichael Bogle Convicts

Michael Bogle, Convicts (2008) Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

These sorts of publications ignore the fact that the circumstances in which Nevin produced the photos in the mid 1870s were very different from those experienced by transported convicts at Port Arthur in the 1850s; moreover, they ignore the very obvious fact that these booking photographs and discharge photographs represent old men with 20 more years’ experience of felonies and incarceration since their early Port Arthur days, transportees who had become conventional prisoners in and out of a conventional town gaol. This blind spot explains in part why the site of Port Arthur with the date of 1874, embellished with the fantasist creation of a photographer attribution to one of its Commandants (A.H. Boyd) in the 1990s (Chris Long, Warwick Reeder), has been assigned across the board to the National Library of Australia’s collection under pressure from these writers’ errors in printed publications. The mundane reality of these convicts’ later prison exploits does not make good tourist copy, and by association nor do the routines of a jobbing photographer, as Nevin was, employed at a city gaol to produce the prisoner’s mugshot. Who can name a prison photographer in any era? No one, because they are not deemed “artists”. They remain invisible to the public, without attribution. Anonymity is de rigeur in their job. See also this post with reference to Helen Ennis.

[Above] page 18, Intersections, photograph by Thomas Nevin of convict John Moran (1874).

Edwin Barnard, Exiled: The Port Arthur Convict Photographs (NLA 2010)

[Above] page 12. Exiled: The Port Arthur Convict Photographs (NLA 2010)

Thomas FRANCIS was discharged from Port Arthur, per the first notice (below) in the police gazette dated 31st January – 4th February, 1874. Note that no physical details of the prisoner had been recorded by the police up to that date, 4th February 1874, because he had not yet been photographed. A second notice appeared in the police gazette one week later, dated 6th February 1874, which included his age – 62 yrs, height – 5’5″ – color of hair – “brown” and distinguishing marks, viz. bullet mark on left leg, bayonet mark on thumb, scar on chin. These details were written and recorded when Thomas J. NEVIN photographed Thomas FRANCIS on that date – 6th February 1874 – at the Office of Inspector of Police, Hobart Town Hall.

nla.pic-vn4269870 PIC P1029/14 LOC Album 935 Thomas Francis, Ly. [i.e. Lady] Franklin 4, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874. 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm. on mount 10.5 x 6.3 cm. Part of Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]

The National Library of Australia catalogue notes are incorrect. Thomas Francis was photographed by T.J. Nevin, the only photographer and the only commercial photographer contracted to the Municipal Police Office and Prisons Department in the early 1870s to provide the police with mugshots . The photograph was taken at the MPO, Hobart Town Hall, between the 2nd and 6th February 1874, and NOT at the Port Arthur prison.. This prisoner was one of three men photographed on that date: John MORAN and Thomas SAUNDERS were also discharged and photographed in Hobart by T.J. NEVIN between 4th-6th February 1874. John Moran’s carte is held at the National Library of Australia, and a print from Nevin’s original negative of Moran is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Thomas Saunder’s carte is also held at the QVMAG:

Above: Thomas Saunders, photographed on discharge at the MPO Hobart Town Hall by T.J. Nevin on 6th February, 1874. This mounted cdv is held at the QVMAG.


Above: the first police gazette notice for Thomas Francis (and John Moran), received from Port Arthur and discharged between 31st January and 4th February. No physical details were recorded for either prisoner.

Above: the second police gazette notice of Thomas Francis (including John Moran and Thomas Saunders),discharged from the Office of Inspector of Police, Hobart Town, dated 6th February 1874. Full physical details were transcribed and gazetted only after Thomas Francis (and John Moran)  reported for discharge, and received an FS discharge – Free in Servitude – in Francis’ case, and a TL – ticket of leave – in the case of Moran and Saunders. All three men – Thomas Francis, John Moran and Thomas Saunders – were  photographed by NEVIN at the Office of Inspector of Police, which was located in the Hobart Town Hall no later than the 6th February and no earlier than the 31st January-4th February 1874,  in Hobart, and not at Port Arthur.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, Gov’t printer.