Prisoner John SULLIVAN, cook and thief 1875

ANOTHER MUGSHOT by T. J. NEVIN taken in 1875

John Sullivan, per Rodney 2, taken at Port Arthur, 1874

The carte-de-visite mugshot (above) of prisoner John Sullivan, transported to Van Diemen’s Land prior to 1853 (when transportation ceased to Tasmania) on board the Rodney 2, was recently added to the collection of Tasmanian prisoner photographs displayed online at the National Library of Australia with the incorrect (and impossible) attribution to the non-photographer A.H. Boyd. The NLA’s reproduction was made through plastic, as this color-adjusted version (below) reveals:

Although catalogued as a “portrait” of a “Port Arthur convict”, it is simply a mugshot – one of thousands taken for the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart Gaol, the Supreme Court and MPO by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin between 1872 and 1886. He took this photograph at the Hobart Gaol when John Sullivan was tried in the Supreme Court Hobart on 18th August 1875 on a charge of larceny and sentenced to incarceration at the Hobart Gaol for a period of twelve (12) months, per this notice in the police gazette:

John Sullivan convicted 21 August 1875
Tasmania Reports of Crime

Sullivan’s trade was listed as “cook”, his place of residence was Hobart, and his prior conviction on 29 May 1862 was duly noted. Sullivan was not convicted of any further felonies between 1862 and 1875, otherwise, they would have been recorded in this police gazette notice. When convicted in 1875, Sullivan was carrying a “F.S”certificate – Free in Servitude. He was, therefore, employed and not a prisoner at Port Arthur in 1874, despite the transcription on the verso of this cdv (according to the NLA, that is), which states –

“Part of collection: Convict portraits, PortArthur, 1874.; Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.; Title from inscription on verso.; Inscription: “302 John Sullivan, per Rodney 2. Taken at Port Arthur 1874″–In ink on verso.;”

The same transcription appears the verso of hundreds of these mugshots, and is undoubtedly the work of an archivist between 1915 and 1934.

When John Sullivan was discharged 12 months later from the Hobart Gaol on 30th August 1876, the police gazette recorded that he was a native of London, aged 58 yrs , 5ft 3inches tall, with brown hair and a large scar on on his left cheek, per this notice:

John Sullivan discharged 30 August 1876
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime 1875-1876
Gov’t Printer James Barnard.