Prisoner James MORGAN alias Morgan the Poet who sings in pubs

Records Source:
National Library of Australia TROVE and State Library of Tasmania record of the police identity photograph of James Morgan, taken by commercial and police photographer T.J. Nevin at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall on or about 20th December 1876, the date of James Morgan’s discharge, and the year – 1876 – when Thomas J. Nevin took the residential position of keeper of the Hobart Town Hall;  was also photographer for the Mayor’s Court police records held in the Municipal Police Office housed within the Town Hall; and office record keeper for the Hobart City Corporation.

Older webshot of the mugshot of James Morgan at the Archives Office of Tasmania


James Morgan was 22 years old when he was tried at the Gloucester Assizes in 1844 for burglary and transported for 15 years, first to Norfolk Island in 1845 and then to VDL in 1847.

This part of Morgan’s record is underscored on the conduct register:

“Tried Hobart Town S.C [Supreme Court} 11 December 1855 Buggery with James Rowe To be Hanged Mercy extended To be kept in Penal Servitude fo the term of his natural Life and to be sent to Port Arthur …”

State Library of Tasmania Archives (TAHO)

Morgan, James
Convict No: 50625
Extra Identifier:
SEE Surname:
SEE Given Names:
Voyage Ship: Hyderabad
Voyage No: 368
Arrival Date: 19 Feb 1845
Departure Date: 21 Oct 1844
Departure Port: Downs
Conduct Record: CON33/1/86
Muster Roll:
Appropriation List:
Other Records:
Indent: CON14/1/29 p226c
Description List:
Remarks: Off Norfolk Island per Tory May 1847


Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime (Police Gazettes) Govt Printer James Barnard

“.. known as Morgan the Poet. Sings in public-houses.”

James Morgan was arrested on the 16th August 1872 for assault; notice of the arrest was printed in the police gazette on 23 August 1872. In 1872 he was listed as 50 years old.

The Conduct Record (above) notes in the right hand column;

On 3 March 1872,someone wrote on the Conduct Register:

“At the expiration of 4 yrs from 4/12/72 being 21 yrs from Life sentence without offence T of L to be granted …11/12/76 To be enlarged wth T.L. ”

And so Morgan the Poet was discharged of 20 December 1876, per this notice in the police gazette:

James Morgan’s crime was listed “Unnatural  Offences” for which he was sentenced in 1855 for life,  discharged 20 December 1876

In this extract from the NSW Police Gazette of 27 March, 1878, (reprinted in the Tasmanian police gazettes on 5 April 1878) ) James Morgan was reported as missing by a relative, possibly a wife or sister-in-law, or mother, Mrs Caroline Morgan, resident of New Zealand. The information contained in this notice correctly identifies his physical features – 55 years old, medium build, fair complexion, and had left England in 1849. It would appear that Mrs Caroline Morgan believed he had settled in Victoria ca. 1865, 13 years previously. However, his transportation records show he left England in 1844, arrived on Norfolk Island and arrived in VDL off Norfolk Island in 1847.

James Morgan didn’t remain at large for long.

James Morgan alias The Poet was arrested on the 2 August by the Kingston (Tas) Territorial Police, and the notice was published on 30 August 1878. What was the crime?


Above: Verso of the carte-de-visite photograph of James Morgan, which was inscribed in the early 1900s to include details of the convict’s date of arrival and name of ship, and the date “1874”, a year in which T.J. Nevin was commissioned by the Municipal Police Office to visit Port Arthur to collate records and take photographs of prisoners whom he had not previously photographed at the Hobart Gaol, the central gaol for all offenders with sentences of longer than 3 months.

Taken at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall by Thomas J. Nevin on or about 20th December 1876, the date of James Morgan’s discharge.