John Nevin (1808-1887)
Photo taken by his son Thomas Nevin ca. 1874
Copyright © The Shelverton Collection 2005-2009 Arr.
Thomas Nevin’s father, John Nevin (1808-1887) was an accomplished poet. Three poems (to date) have been located in Australian libraries. Although he died peacefully in his garden overlooking the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart in 1887, he had already suffered the loss of both daughters – Rebecca Jane in 1865, and Mary Ann in 1878 – as well as his wife, their mother Mary Nevin (1810-1875). He married again in 1879, and died mercifully four years before the death from typhoid fever of his youngest child, William John Nevin (1851-1891). The last remaining child, his eldest and first-born son, photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923), survived them all by decades.
TAHO Ref: NS434/1/155
John Nevin senior (1808-1887), photographed in 1879, aged 71 years, on the occasion of his marriage to his second wife, Martha Genge (aged 46 yrs). Photo © KLW NFC 2012 Arr.
The death of their sister on November 10th, 1865, was a terrible blow to this pioneer family. None could have paid a better tribute than her father in this exquisite poem, written and printed just six weeks after her death.
REBECCA JANE NEVIN (1847-1865)
On the much lamented Death of
R E B E C C A J A N E N E V I N
Who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley,
On the 10th NOVEMBER, 1865, in the 19th year of her age.
WRITTEN BY HER FATHER
In early childhood’s joyous hour,
We brought her from her native soil,
To seek some calm and peaceful bower
Far on Tasmania’s sea-girt Isle;
While yet a gentle, fragile thing,
Her infant steps were tottering.
Here, by a mountain streamlet’s side,
Its soothing murmurs lov’d to hear,
Or watch its limpid waters glide,
And cull the flow’rs were blooming near;
And tho’ her life was mark’d with pain,
Was seldom heard for to complain.
Death early chose her for his prey,
For slow disease with stealthy tread,
Had swept the hues of health away,
And left a sallow cheek instead;
Like some young flow’ret, sickly pale , –
She droop’d and wither’d in the vale.
Full eighteen summer suns have shed,
Refulgent beams on that pale brow,
Ere she was number’d with the dead;
Beyond the reach of anguish now.
The wint’ry blast of death has come,
To lay her in the dark lone tomb.
Cut off in girlhood’s hopeful morn,
She pass’d without a murm’ring sigh,
From friends and weeping parents torn,
To higher, fairer worlds on high.
She’s gone to join the blood-wash’d throng,
And mingle with the seraphs’ song.
The struggle’s o’er – loved shade adieu! –
No more shall grief or pain molest;
The wint’ry storms may howl o’er you,
But cannot break thy dreamless rest:
Pluck’d like a rose from parent stem,
To deck a royal diadem.
Her life was guileless as a child,
Nor pride, nor passion ever knew;
A book, a flower – her hour beguiled,
Nor breath’d a heart more kind or true;
No longer kneels with us in prayer: –
Now I behold her vacant chair!
That head in pain shall throb no more,
Nor weary night of restless sleep;
The Jordan pass’d, thy journey’s o’er,
And thou shalt never wake to weep;
When the last trumpet loud will sound,
Thou’lt rise triumphant from the ground!
27th January, 1866.
This is the envelope in which the poem is housed at the University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections. The hand-writing may well be John Nevin’s.
The poem is held at the University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections. The original catalogue entry showed an error with regard to the location: i.e. Kangaroo Valley NSW, to be corrected to Kangaroo Valley, Hobart Tasmania (renamed Lenah Valley in 1922), notified 18 July 2013. Assistance from Special Collections gratefully acknowledged.
Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin : who died at the Wesleyan chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on the 10th November, 1865, in the 19th year of her age / John Nevin.
Nevin, John, 19th cent.
Kangaroo Valley [N.S.W.] : [s.n.], 1866.
1 sheet ; 29 x 12 cm.
Libraries Australia ID
Nevin, John (1866). Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin : who died at the Wesleyan chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on the 10th November, 1865, in the 19th year of her age. [s.n.], Kangaroo Valley [N.S.W.]- (to be amended to Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania.)
TWO MORE POEMS by JOHN NEVIN (1808-1887)
“My Cottage in the Wilderness” by John Nevin, 1868.
Mitchell Library NSW
Photo © KLW NFC 2009 Arr.
State Library of Tasmania, P820A NEV.
“Lines written on the sudden and much lamented death of Mr William Genge who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Melville-street, Hobart on the morning of 17th January 1881, in the 73rd year of his age” by John Nevin, Kangaroo Valley, January 31st, 1881.
FAMILY PORTRAITS by THOMAS NEVIN
Mary Nevin, mother of Thomas Nevin and siblings, taken early 1870s
From © The Nevin Family and Shelverton Collections 2007-2010 Arr
Mary Ann Nevin (1844-1878), sister of Thomas J. Nevin,
dipping a glass at New Town rivulet, Kangaroo Valley Hobart Tasmania, ca. 1870.
Salt paper stereograph taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Photo © KLW NFC Imprint & The Nevin Family Collections 2012
Family photographs by Thomas Nevin:
Siblings John and Mary Ann Nevin, Thomas Nevin and wife Elizabeth Rachel Day
Photos and originals © The Nevin Family Collections KLW NFC 2010 ARR.
The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley
“T.J. Nevin Photo” inscribed on verso, ca. 1868.
From © The Liam Peters Collection 2010.
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