Detail of Joshua Anson’s Hobart Gaol record with photos taken 1877 & 1897
Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1
The Anson brothers photographers, and there were only two – Joshua, who called himself John once paroled from prison on January 12, 1879, and his brother Henry who died in 1890 (the third brother Richard, b. 1851 died in infancy) – bought Samuel Clifford’s studio and stock in 1878. Included in that purchase were photographs, negatives, cartes and stereographs by Clifford & Nevin taken and printed during their partnership which began in the 1860s and lasted beyond 1876 when Nevin transferred the “interest” in his commercial negatives to Clifford (The Mercury, January 17th, 1876). John Watt Beattie joined the Anson brothers in 1890, buying them out in 1892, and reprinting many of the stock he had acquired through the purchase without due attribution.
Joshua Anson 1877 and 1897
Joshua Anson was indicted for feloniously stealing a quantity of photographic goods from his employer, H. H. Baily, photographer, of Hobart Town on May 31st, 1877. The charge was larceny as a servant. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. Despite the depositions of good character from photographer Samuel Clifford, Charles Walch the stationer, and W.R. Giblin, lawyer and Attorney-General, Joshua Anson (b. 1854, Hobart), was found guilty of stealing goods valued at £88, though the real value of the goods, which included camera equipment, negatives, paper, mounts, chemicals, tripods etc exceeded £140. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with parole. On July 12, 1877, the Mercury reported that Joshua Anson’s appeal was ” to seek to retrieve his character by an honest career in another colony; and asked that during his incarceration he might be kept from the company of other prisoners as much as possible, though not, he said, on account of feeling himself above them, as the verdict of the jury removed that possibility.” The seriousness of the crime warranted a 14 year sentence, but the jury strongly recommended him to mercy “on account of his youth“.
Henry Hall Baily, the victim of Joshua Anson’s theft in 1877, was a colleague and close friend of Thomas Nevin. Their respective studios in the 1860s were located opposite each other in Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Baily and his wife were in Nevin’s company that fateful night in December 1880 when Nevin was detained by Detective Connor on suspicion of acting in concert with the “ghost”. The Chief Justice in Joshua Anson’s case was Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith, who was photographed about this same time holding a carte-de-visite. The photograph was later reprinted by Beattie, and although the original is unattributed, it can safely be assumed from the Justice’s ascerbic comments on Anson’s character in the course of hearing the case on July 11, 1877, that Joshua Anson was certainly NOT the photographer.
Joshua Anson’s trial stirred interest. The Mercury, July 11th, 1877 reported:
Before His Honor the Chief Justice
LARCENY AS A SERVANT
Joshua Anson was indicted for feloniously stealing a quantity of photographic goods from his employer, H. H. Baily, photographer, of Hobart Town on May 31st, 1877. The prisoner pleaded not guilty.
The ATTORNEY-GENERAL prosecuted, and Mr. J. S. DODDS defended the prisoner.”
Despite the depositions of good character from photographer Samuel Clifford, Charles Walch the stationer, and W.R. Giblin, lawyer and Attorney-General, Joshua Anson (b. 1854, Hobart), was found guilty of stealing goods valued at 88 pounds, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with parole. This was no small misdemeanour. Joshua Anson had also racked up a large bill at Walch’s Stationers with promissaries for goods which included expensive imported equipment.
The Mercury, July 11, 1877 further reported:
“H.H. Baily’s evidence was in substance the same as that given at the preliminary examination in the Police Court. He believed all the articles produced in Court, embracing views, portraits, mounts, albums etc were his property, and specially identified some particular albums and other goods as his.
By Mr. DODDS: Two albums produced are not mine, but they contain views that have been taken from negatives that belong to me. The mounts produced I claim, as I have similar mounts in my shop. Other photographers in the town have not got mounts of the same quality. I cannot possibly say that the cards are mine. The albumenized paper I cannot swear as to my property. The glass produced I cannot identify as my property, but I have missed some glass of a similar description, marked with a diamond in the corner. I cannot swear to the brushes produced ….. The stereoscopic views (produced) were printed by the prisoner from negatives belonging to me …. I have treated the prisoner as my brother…. About 12 months ago, I increased his salary from 2 to 3 pounds a week, but I did not then offer to give him an interest in the business …. I have assisted him in printing from negatives belonging to him in order to see the effect of the printing. Some of these negatives were upon glass belonging to me. I did not then suspect him of taking my property. I had lent the prisoner a camera and lens, a tripod stand, and a glass but nothing else. I gave the prisoner on one occasion permission to take two bottles of chemicals home, so as to take quantities out for his own use …..” ” …. W.R. Giblin said he had known the prisoner for about seven years, and his reputation for honesty was good. Witness had personally a very high opinion of the prisoner and had offered to find him 50 to 100 pounds to set him up in business but the prisoner declined the offer…..”
Attorny-General W.R. Giblin by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1874
Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: NS 1013/1971
“The Jury, after a retirement of about 20 minutes, found the prisoner guilty, and strongly recommended him to mercy on account of his youth….”
The charges warranted a sentence of 14 years, but was shown mercy on account of his youth.
Source: Criminal: re Anson, June 29, 77 (1.189)
On July 12, 1877, The Mercury reported that Joshua Anson’s appeal was –
” to seek to retrieve his character by an honest career in another colony; and asked that during his incarceration he might be kept from the company of other prisoners as much as possible, though not, he said, on account of feeling himself above them, as the verdict of the jury removed that possibility.”
Joshua Anson was discharged from the Hobart on 15 January 1879.
Joshua Anson’s Hobart Gaol record
Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1
Joshua Anson did not take the two photographs of himself that were pasted to his criminal sheet, the first (on left) in 1877 when he was 23 yrs old, and the second (on right) in 1897 when he was 43 yrs old, nor did he photograph any of the other prisoners for gaol records while serving time at the Hobart Gaol. His abhorrence of the company of convicts was extreme, as his statement testifies. His 1877 prisoner mugshot was taken by Constable John Nevin in situ, and unmounted. Thomas Nevin may have printed another for the Municipal Police Office Registry at the Town Hall, Macquaries St. Hobart where he was the Hall and Office Keeper, but it is yet to be identified among the Tasmanian prisoner cdvs held in public collections. Joshua Anson was certainly the beneficiary of Thomas Nevin’s stock and commercial negatives when Samuel Clifford acquired them in 1876 and then sold them on to Joshua Anson and his brother Henry Anson in 1878. The Anson brothers reprinted Clifford & Nevin’s Port Arthur stereoscopes for their highly commercial album, published in 1890 as Port Arthur Past and Present without due acknowledgement to either Nevin or Clifford.
The Launceston Examiner reported another theft by Joshua Anson on 30 May, 1896.
At the City Court to-day Joshua Anson, photographer, was charged with having robbed Charles Perkins of £32 12s5d. Accused, who was not represented by counsel, stated he had had two epileptic fits since he was arrested, and his head was not now clear. He asked for a remand. After the evidence of the prosecution had been taken, the accused was remanded till Tuesday.
Beautiful spring-like weather is prevailing.
Both of the Anson brothers were incarcerated at different times at the Hobart Gaol. In July 1889, Henry Anson, aged 39, was sentenced to one month for being drunk. Soon after Joshua Anson’s parole, the two Anson Brothers set up business at various addresses:
132 Liverpool St. Hobart 1878-80
129 Collins St. Hobart 1880-87
36 Elizabeth St. Hobart 1880-87
52 Elizabeth St. Hobart 1887-91
Ansons’ studio, 36 Elizabeth St 1880 (TAHO)
The photograph of ex-convict James Cronin
Studio portrait of ex-convict James Cronin ca. 1880
Anson Brothers 1880s, TMAG Collection
This is the only extant image of former convict James Cronin (1824-1885). It was either reprinted from an earlier photograph, or it was taken by the Anson brothers, photographers, as a portrait in their studios in the 1880s, i.e. it was therefore a privately commissioned portrait, and this is evident from both the street clothes, the pose of the sitter, and of course, his age (late 50’s). It is not a police photograph, ie. a mugshot pasted to a criminal record sheet, unlike those taken by Thomas Nevin for the express use of police authorities, because James Cronin was not an habitual offender, at least, he was never convicted and sentenced under his own name in the decades 1860s-1880s or up to his death in 1885 at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane, Hobart. The Tasmanian Police Gazettes of those decades registered no offence for James Cronin, nor even an inquest when he died of pulmonary apoplexy on July 16, 1885.
Criminal and Transportation History: James Cronin (1824-1885)
James Cronin may have offended at Limerick for theft prior to his major felony of shooting at Jas. Hogan with intent to kill in 1847. He was transported to Bermuda on HMS Medway in the same year to serve eight years. It was at Bermuda that he attempted to murder Mrs Elleanor Howes, wife of James Howes, mate in charge of the prison hulk, the Coromandel. Despatches from Charles Elliot, governor of Bermuda (CO 37/135) requested James Cronin be returned to England on HMS Wellesley to be convicted and transported to Tasmania (VDL) in correspondence dated January and April 1851. James Cronin arrived at Norfolk Island on board the Aboukir in March 1852, and thence to the Port Arthur prison Tasmania in December where he was “detained” until 1857 and assigned on probation to Major Lloyd at New Norfolk, Hobart on 27th November.
The National Archives UK has two entries for James Cronin detailing his attempt to murder Mrs Howes in Bermuda:
1. Reference:CO 37/135/4 Description:
Reports that a convict named James Cronin had attempted to murder Mrs Elleanor Howes, the wife of James Howes, mate in charge of the Coromandel hulk. Considers the existing laws inadequate to punish such cases. Recommends that a law should be passed to bring such cases to Courts Martial. Adds that in Cronin’s case a convict named Edwin Smith intervened and saved Mrs Howes. Recommends Smith for a free pardon. Encloses a memorandum and correspondence concerning the matter.
Convict Establishment No. 4, folios 15-38
Date: 1851 Jan 18 Held by: The National Archives, Kew
2. Reference:CO 37/135/35 Description:
Reports that the convict James Cronin would be returned to England in HMS Wellesley. Encloses the requisite documents.
Convict Establishment No. 29, folios 224-230
Date: 1851 Apr 17 Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Source: Tasmanian Archives
Convict No: 16007
SEE Given Names:
Voyage Ship: Aboukir
Voyage No: 347
Arrival Date: 20 Mar 1852
Departure Date: 07 Dec 1851
Departure Port: London
Conduct Record: CON33/1/106
Description List: CON18/1/56
Title: James Cronin, one of 280 convicts transported on the Aboukir, 24 December 1851.
Details: Sentence details: Convicted at Ireland, Limerick for a term of life on 08 March 1847.
Date of Departure: 24 December 1851.
Place of Arrival: Van Diemen’s Land and Norfolk Island. [These convicts appear to have all landed in Van Diemen’s Land].
Source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/17, Page Number 323 (164)
Author/Creator: Great Britain. Home Office. ; State Library of Queensland.
Subjects: Cronin, James ;
Aboukir (Ship) ;
Convicts — Australia — Registers ;
Australia — Genealogy
Publisher: Canberra A.C.T. : Australian Joint Copying Project
Is Part Of: Criminal : Convict transportation registers [HO 11]
Record number: 1029434
The death of James Cronin, labourer, was registered at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane on 16 July 1885. His cause of death was pulmonary apoplexy, unlike several other deaths of asylum inmates which were registered in the same month, e.g. “brain softening”.
Archives Office Tasmania
Deaths Hobart 1885 Image 315