A few drinks on Christmas Eve 1885 at New Town


Above: Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin of the Maypole Inn and Congregational Church behind, ca, 1870. The verso is unstamped, inscribed by an archivist with location details . Sourced from eBay March 2016. Below is the same image reprinted by Nevin at his new Town studio in the 1880s.

Title: Maypole Corner of Newtown Road and Risdon Road looking north
In: Allport album III No. 59
Publisher: Hobart : s.n., [ca. 1888] [s.n.= no name]
ADRI: AUTAS001126183722
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

William Curtis was a shoemaker, a friend of William Ross, Thomas Nevin snr’s apprentice at The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart in the early 1870s. William married Philadelphia Henson on 15th October 1873. Both bride and groom were 20 yrs old at the time of their marriage at the Congregational Church, Hobart.

William Curtis, born 1853: parents, siblings and children

Name: Henson, Philadelphia
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Female
Age: 20
Spouse: Curtis, William
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Date of marriage: 15 Oct 1873
Registered: Hobart
Registration year:1873
Document ID:
Resource RGD37/1/32 no 309

1885 at New Town
In 1885 William Curtis was 32 yrs old, born 1853 and Thomas Nevin was 43 yrs old, born 1842 respectively. Thomas Nevin’s photographic studio in the years 1880-1888 was located in New Town where he resumed commercial photography after his departure from the Hobart Town Hall residence in early 1881 and continued working for the New Town Territorial and Hobart Municipal Police. He listed his occupation as “photographer, New Town” on the birth registration of his sixth child,  second daughter Minnie (Mary Ann) in December 1884

One year later, on or about Christmas Eve, December 24th 1885, William Curtis, Thomas Nevin and and an unnamed “first offender” were celebrating the Season of Cheer with a few drinks when they were each fined 5 shillings for “drunk and disorderly conduct at New Town“.


…Three cases of drunk and disorderly conduct at New Town, viz., Thomas Nevin, Wm.Curtis, and another, a first offender, were each fined 5s., or seven days.

Source: THE MERCURY. (1885, December 24). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 2. 

What was the trouble? And why was the third person not named? It seems that the marriage between William Curtis and Philadelphia Henson was not a happy one. In October 1877, a warrant was issued for his arrest because he had failed to join the whaling vessel Maria Laurie. By late October 1877, the police had arrested him, but within months – in February 1878 – a summons was issued for his arrest, this time for failing to appear in the Police Court Hobart in answer to a complaint of non-maintenance of his wife. The police arrested him in March 1878, and sentenced him to three months at the Hobart Gaol for non-maintenance of wife and family. He was discharged on 26 June 1878. Just weeks later, he was reported as a “missing friend” in August 1878. Who was the friend who reported him missing?

William Curtis, 24 years old, warrant for arrest, 12 October 1877

William Curtis arrested, reported 26 October 1877

William Curtis, maintenance of his wife, warrant for failing to comply,  15 February 1878

William Curtis arrested 22 March 1878

William Curtis, aged 25 yrs, sentenced on 21 March 1878, and discharged from the Hobart Gaol on 26 June 1878, having served a sentence of three months for non-maintenance.

William Curtis, shoemaker of New Town, was reported as a missing friend on 23 August 1878, having left his wife and family without means of support. This notice appeared in the police gazette.

So, by 1885, William Curtis was known to the police, to the police photographer Thomas J. Nevin, and to Thomas’ brother Constable John Nevin. His marriage to Philadelphia Henson in 1873 had failed. By 1883, she had given birth to a child, Thomas Charles Flynn (NAME_INDEXES:1097991, RGD33/1/13/ no 891), whose father Thomas Flynn was a fisherman. And in August 1885, she gave birth to another son, William Flynn (NAME_INDEXES:979111, RGD33/1/14/ no 183). She signed both birth registrations as P. Flynn formerly Henson, Hunter St. Hobart, presumably having divorced William Curtis and remarried, to Thomas Flynn (or not). There may have been a confrontation between Thomas Flynn and William Curtis on the night of 23rd December 1885 which implicated Thomas Nevin as an innocent third party, or even between William Curtis and his ex-wife Philadelphia Flynn nee Henson, which might account for the third party reported as an unnamed “first offender”, involving Thomas Nevin as a friend of both.

New Town Road Hotels
Where had they been drinking? The closest hotel at the village called Augusta and nearest to the Nevin family’s home and orchards at Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, apart from the Kangaroo Valley Inn, was the Harvest Home Hotel, whose famously large proprietor T. D. Jennings was photographed by several Tasmanian photographers over a decade, including Thomas Nevin. The Harvest Home Hotel’s exact location, according to Wise’s Post Office Directory of 1891 was on the left hand side of New Town Road looking north from the city boundary at Augusta Rd, and one property short of the corner of Pedder and Seymour Streets, New Town. The Post Office at New Town, a little further north and closer to the Maypole hotel, was advertised by Thomas Nevin in the Tasmanian Times during the 1860s as a spot where tourists visiting the area could view and purchase his stereographs taken of Kangaroo Valley landmarks such as Sir John Franklin’s tree and Jane Franklin’s Museum at Ancanthe.

Title: Exterior view of the Harvest Home Hotel, at Newtown, with the proprietor JENNINGS, Thomas D., standing outside
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: ADRI: PH30-1-2613

Title: [Thomas Dewhurst] Jennings – 32 stone
In: Allport album IV No. 45
Publisher: Hobart : s.n., [Between 1880 and 1889]
ADRI: AUTAS001126184324
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

The main road leading north out of Hobart was always called Elizabeth Street. At the juncture of Warwick and Elizabeth Streets, it was called New Town Road, but by 1907, according to the Metropolitan Drainage Board plans of that year, New Town Road reverted to its original name, Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, up to the juncture of Pedder Streets and Risdon Road when it became locally known as the Main Road, New Town.

Licensing to retail Liquor
Tuesday, January 18, 1887
Inland Revenue Branch
13th January, 1887
A LICENCE in the form prescribed by “The Licensing Act” to retail Liquor for the period ending 31st day of December, 1887, (provided it be not forfeited before such date), has been granted to each of the under-mentioned individuals:-
ALCOCK, Christopher Talbot Inn New Town
HILL, Thomas Sir William Don New Town-road Hobart
JENNINGS, Thomas D. Harvest Home New Town Road Hobart
MARRIOTT, Henry Maypole Inn New Town Road Hobart
NICHOLAS, Richard Eaglehawk Hotel Colville & New Town-road Hobart
RING, Thomas Queen’s Head Inn New Town Road Hobart
SMITH, John Caledonian Inn New Town Road Hobart
TURNER, Joshua Rainbow Inn New Town Road Hobart

Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~austas/liquor1887.htm
Taken from the Hobart Town Gazette 
Indexed by David J Bryce
Author of “Pubs in Hobart from 1807”,
published date 1997, ISBN 0 646 301470.

Disambiguation: William Curtis
William Curtis, aged 20 yrs old in 1873 was NOT the prisoner William Curtis aka John Curtis who was transported from Plymouth on the Anson in 1843, and who was re-convicted as John Curtis for manslaughter in 1856, sentenced to penal servitude for life.


John Curtis, manslaughter
His Honor impressed on the prisoner the position in which he had stood. He ought to be thankful indeed to a jury of his country that they had not found him guilty of murder. If they had done so no earthly power could have saved his life. His Honor would not do his duty, were he not to pass the severest sentence it was in his power to do. In every case . in which cases of this description came before him, His Honor would mark with the severest punish- ment. Sentenced to penal servitude for the term of his natural life.

Source: SUPREME COURT.—CRIMINAL SITTINGS. (1856, June 9). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 2. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8781229

Thomas Nevin photographed John Curtis aka William Curtis, 62 years old, on discharge from the Hobart Gaol (and Police Office) in the week ending 10th February 1875. The inscription of the date “1874” and the name “William Curtis” on the verso of his photograph are both incorrect: Curtis was neither sent to Port Arthur nor returned to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur in the years 1873-4.


Thomas Nevin photographed John Curtis aka William Curtis, 62 years old, on discharge from the Hobart Gaol (and Police Office) in the week ending 10th February 1875.

Prisoner William CURTIS per Anson
Photographer: T. J. Nevin, taken in January 1875
QVMAG Ref: 1985_p_0100
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania

William Curtis, convict transported per Anson. Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin
Description: 1 photographic print
ADRI: PH30-1-3232

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania


TAHO Tasmanian Names Index
Name: Curtis, William
Record Type: Convicts
Arrival date: 4 Feb 1844
Departure date: 1 Oct 1843
Departure port: Plymouth
Ship: Anson
Voyage number: 227
Remarks: Reconvicted as John Curtis
Index number: 16721
Document ID: NAME_INDEXES:1385212
Appropriation List CON27/1/10
Conduct Record CON33/1/49 
CON37/1/ Page 2860
Description List CON18/1/41