Thomas J. Nevin, informant for surveyor John Hurst’s son’s birth 1868

HURST and NEVIN families, Grey Abbey, County Down Ireland
Thomas J. NEVIN, birth registration informant for John HURST’s son 1868
John HURST police record New Zealand 1870
Surveyors HURST family, Tasmania

From Rabbit Traps to Rembrandts
A Memoir by Nevin Hurst. (West Hobart, Tas. : Knocklofty Press, 2007).
Photo © Copyright KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

John Nevin snr and James Hurst
The surname “Nevin” in photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s family has ancestry in Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland. While it has always been a surname in Thomas’ family, it is currently being used as a first name by a living descendant of the Hurst family in Tasmania, (it is in fact his middle name), namely fine arts dealer William Nevin Hurst, who calls himself simply Nevin Hurst, (Masterpiece Gallery, Hobart). Nevin Hurst has claimed a connection by descent to photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s father John Nevin snr over the past decade (emails to this blog – some nonsensical and offensive – annoying calls to Nevin family descendants etc ), through Nevin Hurst’s paternal ancestor, surveyor James Hurst whose wife Eliza Hurst, he claims, was John Nevin’s sister. This connection appears to be based not on genetics but on friendship between the Nevin and Hurst families. They were not only neighbours in New Town, Tasmania in the later half of the 19th century, both had historic family connections to Grey Abbey, Ireland dating from the 18th century.

The Nevin family home, built by Thomas’ father John Nevin snr ca. 1854, was located on land in trust to the Wesleyan Church on an acre above the Lady Franklin Museum, Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania. John Nevin snr was born Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland in 1808, and joined the Royal Scots 1st Regiment of Foot in 1825 at Newtonards, serving first in the West Indies and then at the Canadian Rebellion in 1839. He died at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart, in 1887.  James Hurst, a surveyor, born Grey Abbey, County Down (no date)  held the lease for the Salt Water Coal Mines, Tasman Peninsula from 1858 and died in Hobart in 1876. His widow Eliza was born 1814, died Hobart, 1902 (see gravestone below which was probably erected on her death). Establishing facts about the connection between the Hurst and Nevin families has proved difficult because living descendant Nevin Hurst, of Masterpiece Gallery Hobart,  not only cannot provide authentic documentation to back his claim, he also claims in his recent memoir to be related to many people regardless of proof, such as American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (a homophone is not proof) who built the nation’s largest newspaper chain and whose methods profoundly influenced American journalism.

1862: John Hurst’s marriage
James Hurst’s son, surveyor John Hurst (1838 – ?) married Louisa Tatlow on 27th November 1862. The marriage was registered at Port Sorell, a town on the north-west coast of Tasmania on the waterway of the same name, just off Bass Strait, 20 km east of Devonport. His wife Louisa Maria Tatlow was born in 1841 to parents Anthony Tatlow, listed as “Gentleman” and Mary Moore.

Marriage of John Hurst to Louisa Tatlow, 3 December 1862, Cornwall Chronicle.

1841: birth of Louisa Maria Tatlow

1862: marriage of Louisa Maria Tatlow to John Hurst

Tasmanian Names Index
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Female
Age: 21
Spouse: Hurst, John
Gender: Male
Date of marriage: 27 Nov 1862
Registered: Port Sorell
Registration year:1862
Document ID: NAME_INDEXES:867034
Resource RGD37/1/21 no 582

1868: Thomas Nevin, informant
On the 11th April, 1868, Louisa Hurst, formerly Tatlow, gave birth to William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in the district of Hobart. The father’s occupation was listed as “surveyor”. Their son’s birth was registered on 22nd May, 1868 by photographer Thos Nevin, informant, Elizabeth St., where Nevin was operating from Alfred Bock’s former photographic studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Neither parent of this child carried the surname “Nevin”. It was neither the mother’s maiden name nor the father’s middle name. Yet the child was given “Nevin” as a middle name along with his mother’s maiden name “Tatlow”. As a surveyor, the child’s father John Hurst was most likely absent from Hobart on business in May 1868, and requested Thomas Nevin to register his son’s birth at the Town Hall. This is the reason the name “Nevin” appears for the first time in the Hurst family of Tasmania, as a gesture towards to the family of John Nevin snr and his son Thomas J. Nevin, and for no other reason.

Schooling may have brought the families closer together. John Nevin snr and his daughter Mary Ann Nevin were both school teachers in the Kangaroo Valley and New Town area. And the relationship to a family of surveyors may have benefited Thomas Nevin’s photographic work with the Lands Department, which employed photographers as a matter of course by the early 1870s on government commissions. When Thomas J. Nevin’s own son Thomas James Nevin jnr was born (and given the same name as his father) in April 1874, he too was away on business, working at Port Arthur on government commission. so Thomas Nevin’s father-in-law Captain James Day signed the child’s birth registration as the “informant” on 26th May in his absence.

Thomas J. Nevin’s signature on this document of William Nevin Tatlow’s birth in May 1868 carries his usual abbreviation of “Thos” and flourishes, but minus the “Jas”, of “James”, his middle name. It is similar to his signatures on his marriage certificate 1871, and the birth registrations of his children 1872-1888, viz:.

Above: Thomas Nevin’s signatures, sourced from Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Marriage registration for Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Day, 1871
Birth registrations for two of their seven children, 1872 and 1876.

Birth Registration of William Nevin Tatlow HURST 1868
This document is worth a close examination because of the hand-written amendments, specifically to do with the child’s middle names. Someone has initialled changes, firstly to the child’s second middle name, printing more clearly the name “Tatlow”, and left a (barely legible) note in parentheses. The note says:

(Third Christian name and mother’s surname corrected to read “Tatlow” under clerical error (word illegible) of Sec. 36 of the Reg of Births & Deaths Act 1895. See birth reg. No. 595/41 L’ton (inserted) and Marriage No. 582/62 Port Sorell. )

Above and below : detail of William Nevin Tatlow’s birth registration 22 May 1868 with the signature of Thos Nevin, acting as informant, with additions and note in parentheses.

Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Name: Hurst, William Nevin Tatlow
Record Type: Births
Gender: Male
Father: Hurst, John
Mother: Tatlow, Louisa
Date of birth: 11 Apr 1868
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1868
Document ID: NAME_INDEXES:971541
Resource 007368108_00023 no 10026

1870: John Hurst on the run from NZ police
Wherever surveyor John Hurst may have been during 1868 that caused his absence when he requested Thomas J. Nevin to register his son’s birth in his absence, he was on the run from the New Zealand police by October 1870. John Hurst was working in New Zealand in the county of Westland when he absconded with a sum of money. A charge on warrant for embezzlement was issued, but he supposedly eluded the NZ police, and was believed to have made his way to Melbourne by May 1871, and thence to Tasmania.

This extract from the Tasmanian police gazette of 2 May, 1871, reprinted from the Victoria Police gazette, not only details the charge, it gives a clear physical description of John Hurst, plus his former business interests as a journalist and newspaper proprietor. These aspects of John Hurst’s background further entwine the Hurst and Nevin families formerly of Grey Abbey, Ireland, in several instances. Firstly, both John Hurst and John Nevin snr were journalists, the former a correspondent with the London Times, the latter a war correspondent during the Canadian Rebellions. Secondly, the Nevin family solicitor and Attorney-General W. R. Giblin, who would have authorised the warrant for John Hurst’s arrest, especially as Hurst was a former employee of the Colonial government’s Lands Dept., would have alerted John Nevin’s two sons – brothers Constable John Nevin and photographer Thomas Nevin, both serving the Territorial and Municipal Police, to inform him in the event of John Hurst returning to his family in New Town. Whether John Hurst was acquitted or convicted is not clear, unless he was arrested in Victoria and charged, in which case the Victorian Public Records Office would hold those details; the Tasmanian police gazettes record no other notice about his being apprehended in their jurisdiction during the next decade.

Warrant for John Hurst, 2 May 1871
Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, Gov’t Printer


EXTRACTS from Victoria Police Gazette of the 2nd May, 1871
John Hurst is charged on warrant issued at Greymouth, New Zealand, with the embezzlement of £5 and other moneys the property of the Paroa District Road Board, at Paroa, county of Westland, on the 25th October 1870. He is native of the north of Ireland, a civil engineer, aged 32 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, but does not look so tall, grey eyes, short brown hair, short sandy whiskers round and under chin, and rather prominent cheek bones. He was employed as secretary and collector to the Paroa Road Board at the time he absconded; was formerly correspondent of the London Times and afterwards proprietor of the Freeman newspaper. He is believed to be in or near Melbourne. – 1st May, 1871. This offender is said to have been employed by the Tasmanian Government in the Survey Department, probably in the Western districts, and may make for that place.

1877: New Town Public School
John Hurst’s son, born in 1868 as William Nevin Tatlow Hurst, dropped the middle name “Tatlow” from all official documents, and as early as 1877. Enrolled at the New Town Public School as William Nevin Hurst minus the middle name “Tatlow”, he was awarded a prize as a fourth form student, published in the Mercury, 24th December 1877. He was nine years old.

Source: No heading]. (1877, December 24). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 2 Supplement: The Mercury Summary For Europe.

In same year, on May 3rd 1877, William Nevin Hurst’s unmarried aunt, Mary Hurst, sister of surveyor John Hurst, was a witness at the marriage of Mary Anne Nevin, Thomas Nevin’s only surviving sister, to mariner John Carr at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley. She was a school teacher who had applied to the Education Board in 1865 to establish a school at Kangaroo Valley with the support of Morton Allport. William Nevin Hurst may have been one of her pupils at either school. Thomas Nevin photographed the New Town Public School on several occasions in the early 1870s, printing his images as a series of stereographs (held at the TMAG).

Marriage of Mary Anne Nevin to John Carr, 3 May 1877
Witnesses: John Nevin snr, John Nevin jnr, Mary Sophia Day and Mary Hurst
Resource RGD37/1/36 no 359

Stereograph of the New Town Public School
Photographer: Thos Nevin New Town ca. 1870
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q1987.392

1899: Marriage of Wm Nevin Tatlow Hurst
In retrospect, when photographer Thomas J. Nevin registered the birth of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in May 1868, he might have suspected that the child would follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, first as a draughtsman, then surveyor, and becoming eventually the Tasmanian Surveyor-General and Secretary for Lands. William Nevin Tatlow Hurst married Lucie Evelyn Elizabeth Foster, hospital nurse, exactly 31 years to the day he was born, i.e. on his 31st birthday, 11th April 1899 at St John’s Church, New Town.

Tasmanian Names Index (TAHO)
Name: Hurst, William Nevin Tatlow
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Male
Spouse: Foster, Lucie Evelyn Elizth
Gender: Female
Age: 27
Date of marriage: 11 Apr 1899
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1899
Document ID: NAME_INDEXES:924661
Resource RGD37/1/61 no 273

An extensive collection of documents relating to the father John Hurst and son William Nevin Tatlow Hurst is held at the University of Tasmania, at this link:

A collection of pamphlets articles and newspaper cuttings compiled by William Nevin Hurst (1868 – 1947) and notes made by him on topics of historical interest. William Nevin Hurst was a draughtsman and Secretary for Lands. He was the son of John Hurst a surveyor on the North West Coast. RS.23

Source: Tasmanian Sureveyors-General Honour Board

The Lyons Labor Government 1920s (Joseph Lyons front seated centre)
William Nevin Hurst, seated, second last from viewer’s right: incorrectly identified as J. Hurst

Title: Photograph – Labor members of Parliament – M O’Keefe, J Cleary, P Kelly, A Lawson, C Culley, W. Shoobridge, JA Guy, J Belton, JA Lyons, AG Ogilvie, J Hurst and G Becker
ADRI: PH30-1-223
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

The Cemetery Headstone
The family relationship claimed by living descendant of the Hurst family, Nevin Hurst, to the family of of photographer Thomas J. Nevin is based in part on the wording on the gravestone relating to Eliza Hurst. She is claimed by Nevin Hurst to be the sister of John Nevin snr, and therefore an aunt of Thomas J. Nevin, but there is no documentary evidence to suggest that John Nevin had a sister nor is there any evidence that “Hurst” was the married name of James Hurst’s daughter Mary Hurst rather than her maiden name. She is listed as the daughter of the Ireland-based family, daughter of James Hurst, not “daughter-in-law”. The wording is as follows:

In Loving Memory of Eliza Widow of the late James Hurst of Grey-Abbey, Co. Down Ireland Born July 12th 1814 Died Sept 19th 1902…
Also Mary Hurst Daughter of the Above died 27th October 1925 Aged 86 years
Also Louisa Hurst Widow of John Hurst born at Westbury 27th May 1841 Died 18th November 192?
Also Edith Rhoda Hurst only daughter of John and Louisa Hurst died 25th January 1926 Aged 54 years
Also William Nevin Tatlow Hurst ISO son of John & Louisa Born April 11, 1868 Died 24 Dec 1946
Also Lucie Evelyn Hurst beloved Wife of Above Born 20 June 1868 Died 11 Feb 1948

The Hurst family headstone, Cornelian Bay
Emailed to this blog courtesy of Nevin Hurst 2010
Copyright Gravesites of Tasmania

The suggestion sent to this blog by Nevin Hurst (12 June 2012) to claim a family relationship to the Nevin family was that ELIZA Hurst, widow of JAMES Hurst – the head name on the gravestone – was John Nevin snr’s sister, but no evidence was submitted for that claim and that too has been discredited. James Hurst died in 1876. He held the lease of the Salt Water Coal Mines on the Tasman Peninsula from 1858 to his death in 1876 (Bullers, Flinders University, 2005). Eliza Hurst died in 1902.

Death of Eliza Hurst, 89 yrs old, at her residence Forster St. New Town, Mercury 20 Sept 1902

Two passengers arrived in Hobart on 3rd February, 1855 on board the Flora McDonald from Liverpool – John Hurst, aged 16yrs old, and probably his mother, Eliza Hurst, aged 40 yrs old. She was 89 years when she died in 1902, and 40 years old in 1855, born in 1814, according to the headstone.

On November 15th 1856, a large Hurst family of six of arrived in Hobart from Sydney on board the Tasmania, including cabin passengers Mary, James, Eliza, a Miss, a Mrs and a Mr Hurst.

Arrivals.Archives Office Tasmania MB 2 39 1 20 Image 328

Mary Hurst (1839-1925)
Surveyor John Hurst’s sister, Mary Hurst, born at Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland, (1839-1925) died at her nephew’s house (i.e. William Nevin Tatlow Hurst’s home), 30 Cross Street, New Town, Tasmania. She apparently never married, or at least, retained her maiden name through to her death. She was a signatory witness at the marriage of Thomas Nevin’s sister, Mary Anne Nevin to John Carr on 3rd May 1877 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, now Lenah Valley (Ref: RGD37/1/36 no 359. Tasmanian Names Index).


HURST.-On October 27, 1925, at the residence of her nephew. Mr. W. N. Hurst, 30 Cross-street, New Town,- Mary Hurst, a native of the County Down, Ireland, in her 80th year. No flowers.

Source: Family Notices. (1925, October 28). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 1.

Photographer Thomas J. Nevin may never have envisaged the persistence of his surname NEVIN as a Hurst family middle name well into the second generation when he registered the birth of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in May 1868 for surveyor John Hurst and wife Louisa Tatlow Hurst. Their son William Nevin Tatlow Hurst who married Lucie Evelyn Elizabeth Foster, hospital nurse, exactly 31 years to the day he was born, i.e. on his 31st birthday, 11th April 1899 at St John’s Church, New Town, had an only son whom they named David Nevin Hurst. He married Pearl Isobel Childs on May 18, 1932 at St. John’s Church, New Town. David and Pearl Hurst were the parents of the present Masterpiece gallery owner, (William) Nevin Hurst, who uses his middle name Nevin as his Christian or forename. His claim to a familial relationship to photographer Thomas J. Nevin cannot be justified (he also assumes theatre, film and television performer Robyn Nevin to be his relative therefore, because of the name “Nevin” when no such claim exists on this blog), but what can be firmly established is a friendship between the Nevin and Hurst families stretching back to their origins at Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland.


HURST—CHILDS.— On May 18, 1932, at St. John’s Church, New Town by the Rev. C. Corvan, David Nevin [i.e. HURST], only son of Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Hurst, of New Town, to Pearl Isobel, eldest daughter of Mrs. and the late W. B. Childs, of Old Beach.

Source: Family Notices. (1932, October 1). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 1.

Plaque in memory of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst and Lucie Evelyn Hurst
Interior wall, St Johns Church, New Town Tasmania
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015 ARR

Nevin Street South Hobart
John Hurst, son of Irish surveyor James Hurst and friend of the Nevin family of Kangaroo Valley, was a surveyor in civil service, but whether he or his son William Nevin Hurst, who became the Tasmanian Surveyor-General, named this street in South Hobart after the Nevin family of Kangaroo Valley is yet to be determined. See this article, Nevin Street and the Cascades Prison for Males.

No Through Road. Nevin St. South Hobart adjacent to the Cascades Prison.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2011 ARR