A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

REV. HENRY DRESSER ATKINSON (1841–1921) and TRUGANINI (1812–1876)

Without doubt, Thomas J. Nevin produced an intriguing photograph when he set up his camera in front of this esteemed group of day-trippers to Adventure Bay on board the City of Hobart on 31st January 1872.  He advised readers of the Mercury, 2nd February 1872, that those group photographs taken on the trip to Adventure Bay were ready and for sale. The Mercury also reported that Nevin’s photographs of the event were “very well taken” in the same edition.

Detail: second image on right side of stereograph of the VIPS by T. J. Nevin 
Day-trippers to Adventure Bay on board the City of Hobart 31st January 1872
T. Nevin Photo blindstamp impress recto on right hand side
Verso with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor’s stamp with Royal Arms insignia.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection Ref: Q1994.56.2

Who’s Who, January 31st, 1872
Some identities are certain, others are probable, and yet others are simply possible. These are our suggestions, based on comparison with extant photographs of known public figures, or details deduced from their associated biographies.The attention of  the original owner of this particular copy was centred on the young woman among this hirsute crowd. By marking her image with two ink dots below the eyes, whether to accentuate them or even to signify tears, effectively points to a context subjoined to the present one on this day as she sat next to the Rev. Atkinson watching the photographer perform his magic.

Extreme left, standing: Sir John O’Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria, clean shaven, in light topper

Standing next to him: Robert Byron Miller, barrister with beard and light topper

Seated at eye-level with the capstan wheel: the Hon. James Erskine Calder, former Surveyor-General, Tasmania in black topper and light moustache ( head only visible)

Seated in front of him facing camera: possibly Lukin Boyes, Customs Officer in white jacket, wearing a light trilby and shoulder bag

Centre in foreground: the Hon. Mr. James Milne Wilson (Premier of Tasmania), or Alfred Kennerley, (Mayor of Hobart and Police Magistrate)

Seated next to him facing camera: an unidentified young woman, who may have been one of event organiser John Woodcock Graves’ four young daughters – Mimi (b. 1862), Mathinna (Matte b. 1859) Trucaninni (Truca b. 1864), the latter two both given Tasmanian Aboriginal names – or even fourteen year old Jean Porthouse Graves (b. 1858) who collected these photographs of the trip by Thomas Nevin for her album (see her portraits by Nevin below). This young woman with a steady gaze and fully rounded face, however, was possibly in her late teens. As she is sitting next to Henry Dresser Atkinson (1841–1921), she may have been his fiancee Sarah-Ann Ward (b. 1841 Launceston). Their son  Henry Bruné Dresser, born  on 17th  March 1874 at Gordon, Tasmania, was nursed – so legend goes – by Tasmanian Aboriginal  woman Trugernanner (Truganini) (1812–1876). Henry Dresser Atkinson’s first appointment on arrival from England was the Channel mission at Oyster Cove where Truganini’s group had been relocated to her traditional territory. According to Lyndal Ryan et al: 

.By 1869 she [Truganini] and William Lanney were the only full bloods alive. The mutilation of Lanney’s body after his death in March led Trugernanner to express concern; she told Rev. H. D. Atkinson, ‘I know that when I die the Museum wants my body’.

Extreme lower right: Rev. Henry Dresser Atkinson, in clerical garb, clergyman, conchologist and naturalist.  He is identifiable by his large spreading wispy beard, his distinctive curled forelock above his left eye, and hair styled with a centre part. Here he is squinting against the sun, but in the formal portrait below, taken when he was quite young, the forelock is accentuated.

Stereograph of the VIPS by T. J. Nevin 
Day-trippers to Adventure Bay on board the City of Hobart 31st January 1872
T. Nevin Photo blindstamp impress recto on right hand side
Verso with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor’s stamp with Royal Arms insignia.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection Ref: Q1994.56.2

Stereograph of the VIPS by T. J. Nevin 
Day-trippers to Adventure Bay on board the City of Hobart 31st January 1872
T. Nevin Photo blindstamp impress recto on right hand side
Verso with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor’s stamp with Royal Arms insignia.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection Ref: Q1994.56.2

Photograph – Rev H D Atkinson [unattributed, s.n. n.d.]
Item Number: NS407/1/41
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
St Davids Cathedral (NG282) 01 Jan 1804
Series:Photograph Album Mainly of People associated with St Davids Cathedral (NS407) 01 Jan 1901
View online: NS407-1-41

Obituary 1921: the Rev. Henry Dresser Atkinson
Published in the Mercury, Hobart, Monday 27 June 1921, page 4

The Rev. Henry Dresser Atkinson, BA, whose death is announced this morning at the advanced age of 80 years, has had a distinguished and varied career. Born in 1841 at Selby, in Yorkshire, he was the son of the late Rev Henry Atkinson, headmaster of Drax School, and Vicar of Barmby, in Yorkshire. He entered Magdalen College, Cambridge, in 1860, and graduated in 1863.  Whilst there he was one of a group of pioneers who commenced the study of English literature of the time of Chaucer, and wrote such a brilliant essay on this poet that Cowden Clark published a special edition of Chaucer, in the preface to which he acknowledged Mr Atkinson’s essay as being the mainspring of the publication. That he did not neglect the athletic side of University life is evinced by the fact that he took a prominent place in both football and rowing, in both of which sports he represented his college, and in the latter was chosen to represent his University against Oxford. His first appointment was that of mathematical master at Cheltenham College, where he had amongst his students such distinguished men as the late F. W. H. Myers and Sir Rider Haggard. In 1865 he was ordained by Dr Philpott, Bishop of Worcester and licensed to the curacy of Holy Trinity in that city. During his term at Holy Trinity he was secretary to the Archaeological Society, of which Dr Woodward, the eminent geologist, was president, but in 1867 he unfortunately contracted cholera, which was raging in the parish, and which so undermined his health that he was forced to resign, and emigrate to Tasmania, in the hope of saving his life. That the change was beneficial is evinced by the ripe old age to which he attained. His first appointment in this State was in charge of the Channel mission, where he was stationed for nine years, during which time he married the only daughter of Mr Wm. Ward, of Gordon, who has been his life partner, and survives him. From the Channel he transferred to Stanley, which parish at this time included the whole of Tasmania west of Sisters’ Creek He was there for 13 years, and made many hazardous journeys along the West Coast, through wild country, to the most distant settlements of miners. He next took charge of Evandale parish, where he remained for a period of 20 years, until 1910, when he retired to his residence, Brookside, Augusta-road, Hobart. Mr Atkinson was a devoted parish priest, and a brilliant English scholar; his sermons were highly thought of, both by clergy and laity, whilst “Talks with a Naturalist,” which for many years were a leading feature of the Church of England “Messenger,” were also from his pen. He was one of the first men in Tasmania to take up the serious study of Tasmanian shells, much of which he did in collaboration with the late Rev. J E Tenison Woods. His collection of shells is a large and valuable one, containing many type specimens of rare varieties. He played an important part in the establishment of the University of Tasmania, and was for many years a member of the Senate, and an examiner in several subjects. In general educational mat-ters, Mr Atkinson took a keen interest both ln England and in Tasmania, and a number of men in prominent positions in the educational world, as well as the ministry, owe their positions to Mr Atkinson’s personal interest and influence, and in some cases private tuition. He leaves a widow and six children living, one of whom is the Rev H. B Atkin-son, of Holy Trinity, Hobart. One of his sons, the late Lieut. E H Atkinson, served with distinction in the late war. He was the senior clergyman in the Tasmanian diocese.

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Monday 27 June 1921, page 4 OBITUARY.

Service at Holy Trinity 1921
From a long association with Henry Dresser Atkinson dating back to the 1870s, his funeral service was one which Thomas J. Nevin would have attended in the two years before his own death in 1923. The service for Henry Dresser Atkinson was held at the Holy Trinity Church, a short walk up the hill from No. 270 Elizabeth Street where Thomas Nevin, a widower since 1914,  resided with his eldest daughter Mary Florence Elizabeth Nevin (known to his grand children as Great Aunty May).

Source: World (Hobart, Tas:Wed 29 Jun 1921 Page 2 LATE REV. H. D. ATKINSON


The funeral of the late Rev. H. D. Atkinson took place yesterday afternoon, the service being conducted by the Bishop of Tasmania, assisted by Canon Shoobridge and the Rev. D. Blackwood. The service, which was a choral one, was held at Holy Trinity Church, Mr. J. W. Gould at the organ, and the members of Holy Trinity choir, under Mr. F. P. Bowden, rendered the choral portion of a beautiful and impressive service.
The Bishop referred in moving terms to the services rendered by the deceased to the diocese and his splendid record in both public and private life.
A large congregation was present – including prominent clergymen and laymen, amongst whom were Revs. Archdeacon Beresford, Canon Finnis, Minor Canon Hooker, and the Revs. Quigley, C. W. Wilson, Sharland Spink, and Tarleton. The chief mourners were the members of the family, and the officers of the church acted as coffin-bearers. Many beautiful  floral tokens were received from all parts of the Island.
The burial took place at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, and the funeral arrangements were in the hands of Messrs. Clark Bros.

Thomas Nevin’s teenage admirer
Another altogether plausible suggestion as to the identity of the young woman seated next to the Rev. Atkinson in Thomas Nevin’s stereograph (above) would be that it is his wife Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914). They were married on 12th July 1871 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley (Hobart) and their first child Mary Florence Elizabeth (May) Nevin (1872-1955) was born on the 19th May 1872.

Gratitude in this instance, however, for saving these photographs, must be extended to Thomas Nevin’s teenage admirer, 14 year old Jean Porthouse Graves, who assembled his photographs of this trip to Adventure Bay in an album (now in our private collection). Further copies found their way to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Archives Office, both in Hobart.

Jean Porthouse Graves, 14 yrs old, 
Detail of photograph printed as both a stereograph and carte-de-visite
Stereograph in double oval buff  mount with T. Nevin blindstamp impress in centre
Verso is blank. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR 
Taken at the TMAG November 2014 (TMAG Collection Ref:Q1994.56.5)

Men of premier social status dressed in full Victorian attire from head to toe rarely allowed themselves to be photographed in reclining and recumbent poses, so these captures by Thomas Nevin of Sir John O’Shanassy and Sir James Erskine Calder lolling about in bush surroundings are quite remarkable. Their ease and familiarity with Thomas Nevin was in no small part due to his work already performed for surveyors James Calder and James and John Hurst on commission with the Lands and Survey Dept., for which he was issued with the Colonial Government’s Royal Arms warrant by authority. The men in the foreground of this series taken on the Adventure Bay trip in January 1872 were the lawyers and the legislators who were Nevin’s patrons and employers throughout his engagement as photographer in Hobart’s prisons and courts from 1872 into the 1880s.

Group photograph of the colonists at Adventure Bay 31st January 1872
Figures on lower left, recumbent: John Woodcock Graves jnr and Sir John O’Shanassy
Between them: John Graves’ teenage daughter, Jean Porthouse Graves
Above her in topper: Robert Byron Miller (whose son Francis Knowles Miller she married in 1885)
On right: sitting with stick, Hon. Alfred Kennerley, Mayor of Hobart
Head in topper only on extreme right: Sir James Erskine Calder.

Stereograph in double oval buff  mount with T. Nevin blindstamp impress in centre
Verso is blank. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR 
Taken at the TMAG November 2014 (TMAG Collection Ref:Q1994.56.5

This is the same image (below), printed by Nevin from his negative as a carte-de-viste, stamped verso with his most common commercial studio stamp. More of the figure of the Hon. James Erskine Calder leaning into the frame on lower right is visible. Jean Porthouse Graves is indicated by an ink mark, and so is the man in the white summer hat who is leaning on top of a man-made stone structure, perhaps Lukin Boyes, Customs Officer, son of artist and administrator G.T.W. Boyes. Surname and initial appearing to be “L Boyes” is written on verso. Lukin Boyes was witness to the marriage of John Woodcock Graves the younger and Jessie Montgomerie at St John’s Manse in 1857.

Verso inscriptions include these identifiable figures at the “Picnic”:
Father = John Woodcock Graves jnr,
Sir John O’Shanassy = former Premier of Victoria,
Self = Jean Porthouse Graves, daughter of John W. Graves,
L. Boyes = Lukin Boyes (?), son of G.T. W. Boyes

From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Another configuration with more members of the VIP group at Adventure Bay, 31st January 1872. The man laughing, sitting between the Hon. Alfred Kennerley (lower left) and Sir John O’Shanassy, is Hugh Munro Hull, Parliamentary librarian. He seems to have appreciated comments coming from Thomas Nevin at the point of capture, while Sir John O’Shanassy (with stick), reads on, oblivious. The figure running into the scene at centre is John Woodcock Graves (the younger), organiser of the excursion.

Nevin’s blindstamp impress is on the mount at centre.This stereo is badly water-damaged.
It is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.24.
Photo taken at TMAG 10th November 2014
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Thomas Nevin took this photograph of the group as they emerged from the bush onto the sand at Adventure Bay,  31st January 1872,  He printed the image as a stereograph on yellow card, with his blind stamp impress “T. NEVIN PHOTO” on the right, which was applied somewhat hurriedly. The inscription and arrows in ink on the left – “Father” and “Me” and “?” point to John Woodcock Graves jnr and his daughter Jean Porthouse Graves.

Verso inscription: “Pleasure Trip to Adventure Bay when I was a girl.”
From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

The last photograph
This unattributed photograph of Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Truganini seated, with John Woodcock Graves the younger standing over her, was taken shortly before her death, aged 73 yrs, on 8th May 1876. He died six months later, aged 47 yrs, on 30th October 1876 of congestion of the lungs and pneumonia.

[Above]: Truganini and John Woodcock Graves jnr
Reprint by Alfred Winter late 1870s
Photographed at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office 2015
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015 ARR

Jean Porthouse GRAVES (1858-1951) married solicitor Francis Knowles MILLER at Melbourne, Victoria in 1885. She was extensively involved with betterment and welfare organisations in the Emu Bay area (Burnie, Tasmania) from her marriage through to the 1920s. She was 91 yrs old when she died at Rembrandt Square, London on 30 July 1951. This photograph, also from her album, was taken of Jean Knowles Miller, nee Jean Porthouse Graves, posing with her dog in London ca. early 1940s.

Mrs Jean Knowles-Miller nee Porthouse Graves (1858-1951)
Posing with her dog , London early 1940s
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Private Collection 2015

BDM RECORDS (summary)
A. John Woodcock Graves the elder, known for his composition of the song “D’ye Ken John Peel”.
B. Sons of John Woodcock Graves the elder:
B.1. John Woodcock Graves the younger, solicitor, married Jessie Graves formerly Montgomerie on 27th May 1857 at St John’s Manse, Hobart. John Woodcock Graves the younger died at Hobart aged 46 yrs on 30th October 1876 of congestion of the lungs and pneumonia.
B.2. Joseph Graves, master mariner, married Esther Jane williams on 9th Aug 1865 at St Johns Manse, Hobart.
C. Daughters of John Woodcock Graves the younger
C.1. Jean Porthouse Graves, born 20th January 1858 at Hobart to John Woodcock Graves, solicitor, Upper Bathurst St Hobart, and Jessie Graves formerly Montgomerie. Unnamed at birth. Jean Porthouse Graves married solicitor Francis Knowles Miller at Melbourne, Victoria in 1885. She died at her residence, Rembrandt Square London, aged 91 yrs, on 30th July 1951.
C.2. Mathinna Isabella Graves, born 1st August 1859 at Hobart to John Woodcock Graves, solicitor, Bathurst St Hobart, and Jessie Graves formerly Montgomerie. Mathinna Isabella Graves died at her residence, Orrong Rd, St Kilda Victoria, aged 88 yrs, on 29th June 1948.
C.3. Mimi Graves was born on 20th November 1862 at Hobart to John Woodcock Graves, solicitor and Jessie Graves formerly Montgomerie. Birth registered by a friend – H J D Baily (?) Argyle St.
C.4. Trucaninni Graves was born on 2nd November 1864 at Hobart to John Woodcock Graves, solicitor, Bathurst St Hobart, and Jessie Graves formerly Montgomerie. Birth registered by Jessie Graves, Princess St. Hobart.
D. Children of Jean Porthouse Graves and Francis Knowles Miller
D.1. Frances Emily Knowles born 19 August 1887 Emu Bay
D.2. Henry de Burgh Knowles born 2 April 1895 Emu Bay
(etc etc – to be completed)
Source: Names Index Archives Office Tasmania

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