PRISONER’S BLINDNESS Richard Phillips
PRESSMEN and The Cornwall Chronicle Launceston
FAKE PHOTOGRAPHER ACCREDITATION Port Arthur Tasmania
When Thomas J. Nevin photographed this prisoner Richard Phillips in July 1874 at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, on the occasion of the prisoner’s discharge from a two year sentence for housebreaking and larceny, he was confronted with a problem: the prisoner Richard Phillips was blind. The resultant photograph shows a man who is straining to make out the figure of Nevin the photographer standing next to the camera just a metre or so in front of him, his brows and eyelids squeezed tight to the point of nearly blocking out all light.
Prisoner identification photo (mugshot) of prisoner PHILLIPS, Richard
TMAG Ref: Q15618
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Taken at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, 1st July 1874
Near-sighted on arrival 1833
When prisoner Richard Phillips, 19 years old, embarked on the convict transport the Atlas in 1833 to serve a life sentence in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), the description of his physical appearance included the remark “Near Sighted”.He was in fact almost blind. Although his vocation was listed as “Laborer” from embarkation and arrival in 1833, and for the rest of his recorded life in Tasmania, his trade was also listed in one instance as “Pressman” (see Trish Symonds’ records, Addenda 2, below). As a pressman, he may have weakened his eyesight working in candlelight for a newspaper from an early age, or he may have been born with sight problems. By 1870, he was registered as an Imperial pauper but not marked on records as blind; by July 1872 he had offended and was a prisoner of the Colonial Government sent to the Port Arthur prison; by July 1873 he was returned to the Hobart Gaol, and noted as blind but by July 1874 when he was released from the two year sentence for housebreaking and larceny (1872) and residing at the Cascades Invalid Depot, his blindness was formally recognized as a disability.
Description list: Richard Phillips, top entry right hand page
Name: Phillips, Richard
Record Type: Convicts
Departure date: 30 Apr 1833
Departure port: Plymouth
Voyage number: 109
Index number: 56146
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1425747
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery copy
This copy held at the TMAG was originally held in a collection at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, acquired from convictarian John Watt Beattie’s estate in the 1930s as government records and gaol estrays. It was removed from the QVMAG (Launceston) by Elspeth Wishart in 1983 and taken down the Port Arthur historic site as part of the Port Arthur Exhibition Project. For this purpose, for its removal to the exhibition it was numbered “190” – the number written directly below the oval image on the mount. At the close of the exhibition, this mugshot and another fifty (50) and more sourced from the QVMAG were not returned to the QVMAG, deposited instead at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, thereby violating the integrity of Beattie’s Collection. These fifty and more police mugshots of the 1870s, taken by government contractor photographer Thomas J. Nevin, should have been returned to the QVMAG in 1983.
Recto and verso of cdv of prisoner PHILLIPS, Richard No. 233
TMAG Ref: Q15618
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Taken at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, 1st July 1874
The QVMAG’s list of their collection of 1870s mugshots, acquired here in 2005, shows that of the 200 listed in the original QVMAG collection in the 1980s, only 72 mugshots were in fact actually located there. This one – numbered recto “190” of Richard Phillips – was listed as missing from the QVMAG collection in 1983. Not only were more than a hundred missing from Beattie’s original collection, it was in 1983 when Elspeth Wishart et al at the Port Arthur exhibition fabricated an altogether impossible photographer attribution to the prison’s commandant A. H. Boyd, despite clear recent and historical evidence that commercial photographer and government contractor Thomas J. Nevin was the commissioned photographer working from February 1872 to commence the photographing of prisoners at sentencing, incarceration and discharge. The misattribution to A. H. Boyd, a renowned bully and not a photographer by any definition of the term, was to pander to the fantasies of his descendants who were mindful of seeing their reviled ancestor come up from history smelling of roses. A. H. Boyd was dismissed for misogyny from the superintendent position at the Queen’s Orphan School in 1864, and forced to resign from the commandant position at Port Arthur in December 1873 under allegations of fraud, corruption and misappropriation of funds.
Thomas J. Nevin’s original glass negative was produced at the one and only sitting with prisoner Richard Phillips in July 1874. It was printed for application to Richard Phillip’s prison criminal record sheet, now missing, as are all the early rap sheets from the mid 1870s from which these mugshots were removed. As on later rap sheets, the date of sentencing was written, along with the crime, the length of sentence, the date of discharge and the number of the photograph, which was recorded in the Hobart Gaol Photo Book. The number “233” on the verso of this cdv of Richard Phillips was the number which Thomas Nevin recorded for this photograph in the Hobart Gaol Photo Book in July 1874. Richard Phillips was incarcerated subsequently for short terms, e.g. 7 Feb 1879, one month, drunk and disorderly at Launceston, discharged 12 March 1879 (Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police 1879)
Archives Office of Tasmania copy
Hard copy. Original catalogue note: Richard Phillips, convict transported per Atlas. Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin. LINC Tasmania. This item was most likely reproduced for reasons to do with regional exhibitions, postcard issue, or local and family history publications.
This loose hard copy (above) of Nevin’s original cdv in an oval mount, formerly held at the QVMAG and currently held at the TMAG, is now held at the Archives Office of Tasmania and was recorded online until 2005 at this link: http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=PH30-1-3259
However, this link is no longer available. The information has been removed, censored, even redacted. The State Library of Tasmania which had previously made available online copies from the QVMAG collection of prisoners’ mugshots originally taken by Thomas J. Nevin were removed to accede to the whimsies brought to the library administration (once a reliable institution) by apologists such as the very foolish and opportunistic Julia Clark who desperately sought to suppress Nevin’s name in her quest for a PhD. In her “document” parading as a thesis, the substance of which she freely plagiarised from these Nevin weblogs, she flaunts her abuse of Nevin and his descendants as “research” in order to play up the fantasy of A. H. Boyd’s descendants that he was photographer of these extant 300 plus 1870s mugshots. Thanks to the idiocies of Clark and those whom she endeavours to impress, online visitors to the State Library of Tasmania cannot find any of these rare mugshots. The public misses out because of the narcissism and lies of one individual. Fortunately, due to prescient forethought, these records are viewable here at Flickr.The webshot (2005) for Richard Phillips is below.
Webshot 2005: Archives Office Tasmania Ref: PH30/1/3259
Caption: Richard Phillips, convict transported per Atlas. Photograph taken at port Arthur by Thomas Nevin.
Court, Press and Police Records 1872-74
Richard Phillips was jailed for three months for being drunk and disorderly on 8th April 1872. He was discharged in July 1872 and his blindness recorded.
Within a matter of eight weeks he was arrested for receiving, and committed for two years.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police 1872 (weekly police gazettes)
The entry dated 9th July 1872 in the Rough Calendar (below) of the Hobart Supreme Court listed prisoner Richard PHILLIPS, no. 59, arriving at Hobart on the Atlas, (no. 946), originally transported for life. He received a Conditional Pardon in 1865. He pleaded not guilty to housebreaking & larceny in 1872. The notes included in this entry state “Date and particulars not given … Guilty lcy[larceny] and recng [receiving]… To be imprisoned for 2 years“. The word “Discharged” was pencilled diagonally across the entry, more than likely by Thomas Nevin himself, who used these Rough Calendars at Oyer Sessions to record the photograph he had taken of the prisoner on discharge. The date recorded in this instance appears at the top in the first entry as 7th July 1874.
Rough Calendar Hobart Supreme Court GD70-1-1 1870-82
TAHO Ref: GD70-1-1 Page 16.
William Kellow and Richard Phillips were tried on the same day.
Press Reports 1872
Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. )Tue 10 Sep 1872 Page 2 SUPREME COURT.
At the Criminal Sittings of the Hobart Supreme Court of 10th September 1872, Richard Phillips and Catherine McDonald were sent to trial for housebreaking. He was sentenced to two years; she received three years. Her involvement as co-conspirator may have been at Richard Phillips’ request to compensate for his blindness.
Source; The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) Wed 11 Sep 1872 Page 2 THE MERCURY.
Richard Phillips was among the 109 prisoners sent to the Port Arthur prison since its transfer to Colonial Government in 1871 and returned to the Hobart Gaol by October 1873. Their names were tabled in Parliament in July 1873. The list is included in this post.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police 1874
Richard Phillips per Atlas was 63 yrs old, 5 ft 6 ins tall, blind and with grey hair when he was discharged with a Conditional Pardon from a 2 yr sentence for feloniously receiving, handed down at the Hobart Supreme Court on 10th September 1872. His native place here was listed as Edinburgh. He was photographed at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall by Thomas Nevin in the week of 1st July 1874, and admitted to the Cascades Invalid Depot, Hobart, as a blind pauper. He spent the rest of his life in charitable institutions up to his death in 1899 from peritonitis, 81 yrs old, at the Launceston Invalid Depot.
Richard Phillips – blind – was released on 27th November 1874 from the Cascades Invalid Depot on a pass.Source; Tasmania Reports of Crime 1874 (Police Gazette).
Name: Phillips, Richard
Record Type: Health & Welfare
Description: Pauper or invalid
Cascades Invalid Depot
New Town Charitable Institute
Brickfields Invalid Depot
Launceston Invalid Depot
26 Jun 1874 to 19 Nov 1874, 30 Jul 1875 to 01 Nov 1875, 20 Dec 1876 to 06 Mar 1877, 07 Dec 1877 to 07 Mar 1878, 03 Jun 1878 to 16 Oct 1878, 16 Apr 1879 to 02 Sep 1879, 14 Jan 1880 to 27 Feb 1880, 14 May 1880 to 23 Jul 1880, 11 Sep 1880 to 14 Dec 1880, 13 Jun 1881 to 20 Sep 1881, 24 Nov 1881 to 29 Dec 1881, 29 Apr 1882 to 05 Sep 1882, 01 Nov 1882 to 10 Apr 1883, 01 Jul 1883 to 29 Nov 1883
Ship to colony: Atlas
Paupers & Invalids no.: pi1394800
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES: 1604317
Archives Office Tasmania (LINC)
Addenda 1: Richard Phillips a Pressman?
According to Trish Symonds’ transcription of records from the Archives Office of Tasmania in 2011, Richard Phillips’ vocation was listed in at least one instance as a “pressman” in Cornwall, UK, before he was transported to VDL in 1833. If indeed he was a pressman prior to transportation, he may have damaged his eyesight from working by candlelight in dimly lit printing rooms. He was described as “near sighted’ on departure from the UK in 1833. Listed as a laborer in all subsequent official records, by 1874 he was officially designated as “blind” and housed at the Cascades Invalid Depot, Hobart.
What was a “pressman” in the 1830s? Jane Bell’s research into the set up costs and employment of staff of the Cornwall Chronicle in Launceston, Tasmania, 1835, noted the term “pressman” applied to a variety of positions –
The establishment and running costs of a newspaper were considerable. Capital would be invested in fixed assets such as an office, the printery, the press and the type. Money was also needed to buy paper and other printing requisites, and to pay the wages of the staff. Printing was traditionally a well-paid, skilled trade.
Advertisements for Cornwall Chronicle staff, such as a reporter, a copperplate printer, and either one or two compositors appeared in the pages of the paper from time to time.
One such notice, on this occasion for a “good pressman,” added that the “highest wages in the colony” would be paid. Employees were not always reliable however: “no drunkard need apply” for the vacancy of compositor and a later advertisement stated that a “sober compositor may obtain constant employment.A caricaturist, “who is competent to prepare his work for the wood engraver” was advertised for in April 1841. Presumably one was found because the supplement to the Chronicle of 24 December contained a caricature titled “A Liberal Proposition.”
Extract from pp 37-38 of “AN EXTREMELY SCURRILOUS PAPER” THE CORNWALL CHRONICLE: 1835-47.
Jane Bell 1993 MA thesis, University of Tasmania
The wood engraving Jane Bell cited in the above extract is this anti-Semitic cartoon.
I say muster vatchmaker, the glass o’ this here gold vatch is broke, I von’t to put it up the spout* – but can’t d’ye see till it’s complete – therefore, if you’ll put in a new one to it, I don’t mind giving yer more than I gave for’t, though I bought it rather dearly.
WATCHMAKER. – Indeed? And pray, if it’s a fair question, what may you have given for it?
Vy, I gave a cove a blow on the head for’t last night; and if you’ll put the glass in, I’ll give you two.
Source: The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880) Sat 25 Dec 1841 Page 1 A LIBERAL PROPOSITION.
*Put it up the spout (archaic, slang). At the pawnbroker’s shop (in allusion to the spout up which the pawnbroker sent the ticketed articles). to put/shove/pop something up the spout
Addenda 2: Summary of Offences 1832-1872
These notes were prepared by Trish Symonds from records held at the Archives office of Tasmania and are copyright © Trish Symonds 2011.
Richard Phillip’s conduct record; Note here the record starts with the word “ERROR”
This would have to be one of the messiest Conduct Records for transported convicts held at the Archives Office of Tasmania.
See Trish Symonds’ transcription below
CONVICTS FROM CORNWALL TO VAN DIEMEN’S LAND, 1817 – 1853
Transcribed from Convict Records at the Tasmanian Archive by Trish Symonds 2011
Link to record for Richard PHILLIPS:
NAME: RICHARD PHILLIPS
NATIVE PLACE: Penzance
TRIED: 7 August 1832, Cornwall Assizes at Bodmin
PREVIOUS CONVICTION: Stealing money
Richard Phillips, 1832 Cornwall Summer Assizes, Larceny in a dwelling-house, before
convicted of Felony, Transportation for Life
Richard Phillips, January 1829, Larceny, 1 week and whipped
HULK REGISTER: No 1776, Richard Phillips, 20, stealing lead, Bodmin 7 August 1832,
Transportation for Life, VDL 23 April 1833
SHIP: Atlas IV – departed Plymouth 30 April 1833, arrived Hobart 24 August 1833, a voyage of 116
days, carrying 200 male convicts (200 landed). Master George Hustwick, Surgeon John Love
SURGEON’S REPORT: Behaved well
SURGEON’S GENERAL COMMENTS: (Folio 24-26) – Received at Woolwich on 11 April 1833, 50
convicts from the Justicia hulk; 30 from Ganymede and 20 from Discovery. At Devonport 23 April
1833 received 100 convicts from Captivity hulk. Making total of 200.
PHOTO (at right):
Richard Phillips per Atlas taken at Port Arthur
(Taken 1874 by police photographer Thomas J. Nevin)
Marital status: Single
Trade: ____ Pressman
Height: 5’ 3”
Forehead: Medium high
Native Place: Penzants, Cornwall (Penzance)
Remarks: (Tattoos) Several letters, indistinct, on his left arm
TASMANIAN CONDUCT RECORD –
Transported for stealing lead
Once for stealing ₤4.13.6 and a watch – one week and whipped
Once for suspicion – acquitted
Once by mistake as a deserter – taken and discharged
On arrival in VDL – No 946 – Richard Phillips, Labourer, W.H. Glover
Offences and Sentences:
No 946 – Richard Phillips –
23 Jan 1834 – Dr Ross – Out after hours – Treadwheel for 3 days – Error should stand against no 950
30 May 1837 – Post Office ____ – Trespassing on the ____ estate and taking a quantity of wood – Confined in a cell for 7 nights and doing his work by day
4 Nov 1837 – Messenger – Misconduct in being away from his proper place of residence and out after hours – 7 days and nights in solitary confinement
7 Dec 1837 – Post Messenger – Disobedience of orders and absent without leave – 1 month hard labour and not returned to his department – sent to Green Ponds (now Kempton), and afterwards to be sent to Bothwell as Flagellator – vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 30 Dec 1837
20 March 1839 – Flagellator – Disobedience of orders and gross misconduct –hard labour for 3 months, six weeks of which time to be worked in chains and not to be returned as Flagellator – Sent to Campbell Town Chain Gang then out of chains and assigned – vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 1 March 1839
19 Nov 1839 – Willis’s Constable party – Misconduct in forming a conspiracy against the Station Baker – 4 months imprisonment and hard labor on the Roads – sent to Cleveland, then returned to his Party – vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 22 Nov 1839
4 Dec 1839 – Cleveland Party – Misconduct in feigning sickness – Six days solitary confinement on bread and water
28 Oct 1841 – Ticket of Leave
25 Feb 1842 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Constable – Misconduct, neglect of duty as constable – 6 months hard labor on the roads and ticket-of-leave suspended – Approved he be sent to the Town Surveyor’s Gang in Hobart and dismissed from the Police – vide, Lieut-Governor’s Decision 15 April 1842
18 May 1843 – Ticket-of-Leave holder, Special Constable – Drunk – Reprimanded
30 March 1844 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Misconduct in making away with 22/- entrusted to him for the purpose of paying for certain articles – Six calendar months hard labor in chains – Sent to Lovely Banks, vide Lieut-Governor’s Decision 19 April 1844
21 Oct 1844 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Out after hours – 14 days hard labor and Ticket-of-Leave suspended
5 Dec 1844 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Being a suspected person frequenting ____ places with intent to commit a felony – 3 calendar months in the House of Correction – Sent to Town Surveyor’s Gang in Hobart, vide Lieut-Governor’s Decision 8 December 1844
2 June 1845 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Misconduct in falsely representing himself a Doctor (?) and ____ misconduct in that capacity – 6 months hard labor – Sent to Town Surveyor’s Gang in Hobart, vide Lieut- Governor’s Decision 20 June 1845
11 Jan 1846 – Ticket-of-Leave holder – Misconduct in representing himself as Free – 4 months hard labor – Sent to New Wharf vide Lieut-Governor’s Decision 16 Jan 1846
Ticket of Leave:
28 October 1841
Convicts Permission to Marry Index:
1854 – Richard Phillips of “Atlas: and Eliza Webster of “Sir Robert Seppings” dated 28 July 1854 – Woman must be six months without offence
NEWSPAPER REPORTS –
ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE, 4 AUGUST 1832 – Upcoming Assizes – Richard Phillips (20)
committed by the mayor of Penryn for burglary.
ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE, 11 AUGUST 1832 – CORNWALL SUMMER ASSIZES –
Richard Phillips, for stealing a piece of bacon; one month at hard labour.
Richard Phillips, for stealing seven sovereigns from the house of Elizabeth Morris; to be transported for Life.
ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE, 1 SEPTEMBER 1832 – The under-mentioned prisoners convicted at the last Assizes were removed last week from the County Gaol, at Bodmin, to the Captivity hulk, at Devonport, pursuant to their respective sentences; viz: John Jeffery, Robert Searle, John Broadbent, John Jones, Richard Phillips, Zacharias Williams, and Philip Sweet
ROYAL CORNWALL GAZETTE, 24 JANUARY 1829 – CORNWALL QUARTER SESSIONS – The Quarter Sessions for this County commenced at Bodmin on Tuesday the 13th instant. E.W.W. Pendarves,Esq, Chairman. Richard Phillips was convicted of stealing a watch and ₤4.13s.6d, the property of William P. Allen at Crantock. The prosecutor lodged with the prisoner when he missed the watch; afterwards he lost money from his chest; the prisoner was taken up at Devonport and confessed the robbery. Guilty. To be imprisoned for a week at hard labour, and to be whipped.
Convicts Permission to Marry Index –
Photograph of Richard Phillips, taken at Port Arthur –
[N.B.This link is no longer available. The information has been removed, censored, even redacted. The State Library of Tasmania which had previously made available online copies from the QVMAG collection of prisoners’ mugshots originally taken by Thomas J. Nevin were removed to accede to the whimsies brought to the library administration (once a reliable institution) by apologists such as the very foolish and opportunistic Julia Clark who desperately sought to suppress Nevin’s name in her quest for a PhD. In her “document” parading as a thesis, she flaunts her abuse of Nevin and his descendants as “research”, playing up the fantasy of A. H. Boyd’s descendants that he was photographer of these extant 300 plus 1870s mugshots. Thanks to the idiocies of Clark and those whom she endeavours to impress, online visitors to the State Library of Tasmania cannot find any of these rare mugshots. The public misses out because of the narcissism and lies of one individual. Fortunately, due to prescient forethought, these records are viewable here at Flickr.See the webshot (2005) for Richard Phillips above.]
Possible re-offence and sentence to Port Arthur?
The Mercury, Hobart, 10 September 1872 – Supreme Court – Housebreaking –
The Mercury, Hobart, 11 September 1872 – Criminal Court – Receiving –
Launceston Examiner, 13 January 1877 – Hawkers’ Licence –
Last Updated: 23 January 2011
Compiled by Trish Symonds
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