Thomas Nevin, his studio carpet, and pauper William Graves

WILLIAM GRAVES transportation and police records
THOMAS J. NEVIN studio decor

William Grave or William Graves?
A prisoner by the name of William GRAVE arrived at Hobart on board the convict transport Lady Montague in December 1852. He was already lame when he arrived. His records stated “A cripple walks with a crutch.” When photographer Thomas J. Nevin assisted the New Town Territorial Police police in the arrest of a well-known identity in the Glenorchy area called William GRAVES in May 1875 , the warrant described the man as “lame of right leg, walks with a crutch“. One month later, when he was discharged from Hobart, his left leg, not the right, was recorded by police as “crippled”. So who was this man, photographed standing on Thomas Nevin’s carpet?

Wrong identification at the Archives Office of Tasmania
This man was William GRAVES, not Brother Payne
Photographed by T. J. Nevin 1875-1880s
Reference: PH30/1/221

Transportation Records of William Grave
There was no “s” on the end of this prisoner’s name when details were recorded on his arrival aboard the transport Lady Montague at Hobart, VDL (Tasmania) in 1852, although the description of this man “William Grave” and the description of the prisoner subsequently recorded as “William Graves” per Ly Montague in the police gazette warrants, arrests and discharges of the 1870s accord with his single salient feature: “a cripple walks with a crutch“.

The conduct record of prisoner “Grave William” gives the following details: –
He was tried at Carlisle QS on 3rd July 1849, transported for 7 years. He arrived at Hobart on 9th December 1852. His religion was C.E. (Church of England) and he could read and write. He was transported for larceny. The prison report noted – “very good”. His marital status was single, a widower. He stated that this offence was for stealing (other details are illegible). His age either at trial in 1849 or on arrival at Hobart was 34 yrs old, his height just over 5 feet 5 inches, and his occupation was shepherd. On 13 June 1854 he was granted a ticket of leave.

Thereafter, a number of dates for the same offence or period spent as an inmate of an invalid depot are recorded on this page, starting with 1858 and repeated (as ditto) through to his last in 1886: see Health and Welfare Records further below.

4 Aug 1858 PA (Paupers) Port Arthur Prison
10 June 1867 PB Brickfieds Depot; 2 Aug 1867 PA Port Arthur
16 July 1875 PA Port Arthur Prison
26 April 1878 Cas (Cascades Invalid Depot)
28 February 1879 Cas (Cascades Invalid Depot)
29 September 1883 N. Town (New Town Charitable Institute)
13 May 1884 N. Town (x2) (New Town Charitable Institute)
5 May 1886 N. Town (New Town Charitable Institute)
26 May 1886 N. Town (New Town Charitable Institute)
7 April 1893 “Died at the Invalid Depot New Town 7 April 93”

Conduct Record
Grave, William
Record Type: Convicts
Departure date: 9 Aug 1852
Departure port: Plymouth
Ship:Lady Montague
Voyage number: 356
Index number: 27726
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1396535
Source online: CON33/1/110

The same facial features as those on the conduct record were recorded in this list (top left entry) with the same name ” William Grave” and the same remark:

“A cripple walks with a crutch”

Description List
Source online: CON18-1-58 Image 28

The indent record still lists the prisoner as William Grave, not Graves (first page on left, second entry from top). Details added to this record show that when convicted for larceny of victuals at Carlisle he was a widower and had a daughter called Anne at Windermere UK (second page on right, second entry from top).

Source online: CON14-1-43 Images 287 and 288

Police Records for William Graves
William Grave or Graves’ offences and misdemeanours between his arrival at Hobart in December 1852 and this warrant for his arrest for larceny committed on 24 August 1874 are not detailed here. Only Thomas Nevin’s involvement is of interest, firstly because he assisted police in the arrest of this man William Graves and secondly, because the photograph Nevin took of him at his studio has been misidentified at the Archives Office of Tasmania as a photograph of a street knife-grinder called Brother Payne.

At some point during those years 1852-1875 William Grave’s surname acquired the “s”: officially, he became William Graves, sharing the name incidentally with a famous Hobart family whose patriarch John Woodcock Graves the elder became universally acclaimed as the author of the song “D’ye Ken John Peel”.

Two warrants were issued in March and April 1875 for the arrest of William Graves, one for burglary committed in August 1874 at Robert Osborne’s store at the railway bridge, Bridgewater, and the other in 1875 for unlawful entry to the premises of Richard Rodda, publican of the Black Snake, Bridgewater.

Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, 19 March 1875 p.42
Warrant for the arrest of William Graves


HOBART TOWN. – On the 10th instant by W. Tarleton, Esq., J. P. for the arrest of Williams Graves, charged with having, on the 24th August 1874, at Bridgewater, broken into and entered the dwelling-house of Robert Osborne, and feloniously stolen 1 black cloth coat, value £1, 1 pair black cloth trousers, value £1, and other articles, the property of Robert Osborne.
About 60 years of age, about 5 feet 5 inches high, lame of right leg, walks with a crutch. Well known in the Glenorchy district.

Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, 16 April 1875 p.58
Warrant for the arrest of William Graves


NEW NORFOLK.- On the 14th instant, by James L. Turnbull, Esquire, J. P. for the arrest of William Graves, charged with having, on the 20th ultimo, at Bridgewater, been an idle and disorderly person, in that he was found in the dwelling-house of one Richard Rodda for an unlawful purpose. For description see Crime Report of the 19th ultimo, p. 42

William Graves was arrested by P. C. Badcock of the New Town Territorial Police,assisted by Thomas Nevinon 21st May 1875.

Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police 21 May 1875 p. 78.
Arrest of William Graves assisted by Thomas Nevin
Elijah Elton alias John Jones and Flash Jack who was suspected of robbery in this notice was photographed by Thomas Nevin on May 14th 1874 at the Hobart Gaol.


Vide Crime Report of the 19th March, 1875, page 42, and 16th ultimo, page 58.
William Graves has been arrested by P.C. Baldock, of the New Town Territorial Police, assisted by Thomas Nevin.


assisted by Thomas Nevin

William Graves, aged 65, tried at New Norfolk, sentenced to one month for being found in a dwelling house, left leg crippled, discharged 23 June, 1875 at Hobart Town. The left leg, not the right, is recorded here as crippled. Less than a fortnight later, on 10 July 1875, William Graves was admitted to the Cascades Invalid Depot where he remained until 31 January 1878. He was discharged at his own request, recorded as “Able to work”. From 1878 to 1885 he was admitted and discharged at invalid depots up to his death in 1893 at the New Town Charitable Institute.


Graves, William
Record Type: Health & Welfare
Description: Pauper or invalid
Property: Cascades Invalid Depot
New Town Charitable Institute
Admission dates: 10 Jul 1875 to 31 Jan 1878, 16 Apr 1878 to 20 Jan 1879, 04 Jul 1879 to 13 Feb 1882, 16 Aug 1883 to 04 Mar 1884, 22 Apr 1884 to 23 Feb 1885
Ship to colony: Lady Montague
Paupers & Invalids no.: pi0693700
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1605001
Source online:

Sources online:
William Graves recorded at Cascades Invalid Depot$init=POL709-1-15p34$init=POL709-1-16p26

William Graves recorded at New Town Charitable Institute$init=POL709-1-19_1882p43$init=POL709-1-20_1884p53$init=POL709-1-20_1885p48

This last record dated February 1885 adds the initial “L” to William Graves name, i.e. “William L. Graves”. A large number of paupers were discharged with approval at the same time to go hop-picking.


Graves, William
Record Type: Deaths
Gender: Male
Age: 63 [incorrect – should be 83 yrs old]
Date of death: 07 Apr 1893
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1893
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1139290
Source online: Image 39$init=RGD35-1-14p39

This record (above) identifies a man named William Graves who died of senile decay on 7 April 1893 with an incorrect age: 67 instead of 83. One day later the same man identified below as William Graves, 83 yrs old, pauper of New Town, was buried at the Hobart Public Cemetery with the funeral date of 8 April 1893.

Graves, William
Record Type: Deaths
Age: 83
Description: Last known residence: New Town Charitable Institution, New Town
Property: Cornelian Bay Cemetery
Date of burial: 08 Apr 1893
File number: BU 9245
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES: 1549499
Source online: AF70-1-19 (BU 9245)
Cornelian Bay, Pauper, Section A, Number 544

The photograph
William Graves was photographed standing on the same carpet which features in dozens of Thomas Nevin’s studio portraits of family members and private clientele. The photograph could be dated between May 1875, taken soon after William Graves’ arrest, and June 1875 when he was discharged from Hobart. Then again, Thomas Nevin may have photographed William Graves at his New Town studio in late 1879 when he resumed working for the New Town Territorial Police as photographer and assistant bailiff to police constables (Badcock) and detectives (Dorsett and Connor).

By 1880, William Graves was an inmate at the New Town Charitable Institute, formerly the Queen’s Orphan Asylum (1833 – 1879), located at St. John’s Park, New Town Road and close to the Nevin family home at Kangaroo Valley. William Graves was “well-known in the Glenorchy district” according to the warrant issued in March 1875. Perhaps because of his physical disability, his age and obvious destitution and because Nevin took an active interest in the man from assisting police with locating him, the occasion warranted a photograph, though not the standard prisoner mugshot as William Graves was detained for only a month, fined with being idle and disorderly. Who would have paid for such a studio photo? Not the poor man himself. It is likely to be Thomas Nevin’s souvenir of the event, a token and gift of friendship.

Photograph – Brother Payne, sawyer [incorrect – this was William Graves, photo by T. J. Nevin, 1875]
Item Number: PH30/1/221
Start Date: 01 Jan 1880
Unidentified Creating Agency (XX1)
Series: Miscellaneous Collection of Photographs. (PH30) 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1992
Source online:

The original print of this photograph would have been sepia, very similar to Thomas Nevin’s full-length portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs (below). This black and white print was most likely reproduced for a 20th century book publication and in the process, the book’s author confounded this man’s identity with that of knife-grinder Brother Payne.

The same carpet on which William Graves stands while posing for his portrait by Thomas Nevin is clearly visible in this photograph (below) by Nevin of Alfred Barrett Biggs, taken at Nevin’s studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, in the early to mid 1870s. The studio was built by Alfred Barret Biggs’ father Abraham Biggs in 1854. The premises consisted of two house-and-shop properties at No’s 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart constructed with his son, builder Abraham Edwin Biggs. By 1857 they had let the premises at No. 140 Elizabeth St. to photographer Alfred Bock which he operated as a studio with his (step) brother William Bock until 1865. On Alfred Bock’s departure to Victoria, commercial photographer and government contractor Thomas J. Nevin continued the business with the firm’s name, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, vacating the shop, residence, glass house and studio a decade later, in 1876, to take up his appointment in full-time civil service with residency at the Hobart Town Hall.

It is the same carpet lined up against the same wall in the same studio in both portraits, indicating clearly that Thomas Nevin photographed the man who answers to the description of William Graves, but who is misidentified by the Archives Office of Tasmania as Brother Payne.

Alfred Barrett Biggs ca, 1872-4 (ca. 45 yrs)
Photographer : Thomas J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, Hobart (verso stamp)
Source:Archives Office of Tasmania
View online:LMSS754-1-9

This full-length portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs was taken by Thomas Nevin in the early to mid 1870s at the City Photographic Establishment. The same decor of a backdrop sheet painted with a vista of tiles on a patio terrace, an Italianate balcony, and a cart path or river meandering through a valley in the distance, partially obscured by a damask drape foregrounded to the left of the client, all feature in dozens of Nevin’s full-length portraits. That particular dining chair appears in his portrait of a woman with bonnet and pink ribbons held at the National Gallery of Victoria, and in another of Mrs Elizabeth Bayley, second wife of Captain James Bayley, held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The carpet pattern of lozenges and chain links, darker in some portraits or heavily tinted in others with green or red, is also present in many of these full-length portraits. In this portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs, where the carpet meets the wall is as clearly visible as the same carpet meeting the same wall in the portrait of William Graves.

Verso: Description: Photograph – Portrait – Possibly Alfred Barratt Biggs [photographer – City Photographic Establishment, Hobart, T. Nevin, late A. Bock]
Item Number: LMSS754/1/9
Start Date: 01 Jan 1858
End Date: 31 Dec 1876
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online: LMSS754-1-9

William Graves or Brother Payne?
The Archives Office of Tasmania has misidentified the pauper in the photograph (above) who fits the description in transportation and police records of William Grave or Graves, photographed by Thomas ca. 1875-1880, as another well-known identity, a man called Brother Payne, who was a sawyer and knife-grinder by trade. He sharpened knives from a trolley cart around the streets of Hobart. The term “Brother” may be a courtesy title of Methodist origin. This man was probably photographed ca. 1900.

(NB: flipped horizontally here to read the inscription on glass negative)
Photograph – Payne, Knife Grinder
Item Number: NS1013/1/1278
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Creating Agency: Pretyman Family (NG1012)
Photographs and Glass Plate Negatives collected by E R Pretyman (NS1013)
View online:NS1013-1-1278

Photograph – Brother Payne working as a knife grinder
Item Number PH30/1/744
Series Miscellaneous Collection of Photographs. (PH30)
Start Date 01 Jan 1900
View online PH30-1-744

This cdv portrait of the same man, identified as the sawyer Brother Payne was recorded with a start date of 1880 at the Archives Office of Tasmania, which is unlikely to be the date of photographic capture. The date 1900 is more plausible but without any attributable information to a studio or photographer, it must be left to the researcher to discover when and where this carte-de-visite was produced, by whom it was created and for what purpose.

Photograph – Portrait of ‘Brother Payne’, sawyer
Item Number: PH30/1/220
Start Date: 01 Jan 1880
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

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