Sarah Crouch at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

Photographers Alfred BOCK, Thomas J. NEVIN, and H. H. BAILY
Portraits of Thomas and Sarah CROUCH 1860s-1870s
SHOOBRIDGE estate and grave sites,West Hobart, Tasmania

Sennotypes of Thomas and Sarah Crouch by Alfred Bock
Alfred K. Bock (1835 -1920) inherited his father Thomas Bock’s daguerreotype establishment at 22 Campbell Street Hobart Town in April 1855 and announced his own photographic business. By July 1855 he had moved to Elliston’s premises at 78 Liverpool Street, formerly occupied by the photographers Duryea and McDonald where he built a “Crystal Palace” studio and purchased photographic equipment from Ross of London. Financial difficulties ensued, and Bock moved several times.

In 1857 Alfred Bock was at 18 Macquarie Street. But on 6th February, 1858, he was insolvent. Later that year, Bock re-established himself at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town – a business he called The City Photographic Establishment – and stayed there until 1865 when he was again declared insolvent (Kerr, ed. 1992: 77-78). In late May 1865, Alfred Bock’s wife gave birth to a daughter (Mercury, 23 May 1865). This event too may have precipitated Bock’s decision to sell up and leave Tasmania.

Financially bruised by a dispute with photographer Henry Frith about the origins and rights to the sennotype process, the stock-in-trade of Bock’s studio at the City Photographic Establishment was advertised at auction on August 2nd, 1865. Thomas J. Nevin bought the lease of the studio, the shop, the stock of negatives, camera equipment, backdrops and furniture, including the glass house/gallery installed at the end of the cart path adjacent to the studio, listed as 138½ Elizabeth St. on valuation rolls.

These two fine portraits of Thomas J. Crouch and his wife Sarah Crouch were produced by Alfred Bock at the City Photographic Establishment in the early 1860s using the method of assemblage called the sennotype process, which consisted of two albumen prints sandwiched under glass, the top one waxed for transparency and usually hand-coloured, resulting in blacker shadows and greater tonal range.

Left: Under-Sheriff Thomas. J. Crouch (1805-1890)
Right: Sarah Crouch (1806-1876) nee Rothwell
Sennotypes by Alfred Bock ca 1860
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection

Sarah and Thomas CROUCH
Biographical Notes by Peter Bolger
Australian Dictionary of Biography

Thomas James Crouch (1805-1890), under-sheriff, was born on 22 October 1805 in London, the eldest son of James Crouch of Hertfordshire and his wife Sarah, née Marston, of Shropshire. His parents had moved to London before their marriage in 1804 at St George’s, Hanover Square, and his father was, among other business projects, proprietor of public baths in Cannon Street. Thomas’s education at various small city schools was interrupted by ill health and convalescence at Worthing and Barmouth, and he later became clerk to a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. He was friendly with Dudley Fereday, who was appointed sheriff of Van Diemen’s Land. Crouch agreed to become his clerk and arrived at Hobart Town in the Phoenix in January 1825. He was a successful clerk in various commissariat offices, specializing in legal matters until he was appointed under-sheriff in 1836; he held the post until he retired on a pension in 1868.

On 20 February 1832 at St David’s Cathedral Crouch married Sarah Rothwell, from Limehouse, London, whom he had met when she passed through Hobart as governess to the family of Rev. Joseph Orton. The Crouch family had been Anglican but in 1826 Thomas had become attached to the Wesleyan Methodists and was an active Sunday school teacher. Sarah was also a Wesleyan but their cottage became the lodgings of the missionaries James Backhouse and George Washington Walker, and she adopted Quaker manners and attended their meetings. Crouch helped to initiate the schools of the Hobart Wesleyan circuit and was a trustee of the Melville Street Church for fifty-eight years. With James Bonwick and G. W. Walker he organized the first local temperance society in 1833 and in 1843 signed the pledge. He was a prominent founder of the Tasmanian Temperance Alliance and chaired its 34th annual meeting on the evening of his death on 28 May 1890. He was also a founder of the Hobart Town Benevolent Society in 1860, a committee member for thirty years and its secretary for seventeen years. For many his greatest claim to fame was his part in the recognition and capture of Martin Cash in Hobart in 1843.

Crouch’s wife [Sarah Crouch], after seven years of paralysis, died on 16 January 1876 in her seventieth year. She remained loyal to the Society of Friends and was buried in their ground at Providence Valley. Sarah had shared in her husband’s religious and temperance activities, organized a female petition for a Maine Liquor Law in the colony and another to forestall Sunday licensing, and served on the committees of the Maternal and Dorcas Society and of various societies such as the Van Diemen’s Land Asylum for the Protection of Destitute and Unfortunate Females, which Walker had promoted in 1848. She was one of the Ladies Visiting Committee which each week inspected female paupers at New Town, Cascades and the Brickfields, and was reputed to have kept her own dispensary where she gave medicines to the needy. Perhaps her greatest contribution to the welfare of Hobart poor was her Servants’ Home in High Street, which only closed in her final illness.

Crouch and his wife had at least eight children, most of whom died in childhood. One daughter, Mary, was married to Robert S. Caseley, Wesleyan minister in South Australia in 1863, and another, Ann, to Robert Shoobridge in 1871. The eldest son, Thomas James, became an architect, designing among other work the General Post Office in Melbourne; there he died on 4 December 1889.


Alfred Bock’s trade advertisement in Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac, 1864

The City Photographic Establishment and the house next door were premises consisting of two house-and-shop properties owned by Abraham Biggs snr at 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, They were still “unfinished” in 1853 according to the Hobart Valuation Rolls. By 1854 Biggs was listed as the proprietor with his son, builder Abraham Edwin Biggs. By 1857 they had let the premises at 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. He operated the studio in partnership with Robert Smith under the business name of Nevin & Smith briefly between 1866-68, 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.

Senior members of the Crouch and Nevin families were close associates within Hobart’s Wesleyan Methodist circles. Thomas’ father John Nevin snr leased an acre of land from the Wesleyan Trustees of Ancanthe at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) from the early 1850s and remained there to his death in 1887. His daughter Rebecca Jane Nevin died there in 1865 and his wife Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson died there in 1875. His eldest son Thomas James Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day at the Wesleyan Chapel there in 1871, and his only surviving daughter Mary Ann Nevin married John Carr there in 1877. John Nevin snr also taught class at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley in 1875. His second marriage in 1879 after the death of his wife in 1875 was to Martha Genge, daughter of Wesleyan lay preacher William Genge of the Methodist Church and meeting rooms, Melville Street, Hobart. William Genge’s death occasioned a poem written as a lament by John Nevin in 1881.

Portrait of Sarah Crouch by Thomas J. Nevin
When Sarah Crouch presented at Thomas Nevin’s studio sometime around  1872, she was experiencing the early effects of paralysis which would claim her life in 1876. His capture of her facial expression might have unintentionally betrayed the pain she was enduring, and not just from her illness. The tight whalebone corset she was wearing which had completely flattened the natural line of her bosom and pushed her breasts up above her armpits, must have caused further discomfort.

This is an unusual photograph in that Thomas J. Nevin positioned the sitter closer to his camera than he otherwise seemed to prefer in sittings with women clients. His use of the newer lenses here, which allowed shorter focal range and a larger image of the face and hands without sacrificing clarity, became his trademark when he commenced the photographing of prisoners with Supreme Court convictions on contract for the Colonial Government at about the same time Sarah Crouch, whose husband Thomas J. Crouch was Under-Sheriff, posed at his studio in 1872. This photograph, the first to be printed off the glass negative and like many which Nevin produced of prisoners for inclusion on their rap sheets, was printed initially with the whole upper body visible. The next print, if requested, would have been the same image framed in an oval mount, showing the face but not the hands.

Above: Sarah Crouch, cdv by Thomas J. Nevin, taken ca. 1872
Item: Carte-de-visite on buff mount, sepia albumen print
Subject: Sarah Crouch (1806-1876)
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) ca. 1871
Verso studio stamp: T. Nevin, late A. Bock, City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. Further copies can be obtained at any time.

Provenance: Sydney Rare Books Auction 29 June 2019 online.
Vendor notes:

A portrait of Sarah Crouch (Carte de visite reverse T. Nevin late A. Bock). Sarah Rothwell married Thomas Crouch in Hobart 1832, taking on the manners of a Quaker. Was very involved in the protection of women, children and the destitute. Sarah created the Servant’s Home in High Street*, which ceased on her death in 1876.

*High Street North Hobart was renamed Tasma Street in 1921 to avoid duplication with High Street, Sandy Bay. It was named for the novelist Jessie Catherine Couvreur, nee Huybers (1848-97), whose pseudonym was “Tasma”.

Sarah Crouch was a committee member of the Maternal and Dorcas Society when she sought subscriptions and donations for the establishment and on-going support of a home for servant girls . She published this notice at the beginning of her campaign in September to November 1856.

Extract, read full transcript below:


SEVERAL Ladies having been long impressed with the desolate state of females occupying the sphere of domestic servants on leaving their situations while seeking others, the following ideas have been suggested: –
“That a society of ladies be formed, the design of which shall be to protect ALL lone female servants, and afford such advice as experience dictates and by judicious care and oversight prevent exposure to many evils which strangers in the colony are subject to; and also to provide a “Home” to ALL female servants willing to avail themselves of its privileges at a rate within the reach of their limited means. The “Home” will be conducted as much as possible in accordance with similar Institutions in London.

Such a home will preclude the necessity of the well-intentioned taking up their abode with persons whose object is gain to themselves, though it should be the destruction of their supporters.

With this view the ladies have taken a house in High-street, near the New Town Road (a respectable neighbourhood) at a very moderate rent, in which there is a sitting-room, with table requisites for the use of the inmates, and all necessary utensil for cooking, washing, &c – the dormitories furnished with beds, bedding, and everything necessary to the comfort of those desirous of placing themselves under the guardianship of the ladies.

The ladies feel the time has arrived when such an institute is required, and will be valued in town and country, both by servants and employers. By this provision, when it is known in England and elsewhere, the ladies believe encouragement will be given to the virtuous to emigrate, and the comfort and convenience of the community generally increased, while much vice and its consequent pauperism will be prevented.

The Ladies have great confidence in appealing to the Public for aid in this philanthropic undertaking, feeling assured they will not appeal in vain. There is no doubt the want of such a Home has been lamentably felt by many a friendless girl,who may at this time be pining in poverty and woe; who would have been, under other circumstances, an useful member of society, and an ornament in the station she was designed to fill.

Particulars may be obtained at the “home” or of the undersigned, by whom Subscriptions and Donations will be gratefully received.

S. CROUCH, Secretary. Argyle-street
Servants; “House”, High-street. 14th of 10th Month, 1856.”

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Wednesday 5 November 1856, page 1

Portrait of Sarah Crouch by H. H. Baily
One way of looking at this photograph is to see it as a piece of cardboard on which is printed an image. Perhaps it has commercial value only because of age, condition, and provenance. Another way is to step into the scene and participate as the photographer might while talking to his sitter. Still another way is to trace the journey of each element in the picture from any known context in which it has appeared up to the present, in which case the familiar object in this portrait of Sarah Crouch by H. H. Baily is the carpet with a pattern of large dark lozenges rimmed in white. It was formerly used by Alfred Bock as one of his studio carpets, then by Thomas Nevin for one of several set-ups for taking portraits in the same studio in 1868, and finally the same carpet was used in this portrait of Sarah Crouch by Henry Hall Baily, that is, if he photographed her before her death in 1876. On the other hand, is this just a piece of cardboard which was reprinted by Henry Hall Baily from an original capture taken by Alfred Bock before 1865; then reprinted by Thomas Nevin, operating as Nevin & Smith between 1865-1868; or, later, reprinted by Thomas Nevin again from 1868-1875 when both Bock’s stock and Nevin’s negatives were reprinted by Samuel Clifford to 1878; and lastly, reprinted by Henry Hall Baily ca. 1880? Reprints were mostly at the request of the client and family. All three photographers – Alfred Bock, Samuel Clifford, and Henry Hall Baily  – were close friends and colleagues of Thomas J. Nevin from the early 1860s to his retirement in 1888. To complicate matters of copying further, from the early 1860s the source of their studio carpets, tables, drapes and backsheets was the family warehouse of Charles A. Woolley, the most senior photographer of their Hobart cohort. His studio furnishings and photographic paraphernalia were passed around among members of that cohort when times were hard, which was more often than not.

Photograph of Sarah Crouch,
University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection

Photograph of Sarah Crouch, wife of Thomas James Crouch, under sheriff of Van Diemen’s Land. The photographer was Henry Hall Baily who had studios in Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets, Hobart from 1865-1918.

Verso: Photograph of Sarah Crouch
University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection

Woolley’s Carpets and Upholstery Warehouse, Macquarie St.
Series: Photographs and Glass Plate Negatives collected by E R Pretyman (NS1013)
Archives Tasmania Ref: NS1013_1_1895

Providence Valley Burial Ground
In 1836 the Society of Friends (Quakers) established a cemetery on ground purchased  from William Shoobridge’s Providence Valley Farm. Sarah Crouch was buried there in 1876, so too was her husband Thomas Crouch in 1890. About 60 people, including members of the Propsting, Mather, Benson, Bell, Rowntree and Walker families used the cemetery until its closure in 1912. The former burial ground is now called the Friends’ Park, Hill Street. The headstones of Sarah Crouch and others were retained and displayed around the park’s perimeter.

Gravestone of Sarah Rothwell Crouch at Providence Farm
Source of photograph: Gravesites of Tasmania

Friends’ Park
Source: G. Ritchie, photos and text

Friends Park is a small park in West Hobart that started life as a burial ground for the Society of Friends (Quakers). The land had orginally been granted to William Shoobridge in the early 1820’s and he had set up a farming enterprise. Although Shoobridge was a practicing Methodist, he found himself supporting the work of a number of Quaker missionaries who had visited Van Diemens Land in the early 1830’s. As a show of his support, he agreed to give the Society of Friends a half acre portion of his farm land in order for the Society to establish a burial grounds for themselves. As it turned out, following the establishment of the burial ground, Shoobridge himself became the first person to be buried there after he passed away in 1836.

The burial ground continued to provide for the Quakers into the 1900’s. Even after the Cornelian Bay cemetery was opened in 1872 and many of Hobart’s numerous suburban burial grounds were closed, the Society of Friends burial ground was able to continue operating because it fell outside the Hobart municipal boundary. Following the rezoning of the region into the new Greater Hobart municipality, the burial ground was finally closed in 1908.

It just remained as an unused burial ground until 1937 when the Hobart City Council negotiated with the Friends Society for the transfer of the land to the council so that it could be converted to a community recreation space for the growing West Hobart community.

Under the terms of the transfer agreement, the park was to be renamed Friends Park and the headstones were to be repositioned and re-erected around the walls of the new park. This was subsequently completed and the newly named Friends Park has continued to provide the local community with a beautiful recreational space. One with a very interesting past.


The Nevin family and the Shoobridge family
Shortly before Thomas J. Nevin’s death in 1923 at his home, 270 Elizabeth St. Hobart, his eldest daughter May Nevin made arrangements with her close friend Winifred Schoobridge, daughter of Annie Crouch and Richard Shoobridge, grand daughter of William Shoobridge of Providence Valley, to move with her brothers George, William, and Albert into the property at No’s 23-29 Newdegate St., or Queen Street as it was then called until 1925, formerly Providence Valley, where they would remain until the death of May Nevin in 1955.  Her other two siblings – Minnie Drew nee Nevin and Tom “Sonny” Nevin – were both married and living elsewhere by 1907. Each of the four remaining adult siblings set up a business on the Newdegate St. property: May did dressmaking; George sold vegetables from the garden; William ran a furniture removal business, and Albert trained a stable of pacers. In 1925 Queen Street was renamed Newdegate Street after Governor Sir Francis Newdegate (1917-1920) to avoid duplication with Queen Street, Sandy Bay.

The house at 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart, formerly Queen St. and Providence Valley (on the Shoobridge estate) Children of Albert Nevin, grandchildren of Thomas J. Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day out front, 1930s
Signage of W. J. Nevin, carrier, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin at left.
Copyright © KLW NFC 2006-2009 Private Collection ARR.

Metropolitan Drainage Board Map. No. 58 ca. 1908
The property 23-29 Newdegate St. formerly Queen St. where Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s adult children settled from c 1923 to the late 1950s.
Queen St. North Hobart was renamed Newdegate St. after Governor of Tasmania Francis Newegate (1917-1920).
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: 628270

No. 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart Tasmania
The units on either side of the house and cottage were built with the sale of part of the property in the 1960s.
Google maps 2019

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