George and Matilda Cherry at Thomas Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

Captain Joseph JAMES and family 1815-1870s
Photographer George CHERRY cdvs
Photographer Thomas J. NEVIN cdvs

Subject: unidentified couple, possibly Matilda and George Cherry with dog
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Location and date: 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, ca. 1872
Details: cdv on plain buff mount, hand colouring on carpet, woman’s dress, man’s fob and tie
Provenance: DSFB, Melbourne 2013
Copyright: KLW NFC Imprint & KLW NFC Group Private Collection 2013-2021
Description: cdv of a couple, the woman seated with a King Charles spaniel sitting on her dress at her feet, the man standing with his right arm extended behind her. The woman wore a black floral head band with ribbons to her shoulders, a large brooch with intricate design at the neck, a thin chain to the waist, and a large dress ring with stone on her left hand. The light on her dress suggests it was made of silk or taffeta, the buttons possibly made of pearl from waist to neck, with more rows of tiny round pearls, white and dark, trimming the bodice, dropped shoulders, and cuffs. While the man gazes 25 degrees away from the camera, the woman’s gaze was directed towards it. The bare studio and makeshift backdrop behind her contrasts markedly with her elaborate dress. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of objects to highlight and compliment the suggested affluence of this couple, someone has gone to the trouble of colouring the bodice trim of her dress in Paris green, and daubed the carpet with the same green plus light brown. The colouring is not the work of Nevin or his studio assistants, whose hand tinting was fine and delicate. This carte-de-visite may have been coloured by the purchaser, whether the client, or the client’s descendants. Similar inept or heavy-handed colouring is evident on a private collection of Nevin’s studios portraits originating from a family in northern Tasmania, and on other cdvs held in public collections (QVMAG, Launceston; State Library of Tasmania, Hobart).

Verso of unidentified couple, possibly Matilda and George Cherry.
T. Nevin’s black ink studio stamp: “Ad Altiora” above Kangaroo emblem
T. Nevin late A. Bock encircled by belt printed with “City Photographic Establishment”
Address below, “140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town”.
In italics below: “Further Copies can be obtained at any time”.
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & KLW NFC Private Collection 2013 – 2021

When this carte-de-visite taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the early 1870s was acquired for our private collection from dealers DSFB in 2013, the sitters were simply described as an unidentified “wealthy” couple. Examination of their facial features and general demeanour alongside earlier photographs showing – potentially – the same two people as their younger selves, prompted further investigation. Once a tentative comparison was made with photographs taken by George Cherry of himself and his wife Matilda in the 1850s-1860s, the possibility emerged that these two might be one and the same. Given the unhappy circumstances of their meagre finances and the failing health of both Matilda and George between 1870-1873, the way they dressed for the occasion, the way they posed and the way they regarded the photographer, led to the conclusion that this couple who sat for Thomas J. Nevin in 1872 may well have been Matilda Cherry, nee Mary Ann Matilda James (1836-1873) who married photographer George Cherry (1820-1878) at Hobart in 1855. The next step was to find more information about Mary Ann Matilda James’ family and the circumstances leading to her early death, concluding with the events which lead to George Cherry foregoing much of the acclaim gained in his younger days as a brilliant photographic artist.

Matilda’s father, Captain Joseph JAMES (1786-1844)
Graeme Broxam published a slender volume in 2002 titled The James of George Town : a colonial, maritime, mercantile & family correspondence, 1813-1857 which included short biographies with approximated dates of Joseph James’ twelve children, eight of whom were counted in the February 1828 census before his marriage to Jane Gosling in September 1828. A gap of four years passed before Jane James gave birth to these four children (dates also approximate): Jane jnr ca. 1832; John James ca. 1835; Mary Ann Matilda James (hereafter, simply Matilda James) ca. 1836; and Joseph James jnr ca. 1839.

Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Left: cover: Broxam, Graeme. (2002). The James of George Town : a colonial, maritime, mercantile & family correspondence, 1813-1857.
Woden, A.C.T : Navarine Publishing.
Right: Broxam, p. xxix: Jane’s children, Matilda’s siblings.

This summary by Broxam appeared online in 2005, with errors. Captain Joseph James was father to twelve births or twelve children, not ten by the 1842 census, and George James, born 1815 was the first and eldest, not William, who was born in 1817 by the 1828 census.

James, Joseph (ca. 1786-1844)
Born 1786
Died 1844
Occupation Businessman
Captain Joseph James, pioneer merchant-shipowner of the Tamar region, arrived at Sydney as master of the brig Daphne from Calcutta in 1811, and experienced a legally and financially turbulent career as a merchant there until 1818, when he resettled at George Town in anticipation of Governor Macquarie’s intention to move the northern headquarters from Launceston.
When this did not eventuate, James’ land grants and purchases became almost worthless. Further misfortune came with the disappearance of his schooner Little Mary between Hobart and Launceston in 1822, and the wreck of his schooner Speedwell in 1828, neither vessel being insured. James died at George Town in relative poverty. The eldest of his ten children, William Henry James (c 1816 – 1900), became a modestly successful Melbourne-based master mariner and sometime shipowner. [G. Broxam. author]

Copyright: © Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies (2005); University of Tasmania (2017).

Father of eight children from 1815 to 1828
On 25 January 1812, Captain Joseph James announced he was leaving Sydney on his brig Daphne for Batavia (present day Jakarta, Indonesia). In May 1812, he advised claimants of his departure again, and in 1814 advertised for crew from his address as 2 O’Connell Street, Sydney, NSW. Further voyages were planned when he advertised the imminent departure of the Daphne to Cape Town in January-February 1815:

Classified Advertising 1815, January 14. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser p. 1.

Boxes and boxes of legal documents held at the National Library of Australia (Papers of Phyllis Tuson,  MS 7260) pertaining to Captain Joseph James’ protracted difficulties in commerce testify to this period of his career. Their donor, his great grand daughter Phyllis Tuson, summarised those years in her biography of her aunt Ada Whiting nee Cherry, daughter of George and Matilda Cherry (nee James):

page 7
In the East India Service as a young man, Captain James was given the command of the brig “Daphne”, owned by Captain Thomas. He sailed the Daphne to Cape Town, where Captain Thomas decided to set up as a trader. He therefore gave James the command of the ship, with orders to sell the cargo of brandy, wine, and other Cape produce in the colony of New South Wales. Armed with letters of introduction to many well-known businessmen in the Colony, including Garnham Blaxcell, he set out in 1811, full of excitement and optimism – a rather naive but honest young man, with no business experience.

On arrival in the Colony, he fell among a “gang of thieves”, being confronted with monopolies, corruption, mutiny and murder – even a high-jacking, and endless law suits. After years of effort, and correspondence with Blaxcell (which he referred to as a “paper war”), he succeeded in winning, at the High Court of Appeal, from Judge Advocate Ellis Bent, the coal wharf and a section of the adjoining Brickfield in Cockles Bay (now Darling Harbour). This settlement was in payment of some of the many debts owing to him.

Not yet settled in Van Diemen’s Land until 1818, in all likelihood Captain James met and married the mother of his eight children along the way, whether at Calcutta where Jane Gosling was living at Government House under the care of Lady Lowden (?) or Mrs Macquarie (but which Mrs Macquarie?) according to one family account, or at Batavia, at Cape Town or even Sydney, which may in part explain the lack of readily discoverable documentation relevant to the location of this first marriage and the births of his first two sons George (b. 1815) and William (b. 1817). In July 1819, Captain Joseph James handed over his brig Daphne to Captain Howard who sailed it from Hobart to Sydney to be put to auction. The fate of the Daphne is legend. This information was sourced from Wikipedia, 18 April 2021:

Daphne was a brig constructed in Java that arrived in Australia in 1814. She was wrecked without loss of life on 26 October 1819 in the Kent Group in Bass Strait. She was on a voyage from Port Jackson to India.[1]

On August 1819, Daphne, Captain Howard, sailed from Hobart for Port Jackson with wheat and potatoes.[2]

Daphne departed Sydney bound for India on 10 October 1819 under the command of John Howard. As she passed through Bass Strait he stopped at several islands to purchase sealskins from sealers in the area. On 26 October a gale rose and Howard sheltered in the lee of East Island. Howard went ashore, probably to find sealers. On arriving on shore he noticed that Daphne was being driven towards the rocks. He returned on board but could do little to save the brig. He therefore ordered the passengers and crew to abandon ship. The passengers made it to shore safely but Daphne was totally destroyed.

The longboat was badly damaged and it took Howard and his crew some eight days to repair it. He then took his chief mate and three seamen and headed to Launceston on 4 August. Although he was blown off course, he eventually made Hobart on 14 November 1819. There he chartered the sloop Governor Sorrell to rescue the eight passengers and crew remaining on East Island.[3] Meanwhile, John Palmer arrived and took on board some of the wreck survivors and attempted to head back to Hobart. However she was wrecked too. One passenger lost her life. The survivors had to await the arrival of Governor Sorrel for their rescue.

Lloyd’s List reported on 4 July 1820 based on a report from Port Jackson dated 12 December 1819, that the brig Daphne, Howard, master, had wrecked about 200 miles north of the Derwent. She was a total loss but her crew had been saved.[4] Another report stated that during a voyage from Port Jackson to India she was driven onto rocks off East Island, Van Diemen’s Land, in the Kent Group and wrecked on 26 October 1819 and that all 13 people on board survived.[5]

Source: Wikipedia, 18 April 2021

Captain Joseph James settled at George Town, Tasmania with a woman who may or may not have been Jane Gosling who yet bore him six more children before their marriage in September 1828. There has to be some explanation as to why they weren’t married, at least under British law by 1815 with the birth of their first son George. Perhaps she had been a servant in his household. The Colonial Secretary’s Office recorded Joseph James’ application for 500 acres of Crown Land at Cimitiere Plains (near Launceston, Tasmania) in 1828 was successful, but he was also reported for “improper conduct to his servants“:

James, Joseph
Record Type: Colonial Secretary correspondence
Description: Land (5129)
Improper conduct to his servants (11902)
File number:5129, 11902
Record ID:NAME_INDEXES:1592726

Details of the 1828 census (below) listed Joseph James as literate, a seaman and shipowner by profession, and character as “unmarried, otherwise good“. The latter implies he was blameless, whatever the circumstances that led to his “unmarried” state. Each of his eight children (two sons, six daughters) was listed by name and age as follows. Birth dates are estimates apart from those of daughters Jane and Margaret which were recorded at their baptism on 28th September, 1828 (see below):

  1. George James age 13, son (b. 1815)
  2. William James age 11, son (b. 1817)
  3. Caroline James age 9, daughter (b. 1819)
  4. Frances James age 7, daughter (b. 1821)
  5. Eleanor James age 5, daughter (b. 1823)
  6. Jane James age 3, daughter (b. 1824)
  7. Susannah James age 2, daughter (b. 1826)
  8. Margaret James infant,  daughter (b. 1828)

James, Caroline
Record Type: Census Age: 9
Father: James, Joseph
Year: 1828
Remarks: Protestant. Father a seaman, ship owner.
Census district: George Town
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1613175
Resource: CSO1/1/918 page 72
Archives Office Tasmania

The census may have prompted Captain Joseph James to tidy up his family affairs. Just a few months later, on September 28th, 1828, he arrived at St. John’s Church, Launceston for two important ceremonies.

The first of these ceremonies was to marry Jane Gosling, whose status was registered as “spinster” on the day, indicating no previous marriage, although no age was recorded. She was about 47 years old in the later 1842-3 census, although recorded as less than 45 years old. According to her death certificate, signed by her son-in-law George Cherry on 11th February 1867, she was 72 years old when she died (1867-72=1795), so she was born in 1795, she was 33 years old when she married Captain Joseph James in 1828, and 14 years old when she arrived at Sydney, NSW on the Dromedary in 1809.

The second ceremony on the same day was the baptism of two of Captain Joseph James’ eight children – Jane James who was born on 18th March 1824 and Margaret James who was born last, on 2nd February 1828, neither of whom was necessarily born to Jane Gosling. Another daughter, Susannah (b. 1826), was born between these two, but her baptism was not performed along with theirs on the same day. One of these daughters, perhaps Jane, died in infancy, and another daughter born in 1832 was named Jane in her place. This undated elegy written by their father for a head stone on the death of his unnamed daughter is held in the Papers of Phyllis Tuson (NLA MS 7260]:

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Headstone inscription on the death of his un-named infant daughter by Captain Joseph James
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260.


the Memory
The Infant Daughter
of Mr. Joseph James
With Sacriligious hands touch not a Bone
which lies extended East of this head Stone
For tho’ her little Body’s stretched beneath this sod
her Father doubts not but her Soul’s with God.

Sisters Jane and Margaret, with birth dates separated by four years, were baptized as the daughters of Jane and Joseph James, settler of George Town. However, a baptism of a child in a church ceremony is not the same as giving birth and as Jane James’ maiden name Gosling was not listed on the baptism record, it proves only that the role she was playing in the lives of Joseph James’ eight children was that of a parent, perhaps as the step-mother to all eight children. Graeme Broxam’s assumption that she was the mother of at least two of Captain Joseph James’ eight children before their marriage in 1828 – of daughters Jane and Margaret – is based on this document, “Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of St John Launceston… in the year 1828“.

Daughters Jane and Margaret James
Record Type: Births and Baptisms
Father: James, Joseph (Cpt)
Mother: James, Jane nee Gosling
Date of births:18 Mar 1824 (Jane); 2 Feb 1828 (Margaret)
Registered and year : Launceston, 1828
Record ID:NAME_INDEXES:1080466

Jane James nee Gosling (1795-1867)
Within months of the February 1828 census, Jane Gosling had married Captain Joseph James at Launceston, officially becoming a parent to all eight children. Chaplain at the marriage was James Norman, and witnesses were Robert Owen of Launceston and Sophia Grove of George Town (VDL, i.e. Tasmania). Jane Gosling was known as Granny Jane James to George Cherry and his children when she posed for this portrait taken at his studio in the mid 1860s. The carpet and chair were acquired by Thomas J. Nevin at auction of Cherry’s studio assets in 1864 (see below).

Creator Cherry, George, 1820-1878
Title Granny Jane James [picture] / G. Cherry, Hobart Town
Call Number PIC/8488/12 LOC Album 1038
Created/Published [1866 or 1867]
Extent 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 8.9 x 5.6 cm.
National Library of Australia

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Joseph James: marriage to Jane Gosling of George Town 1828:

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021. Text: Broxam (2002) pp xxvi …

Graeme Broxam (2002, p. xxvii) readily admitted confusion when he saw “unmarried” against Joseph James’s name on the 1828 census, especially since the names of his eight children were listed with him. To accommodate, he proposed a happy outcome on what he felt to be a troubling state of affairs whereby all eight children appear to have been “born out of wedlock” –  his choice of phrase:

It was only several months later, on 25 September 1828, that Joseph James actually married Jane Gosling at St. James Church of England, Launceston. Notwithstanding the late formalities, their union appears to have been and continued to be both fruitful and happy …

Without a detailed investigation into the legal and common historical usages of the term “unmarried” when applied to a father of eight children, inferences as to the morality of all involved must be left in the air. The term “unmarried” in 1828 may have been the means whereby an unexplained disappearance of a spouse was recorded, even a suicide, or indeed a divorce. Other circumstances might prevail, such as the statelessness or lacking citizenry of one of the party, who therefore needed to become “naturalised” under British law; or the family of one or both parties refusing permission for the union on religious grounds.

Captain Joseph James fathered four more children after his marriage to Jane Gosling, notably Mary Ann Matilda James (1836-1873) who would have been 4 yrs old when the 1843 census was taken.

The origins and background to the marriage between James Joseph and Jane Gosling needs clarification. Broxam (op. cit. p. xxvii, photo above, ) disputes these statements made by William Henry James in his obituary written on his father’s death:

According to the obituary of their [sic] son William Henry James in 1900:

Captain Joseph James of the H. E. I. Company’s [Honorable East India ] service … on a voyage to Sydney met Miss Gosling, adopted daughter of Lady Macquarie. Captain James married her from Government House, and she became the mother of the lately deceased gentleman. Miss Gosling was a daughter of Colour Sergeant Gosling, of the 40th Regiment. He met his death while repulsing a band of aboriginals.

George was the first born of Joseph James’ sons (1815-1838, died in Batavia – see Addenda below), and William was the second (1817-1900), but were they born to Jane Gosling and where? Despite Broxam’s dismissal of these claims, stating that no trace of the early lives of Miss Gosling or her father had been located, at least the detail of the ship, the Dromedary on which Jane Gosling arrived in NSW, was recorded on her marriage registration to Captain Joseph James in 1828 (see reg. above). Assuming it was the Dromedary which arrived at Sydney in 1809, she would have been a mere teenager, 14 years old on arrival. The 40 gun HMS Dromedary carried Lachlan Macquarie (1762–1824) to Sydney as the replacement governor for William Bligh in 1809. On board was his second wife whom he married in 1807, Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell (1778 – 1835). Her first child, named Jane Jarvis after Lachlan Macquarie’s deceased first wife, died in December 1808. It is just possible that Jane Gosling became the replacement for the daughter who died, and in a sense was even “adopted” but by which Mrs Macquarie?

Lachlan’s first wife, Jane Macquarie nee Jarvis (1772 – 1796) died one year after the estimated birth year 1795, of Jane Gosling. Jane Jarvis was born on the 16th of October 1772 on the island of Antigua. She married Lachlan Macquarie at Bombay on the 8th of September 1793 and died of consumption at Macao in China on the 15th July 1796. When Lachlan Macquarie sailed to Sydney NSW, on the Dromedary in 1809 with his second wife Elizabeth Macquarie nee Campbell, on board was his Indian-born manservant George Jarvis, who was probably adopted by the first Mrs Macquarie, Jane Jarvis. These “adoptions” by either one or both wives of Lachlan Macquarie suggest  that Jane Gosling was possibly Indian-born,  and possibly the daughter of a soldier called  Sergeant John COSLIN, a teacher of orphans at Calcutta, who died and was buried there in August 1813. If so, this might suggest that Jane Gosling was either born Jane Coslin – the spelling changed over time – or she was one of Sergeant Coslin’s orphans, adopted on his death in 1813. In which case, she might not have arrived at Sydney on the voyage of the Dromedary with Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie in 1809 but on the next voyage of the Dromedary in 1813. And if Indian-born, she may have needed to become “naturalized” before she could marry Captain Joseph James in the British colonies of NSW and Van Diemen’s Land, which might explain why Joseph James was listed as “unmarried” in the February 1828 census despite having eight children, and why Jane Gosling became eligible to marry him months later in September 1828 after a possible “naturalisation”.

This inscription on the head stone of John COSLIN was found online (URL lost, apologies to owner):


Sacred to the Memory of SERGEANT JOHN COSLIN late Teacher at the Lower Orphan School who departed this Life the 31st of August 1813 Aged 41 Years, 4 Months, 9 Days.
A loving Husband, a tender Father and steady Friend, Reader! go thou and do likewise.
SGT John Coslin
BIRTH 21 Apr 1772
DEATH 31 Aug 1813 (aged 41)
BURIAL The Hospital Burial Ground
Calcutta, West Bengal, India

There is also the suggestion (above, in Broxam op. cit. p. xxvii) that Jane Gosling was the daughter of a soldier named John Gosling of the 40th Regiment, possibly the soldier who departed Hobart on 5 May 1817 on board the Harriet. He may have participated in the Black Wars of Van Diemen’s Land in which soldiers of the 40th died in confrontations with Aborigines, but whether he was old enough to be her father or whether he died there or elsewhere is yet unknown.

Held at the National Library of Australia in the collection called the Papers of Phyllis Tuson (MS 7260) are photographs, log books, financial records, legal documents and letters of the James and Cherry family. Phyllis Tuson was the only daughter of George Rodney Cherry, who in turn was the first son born to photographer George Cherry and Matilda James. Among these documents are two statements which the family have passed down pertaining to Jane Gosling’s background and parentage.

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Summary [NLA Catalogue]
The papers consist of logs, articles of agreement, financial records, legal documents and letters to the James family and the Daphne together with letters, photographs and documents concerning the Cherry family (the next two generations), including World War I letters from Cairo and some written to Mrs Tuson from family acquaintances, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton.
Title Papers of Phyllis Tuson, 1800-1925.
Creator Tuson, Phyllis.
Published 1800-1925.
Medium [manuscript]
Physical Description 84 cm. (6 boxes) + 2 fol.
Time Period 1800-1925
Biography This collection covers the lives of the James and Cherry families. Captain James owned a brigantine, the Daphne which traded between India and Australia. The donor, Phyllis Tuson, is the great grandaughter of Captain James.
Notes Manuscript reference no.NLA MS 7260.

The first is from a typed account of the life and achievements of artist Ada Whiting nee Cherry (1859-1953), second child born to Matilda and George Cherry, written by her niece. In this account Jane Gosling was thought to be the adopted daughter of Lady Lowden, living at Government House, Calcutta, India. Her husband may have been an official of the British government at the time.

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Biographical account of Ada Whiting(1859-1953)
p. 9 second paragraph
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260

TRANSCRIPT (second paragraph, excerpt)

Ada’s grandmother, Jane, also showed tremendous courage. Leaving a life of comfort at Government House, Calcutta, as the adopted daughter of Lady Lowden, for a life on a farm in north Tasmania with convict servants, caring for ten children with her husband very often away at sea, must have been a difficult step…

The second document in this collection is a handwritten biographical account of Jane James nee Gosling’s parentage and background copied from a note by Jane and Joseph James’ grand daughter Ada Whiting nee Cherry.

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Biographical account of Jane James nee Gosling, her father and brothers
Hand-written note by Jane James’ grand-daughter Ada Whiting nee Cherry
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260


Janes James, Joseph’s wife, was born in Bath. Her sister married a Dr. McNab in Indian army.
John James, brother of Joseph, was an Iron master in Bristol & his father had the Dock’s.
A cousin of Aunt Caroline James was a Reverend James in Torquay, with whom Bishop Nixon of Hobart stayed.
Jane James (Gosling) came to India as a girl with her father & sister in the same vessel as the Governor who came to relieve Governor Bligh. Her father was taken by the press gang when he was 18, on board a man-of-war. Of course they had to let him go on account of his youth. Later he was taken on board a French man-of-war & kept a long time until the war was over & there was an exchange of prisoners. Two of his brothers were drowned at the same time as the crossing of the fleet.
Our grandfather William Cherry was head Game-keeper at Bushy Park [UK].
This information from a note by Ada Whiting to a niece leaving for a visit to England.

There is also Jane Gosling’s possible connection to George Henry Cherry (1793-1848) which might shed light on circumstances leading to Jane Gosling becoming Hobart photographer George Cherry’s mother-in-law at the marriage of her own daughter Mary Ann Matilda James at Hobart in 1855. In short, the Gosling and Cherry families may have a shared or  common ancestry.

Gosling, Curtis, Cherry family memorial
Source: St. John’s Wood Memories

Jane James nee Gosling had given birth to at least four more children by the time of the 1843 census in which eleven persons – nine children (two sons, seven daughters) and two adults – were counted as residents living at Joseph James’ house at George Town, Tasmania. The parents, their father Joseph James was listed between 45 and under 60 years old; their mother Jane was listed between 21 and under 45 years old. The children listed were a male and female child between 2 and under 7 years old; a male and female child between seven and under 14 years old; and five female children between 14 and under 21 years old. The question remains, therefore, of how many of the original eight children born to Joseph James and his unidentified partner/spouse actually survived to 1842, and how many children were born to Jane Gosling after their  marriage in 1828. Matilda James, born in ca. 1836 , would have been listed as the only daughter between 2 and 7 years old when the 1843 census was taken.

Census 1843: nine children residing with parents Joseph and Jane James
Archives Office of Tasmania

This notice of Jane James’ death was published in the Mercury, 8th February 1867:


JAMES. – On the 6th instant, at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. Cherry, Mrs Jane James, relict of the late Capt. Joseph James, of the E.I.C. Service, and late of George Town, aged 72 years. The funeral will move from 27 Melville-street, on Saturday morning, 9th instant, at 8 o’clock. Friends are invited to attend. Launceston, Melbourne, and Geelong papers please to copy.

A dutiful son-in-law, photographer George Cherry took pains to correct and annotate the death registration of Jane James, widow of Captain Joseph James. By the time of her death in 1867 from “apoplexy” (cerebral haemorrhage or stroke) at 72 years old, she was identified only by her marital husband’s last recorded occupation – “wine merchant”. George Cherry wished to dignify her life and her husband’s by correcting the record, placing a cross against “wine merchant”, adding that she was the widow of the late Captain Joseph James of the H.E.I.C. Service. He must have been a witness to her death at her home. She occupied one of the two adjoined “snug houses” opposite the Dallas Arms on New Town Road (Elizabeth St. North Hobart – see details below). George and Matilda Cherry resided next door until 1872 when both houses were advertised to let. George Cherry’ choice of the term “inmate” on this registration is interesting:


Widow of Joseph James late Captain H.E.I.C. Service. Corrected in presence of George Cherry inmate of the house where the death occurred.
H. Buckland Dep. Reg. 11th February 1867
Geo. Cherry

Detail of below: George Cherry’s note on the death registration of Jane James

James, Jane
Record Type: Deaths
Gender: Female
Age: 72
Date of death: 06 Feb 1867
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1867
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1147392
Resource: RGD35/1/7 no 6608
Source: Archives Office Tasmania,

Caroline James was born to Joseph James and his unnamed spouse at George Town, Tasmania in 1819. She was 9 years old at the February 1828 census and about 23 years old at the 1842-1843 census. Documents held in the Papers of Phyllis Tuson (NLA MS 7260) include letters and legal documents showing she was living in Victoria by 1871. She was addressed as “Carry” (Caroline) in letters dated as late as August 1872 from her younger sister, Matilda Cherry, who signed herself simply as “M. Cherry” in this letter, for example:

Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Letter to Carry (Caroline) James from M. (Matilda) Cherry, May 1871.
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260.

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Memorandum, Aug 16, 1876 to Caroline James, Geelong Victoria
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260.


Memorandum, Aug 16, 1876
From H G Cook
11 Market St.
To Miss C. E. James, Geelong
I have much pleasure in complying with your request, & enclose P.O. order for £5 – (payable to Caroline James)
The Int on which will be Nil – & principal payable at your leisure – strictly confidential –
I hope you are all well –
[signature illegible] HGC

Caroline James, to all appearances unmarried, was living at Geelong, Victoria by 1871 and died there. Her brother-in-law George Cherry photographed her in his Hobart studio sitting at the very distinctive three-legged table which features in several carte-de-visite portraits of his family and friends taken in the 1860s (see the cdv of Phyllis Seal below).

Creator Cherry, George, 1820-1878
Title [Portrait of Caroline James] [picture] / Geo. Cherry, Hobart-Town
Call Number PIC/8488/8 LOC Album 1038
Created/Published [187-?]
Extent 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.7 x 5.4 cm.
National Library of Australia

Mary Ann Matilda JAMES (1836-1873)
Mary Ann Matilda James was born at George Town, Tasmania, to Captain Joseph James and Jane Gosling in 1836. She was 18 years old when she married George Cherry, artist, 31 years old, at St David’s Cathedral, Hobart, on 5th April 1855.

On the 5th instant at St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart Town, by the Rev. Mr. Drew, Mr. George Cherry, to Mary Ann Matilda, youngest daughter of the late Capt. Joseph James , of the H. E. I. C. service.

Source: Family Notices (1855, April 10). Launceston Examiner p. 2

Cherry, George
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Male
Age: 31
Spouse: James, Mary Ann Matilda
Gender: Female
Date of marriage: 05 Apr 1855
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1855
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:850829
Resource: RGD37/1/14 no 167$init=RGD37-1-14P84
Archives Office Tasmania

George Cherry produced this ambrotype of his wife Matilda on the eve of their marriage in 1855. She gave birth to at least four children between 1856 and 1861, and a stillborn on the 30th July 1873. She died four months later, on 20th November 1873 at Argyle St. Hobart of cancer of the womb.

Creator Cherry, George, 1820-1878
Title [Portrait of Matilda Cherry, 1850s, 1] [picture] / George Cherry
Call Number PIC Object Drawer 26 #PIC/8488/30
Extent 1 photograph : ambrotype, hand col. ; oval image 8.9 x 6.6 cm., in case 12.2 x 9.7 cm.
National Library of Australia

Creator: Cherry, George, 1820-1878
Title: Mrs George Cherry [Matilda], 1855 [picture] / George Cherry
Call Number: PIC/8488/9 LOC Album 1038
Created/Published: 1855
Extent: 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.3 x 5.8 cm.
National Library of Australia

BIOGRAPHY: George Cherry (1820-1878)
Source: DAAO

George Cherry, professional photographer, inventor and penal officer, was born in England, son of William Cherry, an official at Hampton Court Palace, and Sarah, née Rudd. George was educated with a view to his entering the Church of England ministry, but became interested in painting and photography instead. He was commissioned by a titled family to accompany them to the West Indies and illustrate a book of their travels on board their yacht, the Dolphin , and through their influence was appointed assistant superintendent of convicts on Norfolk Island, arriving in January 1849 on board HMS Bangalore . He was unhappy there, he later stated, in constant strife with his fellow officers for objecting to the ill-treatment of the convicts.

Cherry took many daguerreotype views of Norfolk Island. Although only a lithograph from one of these has been identified (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts), a poem written on board the Bangalore in 1848, addressed to ‘Mr. Cherry the Daguerotype [sic] Artist by a Knight Templar, XIth Foot (late the Bard of New Brunswick)’, refers to Cherry as a ‘Genius with solar beams’. An 1850 letter from his friend W.N. Thomas on Norfolk Island thanks Cherry for his daguerreotype of the settlement and wishes him ‘a speedy and safe passage’ to Van Diemen’s Land.

By August 1852 Cherry was offering views of Norfolk Island for sale in Hobart Town, where he had settled. On 5 April 1855 he married 18-year-old Mary Ann Matilda, daughter of Captain James of the East India Company, in St David’s Church. Describing himself as an artist, Cherry advertised in the Mercury of 20 July 1855 that the carefully-coloured portraits he produced in his Daguerrean Gallery, 43 Macquarie Street, were ‘equal to the finest exhibited by himself or any other artist in the colonies’. Three years later he exhibited ‘miniature portraits’ (probably painted photographs) and a view of Macquarie Street at the Hobart Town Art-Treasures Exhibition. Three miniatures, including a self-portrait, remain in a family collection. His oil portrait of Alfred Kennerly, painted over a photograph, was discussed in Walch’s Literary Intelligencer in September 1859.

In 1860 Cherry was producing ‘Photographic Portraits on paper, glass and ivory, and on canvas from life to locket size, highly finished in Crayon, Water or Oil Colours and warranted to be as durable as the most permanent oil paintings’. He exhibited a portrait (presumably a painted photograph) of the mayor of Hobart Town in 1862. Several of his photographs of prominent Tasmanians were subsequently lithographed by H.J. D’Emden and published by R.V. Hood . A small collection of photographs is in the Archives Office of Tasmania.

In August 1860 Cherry applied for a patent for the invention of a machine for separating precious metals from crushed quartz, perhaps hoping to make his fortune. By 1864, however, he was advertising his intention to devote the whole of his energies to album portraits, obtainable from his gallery, now located at 1 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town. By 1867 he was at 80 Liverpool Street and beginning to advertise views of Tasmanian scenery. He purchased the Friths ‘ collection of portrait negatives that year, thus also acquiring their clientele. He was one of several photographers appointed to cover the tour of the Duke of Edinburgh to Tasmania in 1868. In January 1870 he advertised ‘photographic pictures of the Squadron’ (the much-publicised visiting Flying Squadron); later in the year he toured north-eastern Tasmania, taking views.

George and Mary Ann Cherry had two sons and a daughter, Ada (later Whiting ), who became a colourist for Johnstone & O’Shannessy and later, a successful miniaturist. She also produced photographs – as an amateur in 1878 from 45 Clarke Street, Chilwell, Geelong (Victoria). On 20 November 1873 Mary Ann Cherry died at 269 Argyle Street, Hobart Town, after a long illness. George Cherry died in 1878.

Source: DAAO

National Library of Australia
Geo. [i.e. George] Cherry as Hobart volunteer.
Published [ca. 186-?]
Physical Description 1 photograph : b&w ; oval image 3.8 x 3.0 cm.
Series George Cherry collection of family photographs.
Available online:

In 1857, George Cherry was ballotted for, and duly elected into the Royal Society of Tasmania (Courier 21 April 1857, p.2). On election he presented a photographic portrait of the Rev. Dr. John Lillie, long a Vice-President of the Royal Society, framed in rosewood and richly gilded.

Hard decisions in1864
Amid growing competition from photographers in his cohort during the 1860s who were dominating the market with mass produced cdvs, George Cherry announced his intention to devote his talents to cdv portraiture, advertised here as ALBUM PORTRAITS.


P H O T O G R A P H Y ! ! !




Nearly opposite Telegraph Office.

ALBUM PORTRAITS having nearly superseded every other kind of portrait,

Mr. CHERRY intends in future to devote the whole of his energies to the production of these beautiful little pictures, while his charges will be from this date so extremely moderate, as to bring them within the reach of nearly every one, for Mr. C. has brought his process to such a high state of perfection, that the result of obtaining a good picture at the first sitting, is with him almost a certainty.

Price for the first Print 3s. 6d. ; and 1s. 6d. each for extra copies.

The charge for children, according to age.

Hours of attendance – From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

N.B.-To avoid disappointment, do not defer sitting (as is too frequently the case) to within a few days of the closing of the English mail, for at that time there is generally such a great press of business that it is sometimes difficult to get the prints ready for it.

Source: Mercury, Tuesday 12 April 1864, page 1

In the same issue of the Mercury newspaper, photographer Walter William Thwaites informed readers of the arrival of a “CARTE DE VISITE LENSE” which George Cherry must have purchased to justify his enthusiastic proclamation whereby he intended to specialise exclusively in future on cdv portraiture. Thwaites Snr was in Hobart, Tasmania, between 1861-1865; a travelling photographer in South Australia from 1869-1870, and again in S. A. in 1881. (Source: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002.)


P H O T O G R A P H Y, W. THWAITES, MACQUARIE-STREET, Two doors from the Bank Van Diemen’s Land, Advertises the public that he has imported a CARTE DE VISITE LENSE, from the most celebrated house in Europe. His productions will now bear favorable comparison with any Photographic Establishment in the Colonies, and his operating room has all the accessories of a first-rate Establishment. Terms -Very moderate.


Advertising (1864, November 26). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 3.





SENNOTYPE ALBUM PORTRAITS. ALFRED BOCK respectfully announces that he has succeeded, after a great number of experiments, in producing Album Portraits by a modification of the Sennotype Process, retaining all the relief, delicacy, and lifelike beauty of the larger pictures.

Caution !-A.B. again emphatically cautions the public against the attempted imitations of the Sennotype, he having conclusively proved that he is the only person in Hobart Town holding the genuine process.

Ambrotypes, locket portraits, album portraits, life-sized portraits in oil colors, and every description of Photograph executed in the most perfect manner.


TO THE INHABITANTS OF SWANSEA AND SPRING BAY.—W. Thwaites. Photographer, of Macquarie-street, Hobart Town, respectfully intimates to the inhabitants of the above places that he intends an immediate visit to their respective districts to execute some orders. Mr. T. will bring with him a complete apparatus for taking views of either large or stereoscopic size and carte de visites. During his temporary absence, his business will be conducted by Miss Thwaites.

Full-length portrait of unidentified woman with lilac tinted hair ribbon, possibly Phyllis Seal (cf below, cdv by Cherry)
Photographer: William Walton Thwaites, ca. 1864
Location and dates: THWAITES, W. Snr. 128 Liverpool St. 1861. Macquarie St. 1862-1865.
Downloaded from url of a private collection (details lost, please notify us if you are the owner).

George Cherry’s enthusiasm for the new medium, and hopes for a financial recovery were short-lived. On Friday 5th August 1864 his “Photographic Plant, Household Furniture, Paintings, Pictures, and various Effects” were offered at auction. Thomas J. Nevin may have profited from the auction of George Cherry’s “photographic plant” and studio furniture in 1864, acquiring valuable equipment from Cherry which he then complemented with stock from Alfred Bock’s assets sold at auction in 1867, including the glasshouse and lease of the studio from A. Biggs at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart (Tasmania).

Around the time of Cherry’s 1864 auction, Thomas J. Nevin either acquired George Cherry’s carpet and studded slipper chair which features in this cabinet photograph by Cherry of his son George Rodney Cherry, or Thomas Nevin was working from George Cherry’s studio in 1864 when he photographed his younger brother Jack Nevin there standing on the same carpet.

Cherry, George. (1864). [Portrait of George Rodney Cherry, between 1864 and 1867
National Library of Australia

The low slipper chair in Thomas Nevin’s  photograph of his brother Jack Nevin (William John, later Constable John Nevin) was also George Cherry’s; it features in his photograph taken of his mother-in-law, Jane James nee Gosling (see photo of Granny Jane James above). These shared items of studio decor suggest further that close collegial and personal relationships between Thomas Nevin and George Cherry had developed by the mid 1860s.

Subject: William John Nevin (1852-1891), known as Jack to the family.
and known as Constable John Nevin from 1870 to his death in 1891.
Photographer: older brother Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923)
Location: City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, Tasmania.
Date: ca. 1865, Jack Nevin here is barely a teenager, 13 years old.
Details: full-length carte-de-visite, albumen print, sepia toned. Verso is blank.
Studio decor features the carpet and shiny leather slipper chair from George Cherry’s studio.
Source: Sydney Rare Books Auctions 2019
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2020 Private Collection. Watermarked.

AUCTION, 5th August 1864

Advertising (1864, July 30). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 4.


FRIDAY, 5th August
Artist’s Photographic Plant, Household Furniture, Paintings, Pictures, and various Effects.

Have been favored with instructions from John Milward, Esq., Assignee to the Insolvent Estate of Mr. George Cherry, Elizabeth-street, to sell by auction, on the premises, on FRIDAY, the 5th August, at 11 o’clock, without any reserve,
THREE CAMERAS, ONE STAND, HEAD REST, chemicals, glass cases, etc.
Oil painting of Sir H. F. Young, in gilt frame
5 Photo crayons in gilt frames 4 Views of Hobarton, framed
9 Photo crayon and cromo photographs, in frames
11 Whole plate pictures, 5 half plate
Various half, quarter, and one-sixth plate pictures, views, album likenesses, copying press, and sundry effects

The furniture, consisting of loo table, hair covered chairs, oil cloth and carpets, wash stand and furniture, toilet tables and glasses, pianoforte and music stool, bed-steads and bedding, cribs, chests drawers, wash stands, curtains, kitchen range, dresser, cooking utensils, and various household effects.

A glass house, with flower pots and boxes, table, pillar, curtains, drugget [coarse woven fabric used in floor coverings], etc.

The pictures will be on view the day before the sale, and there are several likenesses of well-known citizens, parties will have an opportunity of securing the same. The Auctioneers will be happy to attend to the commissions of those who may not wish to be present at the sale.

George Cherry facing insolvency, 1870
Financial problems which had prompted George Cherry to sell the contents of his studio and photographic assets in 1864 had become insurmountable by 1870. His creditors included the proprietor of the Mercury newspaper John Davies, who was most insistent George Cherry be declared insolvent in the Supreme Court.

George Cherry insolvency

SUPREME COURT. (1870, October 13).The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870), p. 2.


Insolvency Jurisdiction.
WEDNESDAY, 12TH OCTOBER, 1870.(Before His Honor Sir Francis Smith, Knt., Chief Justice.)
This was a second sitting. Mr H. J. D’Emden appeared for the Insolvent.
Mr D’Emden stated that at the meeting of creditors, Mr S. Clifford was appointed permanent assignee. Proofs of Debts.— J. Davies, £10 1s 6d, for printing &c. as per account appended. (Mr Davies in person.) Admitted.
Mr Davies said he had to apply for twelve months’ accounts, and he would give notice that he intended to oppose the discharge of the insolvent, for contracting debts without any prospect of paying them, and for general extravagance in the conduct of his business.
Mr D’Emden said it was an extraordinary application to make at this stage. The debt might have been proved at the first sitting, or any question might been have asked at the meeting of creditors. This was a poor estate, and if there was an adjournment, where was the expense to come from?
His Honor said that there should be some grounds certainly for the application but they need not be such strong ones as Mr D’Emden seemed to think. What was Mr Davies’ reason for asking for the accounts.
Mr Davies said his reason for asking for these accounts was that he was aware that insolvent had been earning large sums by his business in the country districts — £80 at one place and £90 at another, and he had dissipated these means without paying his creditors.
Mr Gill said he was instructed to prove a debt, and the creditor wished to join with Mr Davies in the application for these accounts. The application was certainly rather late.
By His Honor — I have kept an account of the names of the parties who had pictures, and number of them. But I have kept no accounts.
The official assignee and permanent assignee said there were no accounts. The permanent assignee, Mr Clifford, said he did not require any accounts, as there was no estate.
By His Honor — What were you appointed assignee for?
Mr Clifford — There are some small things about the country valued at about £11.
The insolvent was examined by His Honor — He said that he had not dissipated his means in drink. His receipts had on the whole more than covered his expenses. He had done well some places, and in others his expenses had exceeded his takings.
Mr Davies said he had understood Mr. Clifford would join him in the expense of getting these accounts and opposing the insolvent but he seemed to have altered his views.
Insolvent examined by His Honor — My takings in Swansea were about £30 or £40. I will swear they were not £80.
His Honor expressed himself in favour of making the order for the accounts, Mr D’Emden said there was no estate, and he should not take the burthen on his own shoulders.
His Honor — Then your client won’t get his discharge.
Proofs—Mary Drake, £16 0s 0d, for work and labour done, (Mr D’Emden), admitted ; L. H. Stevens, £11 9s 9d, for goods sold and delivered (J. W. Gill), admitted.
Mr D’Emden applied for an order for the payment of the wages of Mary Drake ; it was within 5 months.
His Honor said that he should order twelve months’ accounts.
Mr D’Emden objected that sufficient reason had not been shown, and the business of the insolvent was a peculiar one. He would not be able to give the accounts.
The next sitting was set down for Friday fortnight, the accounts to be rendered within 10 days.

Source: Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870), Thursday 13 October 1870, page 2

John Davies (1813-1872)
Created from an earlier photographer’s work (1870s) by J. W. Beattie in 1901
Members of the Parliaments of Tasmania – no. 102 / photographed by J.W. Beattie.
Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

George Cherry’s insolvency discharged
Photographer Samuel Clifford as George Cherry’s permanent assignee in 1864 was the most likely of all close acquaintances within the photographers’ cohort to pay off Cherry’s debts from his own funds, thereby depriving Cherry’s nemesis, newspaper proprietor John Davies, of opposing the discharge of insolvency when the court resumed two weeks later on 28th October 1870.

George Cherry was represented at both sittings in the Insolvency Jurisdiction before Sir Francis Smith by another of his close friends, artist Henri James D’Emden (1824-1875). Lithographs drawn by D’Emden of eminent Tasmanians and printed by R. Hood from photographs by George Cherry indicate at the very least that Cherry had support from both his professional colleagues and his former wealthy patrons, even if D’Emden indicated that he would not be taking on the “burthen” of debt since the estate of George Cherry was deplete. George Cherry had bought the Frith brothers’ portrait negatives in 1867, which may have contributed to his mounting debts, resulting in demands made from the proprietor of the Hobart Town Mercury, John Davies, for outstanding printing costs before George Cherry could claim insolvency.

The extraordinary aspect of this case is the vehemence with malice, and the dissembling, once defeated, displayed by John Davies. His complaint against George Cherry extended well beyond the mere £10 1s 6d owed for printing. Davies expressed a personal distaste for George Cherry’s extravagant lifestyle, alleging in essence that Cherry was an alcoholic who earned substantial amounts yet hid them from his creditors, and dissipated what means he did have through drinking. His antagonism towards George Cherry may have developed years before when Cherry sat on a jury which convicted John Davies, proprietor of the Hobart Town Mercury, of assault and battery of Washington McMinn, solicitor (Colonial Times, Hobart, Tuesday 18 September 1855, page 2).

Only minutes after George Cherry’s discharge was processed, John Davies arrived, claiming he was too late to attend the insolvency proceedings because of differences between clocks, presumably a slow one which made him six minutes late (arriving at 11.06 am), otherwise he would have urged the court to vigorously oppose the case for discharge of Cherry’s debts. He was most likely informed that those debts had already been paid, and used the unreliable clocks excuse as bare-faced subterfuge to indicate to all, including the bench, that he had not backed down prior to proceedings nor would he have in court.

SUPREME COURT. (1870, October 29). The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870), p. 2.


Insolvency Jurisdiction.
(Before His Honor Sir Francis Smith, Knt,, Chief ‘ Justice.)
This was an adjourned second sitting and for hearing the application for discharge. Mr H. J. D’Emden appeared for the insolvent.
Mr D’Emden put in the newspapers containing notice of the sitting and reminded the Court that at the last sitting the insolvent had been ordered to file accounts for 12 months, which order he had complied, with, and he had caused copies of the accounts to be left with Mr Gill on the part of Mr Stevens; who had informed him that he had no instructions to oppose, also with Mr John Davies, but he (Mr D’Emden) was not in a position to inform the Court whether Mr Davies did or did not oppose.
The insolvent was then sworn, and upon examination by Mr D’Emden deposed to the correctness of the account.
Mr D’Emden applied for the discharge of the insolvent which, as there was no objection, was granted on the usual terms….

In re GEORGE CHERRY. The above case having been disposed of, Mr John Davies, M.H.A. apologized to the Court for his nonattendance to sustain his opposition in this case. It was entirely owing to a difference of clocks that he was behind time. He believed he could have made out a gross case against the insolvent, but as he found the discharge had been granted he had no more to say on the matter. His Honor accepted Mr Davies’ apology

Source: Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870), Saturday 29 October 1870, page 2

Wm Nicolson / drawn by H.J. D’Emden ; printed by R.V. Hood ; from a photograph by G. Cherry.
Author/Creator: D’Emden, Henri James, 1824-1875 artist.
Manufacture:[Tasmania] : R.V. Hood, [between 1855 and 1860?]
Physical description: 1 print : 2-colour lithograph ; image size 21 x 20 cm., on sheet 39 x 28 cm.
Medium: paper; ink
Format: print image (online)
Provenance: From the collection of Henry Allport. Archives Office of Tasmania
Accession number:HA1016; Permalink:
Notes: Facsimile signature centred below image: ‘Yours sincerely, Wm Nicolson.’ Printed lower left below image: ‘drawn by H.J. D’Emden’ ; lower right: ‘printed by R.V. Hood’. Printed below signature: ‘from a photograph by G. Cherry’.Indexed in: Craig, Clifford. The engravers of Van Diemen’s Land, page 83.

George and Matilda Cherry at Thomas Nevin’s studio ca. 1872
Though previously unidentified, the couple who posed with their King Charles spaniel at Thomas Nevin’s studio, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, ca. 1872 was most likely to be George and Matilda Cherry. Indeed, as a daughter of mariner and shipowner Captain Joseph James, and one of a dozen or more wives, sisters and daughters of the mariner community who frequented Nevin’s studio for their portraits, Matilda Cherry would have been a close acquaintance of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin, daughter of master mariner Captain James Day, and niece of Captain Edward Goldsmith, especially so since their husbands were both professional photographers. Prolific stereographer Samuel Clifford was a close friend of both families: not  only was he George Cherry’s permanent assignee during those troubled years, he was also Thomas Nevin’s mentor in the 1860s, as well as his travelling companion on photographic ventures around the island in 1874, and agent for Nevin’s private clients wanting reprints from 1876 after Nevin’s appointment to the civil service.  George Cherry was 22 years older than Thomas J. Nevin, but Matilda Cherry was just eleven years older than Elizabeth Rachel Nevin. This couple may have been guests at their wedding (see their group photograph here), and were photographed therefore in July 1871.

Matilda Cherry nee James had given birth to at least four children from her marriage to George Cherry. by 1870. They were residing in a “snug” house of six rooms opposite the Dallas Arms at 258 Elizabeth Street, not far north from Nevin’s studio in 1872 when in June of that year their residence was advertised to let. On the 30th July 1873, within a year of their removal to 269 Argyle Street, Hobart, Mary Ann Matilda Cherry gave birth to a stillborn child. According to one document held in the Phyllis Tuson Papers (NLA MS 7260), she fell down the stairs while pregnant. She died four months later, on 20th November 1873 at Argyle St. Hobart. Cause of death was registered as cancer of the womb. She was 38 years old. George Cherry died five years later in 1878. Given this information, it is tempting to read suffering into the expression of the woman, and even sadness in the expression of the man in Nevin’s photograph of the couple in question.

Death of Matilda Cherry, 38 yrs old, of cancer of the womb.

Cherry, Mary Ann Matilda
Record Type: Deaths
Gender: Female
Age: 38
Date of death: 20 Nov 1873
Registered: Hobart
Registration year:1873
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1151027
Resource: RGD35/1/8 no 1776$init=RGD35-1-8P205

Notice of her funeral appeared in the Hobart Mercury, 21st November 1873:

Died on the 20th inst. aged 38 years, Mary Ann Matilda, the beloved wife of Mr. George Cherry, after a long and painful illness. The funeral will move from her late residence 269 Argyll St., on Saturday 22nd instant, at nine a.m. for the Sandy Bay cemetery. Friends are invited to attend. Victorian papers please copy.

Source: Mercury 21 November 1873 in Broxam, op. cit. p.xxix


Try these comparisons: studio portraits of the same two people taken 1850s-1870s?
Top: unidentified couple, possibly Matilda and George Cherry with dog ca. 1872
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, private collection
Left: Matilda Cherry nee James ca. 1860, NLA collection
Photographer: George Cherry
Right: self-portrait, photographer George Cherry, ca. 1860, NLA collection

If indeed this couple were Matilda and George Cherry who sat for their portrait at Nevin’s studio ca. 1872, they dressed in their finest, though they were both in poor health and experiencing severe financial difficulties. The carte-de-visite from Nevin’s studio may have been coloured by the purchaser, whether the client, or the client’s descendants or it may well exhibit the first dabblings of their daughter Ada Cherry (later Whiting ), who became a colourist for the photographic studio of Johnstone & O’Shannessy, Melbourne, and later, a successful miniaturist. She also produced photographs as an amateur in 1878 from 45 Clarke Street, Chilwell, Geelong, Victoria.

1872: George Cherry’s house to let
Photographer George Cherry resided opposite a hotel on New Town Road (258 Elizabeth St. North Hobart) known as the Dallas Arms, proprietor Elizabeth Allan in 1872. The house next door, occupied by Jane James nee Gosling, the widow of the late Captain Joseph James, “brewer” or “wine merchant” by that time – was also to let. Photographer Thomas Nevin resided next door to a hotel on Elizabeth St., the Royal Standard Inn, proprietor James Spence during the years 1866-1876. Inebriation, or at the very least, excessive imbibing of alcohol, affected the professional standing of both photographers: George Cherry was accused of “dissipating his means in drink” during insolvency proceedings of his estate in 1870, later taking to the occupation of wine merchant; and Thomas Nevin was dismissed from the position of Hobart Town Hall Office and Hall Keeper in 1880 for being intoxicated while on duty, in what appears to have been a false charge sought as revenge for his reporting of police drunk and asleep on duty.


TO LET, two very snug HOUSES in Upper Elizabeth-street, each containing 6 rooms; they stand opposite the late Dallas Arms; there is a back entrance to each; one was tenanted by Mr. Cherry, the photographer; and the other by the widow of the late Mr. James, the brewer; the rent of each £24, rates paid.
Apply to W. ROBERTSON, No. 7 Park-street. 3989

Source: Advertising (1872, June 25). The Mercury p. 1.


The Dallas Arms, now a private residence
Photo copyright © G. Ritchie 2013

Historical background – extract per G. Ritchie

… John Allan, held the license for the Dallas Arms until his death in June 1866 when his widow, Elizabeth, took over. The license later lapsed and when Elizabeth Allan applied for a new license in December 1872 it was refused on the basis that ‘the house was not required in the neighbourhood, and it was out of repair.’ It is true that by this time there were a significant number of other pubs in the North Hobart area but the license was granted on appeal.

When Elizabeth Allan died in May 1874 her daughter, Ann, took over the license. Ann ran the Dallas Arms until the early 1890s when the license was transferred to George Davis, who had married Mary Allan.
The pub was no longer licensed after 1918 and Miss Georgina Davis, daughter of George and Mary, established a business college on the premises, known as Davis College.
The property is now a private residence.


Unusual works by George Cherry
This carte de-visite of barrister Byron Miller was pasted into an album of photographs and clippings of his daughter-in-law, Jean Porthouse Graves (1858-1951). She was a teenager when she accompanied her father John Woodcock Graves the younger and a large group of subscribers including visiting VIPS from Victoria, on a trip to Adventure Bay (Tasmania) on 31st January 1872. Accompanying the group was the official photographer Thomas J. Nevin. His photographs of the trip were collected by Jean Porthouse Graves in an album, now part of the private collection of the © KLW NFC Group. She married Byron Miller’s son, solicitor Frances Knowles Miller at Melbourne, Victoria in 1885. She died at her residence, Rembrandt Square London, aged 91 yrs, on 30th July 1951.

Barrister R. Byron Miller
Photographer: George Cherry late 1860s
Inscribed verso by Miller family member “My Father … Judge in Chambers Essex St. Strand [London]..”
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint KLW NFC Private Collection

On left: Phyllis Seal (1807-1877), wife of Charles Seal
Maritime Museum of Tasmania (b & w copy)
Photographer: George Cherry ca. 1866, Hobart, Tasmania

On right: Phyllis Seal, (1807-1877) wife of Charles Seal
Maritime Museum of Tasmania (b & w copy, tinted)
Photographer: Thomas Nevin, of the firm Nevin & Smith, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Tasmania, 1866

On left, (above) shipping pioneer Phyllis Seal sat at George Cherry’s three-legged table for a likeness ca. 1866 shortly before her permanent departure from Tasmania to settle at Ballarat, Victoria, On the sudden death of her husband Charles Seal in 1852, she managed the operations of his fleet of whaling ships and oil sales, establishing other small businesses including a successful tobacco, snuff and cigar shop in Murray Street, Hobart. The original cdv of this photograph in the possession of the Ackland family of descendants, if able to be located, would reveal very strong colouring of the carpet, similar in manner to the colouring on the cdv (at top) taken by Thomas Nevin ca. 1872 of the couple tentatively identified as Matilda and George Cherry, with their spaniel. The photograph on right (above) of a bemused Phyllis Seal wearing a fabulous taffeta dress threaded in silver was taken by Thomas J. Nevin at his studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart while in partnership with photographer Robert Smith (1866-1868) operating as the firm Nevin & Smith.

Portrait of Bishop Nixon, painted over by John Dixon from photograph by George Cherry, 1860
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, QVM: 1962: FP:0899
Exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW (2015), in The Photograph and Australia (Judy Annear, cat. p.44)

John Cowpland DIXON (c. 1819-85), was an amateur painter and clergyman whose portrait of the first Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, Francis Russell Nixon, was painted over two layers of canvas of an enlarged photograph 75.5 by 65.5 cms by George CHERRY and exhibited at the 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne. Exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW (21 March – 8 June 2015), published in the accompanying text The Photograph and Australia, by Judy Annear. p. 44.

Addenda: George James (1815-1838)
The eldest son of Captain Joseph James, George James, died of the “Java Fever” at Batavia in 1838. His letters to his parents complained of poor wages and efforts to learn the language. Included in documents forwarded to his parents by J. Flaherty who informed them of their son’s death in this letter from Batavia dated 25th August 1838, was his cheat sheet of Chinese characters with aids to pronunciation:

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
J. Flaherty, letter to Captain James, George Town (VDL) 25 Aug 1838
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260.


Batavia, 25th Aug. 1838
Dear Sir,
You have doubtless received several letters from your son George who came to Java in the Charles Kerr better than 2 years ago. It now becomes my painful duty to announce to you that the poor fellow has fallen a victim to that pestilential complaint the Java fever . This melancholy intelligence has only reached me a few days ago, he having died on board the Fothal Djawat on her passage to Timor, of which vessel he was Chief Officer.

The return of the Argo, Cpt Billing I beg forward herewith 2 letters which I presume were from his family. The Capt. of the vessel Fothal Djawat went on to China has not yet returned. When he arrives I shall make every inquiry & by first opportunity will inform you more fully under what circumstances his death took place.

You may possibly have some recollection of me when I mention that I received your kind hospitality when at George Town in 1828 during the wreck of the Dotterile Capt. Bell where I first had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with your family, to all of whom I beg to be kindly remembered and with offer of best services in Batavia, beg to be
Dear Sir,
Yours faithfully.
J. Flaherty

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2021
Chinese characters with pronunciation and English meanings
Documents pertaining to the death of Captain James’ son George James, Batavia 1838
Papers of Phyllis Tuson, NLA MS 7260.

RELATED POSTS main weblog