Thomas J. Nevin at William Snelling’s inquest 1875

Transported convict William SNELLING (ca. 1814-1875), a lifer, coach maker and businessman
Photographer Thomas J. NEVIN, inquest juror and government contractor
Photographer James CHANDLER, beneficiary of the Nevin family collections

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Photograph – Hobart- Butcher shop – W. Snelling c 1870s
Item Number:NS869/1/452
Start Date: 01 Jan 1870
Creating Agency: James Chandler, Photographer (NG1231) 12 Aug 1877-08 Jul 1945
Hooper Family (NG434) 01 Jan 1920
Series: Photographs of General and Maritime Interest (NS869) 01 Jan 1870-31 Dec 1950
View online:

The original of this photograph of W. Snelling’s family butcher shop featuring five smiling individuals posed out front at the curb may have been taken by commercial photographer and government contractor Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1872-1874 shortly before former coach maker William Snelling’s death from lung disease in January 1875.

The image has been disseminated widely across the internet and even offered for sale, in every instance purloined from the Archives Office of Tasmania’s Flickr collection of photographer James Chandler (1877-1945). Since James Chandler was not yet born when this photograph was taken in the 1870s, its inclusion by the AOT among dozens of his works taken in the 1900s on their Flickr page might suggest the date – 1870s – is incorrect, especially as there is no photographer attribution given to suggest another, earlier photographer. However, a number of works – stereographs as well as cabinet and cdv portraits – which Thomas J. Nevin produced in the 1860s-1880s were not imprinted with his stamp if they were one of several taken in the same sitting or of the same view in the endeavour to obtain the best shot. The fact that Thomas J. Nevin was required to attend William Snelling’s inquest on 25 January, 1875, strongly suggests the date given to the photograph is correct, in the first instance, and that William Snelling and Thomas Nevin were closely acquainted. In the second instance, it is the photograph’s provenance which supports Nevin’s attribution. It was in the possession of James Chandler, a distant relative and beneficiary of Thomas J. Nevin’s collections and indeed of his expertise, in the wider family network. James Chandler was related to Thomas J. Nevin by virtue of his mother Mary Chandler nee Genge’s sister’s late marriage – his aunt Martha Genge – to Thomas’ father, John Nevin snr. Read more about these family connections in this post here (November 2021).

The five people featured in this photograph – a woman in a cap and apron, three men in white coats and butchers’ aprons, a youth in suit and hat casually propped against a lamp post, plus a dog – are all unidentified. Perhaps the man standing next to the woman was W. Snelling since as a pair they appear to be closer to middle-age than the other two employees in butchers’ aprons who appear several years younger. The teenager in street clothes leaning on the lamp post and grinning from ear to ear, as likely as not might have been the youngest son of the family, the delivery boy, or indeed the photographer’s assistant.

There was no shortage of butchers’ shops in Hobart in 1873. According to the statistician’s report tabled in Parliament, of 203 butchers listed for the whole of Tasmania, 35 were in business in Hobart, 30 in Launceston and 24 in Oatlands. Only seven (7) coach makers for the whole island were listed: 3 in Hobart, and 4 in Launceston. The question remains therefore, was the butcher W. Snelling among the 35 listed, and was the coach maker William Snelling among the three listed in Hobart, or indeed, were they one and the same man? From statistics published between 7th February 1870 and 31st December 1873, eighteen (18) photographers were counted in Tasmania, Thomas J. Nevin among them, but by far the largest group were publicans – 443 in total in 1870; 403 in 1873 with 135 in Hobart compared with just 60 in Launceston. The next largest group were boot and shoemakers: 318 in total, 60 in Hobart alone, the rest spread out across the island.


The location of this butcher’s shop is not certain. It may have been located at 60 Harrington Street Hobart when William Snelling resided there in 1860 in a house and shop owned by Joshua Jennings (Valuation Rolls, annual combined value £30). Another possibility is John Street where a number of businesses operated next to Weaver’s Yard. John Street curved round the rear of premises between 212 and 214 Elizabeth Streets, North Hobart on the left looking north, between the Baptist Tabernacle and Tasma Street. It is still visible on Google maps running up the side of the Har Wee Yee Restaurant, now numbered 302 Elizabeth St. North Hobart.

According to the newspaper report of William Snelling’s death in 1875, he was living at No. 4 John Street, Hobart, next door to Anne Gifford at No. 3 who discovered him dead on his bedroom floor. No mention in the report was made of family members residing with him at his death.

Friday, January 2, 1874.

Thomas Nevin at inquest, 25 January 1875
Thomas J. Nevin was one of seven Jurors to attend the inquest into William Snelling’s death. His status as contractor to the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall may account for his presence as informant, since Mrs Gifford notified the police on finding the body:


SUDDEN DEATH.- On Saturday morning, an old man named William Snelling, a painter, by trade, died suddenly at his residence, John-street. Information was given to the police, who had the body conveyed to the dead-house at the General Hospital.

Source: THE MERCURY. (1875, January 25). p. 2.

If William Snelling was known as a “painter” and not a butcher by trade at his death, this happy photograph of five friendly smiling faces, possibly provided to promote the family’s meat and poultry business, may represent another man by the name of W. Snelling, despite its provenance in the collection of Thomas Nevin’s family, acquired through descent by his young relative, photographer James Chandler and dated 1870s when deposited at the Archives Office of Tasmania in 1974. Whatever his relationship to the deceased William Snelling, whether as friend or client, Thomas J. Nevin was there to witness in an official capacity the coroner’s report and endorse his findings.

The wording of the “Inquisition” document required the witnesses, the seven jurors, to write their names and place an inked seal (or finger?) next to their signature, viz:

IN WITNESS whereof as well the said Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid have to this Inquisition set their Hands and Seals the day and year and place above mentioned.

Detail of image below: Thomas Nevin’s signature and inked seal or fingerprint (?).
The seven Jurors were:
John Smith (Foreman);
Thomas Nevin;
James Davies;
Thomas Hill;
John Kalbfell;
Thomas McLoughlin; and
Richard Rice.

Name: Snelling, William
Record Type :Inquests
Ship to colony: Larkins
Remarks: Free by Servitude
Date of death:23 Jan 1875
Date of inquest:25 Jan 1875
Verdict: Lung disease
Record ID:NAME_INDEXES:1360294
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania


Source: INQUESTS. (1875, January 26). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 3.


An inquest was held yesterday morning, at Allen’s Royal Exchange Hotel, before Mr. Tarleton and a jury of seven, on the body of William Snelling, who was found dead at his place of abode on Saturday. Ann Gifford, who resides in John-street, next door to where the deceased lived, deposed that he had been ailing for a long time, though he was not actually bed-ridden. The last time she saw him was on Friday night, about half past ten o’clock, he was then in bed. Next morning, about 11 o’clock, as she did not hear him about, she went into the house and found him lying on the floor by the side of the bed. Information was at once given to the police, and the body was removed to the hospital. The evidence of Dr. Macfarlane, who made a post mortem examination, was to the effect that the cause of death was disease of the lungs. The jury returned a verdict accordingly.

The weekly police gazette, Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, published this notice of William Snelling’s inquest with details of his status at the time of death – “F. S.” – free in servitude, having arrived at Hobart as a transported convict on board the Larkins, sentenced to life:

Police Gazette, notice of 26 Feb 1875, p.31


AN Inquest was held at Hobart Town, on the 25th ultimo, before William Tarleton, Esq., Coroner, on the body of William Snelling, F. S., per Larkins, aged about 61 years. Verdict: – “Died from natural causes, to wit, disease of the lungs.”

Provenance of the photograph
This original (i.e. a real print and not a copy of a scan) photograph of William Snelling’s shop found its way into the Archives Office of Tasmania from the Nevin family collection of Minnie Drew nee Nevin, youngest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin. It was donated on her death in 1974 by funeral director and distant relative, Vic Hooper. One of a dozen or so photographs – some original cdvs but mostly just scans of the originals – which were taken by Thomas J. Nevin in 1860s-1880s and donated by Vic Hooper to the AOT were inherited by him from his uncle, photographer James Chandler (1877-1945) who was in turn the nephew of Thomas Nevin’s  father John Nevin snr (1808-1887) when he married James Chandler’s aunt, Martha Genge late in life, in 1879.

James Chandler (1877-1945) was born in August 1877 at Thomas J. Nevin’s former photographic studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart.  Hardly predictable but ultimately not altogether surprising is that he chose the vocation of professional photography from childhood. His father William Chandler had acquired the studio lease from owner John Henry Elliott on Thomas Nevin’s appointment to the civil service with residency at the Hobart Town Hall in 1876. William Chandler snr operated a shoe-making business at Nevin’s old studio up until 1890, when he moved with his son James to premises at 39 Liverpool St. Hobart.

James Chandler was Thomas Nevin’s successor to professional photography within the extended family, his young “cousin-in-law”. As a member of the Southern Tasmanian Photographic Society, James Chandler may have used this photograph in his lecture series in 1926 on “Early Hobart”. The views presented from his collection recorded the growth of Hobart from ca. 1820 to 1880.

Archives Office of Tasmania holdings
NS434 Photographs of the Chandler, Genge and Hooper Families 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1960
NS869 Photographs of General and Maritime Interest 01 Jan 1870 31 Dec 1950
NS1231 Photographs of Hobart and Suburbs, Port Arthur and Ships 01 Jan 1910 31 Dec 1940

NS434 Photographs of the Chandler, Genge and Hooper Families 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1960

William Snelling: a brief biography
William Snelling (ca, 1814-1875) was a coach painter, coach maker, and possibly the owner of a Hobart family meat and poultry business. The son of a coach and herald painter, he was a mere 17 years old when he was transported for life in 1831. He was assigned to James Dickson in 1840, sought permission to marry Eliza Clark, also a transported convict, in 1842, and gained a conditional pardon in 1845. By the mid 1850s, he was an established coach maker at 247 Elizabeth St. Hobart, near the corner of Elizabeth and Warwick Streets.

TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 1858.
247 Elizabeth St. Hobart.
Occupant William Snelling
Owner – Taylor
Annual value £16
Type of dwelling House.

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Hobart Valuation Rolls

The business addresses Snelling advertised through 1855 and 1856 were located opposite the Jewish Synagogue and Bateman’s livery stables, Liverpool St. Hobart:

May 1855: Tasmanian Daily News

July 1855: Hobart Town Advertiser

December 1855: Colonial Times Hobart

A cruel hoax 1855
Just when William Snelling’s star was rising in business, he fell victim to a cruel prank. In November 1855 he was reported to police as an absconder called Michael Nugent by a former inmate James Edwards. None the wiser, the police locked up Snelling overnight at the station house. Since no motive was established subsequently at trial, Edwards walked free, leaving Snelling no recourse other than the press.


Yesterday a constable placed Mr Snelling, coach painter before Mr. Burgess. It appeared from his statement that he appreheded him in Elizabeth-street, the night before on the suspicion of being an absconder. He since found out his mistake. To justify his suspicion on the course he had taken in apprehending a free man he procured from the Comptoller-General’s office the description of Michael Nugent, an old Sydney prisoner, of whose where abouts, the convict authoritiies are ignorant, and of which they appear to have been ignorant for some time. The difference between the description and that of Snelling, must have been patent to any man except a Tasmanian constable. The height was different the complexions different, and the very accent would show any man, accustomed to conversing with different men in this colony that Snelling was not an Irish man, while the document from the Comproller-General’s office, proved that that Michael was a boy of the Nugent’s from the Emerald Isle.
Snelling was most indignant at this unjustifiable interference with the liberty of the subject, and inquired whether there was no redress for so great an injury, as that of being falsely imprisoned and having been detained all night, and up to that hour from his home and business? No answer being given to his question, he said he should at all events have recourse to the press, to make known the injustice practised towards him evidently through bad feeling. He told the magistrate that he was well known to Mr. Symons the chief constable, as a free man, and he gave this information to the constable who looked him up. He left the court highly excited.

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas) Nov 21 1855


Extraordinary Case.- Last week Mr. Snelling, coach-maker, of Liverpool-street, was taken into custody, by two detective constables, old hands, Gordon and McGuire, as an absconded offender, named Michael Nugent. Mr. Snelling at the time was in company with three respectable innkeepers, who vouched for his freedom, offered to become bail for him to any amount, and solemnly declared, that they had known him for many years, as the veritable William Snelling, the coach-maker, and not Michael Nugent the bolter; it was of no use, Mr. Snelling was conducted to the watchhouse, locked up for the night, and at 3 o’clock the next day, and not before, brought before Mr. Burgess, when a remand was played for to produce the informer! But the anxious prayer was not granted, and Mr. Snelling was discharged.
And who was this informer, who thus stole away the liberty of a respectable tradesman?
One James Edwards, who has just obtained his Ticket of Leave, whose police record is, in the words of the Magistrate, “dreadful,” and whose colonial career has made him acquainted with every penal settlement in the island, and out of it, and with all the especial virtues therein practised and upheld. And upon this man’s word, in direct opposition to the solemn assertion of three well-known respectable citizens, was Mr Snelling dragged to the watchhouse, thrust into a loathsome “dirty” cell, and there imprisoned for many hours. There are circumstances connected with this monstrous case, which require the most rigorous investigation. We know how the police authorities, underlings included, hang towards the Police myrmidons [see definition below*], but times are not as they used to be, and public opinion, through its mighty organ, the Press, is now omnipotent, and, in this case, calls loudly and imperatively for the dismissal of men, who could have acted as these constables acted. With such a system at work, and with such men to carry out its abominations, what has happened to Mr. Snelling may happen to almost every one, and the curse of convictism be perpetuated, when its evils ought to be forgotten. The constables were merciful in this; they did not handcuff Mr. Snelling, but every other indignity was shown towards him by the Dogberrys at the station house. Suppose, however, Mr. Snelling had resisted this unlawful capture, as he would have been perfectly justified in doing? The manacles would have been quickly on his wrists, and the constables’ batons in close companionship with his head, In short, the case is too monstrous, and in every respect too atrocious to be left where it is, and the sooner the proper authorities institute an investigation the better: it is open to Mr. Snelling to lay an information against these men, but that will be attended with personal expense to him, which he ought not to have added to his burthen: the chief constable must take the matter up, and that without loss of time.
We may add, that Edwards was tried on Saturday before Mr. E. Abbott, for misconduct in misleading the Police, and on Monday, discharged, as His Worship could not dive into motives.

*myrmidon: a follower or subordinate of a powerful person, typically one who is unscrupulous or carries out orders unquestioningly.

Source: The Hobarton Mercury, Wednesday Morning, November 28th, 1855


RATHER STRANGE.—On Saturday last James Edwards was tried for misconduct as a prisoner of the crown, in having misled the constables, by representing to them that Mr. Snelling, the coach painter, (long known in town as a free man ) to be an absconder, of the name of Michael Nugent, was brought up yesterday before Mr Abbott, who stated that it was impossible to enter into men’s motives, and as he did not know his motives for acting as he did, he should on this occasion dismiss him.

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Tuesday 27 November 1855, page 3

In 1857 William Snelling signed a petition to the Tasmanian Parliament in support of licensed victuallers. He listed his occupation as coach maker, of Elizabeth St. Hobart.

Source: Tasmanian Parliamentary Papers


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly
of Tasmania, in Parliament assembled

The humble Petition of the undersigned Inhabitants of Tasmania,


THAT your Petitioners recognise in the existing Laws for the Sale of Liquors in Tasmania enactments unsuited to a Free Colony dependent upon, and belonging to, the United Kingdom, and suited only to a Penal System now happily disappearing from this Colony.

That your Petitioners, being desirous of seeing the Laws by which they are governed keeping pace with the restored freedom of .the Colony, and assimilated as nearly as circumstances will permit to the Laws of England, beg respectfully to express their hearty concurrence in the Petition of the holders of Public-house Licences in Tasmania, and in the prayer of the said Petition for a revision of the Enactments which press so heavily upon them.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that your Honourable House will be pleased favourably to consider the Petition of the holders of Public-house Licences in Tasmania, and grant the prayer of their said· Petition.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.

Assault 1860-61
In 1860 William Snelling was working from premises at 60 Harrington St. when he was assaulted by a client, Thomas Bowden who was refusing to pay for Snelling’s repairs to his carriage. The injuries were severe enough that Snelling may have decided to quit the coach business there and then and take his chances in the meat and poultry trade.


BEFORE Mr. Acting-Commissioner Browne, and Juries of four.
The Court sat by adjournment to dispose of the remaining cases on the list.
Mr. Lees for the plaintiff.
This was an action brought by William Snelling, coach painter, against Thomas Bowden, miller and baker, O’Brien’s Bridge, for an assault ; the damages were laid at £30.
Mr. Lees said that the jury would have to assess the damages in this case as no defence had been entered. The learned counsel was proceeding to state the case to the jury when Mr. Crisp said that the defendant had instructed Mr. Graves to enter an appearance, and Mr. Graves was now out of town. He proposed, therefore, that the case should be put off on the payment of the costs of the day by the defendant, to enable him to file a defence.
This proposal was assented to, and the case postponed accordingly.

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Tuesday 12 February 1861, page 2

THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 1861. (Before the Commission, Fielding Browne, Esq.) THIRTY POUND COURT.
SNELLING V. BOWDEN. An action for an assault. Damages laid at £30. Mr. Lees, for plaintiff, objected that no defence had been filed, and that the costs of the last hearing had not been paid, and therefore the defendant could not interfere with the assessment. Mr Graves contended that by the 13th Section of the Act his Honor had power to amend any defects if the opposite party had not been prejudiced. Mr Lees still objecting, Mr Graves claimed that he bad a right to cross-examine witnesses, and address the Court in mitigation of damages. Mr Crisp, (as the oldest practitioner), confirmed this, as the rule of the Court. Mr Lees then stated the case, and called Wm Snelling, the plaintiff who deposed –
— About four months ago, defendant came after a carriage I had repaired for him. I would not let the carriage go without the money, and finding I would not let it go out of the place, he knocked me down senseless. In a short time I recovered somewhat, and was knocked down again. He then went out, and I managed to get my key out, and locked my door. I was then going away, when defendant knocked me down again, and I remembered nothing more until I found myself in my bed. Dr Harvey attended me. My teeth are loose now. My stomach is injured and I cannot now use my left arm, nor sleep at night for the pain.
Cross-examined by Mr Graves — I did not agree to find new cotton and leather. I only was to make the carriage look decent to the sum of £11. Three persons have been pressing me to finish work since the assault, and I cannot do it. I have received the money for the carriage. I paid Mrs. White 2/6d for nursing me. I found myself in my own house after the assault. I did not walk home, nor do I know who carried me there.
William Vickers, detective constable, saw plaintiff on a day in the early part of January — did not see defendant.
Wm Parish, Charles Read, and George Smith corroborated the plaintiff’s testimony; Parish and Smith deposing that when plaintiff was knocked down in the street the third time, he became insensible, and while in that state, the defendant lifted him up by the body, shook him as if he had been a dog, and then dashed him down on the ground. Mary White, nurse, proved the condition of the plaintiff, after the assault. Henry H. Harvey, medical practitioner, deposed that when he saw plaintiff, he was spitting blood, had extreme debility, and great pain in his extremities. He had a contused bruise in the mouth, and his arm was severely bruised. Ordered him twelve leeches for the breast, and appropriate medicines. I attended him between 2 and 3 weeks. My account amounts to £6 12s,
Cross examined — I have not yet received my bill.
Mr Graves addressed the jury in mitigation of damages, and admitted that the assault had been committed, but urged that the plaintiff had not stated the provocation he had given. He would undertake to say that the plaintiff’s shop was empty, and that had the case been settled last Court, then the plaintiff would have been walking about rejoicing -, and would have discarded the sham of the sling. After a short interval, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff.— Damages £20. The Court was then adjourned until 10 o’clock, Friday morning. Friday, 8th March, 1861.

Source: COURT OF REQUESTS. (1861, March 16). Hobart Town Advertiser : Weekly Edt. (Tas. : 1859 – 1865), p. 8.

William Snelling, of Harrington-street, prayed sureties of the peace against William Duffy, for saying to him, on the 5th August, ” I’ll slaughter you.”
Mr. Lees appeared for defendant.
Complainant stated that he had given defendant no provocation, was in bodily fear from his threat; defendant had never attempted to assault witness. Defendant said “If you interfere with me, I’ll slaughter you.”
Cross examined – Would take good care that he did not interfere with defendant.
Mr. Lees submitted, that as the threat was conditional the information must be dismissed.
The Bench directed the defendant to enter into his own recognisance of £10 to keep the peace for six months.

Source: POLICE OFFICE. (1861, August 14). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 3.

Less than a decade later, William Snelling would make the acquaintance of Thomas J. Nevin at the Working Men’s Club, Barrack Street, Hobart, which had opened in October 1864 . The club’s president, solicitor W. R. Giblin, later Attorney-General and Premier of Tasmania, acted on Nevin’s behalf in the dissolution of the photographic partnership Nevin & Smith in 1868, and endorsed Nevin’s government contracts with the Hobart City Council and police and prisons administration the same year through to 1886.

At the half-yearly meeting of the Working Men’s Club held on Wednesday 21 April 1865, William Snelling seconded the motion put by Mr. C. Marshall that the report of probable receipts and expenditure be adopted (Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas) 22 April 1865, page 5). A review of the club’s activities and amusements for members at the same meeting included mention of the steam pleasure trip to New Norfolk which was attended by 400 members and their families. On a similar trip in 1867, Thomas J. Nevin was reported to have taken “three photographic views of the animated scene(Tasmanian Times 28 December 1867, page 3). On the 9th November 1865, William Snelling with five others petitioned the Colonial Treasurer and Director of Public Works to remedy the situation of hundreds of men rendered unemployed by private contractors when those men should have been employed by the government on the new portion of the Huon Road. The petition succeeded in gaining assurances that work would begin at once without calling for tenders on contract. (Tasmanian Morning Herald (Hobart, Tas) 10 November 1865, page 1).

Coach and herald painters
William Snelling was not the only coach painter to make the acquaintance of photographer Thomas Nevin. Tom Davis posed with one of Samuel Page’s Royal Mail coaches for this photograph which bears verso Thomas J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp. This print is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania.

Above: original sepia print by T. J. Nevin with the figure of Tom Davis and Burdon’s company name painted out (QMAG Collection Ref: 1987_P_0220).Tom Davis’ scroll work would have included the colonial government’s Royal insignia as well as decorative blazons. The verso bears T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp with the colonial Royal Arms insignia used for commissions with the Hobart City Council and Municipal Police Office, in this instance for photographing Samuel Page’s Royal Mail Hobart Town-Launceston coach service.

Above: this was the original capture by T. J. Nevin with the figure of Tom Davis and Burdon’s company name visible (TMAG Collection Ref: Q1988.77.480). A copy with Tom Davis visible is also held at the Entally Estate, a 200 year-old heritage house located at Hadspen, eleven kilometres from Launceston.

Verso studio imprint: faded government contractor stamp with Royal Arms insignia which signified T. J. Nevin’s joint copyright with the Lands and Survey Department, the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall and Hobart City Council, between 1865 and 1876.

Verso inscription: handwritten on the reverse of the original with Tom Davis painted out:

“From same photo held at Entally/ painted out background/ Burdons Coach Factory/ Man on r.h.s. of photo Tom Davis (has been painted out)/ 1872/ A.B. McKellar 328 Liverpool St/ coach body maker employed at Burdon and son when this coach was built”

Source: QMAG Collection Ref: 1987_P_0220

This is a clean example of T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp
See more here: Trademarks copyrighted for fourteen years.

The craftsmen and their colours
A comprehensive article on coach builders and painters was published by Peter MacFie in 1996. The following extracts and summaries were taken from his article, Coachbuilding and related crafts in Tasmania, Papers and Proceedings, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Vol 43, No. 2, June 1996, pp 77-88.

Many thanks to Jan Horton for providing access.
All of Peter MacFie’s research is listed on his website:

The firm of James Burdon and Son became established in Hobart in 1849 on premises in Argyle Street, between Collins and Macquarie Streets. Burdon was originally employed by Alexander Fraser. Born in Nottinghamshire, England in 1822, James Burdon arrived in Tasmania via Victoria in 1841 aboard the Westminster. He married Mary, the daughter of merchant and former convict, Henry Burgess, at Hobart on 28 August 1846. He died at his home, Durham House, Hobart, in June 1893.
Burdon was an employer of assigned convicts. They included a rebellious Point Puer boy, George Maclean, 23-year-old Joseph Root, from Whitechapel, London, whose trade was ‘Coach spring (maker?) can make vice and harness’, and 25-year-old James WilIiams of Norwich, who was a ‘Coach body maker’.
In 1850 William?/James Burdon coachbuilder of Argyle Street was complimented for his ‘excellent work’. In 1855 Burdon constructed a new mail coach for James Lord. In 1860 he built a coach for Sam Backwell for the Bothwell-Melton Mowbray run, a fine vehicle”.
In 1862 he patented a coach invention.
Another Hobart coachbuilder was McPherson’s Coach Establishment of 55 Melville Street who acquired Burdon’s premises, which later became Crouch’s auction rooms.
In 1855 William Snelling operated as a coachmaker and coach painter in Argyle Street near Solomon’s Temple. ie the Jewish Synagogue. Aged 17, Snelling, the son of a ‘coach and herald painter’ was transported in 1831. In 1837 he served briefly under Palmer, the Launceston coach builder, the same man under whom W. B. Gould served.
Other coachbuilders were David Yeoman of Kemp Street, off Collins Street in 1852; William Adamson of Bathurst Street in 1857; and in 1887 C. Dawson of Edward Street, Glebe; W. Easther of 27 St Georges Terrace, Battery Point; Henry Cripps at Kelly Street; E. Burrows of Melville Street; and N.P. Neilsen of the ‘coach factory’ at 67 Patrick Street….

[p.81, MacFie, THRA P & P 43/2]

…Finishing the vehicles required the coach painter and upholsterer. The more elaborate the decoration and finish, the more expensive. Learning coach painting included training in lettering and scroll work. These required a range of dozens of squirrel-hair brushes of varying degrees of fineness. With practice, these could be applied freehand; the greatest skill was to be able to paint scrolls with left and right hand simultaneously.
In 1833 B. Frost, coach painter, was in Liverpool St. In late 1836, the convict artist, William Beulow Gould, was assigned as coach painter to Palmer. These specialists continued to operate into the twentieth century. In 1857, William Snelling in Liverpool Street and John Atkinson of Murray street were Hobart coach painters, while Davis Howard in Patrick Street was a coach trimmer. In 1887 R.C. Dickens was a coach trimmer of 138 Argyle Street, D. Flood, coach painter of 183 Campbell Street, and Alfred Abbott was at 28 Goulburn Street. Bathurst Street, Hobart, was the location of three specialists, S. Terry, coach painter of 133, W. R. James, coach trimmer of 162, and Thomas Davis, coach painter, of 21O ….

[p.86, MacFie, THRA P & P 43/2]

Vibrant colours were used to paint the body, fine-line the scroll work and pick out the wheels. These particulars are summarised from Peter MacFie’s article (1996: 77-88, THRA P & P 43/2 – with apologies, footnotes omitted):

E. A. Fawner, butchers, had a delivery cart painted in cream with gold and blue lines. The Lee Bros hay wagon was painted blue with white and yellow scroll work. Peter Barrett’s delivery cart for ice and aerated waters was painted chrome yellow, picked out with blue and vermilion, fine-lined with chrome yellow and blue, with lettering done in gold. Crocker’s coach constructed for F. W. L. Steiglitz of KilIymoon and based on a curricle owned by His Highness Said Pasha was painted sky blue and fine-lined in orange. Easther’s Coach Factory built a cart for confectioner T. Gould painted dark green, fine-lined pale green, with cream wheels picked out dark green, fine-lined light green … And  E.C.A. Nichols’ Launceston cart was “painted in brown lake with fine white lines on the studs but none on the panels which adds to the appearance”…

Read the full article downloaded from the NLA here:

Extracts and summaries from Peter MacFie’s article, Coachbuilding and related crafts in Tasmania. Published in Papers and Proceedings, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Vol 43, No. 2, June 1996, pp 77-88.

ADDENDA: William Snelling’s archival records

1. TRANSPORTATION per Larkins 1831
According to these partially legible notes, William Snelling was transported for crimes before 1831 which were serious enough to warrant a sentence for life and which included stealing tin pans and a pair of boots. On arrival in VDL his further offences included assault. He was granted a conditional pardon in 1845. His death in 1875 was also recorded here as the last inscription.

Snelling, William
Record Type: Convicts
Departure date: 18 Jun 1831
Departure port: Downs
Ship: Larkins
Place of origin: St Luke’s, Middlesex
Voyage number: 89
Index number: 66509
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1436391

2. ARRIVAL at HOBART, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)
William Snelling was a coach painter, just seventeen years old, when he stepped ashore at Hobart to serve out a life sentence. He was short, fair and single.$init=CON14-1-3P73
Hobart Town Advertiser : Weekly Edt. (Tas. : 1859 – 1865), Saturday 16 March 1861, page 8


Snelling, Wm
Trade Coach painter St Lukes
Height 5/1
Age 17
Complexion fair
Hair brown
Whiskers –
Visage Oval Small
Forehead Perpend ‘r [perpendicular]
Eyebrows brown
Eyes Blue
Nose Long
Mouth ”
Chin [? illegible]
Remarks Large ears

William Snelling’s application to marry Eliza Clark, transported per Nautilus (1838) was approved on 10 March, 1842. She was nineteen years old on arrival, her former occupation was recorded as prostitute, and she had spent nine months in prison, received from Nottingham. The Nautilus surgeon on board recorded she was sick with diarrhœa on the 6th May, and discharged well on 8th May 1838.

The Principal Superintendent of Convicts, Josiah Spode, wrote to the Colonial Secretary on 14 September 1838 (AOT, CSO 5/140/3376 p.285) detailing the distribution of 133 female convicts received from England per ship Nautilus. 120 were assigned (from Hobart), two were forwarded to Launceston for assignment, five were not fit for assignment, three were sick, one died on board (Jane Brown) and two were unassigned (vacant).


Clarke, Eliza
Record Type: Marriage Permissions
Ship/free: Nautilus
Marriage to: Snelling, William
Ship/free: Larkins
Permission date: 31 Jan 1842
Index number: 12503
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1248404
Resource: CON52/1/2 Page 182
Archives Office of Tasmania

William Snelling
BIRTH 1814
DEATH 26 Jan 1875 (aged 60–61)
BURIAL Cornelian Bay Cemetery And Crematorium
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
PLOT Pauper, A, Number 146
MEMORIAL ID 212749474

Detail of oil painting by Hentry Gritten 1857
“The main road New Town with the coach Perseverance”
QVMAG ref: QVM:1949:FP:0440

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