Preview of new research 2023

John NEVIN snr’s letter from Ireland (1854)
Captain James DAY first mate of the Pryde and Panama at the San Francisco fires (1851)
Elizabeth GOLDSMITH sale of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s estate (1870)
Thomas and Elizabeth NEVIN’s grandchildren’s private collections (20th century)

New Research 2023
This year we cross the globe to visit the Great Fires of San Francisco, California, USA with Captain James Day (1851); to hear about old friends at Grey Abbey, County Down, Ireland from John Nevin snr’s sisters (1855); and to follow the sale of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s many freehold properties at Gad’s Hill, Higham, County Kent, UK (1870), for a closer look at historical documents recently come to hand. These beautifully preserved archival ephemera deepen our knowledge of events in the lives of the preceding generation of photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) and his wife Elizabeth Rachel (Day) Nevin (1847-1914). We also cross the threshold of the 20th century to begin a new private collection called “The Grandchildren’s Albums”. The following are synopses of full articles to come in 2023.

The first of these documents is a letter sent in 1855 from Grey Abbey, Ireland, to John Nevin snr (1808-1887), husband of Mary Ann (Dickson) Nevin (1810-1875) and father of Thomas J. Nevin and siblings, settled since 1854 at his “cottage in the wilderness”, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). Written by one of his sisters, at one point she laments the consequences of war in the Crimea and applauds her brother John, former soldier of the Royal Scots First Regiment, for having made the decision to migrate to Australia three years earlier (1852) despite the family’s initial misgivings.

John Nevin, Hobart 1873

John Nevin snr (1808-1887), soldier, journalist, poet, gardener
Photographed by his son Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1872, Hobart, Tasmania
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collections 2003-2023.

Letter to John Nevin from Grey Abbey 1855

LETTER addressed to John NEVIN (1808-1887)
File Name: Nevin, Thomas
Record Type: Tasmanian Archives research file
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1807228
Archives Office of Tasmania

Another of John Nevin’s poems has surfaced this year, a five stanza contemplation of the terror and injustice of slavery titled “HOPE” published by the Hobart Weekly Times, on 12th September 1863, just months after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on 1st January, 1863.

The next new area of research gathers together a collection of ships’ cockets, port officers’ logs, signal charts and maps, passenger and crew lists, and newspaper reports of the Great Fires of San Francisco, 1849-1851 when Elizabeth Rachel (Day) Nevin’s father, Captain James Day (1808-1882), served as Navigator and First Mate on board the Pryde and the Panama from Hobart to California. On those voyages the primary cargo was pre-fab timber house frames, the lesser cargo, potatoes and onions. He was praised by Captain Robinson of the Panama for not deserting ship for the gold fields when the rest of his crew had left him high and dry.

Captain Robinson 1851

Page 61: “Mr. Day the mate got the ship in good order.”
Captain Robinson : the reminiscences of a Tasmanian master mariner James William Robinson 1824-1906 /
Edited by Michael Nash.
Author/Creator: Robinson, James William, 1824-1906.
Publication Information: Sandy Bay, Tas. : Blubber Head Press, 2009.

National standards merchants flags, Hobart Town / by Edward Murphy Private 99. Regiment.
Author/Creator: Murphy, Edward, 1823-1871.
Publication Information: 1855.
Physical description: 1 painting : watercolour, pen and ink on paper ; 574 x 869 mm.
Digitised item from: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania.

The third new area of research examines the bundle of legal documents with diagrams detailing the extent of freehold and lease holdings in Kent, UK of Elizabeth Nevin’s uncle, merchant mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) which were sold at auction on his death. Of special interest is the unusual circumstance surrounding the sale of a small piece of marshland known as “Lady’s Tippett” to Robert Lake the younger in 1870. We hear for the first time from Elizabeth Goldsmith (1810-1875), Edward’s wife, speaking in her own voice about the title to this parcel of land mysteriously absent from the deeds. It was named presumably because of its topographical shape resembling an item of Medieval clothing draped from the elbow to the hem worn by women, perfectly depicted in this 14th century statuette of Joan, daughter of Edward III.


Statuette of Joan on the tomb of Edward III
DIED 2nd September 1348
LOCATION St Edward’s Chapel; South Ambulatory
Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Joan, daughter of Edward III
A small bronze statuette (or weeper) of Joan, a daughter of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, can be seen on the side of her father’s tomb in Westminster Abbey. This can be viewed from the south ambulatory. She was born in 1335 and died on 2nd September 1348 en route to Spain to marry Pedro of Castile. She lies buried in Bayonne cathedral. The weeper figure wears a reticulated head dress, cote-hardi and long sleeves and the coat of arms depicting Castile & Leon impaling France and England quarterly is below.

Elizabeth Goldsmith auction 1870 Higham and Chalk UK

From files held at Kent History and Library Centre
“Conveyance of saltmarsh in Higham, bought by Robert Lake 1870
Description: Also Gads Hill House, Gads Hill Cottage and nine cottages in Gads Hill; twenty seven cottages, Chalk Street, Gravesend; eleven cottages in Vicarage Row, Higham (all referenced in a sale catalogue with plan, 1870). Also contains declaration of Elizabeth Goldsmith re. title to the marshland, 9 Jun 1870, and Abstract of Title for Robert Lake’s ownership of the marshland, 1881″

Of special interest to the nieces of Captain Edward Goldsmith – Elizabeth Rachel (Day) Nevin and her sister Mary Sophia Day as daughters of his wife Elizabeth (Day) Goldsmith’s brother Captain James Day back in Hobart, Tasmania – was the sale of the eleven cottages in Vicarage Row, Higham which he had set aside as a bequest to them in his will. Photographer Thomas J. Nevin, Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s husband was named as an additional beneficiary. Those cottages were still unsold when Mary Sophia Day unsuccessfully contested the will in Chancery in 1872. They were sold to the Rev. Joseph Hindle, the former owner of the house which Charles Dickens bought at 6 Gadshill Place in 1856, but he died two years later in 1874, whereon his heir, David Burn Hindle, a farmer of WhataWhata, New Zealand, became the sole owner of these cottages, nine of which Captain Goldsmith had built in the 1850s, and which are still standing today.

Eleven cottages, Vicarage Row, School Lane, Higham

Eleven Cottages, Vicarage Row, School Lane, Higham, Kent, UK
Sold in 1872 from the estate of Captain Edward Goldsmith to the Rev. Joseph Hindle
Screenshot: Google Earth 2021

The grandchildren of photographer Thomas J. Nevin and his wife Elizabeth Rachel (Day) Nevin inherited a rich trove of photographs and documents, and they in turn have left a significant collection of early to mid 20th century family photographica. Pictured below in the same pose, two decades apart, are first-born Eva Nevin (dec.) and second-born Hilda Nevin (dec.) , the two eldest daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s youngest child, Albert Edward Nevin and his wife Emily Maud (Davis) Nevin. Both Eva and Hilda lived as adults in Melbourne and Sydney.

Eva Nevin (left) and Hilda Nevin (right), Hobart, Tasmania, 1923
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collections 2009-2023.

Eva (Nevin) Morris and Hilda (Nevin) Warren, Sydney, NSW, 1940s
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collections 2009-2023.

More, please
The search for more photographic works by Thomas J. Nevin continues. Our readers from Hobart to Helsinki, from Sydney to Switzerland, from Darwin to New Dehli and New Town to New York, all visit regularly, and wish to see more. If you have in your possession, or know the existence of photographs and documents which are on point, please contact us here. We are more than happy to negotiate on original materials.

Copyright © KLW NFC Group & KLW NFC Imprint Private Collections 2023.