Captains, emigrants and convicts: the summer of 1842-3 in Hobart, VDL

Among the 220 bounty emigrants who disembarked at Hobart from the Sir Charles Napier on 29 November 1842 were members of the JUDD family from Barkway, Hertfordshire (UK). Parents Thomas Judd snr and Elizabeth Judd nee Cane [var. Cain] arrived with eight of their children: Elizabeth, Thomas, John, Ann, Rebecca, Susan, Martha and Henry. A remarkable account of the voyage and the tragedy which followed was documented by twenty-year-old Thomas Judd in his diary, from departure in August 1842 to arrival and aftermath, in January 1843. Twenty five years later, Hobart photographer Thomas J. Nevin would hear about this family from one of his sitters, Joseph THOMAS, farmer of Cygnet who married a daughter of the JUDD family, Rebecca Judd, in 1852 only to lose her in childbirth in 1864 … More Captains, emigrants and convicts: the summer of 1842-3 in Hobart, VDL

A missing photograph and missing letter: John SMITH (x 2) per “Mangles” and Lord Calthorpe

One of these two men called John Smith per Mangles (1835), prisoner no. 2035 arrived with a letter of reference from his former employer, Lord Calthorpe, addressed to the Governor who would have been Lt-Gov Colonel George Arthur in August 1835 at the time of the ship’s arrival, the letter now apparently lost. The other prisoner called John Smith per Mangles, no. 2045 reportedly absconded from the Port Arthur prison on December 3, 1873. According to the Tasmanian police gazette notice of his escape on December 12, 1873 (p. 203), the police had in their possession photographs of prisoner no. 2045 which they stated they had distributed. Lacking further information, we are assuming the photographs were police mugshots rather than private studio portraits, and that the police had distributed them to colleagues in regional police stations. Those photographs, apparently, are now lost as well. A recidivist who consistently offended from 1860s to the 1880s, he would have been photographed by T. J. Nevin as a matter of course at the Hobart Gaol. … More A missing photograph and missing letter: John SMITH (x 2) per “Mangles” and Lord Calthorpe

Prisoner Thomas ARCHER alias Thomas SMITH or James SMITH 1875

Two copies of this one image of a prisoner identified on numerous transportation, gaol and police records as Thomas Archer, alias Thomas Smith or James Smith, are extant in public collections. All three names are associated with the prison ships John Calvin (to NSW) and Tory (from Norfolk Island to Hobart, VDL). Whether the prisoner in this image was known to the police administration as Thomas Archer alias Thomas Smith or James Smith, he was photographed just once at the Hobart Gaol in July 1875. His image was produced at the one and only sitting with government contracted photographer Thomas J. Nevin from his glass negative, and duplicated for police records. One of these copies, most likely the copy held at the Archives Office of Tasmania, was reproduced for print publication or exhibition in the 20th century. … More Prisoner Thomas ARCHER alias Thomas SMITH or James SMITH 1875

Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend” Edward Macdowell 1840s

In January 1849 Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle, merchant mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith, was presented with a silver goblet as a token of appreciation for his services to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land’s horticultural enterprises. The occasion was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 17th January 1849 with Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend”, barrister Edward Macdowell, nominated to make the presentation, but he was otherwise “engaged in Court.” Edward Macdowell was at the Supreme Court Hobart acting as counsel in the defense of John Buchanan, charged with the rape of a six year old child, reported in the press as either Mary Ann Challenor or Challender. A technical error on the part of the judge in this instance led to a pardon pending for the rapist John Buchanan. It was noted he had been capitally convicted of a similar offence in England but escaped punishment “by a technical error”. He managed again to escape the death sentence in the Hobart Supreme Court on a judicial error. … More Captain Goldsmith’s “private friend” Edward Macdowell 1840s

Prisoner John WILLIAMS and his scar 1874

The police gazette description on discharge of this prisoner John Williams noted a scar – “cicatrix on right side of chin”. A strong black mark running from the prisoner’s mouth down his chin on his left side rather than his right in the positive print looks to be an ink mark over the scar, possibly drawn by a viewer years or decades later. The scar appears on the viewer’s right and therefore on the prisoner’s left when facing the photograph, perhaps because the police gazette notice was written from the photograph in the absence of any prior record –  note the lack of detail on the conduct record below. Then again, the glass negative might have been used by the writer of the police gazette notice, fresh from the sitting, in which case the writer was probably the photographer Thomas Nevin or his assistant, his brother Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol. The glass negative would therefore show the black mark extending from the prisoner’s mouth to his chin on his right side, correctly so as the police gazette states, as in this flipped version … More Prisoner John WILLIAMS and his scar 1874

The case against Henry Stock (var. Stocks) 1884 for the murder of his wife and her child

“EXECUTION OF STOCK.
The execution of Henry Stock, who was convicted at the last Criminal Sessions of the murder of his wife and child, took place at 8 o’clock this morning, in the presence of Messrs. Seager, the Deputy Sheriff; Quodling, the Governor of the Gaol ; Hedberg, Sub Inspector of the Territorial Police ; Smith, the Under Gaoler : Rev. Geo. W. Shoobridge, Chaplain to the Gaol ; Rev. T. M. O’Callaghan ; the members of the Press, and the gaol officials. On Mr Seager asking Stock whether he had anything to say, he replied, ‘All I have to say is that I am innocent.’ When asked whether he had any message he would like taken to anybody, he replied ‘ .No.’ He was then pinioned by Solomon Blay, and he followed Mr Shoobridge to the drop. The condemned man appeared somewhat faint, but his step was firm, and he walked on to the platform bravely and exhibited no signs of breaking down. In his right hand he carried a little bunch of flowers with the following text attached : ‘ He shall speak peace unto the heathen.’ He then mounted the platform, the white cap was placed over his head, the bolt drawn, and the unfortunate man launched into eternity. The operation took over three minutes, Mr Shoobridge continuing the prayer during the whole time. Whilst in gaol Stock was respectful to all the officials. Up to the time of his death he made no confession. On Sunday night his rest was partially disturbed, but this morning he eat [sic – ate] a hearty breakfast of fish. The body was cut down after an hour’s time and examined by Dr. Turnley, who pronounced the body to be dead. His remains were conveyed at 11 o’clock to Cornelian Bay. Mr A. J. Taylor took cast of his head.” … More The case against Henry Stock (var. Stocks) 1884 for the murder of his wife and her child

Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

Joseph Walmsley, 14 years old, one of 267 convicts transported on the Isabella (2), arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 19th May 1842. He was tried at Lancaster, Salford Quarter Sessions (UK), transported for seven (7) years for stealing shoes, coppers and money. He had in his possession when arrested a William the Fourth coin. His record (https://stors.tas.gov.au/NI/1443405) was transcribed with “Again transported” at some date, though no record shows how this was literally possible, since he remained in the Australian colonies from 1842 (including three years in a Melbourne prison from 1869-1871) to his death from senility in Tasmania in 1891, at 67 years old (born therefore ca. 1824). Rather, his sentence of seven years was extended to ten years’ transportation in Hobart, 4th July 1850, for burglary. Thereafter, his criminal offences – he was a man “as works for a living” as he put it in 1872 – were a series of breaking and entering, robbery, burglary, larceny, and the occasional swearing at and assault of the constabulary (see records below). When he was photographed by government contractor T. J. Nevin in 1872 on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol, he was 46 years old. … More Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

Prisoner James Martin: criminal career 1860s-1890s

On the top right-hand corner of prisoner James Martin’s convict record, to the right of the words “Transported for” is a sketch of a bird pecking at crumbs on the ground, and below it, the letter “D” enclosing a cross and diamond, signifying James Martin was a (Catholic?) deserter from the army. The note on his Port Arthur record of earnings (CON94/1/1 Folio 143) records the date of his desertion, 8 November 1842, the place, Barbados, and the sentence, court martial, 14 years. But what does the bird signify? … More Prisoner James Martin: criminal career 1860s-1890s

The sweetest young brother: thirteen year old Jack Nevin 1865

Of all four siblings – from the eldest Thomas James to his sisters Rebecca Jane and Mary Ann – William John Nevin, known to the family as Jack, was the youngest child with the most to gain from his family’s decision to uproot their lives in County Down, Ireland and start again in the remote British penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land. A babe in arms when they arrived at Hobart in July 1852, and a toddler by the time his father had built their cottage at Kangaroo Valley adjacent to Jane Franklin’s Museum in 1854, Jack Nevin at 13 years old was a beautiful boy, the perfect choice for his older brother Thomas to practice full-length studio portraiture … More The sweetest young brother: thirteen year old Jack Nevin 1865

John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s younger brother Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin (1852-1891) was a wardsman at the Hobart Gaol when James Thornton was imprisoned on 23 July 1889 to serve a sentence of twelve months for “unlawfully wounding” his son-in-law Thomas Webster. Thornton died at the gaol a few months into his sentence, on 4th December 1889. John Nevin gave evidence at the inquest into the prisoner’s death, caused by “exhaustion consequent upon cancer of the mouth”, according to the coroner. The prisoner James Thornton was 79 years old, born in Ireland, a hair-dresser of Liverpool Street, Hobart. His daughter Amy Amilda Thornton married Thomas Webster in 1886, and gave birth to a son, also called Thomas William Webster (b. 9 June 1886) who would become, as a 3 yr old toddler, the flashpoint which triggered Thornton’s stabbing assault on his son-in-law Thomas Webster in 1889. … More John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Prisoner James GLEN 1874 and 2003

James Glen was arrested for receiving the stolen plate from Webb’s Hotel, per notice published in the police gazette of 10th February 1871. He was convicted at the Supreme Court on 4th July, 1871 of “feloniously receiving” and sentenced to ten (10) years. The police noted his ship of arrival in Tasmania as the George & Susan, a whaling vessel of 356/343/287 (tons), built at Dartmouth, MA (1809) and wrecked at Wainwright Inlet, Alaska, Aug 10, 1885. In order to have arrived at Hobart on board this ship, James Glen must have joined its crew at Fremantle, Western Australia as soon as his conditional pardon (CP) was granted, working his passage on the voyage prior to the vessel entering the South Pacific whaling grounds. … More Prisoner James GLEN 1874 and 2003

“Hair inclined to be curley”: prisoner Henry SMITH aka Clabby aka Cooper

Prisoner Henry CLABBY alias Cooper, 22 yrs old, and locally born (“native”) in Tasmania was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol for the Municipal Police Office Hobart, between 4th-24th January 1874. This photograph of Henry Clabby was originally held at the QVMAG, numbered “142” on recto and transcribed verso in 1915 for display at convictarian John Watt Beattie’s Port Arthur Museum, located in Hobart. It is now held at the TMAG Ref: Q15600. More than sixty photographs taken by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s of Tasmanian prisoners – or “convicts” as they are labelled in tourism discourse – are held at The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. See 56 copies from the TMAG Collection, acquired by this weblog in 2015. Unlike the majority of those prisoner mugshots mounted as cdvs from the QVMAG and TMAG collections which show verso evidence of having been pasted to paper or cardboard and then removed, this cdv of Henry Clabby is clean apart from the curator’s number recto “142”, suggesting it was reprinted in recent times, or even composed entirely as a new artefact for exhibition in the late 20th century. … More “Hair inclined to be curley”: prisoner Henry SMITH aka Clabby aka Cooper

T. J. Nevin’s 1870s mugshots the inspiration for 21st century artworks

“The images presented are inspired by photographic images of the prisoners of Port Arthur taken by the Tasmanian photographer Thomas Nevin in the 1870s. The photos were used as mug-shots, legal instruments taken for the police and not meant to be ethnographic artifacts. The images are, however, strikingly beautiful with the expressions and poses of the prisoners allowing us a window into the lives of these men. When Nevin’s photos were first exhibited together at the Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston in 1977 the curator, Mr. John McPhee, noted; ‘These photographs are among the most moving and powerful images of the human condition.’ Through the paintings presented, you can sense the emotions of these long-deceased spirits; their presence is represented as a ghostly imprint on the golden surface of this vast and beautiful land.” – Lisa Sharoun

“I never lost the look of the man” – Kenneth Pomlett
More T. J. Nevin’s 1870s mugshots the inspiration for 21st century artworks

Death of Constable John Nevin in the typhoid epidemic of 1891

“During the years 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1891, the City of Hobart, in common with the principal cities of Australia, was visited by a most severe and extraordinary epidemic wave of typhoid fever. Although, locally the General death-rate from all causes, and for all ages, was not materially increased above the years preceding the epidemic, still the mortality of persons in the prime of life, especially males between the ages of 20 and 35 years, was unusually large. The alarm caused by this severe visitation very naturally raised a keen enquiry into the sanitary condition of the city ; and many intelligent persons, believing that the epidemic was mainly or solely due to local causes, and particularly to defective drainage and other imperfect sanitary provisions, have since made vigorous and continuous demands for a drastic reform of our sanitary system….” … More Death of Constable John Nevin in the typhoid epidemic of 1891

Prisoner Richard PHILLIPS 1874

When Thomas J. Nevin photographed this prisoner Richard Phillips in July 1874 at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, on the occasion of the prisoner’s discharge from a two year sentence for housebreaking and larceny, he was confronted with a problem: the prisoner Richard Phillips was blind. The resultant photograph shows a man who is straining to make out the figure of Nevin the photographer standing next to the camera just a metre or so in front of him, his brows and eyelids squeezed tight to the point of nearly blocking out all light. … More Prisoner Richard PHILLIPS 1874

Prisoner George GROWSETT 1860 and 1873

“The prisoner in a most insolent manner said he knew very well that the question was only a matter of form ; he had not been tried at all, and did not consider that he had had a fair trial. The witnesses had sworn what they liked, and he had not been defended by counsel ; in fact, he had been sold like a bullock in Smithfield Market ; he knew very well that His Honor had his sentence ready written before him, and that the whole thing was a matter of form. He knew very well that he should have a long sentence, but His Honor had better sentence him to be hanged, as he should never do a long sentence ; in fact, he could not do it whether he received it or not…” (Mercury 7 September 1860) … More Prisoner George GROWSETT 1860 and 1873

Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

The large wall poster (on right) at the exhibition titled “Photographs of Australian and British Convicts” which opened at the Hobart Penitentiary (the former Hobart Gaol and House of Corrections, Campbell St.) in July 2019 features the mugshot of James Blanchfield taken by Thomas Nevin in 1875, together with a jolly japes biography of the prisoner, finishing with the sentence:

“…at the age of fifty he found himself sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and was packed off to Port Arthur where this photograph was taken.”

Actually, no: as the police gazette states, James Blanchfield was 48 years old on release in 1875, not 50 years old on sentence in 1873, and he spent less than two months at the Port Arthur prison, from 21st February 1873 to 20th April 1873. He served just twenty-six months of a three year sentence, not a five year sentence when he was discharged in April 1875. Additionally, he was photographed, not at the Port Arthur prison as claimed by the exhibition poster but at the Hobart Gaol, the very same site where Thomas Nevin’s photograph of him taken for police in 1875 now looms over visitors to the current exhibition, exactly 144 years later. … More Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

Prisoner John NOWLAN alias DOWLING 1870-1876

This prisoner stated that he arrived free in Tasmania as a sailor on the Bangalore with the name John Dowling, but he might have arrived as a convict with the name John Nowlan on the transport London in March 1851. Shipping documents testifying to his arrival on the Bangalore at any port and under any circumstance unfortunately, if true, are not extant. He was sentenced to five years in March 1870 for indecent assault as John Dowling. He was photographed as John Dowling by T. J. Nevin on release from the House of Corrections, Hobart in December 1874, and convicted again in February 1875 for larceny. A year later, in February 1876 he was convicted at the Supreme Court, Hobart, for rape of a girl between 10-11 yrs old, this time as John Nowlan, alias John Dowling. The sentence for rape was death, commuted to life imprisonment. John Nowlan alias John Dowling was sent to the Port Arthur prison on 25th February 1876 and transferred back to the House of Corrections, Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. on 17th April 1877. A prisoner who called himself John Dowling died at the New Town Charitable Institution, Hobart in 1906 of senilis. … More Prisoner John NOWLAN alias DOWLING 1870-1876

Prisoner James ROGERS forges into the leap year 1868

Lavington George Roope deposed : I am a clerk of the Bank Of Australasia, in Hobart Town. The note produced is a £1 note of our bank which has been altered to a £5 note. In the right hand corner the figure 1 has been erased and the word “Five” has been written in. One of the numbers has also been erased in two places. The O and part of the N in the body of the note have been erased, and an F and an I have been substituted. The letter S has been added to the word pound. The word ” at” has been erased in the body of the note. The words one pound in the left hand bottom corner of the note have been erased, and the words five pounds have been written in in old English letters. In the genuine £5 notes these words are in old English letters. The letters O and part of the N printed in green across the note have been erased, and the letters F and I have been substituted, making the word ” Five”. I can trace the erasures in most places but not distinctly in the large letters. … More Prisoner James ROGERS forges into the leap year 1868

Thomas Nevin’s photographs mounted on calico 1870s

Dozens of extant photographs by Thomas Nevin that carry no studio stamp on verso were deliberately kept blank because they were mounted on calico, and delivered by mail to the purchaser with the expectation that they would either be placed intact inside a wooden frame, to be hung on the wall; or indeed, removed from the calico to be placed on an album leaf. Thomas Nevin used calico mounts as a means of saving on costs when posting through the mail. Dozens of his extant photographs with blank versos held in public and private collections bear traces of removal from woven fabric or parchment. Handwritten inscriptions, in many instances, were added subsequently by the client, collector or archivist. … More Thomas Nevin’s photographs mounted on calico 1870s

Prisoner Daniel DAVIS 1883, 1892 and 1897

“ROBBERY WITH VIOLENCE
Richard Harris (20) and Daniel Davies [sic] (26), charged with having, at Moorina, on the 29th November, assaulted and robbed Ah Tung of £3 11s, pleaded not guilty. Mr. Miller appeared for the prisoners. Lee Kong was sworn as interpreter. Ah Tung deposed that he was proceeding from a store at Moorina to the Native Youth claim on the night of the 29th November, and was accosted by two men. He was afterwards garotted and robbed by them. After the robbery he picked up a piece of meat and some sugar which had been carried by the prisoners. James Alexander deposed to Harris informing him on the night of the 29th November, when the two prisoners were in witness’ hut, that they had robbed a Chinaman that night.” … More Prisoner Daniel DAVIS 1883, 1892 and 1897

Dan Sprod and Thomas Nevin’s photography in the 1970s

During the 1970s publishers John Ferguson of Sydney commissioned established authors to research and collect old photographs to be published as a series of books called “Victorian and Edwardian [insert name here of an Australian city, e.g. Sydney, Adelaide etc]  from old photographs”. Patsy Adam-Smith, for example, compiled the Melbourne edition, Victorian and Edwardian Melbourne from old photographs in 1979. Dan Sprod was commissioned by Ferguson publishers to compile the Hobart edition in 1976. The draft papers of his research for this book, published in 1977 as Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from old photographs , are held at the National Library Australia, Canberra, where he was Chief Librarian during the 1960s. The impetus behind this emergent interest in Australian 19th century and early 20th century photography was money. Old photographs and early cameras were commanding large prices at auctions. The Tasmanian Saturday Evening Mercury published this article – “Your old photos could be valuable” – on November 15th, 1975, listing the handsomely high prices fetched for old prints and photo equipment at Christies of London in the previous two years. Prints by Tasmanian photographers of the 1880s – Spurling, Anson and Beattie – were touted here as worthy collectables: … More Dan Sprod and Thomas Nevin’s photography in the 1970s

T. J. Nevin’s mugshot of John FINELLY taken at the Police Office Hobart March 1874

When captured, escapee John Finlay or Finelly was sentenced at the Mayor’s Court, Hobart Town Hall, to six months to be served once more at the Port Arthur prison. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall [P.O. Hobart] on 17th March 1874 as soon as the conviction was recorded. Finelly was received at Port Arthur on 29th March 1874. In December 1874 he was committed twice to spells of 24 hours and seven days in solitary confinement at Port Arthur for disobedience and insubordinate conduct respectively. He was transferred back to the House of Corrections for Males (the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street) on 17th April 1877 on the closure of the Port Arthur prison. John Finelly was discharged in January 1879 and returned to Launceston where he died on 8th March 1883. … More T. J. Nevin’s mugshot of John FINELLY taken at the Police Office Hobart March 1874

The LONG con: our comments on Julia Clark’s fraudulent thesis

In 2015 this individual Julia Clark (b. 1949) submitted a thesis to the University of Tasmania in the hope of being awarded a PhD degree. The award, in our opinion, should be revoked. The many instances prior to this thesis where she has claimed – by means both fraudulent, deceitful and abusive – that A. H. Boyd photographed prisoners in Tasmania in 1874 when no evidence has ever existed, nor ever will – is examined in great deal across these weblogs about the life and work of Thomas J. Nevin. Without these Nevin weblogs, Julia Clark would have no thesis. … More The LONG con: our comments on Julia Clark’s fraudulent thesis

Prisoner John APPLEBY 1873

The inscription ‘Taken at Port Arthur 1874” is Beattie’s confabulation of facts in the name of tourism. Beattie prepared copies of these prisoner cdv’s for display in his collection of Tasmanian convictaria at his “Port Arthur Museum” located at 51 Murray St. Hobart (and not at Port Arthur) to coincide with the first of two early 20th century film adaptations (1908-9, 22 minutes – see theatre poster below; the second was filmed at Port Arthur in 1927) of Marcus Clarke’s popular fiction For The Term of His Natural Life which appeared as a serial in 1870 and in novel form in 1874. Hence the date “1874” and the place “Taken at Port Arthur” written on the verso of this cdv when the actual date and the actual place of photographic capture were respectively 1873 and the Hobart Gaol in Campbell Street. Beattie fabricated this fake history for several dozen original mugshots taken in the 1870s by government contractor T. J. Nevin because he was required under the terms of his own commission as government contractor (from ca. 1900) to market photographic imagery of Tasmania’s penal heritage to the intercolonial tourist. The loose cdv’s such as this one of prisoner John Appleby were prepared for sale and exhibition at Sydney’s Royal Hotel in 1915 to be displayed as Port Arthur relics, alongside relics and documents associated with the fake convict hulk Success which visited Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. The collection of “convict portraits” held at the National Library of Australia Canberra and at the State Library of NSW in the Mitchell Collection are the estrays from these exhibitions. … More Prisoner John APPLEBY 1873

Amy Bock’s bid for marriage equality in 1909 in New Zealand

Amy Bock and Agnes Ottaway married on 21 April 1909 in Dunedin, NZ. Four days later Amy Bock was arrested at the Ottaways’ boarding house. She was convicted in the Dunedin Supreme Court on 27 May on two counts of false pretences and one of forgery, and was finally declared an habitual offender. The marriage was annulled on 17 June 1909. Was it a bid for “marriage equality” or not? … More Amy Bock’s bid for marriage equality in 1909 in New Zealand

Prisoner William TURNER 1841-1879

This black and white copy of William Turner’s prisoner identification mugshot was made at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1985 from Thomas Nevin’s original sepia print, and placed online at the QVMAG in the early 2000s. The original 1870s print of the b&w copy was exhibited at the AGNSW in 1976 (listed on page 27 in the Exhibition Catalogue). The curator chose this one (and another two photographs) possibly because the full frontal pose and the frank stare captured more of the prisoner’s “personality” than the conventional pose where the sitter’s sightlines were deflected either left or right, the pose typical of Nevin’s commercial studio practice and evident in the more than 200 (two hundred) prisoner cdvs held in the Beattie collection at the QVMAG. In addition, this print was possibly chosen because it had escaped the rebranding on the versos with the inscription “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” for Beattie’s tourism trade of the 1900s and for the 1938 QVMAG exhibition which commemorated his death and bequest to the people of Launceston. A year after the 1976 AGNSW Centenary Exhibition, in 1977, many more of these “convict portraits” by T. J. Nevin from the Beattie collection were exhibited at the QVMAG, curated by John McPhee. … More Prisoner William TURNER 1841-1879

Convict photographs by T. J. Nevin at the Art Gallery NSW Centenary Exhibition 1976

Photographs of Tasmanian “convicts” –  i.e. prisoner mugshots – taken by T. J. Nevin in the 1870s were exhibited at the Centenary of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in 1976. The Exhibition Catalogue was written by Daniel Thomas Senior Curator and Curator of Australian Art, Art Gallery of NSW. The Tasmanian contributor was antiquarian Geoffrey Stilwell, a Trustee of the Centenary Celebrations of the Art Gallery of NSW and Special Collections curator of the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania. … More Convict photographs by T. J. Nevin at the Art Gallery NSW Centenary Exhibition 1976

Serious money: Captain Edward Goldsmith and shipowner Robert Brooks

The long term success of Robert Brooks’ shipping and pastoral investments depended heavily on the trust he placed in his agents at colonial ports, and on his delegation of all responsibility to his ships’ masters. “Freight payable in the colony” appeared frequently on his cargo manifests. Between 1834 and 1836 he purchased eight vessels, all second-hand. Between 1844 and 1846, his shipping purchases included the Parrock Hall, the Victor, the Kinnear, the Angelina, the North Briton, the Eagle, the William Wilson, and most important of all, the Rattler, built and bought specifically for Captain Edward Goldsmith (Broeze, p. 150, Table 8.6). … More Serious money: Captain Edward Goldsmith and shipowner Robert Brooks

Weekly Returns, the police forms 1880s: no more ships’ names please

By 1880, officials at the Police Department were complaining about the extra work involved in listing the name of the prisoner’s ship on which he/she arrived in Tasmania, the height of the prisoner, and his or her associations etc on the Returns of Persons on Trial under the Petty Offences Act 21 Vic 12. Their reluctance to record this aspect of a prisoner’s past for cases tried at the Police Court was attributed to the time consumed while trying to resurrect the information from old records when the offenders were not known to the younger generation on staff. When the issue arose in correspondence (see below) between the Mayor and the Police Department in February and March 1880, photographer Thomas J. Nevin was both Hall Keeper and Office Keeper for the Mayor’s Court and the Municipal Police Office, each housed under the one roof at the Hobart Town Hall with cells in the basement. He too would have felt overworked in his position of supervising inebriated constables on night watch, of making sure the chimneys were swept, of preparing the Hall for exhibitions and concerts, of maintaining the grounds and watering the trees out front, and for keeping police photographic records taken by him at the MPO current with those taken at the Hobart Gaol, mostly with his brother Constable John Nevin. … More Weekly Returns, the police forms 1880s: no more ships’ names please

Prisoners George NEAL (aka Neill) and George NEAL

The younger prisoner, also known as George Neal, was 33 years old when he was photographed by Constable John Nevin on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol, sentenced for three years on 11th December 1888 for embezzlement. He was therefore born in 1855, in Hobart, and if the birth record below is his, on the 31st August just months before George Neal senior was imprisoned for ten years, in December 1855. If this was George Neal snr’s son, his height here was recorded as 5 feet 8½ inches tall, while his father – if it was George Neal – was recorded in 1876 as 5 feet 3 inches, and in 1879 as 5 feet 2½ inches tall. There’s nothing unusual in this intergenerational height difference, whether in families with two generations or more of offenders, or in families of free settlers, in 19th century Tasmania up to the present day, despite common misconceptions and contrary expectations (see Maxwell-Stewart below). … More Prisoners George NEAL (aka Neill) and George NEAL

Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

Two soldiers of the 2nd battalion, H. M. 14th Regiment, William Sewell and Ralph Neill arrived at Hobart, Tasmania, in November 1866 from service in the New Zealand wars on board the military ship Siam. Within a year they were were charged with burglary of a hotel in Watchorn Street, and sentenced to 10 years at the Hobart Criminal Court. They served seven years, some of that time at the Port Arthur prison and were relocated to the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. on 25th October 1873 when they were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin prior to release. They were discharged to freedom on 6th February 1874. … More Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

Prisoner Philip BURTON

This is one of two extant duplicate photographs in carte-de-visite format produced by Thomas Nevin from his original glass negative taken of prisoner Philip Burton in September 1873. This cdv was originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, acquired from John Watt Beattie’s estate in the 1930s. When the QVMAG typed out a list of their collection in the 1990s, it was numbered as “131” and shown as missing from their collection, along with 126 more (one hundred and twenty-seven in total missing from a list of 199). It was returned – not to the QVMAG but to the TMAG – after being exhibited at the Port Arthur heritage site in 1983. The recto number was applied by the QVMAG, but the verso number “290” was applied ca. 1915 when exhibited and offered for sale by John Watt Beattie at his museum in Hobart. … More Prisoner Philip BURTON

A glaring fraud: Joseph James COOPER aka the “Artful Dodger” 1875-1889

Fashions in prison uniforms at the Hobart Gaol in the 1870’s varied according to the class of criminal, his trade or job, and the season. Thomas J. Nevin photographed prisoners William Smith and James Mullins at the Hobart Gaol in July 1875 wearing the grey uniform and leathern caps for police records. A visitor to the gaol in July 1882 noted the grey jacket and leather caps of the old hands, and the yellow and black uniforms worn by prisoners working in gangs at large in the community. The prisoner in these three photographs, Joseph James Cooper, wore three different uniforms on the three different occasions while under sentence: in 1875 for burglary; in 1879 for forgery and uttering; and in 1889 for arson. … More A glaring fraud: Joseph James COOPER aka the “Artful Dodger” 1875-1889

Sideshow Alley: Thomas Nevin at the NPG exhibition 2015

The National Portrait Gallery (Australia) at Canberra is currently displaying this wooden frame containing ten “convict portraits” under glass at the exhibition, Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait, 4th December 2015 – 28th February 2016. The National Library of Australia has repeatedly chosen the same set of photographs from their collection of 85 Tasmanian prisoners’ mugshots (catalogued as “convicts”) for loan to the National Portrait Gallery because they are clean examples of the professional photographer’s use of the albumen process. Other examples in the NLA’s collection are damaged and dirty, and some are unmounted, e.g. Searle’s album. Most of the NLA’s collection is online, yet the versos of these photographs, which can provide researchers with valuable information. have not been digitised. The NLA believes that the absence of a photographer’s studio stamp on the versos – of police mugshots no less – is reason enough to engage in puerile political games of re-attribution, despite historical documentation, expert curatorial validation, and the presence of T. J. Nevin’s government contract stamp on several of these mugshots held in other national collections. … More Sideshow Alley: Thomas Nevin at the NPG exhibition 2015

Prisoner James BRADY 1873-1874

James Brady was photographed at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin on two different occasions. Three extant images from those two sittings are held in three public collections, viz. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Library of Australia. James Brady was a soldier of the 2/14 Regiment, 31 years old, when he arrived in Tasmania on board the Haversham in August 1867. He was branded with the letter “D” as a deserter and sentenced to 8 years for forgery and uttering in 1868. … More Prisoner James BRADY 1873-1874

Prisoner Henry CLABBY and the TMAG frame-up

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery constructed four wooden-framed collages under glass from their collection of Thomas Nevin’s prisoner mugshots for an exhibition titled Mirror with a Memory at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, in 2000. Henry Clabby’s image was placed top row, centre in this frame. However, for reasons best described as blind-sided, the TMAG staff who chose these mugshots sent three of the four frames to Canberra, six per frame, with labels on the back of each wooden frame stating quite clearly that the photographs were attributed to A. H. Boyd, the much despised Commandant of the Port Arthur prison who was not a photographer by any definition of the term, nor an engineer despite any pretension on his part and especially despite the social pretensions of his descendants who began circulating the photographer attribution as a rumour in the 1980s to compensate no doubt for Boyd’s vile reputation.
More Prisoner Henry CLABBY and the TMAG frame-up

Rogues Gallery: National Library of Australia collection

This collection of police mugshots – originally taken at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. Hobart and at the Mayor’s Court, Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin from 1872-1886 – was donated from government estrays in 1964. Full records with T. J. Nevin’s attribution are held at the NLA, Sprod Papers NLA MS 2320. The National Library of Australia has recently updated its digital software, yet the versos of these photographs, which can provide researchers with valuable information. have not been digitised. The NLA believes that the absence of a photographer’s studio stamp on the versos – of police mugshots no less – is reason enough to engage in puerile political games of re-attribution, despite expert curatorial validation, and Nevin’s government contract stamp on several of these mugshots held in other national collections. The versos of the majority of these photographs were incorrectly transcribed in 1915-1916 with the wording “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” to promote penal heritage tourism to Tasmania when they were sent as exhibits to the Royal Hotel, Sydney, in conjunction with an exhibition of convictaria from the fake transport ship, the Success. The majority of the 85 mugshots in the NLA collection consists of copies either duplicated from the originals – or missing from – the collections held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston. … More Rogues Gallery: National Library of Australia collection

Rogues Gallery: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection

These cartes-de-visite of Tasmanian prisoners printed in an oval mount are held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. They were originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with another three hundred or more 1870s mugshots taken at the Hobart Gaol by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin which were acquired by the QVMAG as part of the bequest from the estate of John Watt Beattie in the 1930s. When they were removed from Beattie’s collection and taken down to the Port Arthur prison heritage site for an exhibition as part of the Port Arthur Conservation Project in 1983, they were not returned to the QVMAG. They were deposited instead at the TMAG . … More Rogues Gallery: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection