The Supreme Court mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin from 1871 onwards

Who were they? They were T.J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882 … … More The Supreme Court mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin from 1871 onwards

Constable W. J. Nevin at inquest 1882

Jack Nevin was his elder brother’s assistant at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street during Thomas’ commissions as police photographer in prisons and police courts. He helped maintain one of their photographic studios in New Town, assisting in the production of stereographs and studio portraits on cartes-de-visite intermittently from the 1860s. He was employed at the Hobart Gaol under the supervision of the keeper Ringrose Atkins from 1874, and became a Constable on salary at the male prison at Cascades and H.M. Prison, Hobart in 1875, serving until his untimely death at age 39 in 1891. … More Constable W. J. Nevin at inquest 1882

Prisoners Wm MEAGHER, Wm LEE and Chas ROSETTA 1870s

William Meaghers was transported to NSW in 1838 on board the Bengal Merchant. Originally from Dublin, he was court martialled in Quebec, Lower Canada on 26 September 1836. In Paramatta, NSW, he was sentenced to 14 years for housebreaking on 10 December 1842 and transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on board the Sir J. Byng, arriving on 23 September 1843. He was married with two children. No date of birth appears on his arrival record, however, police records show he was 56 yrs old in 1871, so he was born ca. 1815, and was ca 59 years old in 1874 when Nevin photographed him. The NLA misattribution to Searle and the date of photographic capture catalogued as 1915 would mean that the prisoner William Meaghers, born in 1815, had to be a 100 year old man; clearly, the prisoner was photographed in his fifties on the occasion of his release, in 1874. … More Prisoners Wm MEAGHER, Wm LEE and Chas ROSETTA 1870s

Poster boys 1991 of Tasmanian prisoners 1870s

Who were they? They were T. J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882: … More Poster boys 1991 of Tasmanian prisoners 1870s

Prisoner Samuel PAUL

Samuel Paul was probably photographed twice, first on his incarceration at the Hobart Gaol as soon as Thomas J. Nevin began the systematic documentation of prisoners in 1871, and again by Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on the prisoner’s release, 20 March 1878. The original verso has a transcription added at some time in the 1900s by archivists with the error in time and date of photographic capture. … More Prisoner Samuel PAUL

T.J. Nevin’s prisoner mugshots,  Mitchell Library NSW

THOMAS NEVIN’S ELEVEN The Mitchell Library at the State Library of NSW has catalogued eleven prisoner photographs so far which were taken by Thomas Nevin and his younger brother Jack Nevin at the Hobart Gaol between 1875 and 1884. All of these men were habitual offenders with long criminal records who spent as much if … More T.J. Nevin’s prisoner mugshots,  Mitchell Library NSW

Nevin’s mugshots: the transitional pose and frame

Between 1876 and 1884, transitional years in the history of 19th century prison photography, changes took place in the way Jack and Thomas Nevin posed the prisoner and and printed the final carte-de-visite. The technology changed too. Lenses after 1875 enabled a closer or larger image of the face. The prisoner was also posed closer to the camera in a full frontal position facing the photographer, and although the oval vignette was still the preferred format for printing, square frames were also used. The formalised front and profile pair of portraits using the methods of Bertillonage did not appear in Tasmanian prison photography until the late 1890s, by which time both Nevin brothers had ceased professional photography. … More Nevin’s mugshots: the transitional pose and frame

Nevin’s photos of prisoners SUTHERLAND and STOCK with death warrant

“To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of her Majesty’s Gaol at Hobarton jointly and severally.
Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Tuesday the fifteenth day of May James Sutherland was convicted before the [blank] of the murder of William Wilson and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead – NOW IT IS ORDERED that execution of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said James Sutherland on Monday the fourth day of June at the Usual Hour and Place of Execution and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff –
Given under my Hand and Seal at – Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this twenty third day of May in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty three.
Francis Smith [JP initial, Justice of Peace]” … More Nevin’s photos of prisoners SUTHERLAND and STOCK with death warrant

Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Job Smith aka Wm Campbell was photographed by Thomas Nevin either when Smith was one of sixty prisoners who had transferred back to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur before July 1873 (see W.R. Giblin’s and the Inspector of Police report of convicts tabled in the Parliament on July 17th, 1873), or just before Smith as William Campbell was returned to Port Arthur on May 8th, 1874 to complete his 8 year sentence, accompanied by Thomas Nevin in his role as police agent and photographer. Both were listed as passengers on the schooner Harriet’s way bill. … More Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Jack Nevin, the other photographer

Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin was the younger brother of Tasmanian photographer Thomas J. Nevin and his assistant at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street during his brother’s commission as police photographer in prisons. They jointly maintained one of their photographic studios in New Town until the mid 1880s. Constable John Nevin was employed on salary at the Cascades Prison for Males and the Hobart Gaol under the supervision of the keeper Ringrose Atkins from 1874 until his untimely death aged 39 yrs from typhoid fever in 1891. … More Jack Nevin, the other photographer

Prisoners Chas ROSETTA, Wm LEE and Wm MEAGHER 1870s

By 1892, when John Watt Beattie was commissioned by the Tasmanian government to promote the tourism industry through photography, he had ready access to prison documents held at the Sheriff”s Office, Hobart Gaol (Campbell St.). Pasted to a single album leaf in Searle’s album are three unmounted prisoner mugshots of William Meagher, Charles Rosetta and William Lee, Tasmanian prisoners – termed “convicts” in tourism discourse – originally photographed by Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s for gaol records. These three photographs of Meagher, Rosetta and Lee bear traces around the edges of the blue paper from which they were removed. … More Prisoners Chas ROSETTA, Wm LEE and Wm MEAGHER 1870s

Three significant prisoner  cartes by T. J. Nevin

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, holds a number of similar criminal record sheets with ID cartes attached, though the QVMAG has yet to digitise them online. The Tasmanian Archives and Heritage office (State Library of Tasmania) holds registers of prisoner photographs attached to the criminal record sheet with later dates of 1890 and 1892. This document, however, is held on display at the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site, Hobart. It is a complete prison record on parchment of Allan Matthew Williamson, per the ship Maria Somes (2), from his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land in 1850 right up to his death in 1893. Williamson’s photograph was pasted onto the parchment at the centre of the document, which was folded back on each side, rotated, and used for documenting Williamson’s criminal career for more than forty years. The photograph above of Williamson was taken by Thomas Nevin on Williamson’s discharge from the Hobart Gaol on 8th December 1877 or even earlier. The parchment itself, however, may date to 1867 or even earlier, and the photograph pasted to it a decade later. … More Three significant prisoner  cartes by T. J. Nevin

Mismatched records : The Bulletin 1978

None of these convicts’ records, therefore, match the prisoner photographed by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol in January 1874. This young felon was Charles Brown, born in Tasmania, his alias was “William Forster” and he was 22 years old when he was photographed. He is unusual for the fact that he surrendered himself to the police at the Hobart Gaol on January 9th, 1874. … More Mismatched records : The Bulletin 1978

Younger brother Constable John (Jack) NEVIN (1851-1891)

Jack Nevin looks very relaxed and very savvy about the process of being photographed. His gaze is direct and very keen, his clothes suitable for everyday work in a foul place such as a prison. His salaried positions were primarily in administration, with a career path and ranking similar to the Keeper’s. Older brother Thomas Nevin had been a Keeper too of a public institution, at the Hobart Town Hall between 1876-1880; a special constable during the Chiniquy Riots of 1879; Office Keeper for the Hobart City Corporation; and assistant bailiff in the courts during the 1880s. Constable John Nevin’s presence at the Hobart Gaol points to a close family involvement by both Nevin brothers with prisoner documentation – visual and written. … More Younger brother Constable John (Jack) NEVIN (1851-1891)

Prisoner William HAYES

William Hayes’ prison ID photograph was among the first taken by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart House of Corrections when William Hayes was discharged from a 2 year sentence for indecent assault in the week ending 24 April 1872.

The same image in these two cartes was printed at different times from Nevin’s original glass negative. In the top carte, Hayes’ image was straightened, eliminating the lean to the right in the carte below. Haye’s petty minor offences between 1873-1875 after release from the Hobart Gaol  were tried in Launceston, where the reprint of his ID photograph was sent in 1874. … More Prisoner William HAYES

Prisoner George FISHER and Chief Justice Sir Francis Smith

Chief Justice Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith (1819–1909) of the Supreme Court Hobart was administrator of the colony of Tasmania in 1874 and most interested in the uses of judicial and forensic photography which he had witnessed on a visit to Victoria in 1872 (TRE1/1/363 1154). He was photographed by the Hobart City Corporation’s commissioned photographer Thomas Nevin in the 1870s in an unusually informal pose, his expression one of vindication while examining a carte-de-visite photograph of a prisoner held in his right hand. Sir Francis Smith’s professional interest in the uses of judicial photography to increase surveillance and reduce crime was more than justified when he became the victim of burglary himself at his home by absconder and recidivist George Fisher in 1877. … More Prisoner George FISHER and Chief Justice Sir Francis Smith

Prisoner Leonard HAND

Locally-born Leonard Hand was a mere 26 years old. He was a special case for the chaplain of the prison, Rowland Hayward, and the surgeon Dr Coverdale who made a strong representation to the House of Assembly’s committee on penal discipline on Hand’s behalf in 1873, hoping to remove the prisoner from the isolation of the separate prison. It was evident to Dr Coverdale that rehabilitation was only possible if Hand (and others) were removed to the general prison community . … More Prisoner Leonard HAND

Babette Smith on Australia’s Birthstain

The sources of the Archives Office information, photograph originals and copies were –

1. the materials donated from the Port Arthur kiosk (see extract above for details),
2. the collections of photographs taken by Nevin donated by the Allport Law firm as the Pretyman Collection,
3. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, where many more prisoner cartes were located amongst the Beattie Collection’s convict memorabilia, and exhibited there in 1977. … More Babette Smith on Australia’s Birthstain

Melville Street from the Hobart Gaol 140 years ago

This stereograph, and others taken at the same time and place of the Prisoners Barracks (see below) are held at the State Library of Tasmania, and although unattributed, they were most likely taken by Thomas Nevin working with Alfred Bock between 1863-1866 at their studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. The Nevin brothers’ association with the Hon. W. R. Giblin and the Hobart Gaol continued throughout the 1870s and 1880s while Nevin was contracted to the Municipal Police Office as prisons photographer, both as a commercial photographer on tender, and as a full-time civil servant. His principal studio, The City Photographic Establishment, was located one block away, close to the corner of Melville and Elizabeth Streets directly to the west. … More Melville Street from the Hobart Gaol 140 years ago

Prisoner portraits taken at trial and discharge 1870s

INTENDED PURPOSE

An examination of the criminal history of the individual prisoners whose photographs survive indicates that each photograph was selected, even salvaged by archivists because each man had been committed and sentenced at the Tasmanian Supreme Court for a lengthy term. If sentenced at the Supreme Court in Launceston, he was transferred to the Hobart Gaol where he was bathed, shaved, photographed and isolated for one month in silence after being received, along with those already sentenced in criminal sittings of the Hobart Supreme Court . … More Prisoner portraits taken at trial and discharge 1870s

Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874

Thomas Nevin would have carried at least two copies on his person of the prisoner’s photograph, one loose and one pasted to the prisoner’s record sheet, in the event of attempted escape in transit. Other copies remained at the Office of Inspector of Police, Town Hall, Hobart. Dr Coverdale, the Surgeon-Commandant at Port Arthur who had replaced A.H. Boyd by January 1874 deemed this procedure sufficient for security as a dozen or so prisoners were evacuated every week back to Hobart by schooner as soon as he assumed office. Clearly, Dr Coverdale’s predecessor A. H. Boyd had nothing to do with this photograph of Job Smith, nor indeed with any other of these 1870s prisoner mugshots for the simple and very obvious facts that (a) Boyd was not a photographer and no photographs in any genre supposedly taken by him have been found extant nor ever will be found unless they have been faked, as for example, the image of the Port Arthur prison printed by the Anson Bros in 1889 (Kerr, Stilwell 1992); and (b) the commission awarded to Thomas Nevin to photograph prisoners was given in 1872 by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin after the visit by senior prison official and politicians from Victoria to the Port Arthur prison. Just one image, reprinted many times, of Job Smith aka William Campbell is extant. Thomas Nevin photographed him once and once only, although at least three duplicates and copies are currently extant in State and National collections. … More Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874

Sir Francis Smith, the death warrant, and the photographer

Although this photograph is accredited to J.W. Beattie (1859-1930) by the State Library of Tasmania, it is a reprint made several decades later than the original capture taken possibly in the late 1870s. Here the Tasmanian administrator, Attorney-General and Chief Justice, who was born in 1818, looks like a man in his fifties. He appears to be about 15 years older than his earlier 1860s portrait by Reutlinger (below) which portrays a man in his early forties. Sir Francis Smith would have been an old man of eighty years or so by the time Beattie produced his Members of the Parliaments of Tasmania series in 1895-1900, and clearly this is not a portrait of an eighty year old. It is yet another reprint by Beattie without acknowledgement to the original photographer. … More Sir Francis Smith, the death warrant, and the photographer

The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

The Queen Victoria and Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, seemed so intent on abrogating the name of Thomas J. Nevin as photographer from any association with its holdings of the “Port Arthur convicts” photographs which were exhibited there in 1977 as Nevin’s work that in a letter to a Nevin descendant date 17th November 2005, the technical officer showed considerable confusion and made contradictory and incorrect statements. … More The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

Parkhurst Boys on board ‘The Fairlie’ 1852

On their arrival, 10 year old Thomas Nevin joined the small population of free settlers numbering 44,340 in the December 1852 Census. The convict population numbered 19,105 or 30% of the total census for that year. But by 1857, only five years later, with the cessation of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land in 1853, the convict population dwindled to just 3,008 or 3.7% of the island’s population. The numbers recorded for the Aboriginal population – estimates of 7000 in 1818 to 15 in 1857 – speak clearly of genocide. … More Parkhurst Boys on board ‘The Fairlie’ 1852

Execution of prisoners SUTHERLAND and OGDEN 1883

The colouring of these cartes served two purposes: to render a more accurate image reflective of reality, i.e. blue for blue eyes, blue for the prison issue scarf, especially when the man was wanted on warrant; and to profit from the sale of the hanged man’s image to the press and the public. These were called “ornaments of colour”, a term used in reference to Nevin’s tinting of prisoner photographs in the Mercury newspaper account of Nevin’s incident with the “ghost” (December 4, 1880).

More Execution of prisoners SUTHERLAND and OGDEN 1883

Prisoner records of Allan WILLIAMSON and William SMITH

The prisoner carte-de-visite of Allan Williamson pasted to the parchment record might have T. J. Nevin’s stamp on verso, but then again it may not, and for this reason: at least one duplicate of a prisoner’s mounted photograph was intended to be pasted to the prisoner’s record. More duplicates were made to be circulated to the police in the event of a warrant after the prisoner’s release. The photographer would not have wasted ink and time printing every carte on verso when the verso would never be visible. These cartes were co-owned by the government AND the photographer contracted on tender to produce them. Just one carte with the photographer’s official stamp verso per batch of 100 cartes was required by the the Customs and Patents Act. Primarily these cartes were legal instruments stamped with the government contractor’s Royal Arms insignia similar to the seal of the Hobart Supreme Court where many were taken. Their primary function was police records, unlike Thomas Nevin’s other cartes-de-visite of private citizens and those taken on commission, many of which bear his commercial stamps on verso or impressed on mount. No photographer’s stamp other than T. J. Nevin’s appears on these convict cartes-de-visite. … More Prisoner records of Allan WILLIAMSON and William SMITH