Captain Edward Goldsmith and friends, 1849

Francis Knowles, the reporter on the Hobart Courier who did attend Captain Goldsmith’s testimonial that Wednesday in January 1849, was well-known to barrister Edward Macdowell. Back in February 1846 Edward Macdowell had defended a Frenchman, Oscar Tondeur, who was accused of assaulting Francis Knowles – of whipping him about the shoulders, according to one account – because of a published article about the New Norfolk Regatta which Tondeur was led to believe was intended to ridicule his mannerisms and command of the English language. Knowles had likened him to the Punch and Judy “foreign gentleman” character that gained his name from the only utterance  he could muster – “Shallabalah”. The case raised laughter when heard at the Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, where Edwin Midwood, police information clerk, eagerly corroborated barrister Macdowell’s argument in lieu of the “certain ladies” who told Tondeur the slur was indeed Knowle’s intention. Always up for mischief, this was the same Edwin Midwood who most likely contributed to photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s dismissal from the position of Keeper at the Hobart Town Hall in December 1880 when Nevin was thought to be the “ghost” frightening the girls of Hobart Town at night dressed in a white sheet. Since Edwin Midwood never confessed to the prank, he is remembered principally nowadays as the father of another humourist, cartoonist Tom Midwood. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and friends, 1849

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

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

When a carte-de-visite taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the early 1870s was acquired for our private collection in 2013, the sitters were simply described as an unidentified “wealthy” couple. Examination of their facial features and general demeanour alongside earlier photographs showing – potentially – the same two people as their younger selves, prompted further investigation. Once a tentative comparison was made with photographs taken by George Cherry of himself and his wife Matilda in the 1850s-1860s, the possibility emerged that these two might be one and the same. Given the unhappy circumstances of their meagre finances and the failing health of both Matilda and George between 1870-1873, the way they dressed for the occasion, the way they posed and the way they regarded the photographer, led to the conclusion that this couple who sat for Thomas J. Nevin in 1872 may well have been Mary Ann Matilda James (1836-1873) who married photographer George Cherry (1820-1878) at Hobart in 1855. … More George and Matilda Cherry at Thomas Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

Sarah Crouch at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

“SEVERAL Ladies having been long impressed with the desolate state of females occupying the sphere of domestic servants on leaving their situations while seeking others, the following ideas have been suggested: –
“That a society of ladies be formed, the design of which shall be to protect ALL lone female servants, and afford such advice as experience dictates and by judicious care and oversight prevent exposure to many evils which strangers in the colony are subject to; and also to provide a “Home” to ALL female servants willing to avail themselves of its privileges at a rate within the reach of their limited means. The “Home” will be conducted as much as possible in accordance with similar Institutions in London. Such a home will preclude the necessity of the well-intentioned taking up their abode with persons whose object is gain to themselves, though it should be the destruction of their supporters. With this view the ladies have taken a house in High-street, near the New Town Road (a respectable neighbourhood) at a very moderate rent, in which there is a sitting-room, with table requisites for the use of the inmates, and all necessary utensil for cooking, washing, &c – the dormitories furnished with beds, bedding, and everything necessary to the comfort of those desirous of placing themselves under the guardianship of the ladies….” … More Sarah Crouch at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio ca. 1872

Thomas Nevin’s stereographs from the Pedder collection

Lawyers, barristers, magistrates, politicians, police superintendents, detectives, their families and their prisoners were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin from the late 1860s to the 1880s. The Pedder family of magistrates and police officers, the family of solicitor John Woodcock Graves the younger, the McVilly family of teachers and police officers, and the family of Attorney-General the Hon. W. R. Giblin, all made use of Thomas J. Nevin’s commission with the colonial government’s Lands and Survey Department, the Municipal Police Office and Mayor’s Court, and the Hobart City Corporation to provide them with stereographic views and carte-de-visite portraits. The stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868-1870 of the Lady Franklin Museum, Kangaroo Valley bearing the inscription “A. Pedder” on verso, is one of least four held in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collections. Solicitor Alfred Pedder (1881-1977) may have kept these stereographs by Thomas Nevin from the estate of his father, Police Superintendent Frederick Pedder (1841-1923) who was a colleague of Nevin’s at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart. Alfred Pedder’s daughter Sylvia in turn may have donated them to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in the 1970s … More Thomas Nevin’s stereographs from the Pedder collection

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

A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

This stereograph by Thomas Nevin foregrounds an unidentified young woman, who may have been one of event organiser John Woodcock Graves’ four young daughters – Mimi (b. 1862), Mathinna (Matte b. 1859) Trucaninni (Truca b. 1864), the latter two both given Tasmanian Aboriginal names – or even fourteen year old Jean Porthouse Graves (b. 1858) who collected these photographs of the trip by Thomas Nevin for her album (see her portraits by Nevin below). This young woman with a steady gaze and fully rounded face, however, was possibly in her late teens. As she is sitting next to Henry Dresser Atkinson (1841–1921), she may have been his fiancee Sarah-Ann Ward (b. 1841 Launceston). Their son  Henry Bruné Dresser, born  on 17th  March 1874 at Gordon, Tasmania, was nursed – so legend goes – by Tasmanian Aboriginal  woman Trugernanner (Truganini) (1812–1876). Henry Dresser Atkinson’s first appointment on arrival from England was the Channel mission at Oyster Cove where Truganini’s group had been relocated to her traditional territory. … More A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

Why shave? Thomas Nevin and the pogonophiles

Rapid progress from the shaved face of the 1850s to a bearded appearance, which started during the Crimean War, reached its peak in the 1870s. Designated by Victorian Britons as the”beard movement”, it promoted an ideology which contended that a beard represented elemental masculinity. Potential health benefits were touted for the beard: it acted as a filter against disease, capturing germs and protecting teeth, especially where men employed in mining and industry were assaulted daily with dust and rubbish. The beard also provided other benefits such as a healthy skin, protection from sunburn, and a means to keep warm in winter. Those who adopted this love of beards were labelled “pogonophiles”. … More Why shave? Thomas Nevin and the pogonophiles

Thomas Nevin and Frederick Stops, right-hand man to the A-G

The verso of this photograph carries Thomas Nevin’s most common commercial studio stamp and the wording “This by W. J. T. Stops Esq.”which suggests that the photograph was presented to Frederick Stops by Nevin in 1868, perhaps as a gift to Emily Stops on the birth of their daughter, and was then passed down to his son W. J. T. Stops, who subsequently donated it to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery from the Stops estate or even from the University archives (Royal Society Collection) where more of Nevin’s photographs are held. It was then inscribed by an archivist on accession with the note – “This by W.J.T. Stops Esq” … More Thomas Nevin and Frederick Stops, right-hand man to the A-G

With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart

Two tall thin metal statues of a beggar and a harlequin flank the group on either side. Their significance and provenance is not known. Perhaps they were cast by a local sculptor for private decorative use, or they may have featured as props in a theatrical production, or even confiscated by Lukin Boyes at the Customs and Tariff Office. But it is the lion statue in the foreground which is the focal point of the image. It belonged to John Woodcock Graves’ family of Caldew, West Hobart. A later photograph taken of Jean Porthouse Graves ca. 1877 shows it placed near the doorway of the house. This stereograph taken by Thomas Nevin and the one immediately below it of members of the Graves, Miller and Boyes families were possibly taken on the same day, ca. 1870 and in the same location, at the back of Caldew when West Hobart was still a sparse “wilderness”. … More With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart

Miscarriage of justice: the case of John MAYNE 1874

Thirty-three year old John Mayne was a Member of the Table Cape Road Trust when he was wrongfully convicted for rape in January 1874. A sentence of death was recorded which was remitted to 15 years. He was released 10 months later, in December 1874 after protracted protests in the press and several juror capitulations, the same jurors who had initially returned a verdict of guilty after two hours’ deliberation at the trial (13 January 1874), a case strongly defended by John Mayne’s barrister R. Byron Miller. Thomas Nevin photographed John Mayne on arrival at the Hobart Gaol from the Supreme Court, Launceston, in February 1874 before Mayne was sent to the Port Arthur prison, from where he was discharged as “Free.” The release was effected by barrister R. Byron Miller and Attorney-General W. R. Giblin, two key members of the legal fraternity along with John Woodcock Graves jnr, whose endorsement of Thomas J. Nevin as government contractor for the provision of prisoner identification photographs was effected in 1872 and extended through to the late 1880s. Thomas Nevin also provided portraits of these lawyers, including members of their respective families. … More Miscarriage of justice: the case of John MAYNE 1874

Hobart Gaol camera and mugshot books 1891-1901

This camera was used by the (as yet) unidentified photographer at the Hobart Gaol from the 1890s. Prior to the 1890s, prisoners were photographed by Constable John Nevin who was resident at the Gaol until his death from typhoid fever in 1891, working with his brother, commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin who attended the gaol and Supreme Court sessions on a weekly roster. They used two rooms above the women’s laundry as a studio. The cameras they used were wet plate, multi-lens cameras such as the 1860s American Scovill (possibly Peck) style wet-plate camera with four Darlot No.4 lenses, a Simon Wing ‘Repeating’ camera, or a stereoscopic, sliding box type, wet plate (wood, brass & glass), by Ottewill & Co, lenses manufactured by A Ross, London, England, 1860 – 1870. … More Hobart Gaol camera and mugshot books 1891-1901

Thomas Nevin’s VIP commission 1872

Between 31st January and 2nd February 1872, Hobart photographer Thomas J. Nevin accompanied two parties of VIPs on boat trips down the Derwent River: to Adventure Bay at Bruny Island, and to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. On the 31st January he took a series of photographs of a party of “colonists” which included Sir John O’Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria, on their day trip to Adventure Bay on the eastern side of Bruny Island. They travelled on board The City of Hobart, commanded by Captain John Clinch. … More Thomas Nevin’s VIP commission 1872