A PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT. – Mr T. J. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street, has performed a feat in photography which may be justly regarded as a literary curiosity. He has succeeded in legibly producing the front page of The Mercury of Wednesday, the 23 inst., on a card three inches by two inches. Many of the advertisements could be read without the aid of a glass, and the seven columns admit of a margin all round the card. … More Thomas Nevin’s Christmas feat 1874
One example of excessive damage to the original glass plate is evident in this print taken from the negative of Nevin’s only sitting with prisoner Peter Killeen in the week preceding the 20th January, 1875, when Killeen was discharged from the Hobart Gaol. He was given a life sentence for assault and robbery in 1856, and when discharged in 1875 with a ticket-of-leave, he was 64 yrs old. He subsequently re-offended, was sentenced to a further 6 weeks and discharged again on 29 September 1875. Peter Killeen offended again within six months of discharge. He was given a sentence of seven (7) years for larceny at the Supreme Court Hobart on 8th March, 1876, sent to the Port Arthur prison, arriving there on 6th April, 1876, and transferred back to the Hobart Gaol on 17th April, 1877. Peter Killeen died from senile decay, aged 76 yrs, as a Prisoner of the Crown at the Hobart Gaol on 27th June, 1889. See originals of these records here.
The only image, whether extant as duplicates of the carte-de-visite or negative prints surviving from Peter Killeen’s criminal sentences is the one taken by Thomas Nevin at his single sitting with the prisoner in January 1875. The scratched condition of the glass plate by the time of Killeen’s death in 1889 at the Hobart Gaol is evidence of repeated use, the print showing even more wear and tear than the other 39 prints used by Beattie for the line-up of 40 on his three panels created in 1915. … More Thomas Nevin’s glass plates of prisoners 1870s
Failure of trust had marked Captain Goldsmith’s experiences with Hobartonians since the year of departure of his good friend, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane Franklin in 1843. Sir William Denison, the Colony’s governor in 1849 was most enthusiastic about Captain Goldsmith’s plans for a patent slip, but the government’s refusal to recompense him fully for expenses in building the twin steamer the Kangaroo, had already led to major disappointment. The final insult came with the government not meeting their own terms of agreement in promising assistance to build the patent slip. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the patent slip 1855
Within a week of being reinstated, Blakeney was intent on compromising Nevin. He had most likely coerced the other two constables, Oakes and Priest, to invent the story that “the ghost” had appeared in Nevin’s company, since their witness accounts were not consistent. Nevin denied having seen anyone dressed in a white sheet. Blakeney’s demotion was the result of intoxication, and he was intent on making Nevin suffer the same fate when he sought out Nevin on the night of the arrest. … More Constable Blakeney’s revenge on Thomas Nevin 1880
Captain William Bunster (1793-1854) – a successful merchant and one of the earliest colonists of Van Diemen's Land – was given a convivial farewell dinner at the Union Club in Hobart, Tasmania, which The Mercury reported in some detail on March 2nd, 1841. The occasion was to mark his final farewell to the colony; he was not to know at that dinner that he would be returning within two years.
Among the 35 or so members at the dinner was Elizabeth Rachel Nevin's uncle, Captain Edward Goldsmith, master and commander of the barque, the Wave on which the Bunster family (his wife Anna and four sons) would voyage to England, departing on 14th March and arriving on 22 July 1841. … More Captain Goldsmith’s humorous remark at Wm Bunster’s dinner 1841
Elizabeth Nevin’s uncle and benefactor, master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith, first arrived in Van Diemen’s land in 1830 and departed never to return in 1856. He retired to Gad’s Hill, Kent, and became a neighbour of Charles Dickens in 1857. He did not become a colonist, nor did he profit directly from convict transportation. His many and varied services during those years to the mercantile, horticultural and shipping development of the colony were inestimable. He bought and sold land, built a patent slip and steam ferry, sat on civic committees, established a marine insurance company, and set up a permanent residence for his family at lower Davey Street, Hobart, although he was away at sea for most of every year. The playwright and journalist David Burn who met him in Sydney in 1845, noted in his diary that Captain Goldsmith’s turnaround was eight months (SLNSW Call No: B190): from England via the Americas or the Cape of Good Hope to the Australian colonies for a single a round trip took just eight months, and during all those voyages not one major incident was ever reported (apart from his very first command on the James to W.A. in 1830 … … More Captain Edward Goldsmith in Davey Street Hobart 1854
Constable John Nevin (1852-1891), brother of photographer Thomas J. Nevin, was stationed at the Cascades Gaol and Reformatory from April 1875. He was on duty at the burial of Trucanini regarded then as the “last Tasmanian Aboriginal” on 10th-11th May 1876 at the Cascades cemetery. Located on a patch of ground -“a vacant spot opposite the Cascades” as the press described it (South Australian Register 12 May 1876) – that patch is now identified as No. 2, Nevin Street … … More Constable John Nevin at Trucanini’s funeral 1876
The friendship between these two photographers, Thomas J. Nevin and John Watt Beattie extended back to 1887 on the death of Thomas Nevin’s father, John Nevin at the family house and farm adjacent to the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (renamed Lenah Valley in 1922). It had long been a wish of John Nevin that the Franklin Museum be restored to its original purpose when first built on Jane Franklin’s land, named Ancanthe, as a library and botanical museum, but by 1887, it was little more than a storage shed for local orchardists and farmers. As a gesture towards reviving John Nevin’s wish, before his own death in 1930, John Watt Beattie approached the Hobart City Corporation with a proposal to house his vast convictaria collection in the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) but the HCC declined. … More John Watt Beattie and the Nevin family legacy
A Grand Ball was held at the Victoria Theatre, Hobart on 20th December 1855 in honour of the service rendered to the colony by the 99th Regiment on the eve of their final departure, attended by Captain Goldsmith among a distinguished group of invitees.
The First Waltz on the Programme, “Les Adieux,” was composed by Miss J. V. Smith for the occasion of the “Departure of the 99th Regt. from Hobart Town”. … More Departure of Captain Goldsmith and the 99th Regiment 1855
This photograph – a standard 1870s carte-de-visite prisoner identification photograph produced by Thomas J. Nevin – has escaped the attention of photo-historians of the 1870s Tasmanian prisoners’ identification photographs, the so-called “Port Arthur convict portraits 1874” labelled and catalogued as such in Australian national collections, viz. the National Library of Australia, Canberra, and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston. It belongs to the same series of fine albumen prints of prisoners taken by commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin for the Hobart Gaol and Hobart Municipal Police authorities from 1872- 1880. … More Prisoner Robert aka James OGDEN, photographed by Nevin 1875
MR LIPSCOMBE and CAPTAIN GOLDSMITH
Elizabeth Nevin’s uncle, Captain Edward Goldsmith, master mariner of merchant ships from London to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)from the 1830s until his retirement back in Kent (UK) in 1856, and Hobart businessman and nurseryman Frederick Lipscombe, had maintained a friendly and profitable business relationship over twenty years until one day in June 1853, they had a very public falling-out over the Mammoth Strawberry, or so it seemed at first blush. … More Mr Lipscombe, Captain Goldsmith and the Mammoth Strawberry
DISAMBIGUATION: Three James Day names
Right at the outset we stress that this James Day was not a relative of photographer Thomas Nevin’s wife Elizabeth Rachel Day, nor was he related to her father by the name of Captain James Day, master mariner, who was born on 6 June 1806 in Yorkshire and died in Hobart on 17 November 1882, nor to Captain James Day’s first cousin, Captain Henry James Day of the 99th Regiment, guard captain of the Candahar 1842.
However, while researching the name “James Day”, the Old Bailey trial records and the transportation records of another “James Day” surfaced, a Londoner aged 52yrs old, who was transported for seven years to VDL on board the ship Sarah in 1836. Not many men of his advanced years were transported. These are his records and his story up to his death in 1863. … More Disambiguation: James Day 52 yrs old and transported to VDL 1836
The patent slip at the Queen’s Domain in Hobart was established by Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle, Captain Edward Goldsmith, in 1854 from machinery he brought out from London on his favorite trading barque The Rattler. He obtained a long lease on the foreshore of the Domain to lay the slip on the condition that the terms of the lease were fulfilled. When he withdrew from the lease in 1855 due to the death of his 25 yr old son Richard Sydney Goldsmith only months earlier, among other reasons to do with costs and prison labor, Captain Alexander McGregor bought Captain Goldsmith’s interest. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the McGregor family
THE ODD FELLOWS’ HALL – A very fine photograph of the Odd Fellows’ Hall (corner of Davey and Harrington-streets) has been taken for the Society by Mr. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street. The view is taken from Davey-street, opposite the corner of the Freemasons’ Hotel, and thus shows the entrance to the rooms, with the whole front and side of the buildings. A well-known member of the institution, and a less known youth, have come within the range of the camera, and their presence greatly assists in conveying an idea of the dimensions of the hall. The picture is undoubtedly creditable to the artist. … More The Odd Fellows’ Hall photograph 1871
The eight rioters “were charged with riotously injuring a building”, “riotously injuring the Town Hall” and specifically – “the breaking open of the ante-room of the Town Hall” . The charges would have incurred a severe penal code punishment of seven years’ imprisonment and a trial at the Supreme Court. However, Attorney-General Giblin sought to substitute the charge with the lesser one of disturbing the peace, and at this sitting, reported in The Mercury on 11th July 1879, the charges were withdrawn entirely because of Giblin’s concern with excessive costs involved in such a trial.
T. J. NEVIN’S STUDIO, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart PHOTOCHEMICALS & tutorials ELIZABETH RACHEL NEVIN portraits “Look for a long time at what pleases you and longer still at what pains you.” Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954) Photographed from her husband Thomas J. Nevin’s original. Carte-de-visite of Elizabeth Rachel Day, ca. 1870-71. Married on July 12, 1871 to … More The Photographer’s wife at the studio
Samuel Page held the government contracts for the Royal Mail coach deliveries between Hobart and Launceston, and contracted Nevin for photographic advertisements of his coachline. Samuel Page lived at Belle Vue, New Town, a villa with stables, paddocks and gardens. He transported prisoners under government contract from regional stations and courts to be “received” at H.M. Gaol, Hobart, accompanied by constables. … More Samuel Page’s Royal Mail coach
MOTTO of the ROYAL SCOTS
“Nemo me impune Lacessit”. “No-one touches me with impunity” (or “Dinna mess wi’ me!”)
While research into the life and times of photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) in Tasmania has uncovered many fascinating aspects of Australian colonial history, the life and times of his father John Nevin (1808-1887) opens up many more vistas on key world events. Here are details of his service with the Royal Scots 1st Regiment in Canada. … More John Nevin in the Royal Scots at the Canadian Rebellion 1837-38
On a dry Spring afternoon, a day or so before 19th September, 1879, a reporter at The Mercury newspaper office looked out his window and across the street to the Hobart Town Hall, sized up the state of the saplings struggling to survive in front of the portico, and sat down to pen a vituperative paragraph about the “caretaker” who, he insinuated, considered himself above a task as trivial as watering the trees. … More Watering the Town Hall trees too “infra dig” for the caretaker
Mr Nevin, photographer, Elizabeth-street, appears in this advertisement as an agent able to take orders for the delivery of coal from the Excelsior Coal Mine which was located on Mr Ebenezer Sims property at Kangaroo Bottom (Kangaroo Valley New Town), in close proximity to the home of Nevin’s parents. This coal was for domestic use but may have been included in the coal specimens which were exported to the Royal Colonial Institute, accompanied by James Boyd on board the Ethel in 1874. … More The Excelsior Coal Mine at New Town 1874
On February 2, 1872 Thomas J. Nevin placed an advertisement in The Mercury informing the public and visitors (tourists) that his photographs, taken on a Colonists’ Trip down the River Derwent to Adventure Bay on the eastern side of Bruny Island, were ready and for sale. … More The Colonists’ Trip to Adventure Bay 1872
Personal friendships, mutual business support and Lodge affiliations ensured priority and preference, and in Nevin’s case, his family solicitor, Attorney-General W.R. Giblin, and his Loyal United Brothers membership played a key role in the offer to provide the Municipal and Territorial Police, and the Prisons Department with identification photographs of convicted criminals. “A first-class faithful likeness” is exactly what the police wanted of the prisoner and ex-convict population. … More A first-class faithful Likeness February 1873
Thomas Nevin, photographer, 140 Elizabeth-street, Hobart, inserted an advertisement in The Mercury which appeared over several weeks during September 1875, soliciting applications from the medical profession for services to members and families of the Loyal United Brothers’ Lodge. … More Thomas Nevin and the Loyal United Brothers Lodge
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
On or about the 1st December 1874, Thomas J. Nevin pledged his support in the upcoming Hobart Municipal Council elections for Alderman candidate John Perkins Junior Esq. The Mercury newspaper customarily printed these formal pledges as a discursive solicitation by the supporters, and then provided a lengthy list of their names every week until the close of the election. … More Thos. Jas. Nevin sr, John Perkins jr, and W.R. Giblin
Seasons Greetings 2009 to all our readers, researchers, contributors and extended family.
Visitors to Thomas J. Nevin’s weblogs on 2nd January 2010 at midday:
On Christmas Day, 25th December 1874, The Mercury newspaper (Tasmania) published a notice which served the dual purpose of praising Nevin’s photographic talents and suggesting by way of praise that the “literary curiosity” would make a great gift as a Christmas card: … More Christmas 1874: Thomas Nevin’s photographic feat
When Thomas Nevin sat down to read The Mercury on the morning of 24th October 1872 and turned to an article reprinted from the London papers on “the valuable working of the Prevention of Crimes Act, or as it is better known, the Habitual Criminals Act” of 1871, he was more than aware of the use of photography by police. He had already taken photographs of prisoners at the Hobart Gaol at the behest of his solicitor and mentor since 1868, Attorney-General William Robert GIBLIN.. … More 19th century prison photography: Tasmania 1872
Tasmanian professional photographers Thomas J. Nevin and Samuel Clifford were close friends and business partners from the 1860s until Samuel Clifford’s death in 1890. On this tour, they travelled on the main road north from Hobart to Launceston via Bothwell. In the final week of September 1874, while passing through Bothwell, 45 miles north of Hobart, they were enjoined to photograph the procession of Templars attending a large meeting. The Mercury reported their arrival in the town in a long account of the meeting, published on 26 September, 1874 … More On the road with Sam Clifford and Thomas Nevin 1874
An eventful week …. June 26, 1879 Francis Shearan, Photo by T.J. Nevin 1878 The Hobart newspaper The Mercury of June 26, 1879 was a special edition in many ways for Thomas Nevin. It contained a dramatic account of the riot at the Town Hall the previous evening, details of which may well have been … More The case of prisoner Francis SHEARAN
Commercial photographer Alfred Winter (1837-1911) was fond of fashionable society and grand landscapes. On Saturdays and Sundays he would travel to beauty spots with his apprentice, Frank Miller, who had a prison record, and who ended up in Detective Connor’s custody for the appropriation of Winter’s photographs, valued at 6 shillings: … More Apprentices: The Good, The Bad and The Careless
“A ZOOLOGICAL CURIOSITY. — Mr. Nevin, Town Hall keeper, yesterday brought to our office what Artemus Ward would undoubtedly have christened “an interesting little cus.” It is of the feline order, and has a perfect black coat. The head and body and voice are decidedly pussy’s; but there the relationship with that useful domestic animal ceases. The legs belong to the order of kangaroo rat, and it is quite amusing to see the little stranger perch himself up on his haunches, or drag himself slowly along by the aid of the fore part of the fore legs, which instead of being erect, as in the cat, falls flat on the ground, and so produces that roundness of the body which is the marked feature in the kangaroo… … More A Zoological Curiosity at the Town Hall 1877
AN ORNITHOLOGICAL DISASTER.– A young Emu the property of Mr. Nevin keeper of the Town Hall, came to an untimely end last week by being strangled in trying to force itself through the fence of the paddock in which it was kept at the rear of the Town Hall. The owner states his intention to present the Emu to the Royal Society’s Museum. … More An Ornithological Disaster: Thomas Nevin’s emu 1878
A PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT. – Mr T. J. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street, has performed a feat in photography which may be justly regarded as a literary curiosity. He has succeeded in legibly producing the front page of The Mercury of Wednesday, the 23 inst., on a card three inches by two inches. Many of the advertisements could be read without the aid of a glass, and the seven columns admit of a margin all round the card. … More Thomas Nevin’s Christmas cards 1874
THE TRIP DOWN THE RIVER.- A photograph of the “Colonists’ Trip” has been very well taken by Mr. Nevin, which will be of special interest to those who took part, and will probably like to secure this remembrance of so memorable event. … More Thomas Nevin and H.H. Baily at the Regatta 1872
WHITE HAWK.- We were yesterday shown a fine specimen of this bird wounded in Kangaroo Valley by Mr. Nevin. The bird is the common White Hawk (Leucospiza Novae Hollandiae) of this colony and Australia, and is well figured in Gould’s large work on Australian Birds under the name of Astur Novae Hollandiae. Gould was formerly of opinion that the White Hawk was merely an albino variety of the New Holland Goshawk, but in his more recent work the “Handbook of Birds of Australia,” he has placed it under the genus Leucospiza. This hawk is by no means rare. … More John Nevin and Gould’s white goshawk
This image of a building is not a vignetted carte-de-visite photograph of a man in prison clothing, yet the curator of photographs at the State Library of NSW, Alan Davies, is proposing it is sufficient evidence to warrant a claim that A.H. Boyd was a photographer, and to extend that claim to a proposition that Boyd was also the photographer of the “bulk” of the 300 extant prisoner cartes, despite all the available evidence of attribution to Thomas J. Nevin. As recently as August 2009, Alan Davies maintained that proposition, which is founded in the cliched equation “Tasmania + convicts=Port Arthur” … … More Fraudulent pretensions
In early 1977, Special Collections Librarian at the State Library of Tasmania, G.T. Stilwell, established from archival records (AOT MB 2/98) that parents John and Mary Nevin had arrived in Hobart in 1852 with four children: Thomas, Mary Ann, Rebecca, and William John (Jack). He forwarded this information in a letter to the QVMAG where curator John McPhee was preparing an exhibitions of Thomas Nevin’s photographs of convicts taken in the 1870s… … More The early deaths of Thomas Nevin’s sisters Rebecca and Mary