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
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
“We have the sad duty today of recording the sudden death of Captain John Clinch, of the T. S. N. Co.’s steamer Southern Cross, which occurred on Tuesday, at Sydney. The first intimation of the sad event was received here yesterday morning by a telegram, dated Sydney, 8th June, 1.15 p.m., from the company’s agents. The telegram was as follows :—” We grieve to report the death of Captain Clinch. He fell on the bridge just after the steamer left the wharf. Dr. Alloway saw him within about ten minutes, and pronounced him -dead. Mr. Lewis, chief officer, is to proceed on the voyage, taking charge of the body to Hobart Town, after inquest to-morrow morning.” Another telegram was received last evening, announcing that, the Southern Cross sailed from Sydney at 2 p.m. yesterday with the remains of Captain Clinch on board, the inquest having been dispensed with. The steamer may therefore be expected here on Saturday morning….” … More Captain Goldsmith, Captain Clinch, & the Tasmanian Steamship Navigation Co.
The black and white print from another negative taken ca. 1872 of the same location from the same viewpoint with a telegraph pole (?) now evident in the centre of the image is correctly identified as the abbatoirs at Cattle Jetty, Queens Domain, owned and managed by the Hobart City Council. Thomas Nevin would have taken the original photograph a few years earlier under commission as government contractor for the Lands and Survey Dept. of the HCC, and supplied the Council with prints in various formats including a stereograph and unmounted cdv, with at least one photograph printed verso with the Royal Arms insignia of his official government contract stamp. The hand-coloured stereograph to survive bears no stamp verso, which suggests it was randomly saved from the HCC archives, or even studio rejects, and subsequently coloured by family members of a commercial client of Samuel Clifford’s (see stereo below) when reprinted from Nevin’s original sometime before 1878. … More The abbatoir and cattle yard stereograph ca.1870
An unusual photograph taken ca. 1868 by Thomas J. Nevin which combines a close-up portrait of a male adult seated extreme right foreground who hides his face as if to avoid recognition, with a background vista of New Norfolk (Tasmania) taken from across the River Derwent of the bridge and the substantial residence, Woodbridge, of Mr William Stanley Sharland (1801-1877), Assistant-Surveyor, pioneer hop grower, and Member of the House of Assembly. This photograph may have been an attempt by Nevin at a “selfie” in the loose mid-19th century sense of the term, or indeed it may be the figure of friend and colleague Samuel Clifford with whom Thomas Nevin travelled around Tasmania taking stereographs and portraits from the mid-1860s until Clifford’s retirement in 1878. … More Bridge over the Derwent at New Norfolk 1850s-1890s
How cheap was “cheap”? Three years previously, when Thomas Nevin was assistant in Alfred Bock’s studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart before Bock’s departure and Nevin &Smith acquiring the business, he would have taken exception to the word “cheap” directed at Alfred Bock’s practice. The dispute about the ownership and copyright of the sennotype process between Henry Frith and Alfred Bock in 1864-1865 embittered both to the point of deciding to quit Tasmania. Frith’s rates for carte-de-visite portraits were expensive, two for 10/-, and his disdain for “cheap trash palmed off on the public as cheap photography” was loudly proclaimed in this advertisement in the Mercury of 6th April 1864. … More Tombstones copied, Terms: – Cheap!
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
CAPTAIN EDWARD GOLDSMITH conveyancing LAKE ST CLAIR Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) “This part of the country unknown” north of the Great Lake was printed on the Surveyor-General’s map of Van Diemen’s Land in 1824. Of course that part of the country – as every other part – was known to the Aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the land at Lake St Clair 1841
This is the only extant image of former convict James Cronin (1824-1885). It was either reprinted from an earlier photograph, or it was taken by the Anson brothers, photographers, as a portrait in their studios in the 1880s, i.e. it was therefore a privately commissioned portrait, and this is evident from both the street clothes, the pose of the sitter, and of course, his age (late 50’s). It is not a police photograph, ie. a mugshot pasted to a criminal record sheet, unlike those taken by Thomas Nevin for the express use of police authorities, because James Cronin was not an habitual offender, at least, he was never convicted and sentenced under his own name in the decades 1860s-1880s or up to his death in 1885 at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane, Hobart. The Tasmanian Police Gazettes of those decades registered no offence for James Cronin, nor even an inquest when he died of pulmonary apoplexy on July 16, 1885. … More The Anson Bros photograph of ex-convict James CRONIN
The 1935 Hobart Walkers Club map (detail above) shows two very distinct routes to the southeast which John Nevin might have chosen in the 1870s on his journey from the family farm at Kangaroo Valley, situated next to the Lady Franklin Museum where Thomas and John’s father John Nevin snr had built their cottage. Whether on foot or horseback, the first and longer route he could have taken was along Kangaroo Valley road, alternatively titled Lenah Valley Road by 1922, to the waterhole and the cabin named by the Old Hobartians (alumni of Hobart High School) as their own by 1935. He would then veer south on the path to the New Town Falls, crossing Brushy Creek until arriving at the edge of a very steep ravine . Once there, he would join the McRobies track until arriving at the Hobart Rivulet, passing below the Cascades Brewery. The track, much wider at that point, passed by the cemetery, and ended directly opposite the Cascades Prison… … More Nevin Street and the Cascades Prison for Males
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
The WATERLOO 1832
Despite the trials and calamities which beset his very first command as a young master of the James on the voyage to the Swan River, Western Australia, in 1830, Captain Edward Goldsmith returned to London on board the Norval via Hobart and Sydney (dep. 26 April 1831) to command another ship bound for the port of Hobart, the Waterloo (not to be confused with the convict transport the Waterloo which was shipwrecked at Cape Town in 1842). First Mate on board the Waterloo (1832) was his brother-in-law, James Day, arriving 5 August at Hobart and 22 August at Sydney. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the Waterloo 1832
A selection of portrait photos from the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage collection of early Tasmanian gaol records (1860-1902) posted to Flickr. See the earlier article on this blog about the photograph of Hugh Cohen. … More Tasmanian prisoner records from TAHO at Flickr
Thomas Rielly/Ryley/Riley was photographed by Nevin on the prisoner’s discharge, February 12, 1875. Thomas Riley’s mugshot is missing from the original goal record now held at Tasmanian Archives and Heritage, Ref: GD 6719. It was removed and sent to the National Library of Australia, at an unknown date and by an unknown person. This sort of defacement of original prison records, and the subsequent acquisition of this and the rest of the Tasmanian prisoner mugshots held at the NLA, has contributed to their staff’s recently professed ignorance of both their “convicts” photographs’ provenance and photographer attribution. Instead, isolated as artistic artefacts within their collection they are loosely titled “Port Arthur convicts 1874” despite widely variant dates of capture, and co-opted to the fictions promulgated by opportunistic individuals taking advantage of the absence of context. … More Mugshots removed; prisoner Thomas RILEY or Ryley/Reilly
The “T. Nevin Late A. Bock” portrait of a middle-aged couple with a dog was hand-tinted by the family who purchased it or by subsequent owners. Such inept colouring was not the work of Nevin himself. His own family portraits show delicate and precise tinting. Other heavily tinted portraits bearing the same studio stamp used by Nevin for commercial portraiture into the early 1870s show the owners’ preference for red and violet colours. This portrait of a couple with dog is unusual in that green and brown colours were used. In all these extant cartes-de-visite portraits bearing Nevin’s stamp which were coloured subsequent to purchase, it is the carpet which has received the most savage treatment. The strange blobs defy conventional perspective, although the intention may have been the opposite. This carte – as with many of the others bearing amateurish daubs – probably originated from the same family in northern Tasmania. … More Two couples, two dogs by A. Bock and T. Nevin
THE UNION CHAPEL
Samuel Clifford and partner Thomas Nevin produced this photograph as a stereograph of the Congregational Union Chapel in Bathurst Street Hobart not long after it was built by the Rev. J. W. Simmons in 1863. It was also known as “The Helping Hand Mission” . In 1892 the Congregational Union held a flower show at the Chapel to raise much needed funds for repairs to the building. Tom and May Nevin – the two eldest of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s six children – entered chrysanthemums and flower arrangements as a contribution. … More Tom and May Nevin at the Union Chapel flower show 1892
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
Wife of photographer Thomas Nevin, Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, was named after her father’s sister Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day who married Captain Edward Goldsmith at Liverpool, UK, in 1829. Captain and Elizabeth Goldsmith had two sons: Richard Sidney, born 1830, NSW, who died aged 25yrs in Hobart, in 1854. Their second son was named after his father, Edward Goldsmith, born at Rotherhithe, UK on December 12,1836. He accompanied his parents on several voyages to Hobart from London before attending Trinity and Caius Colleges Cambridge in 1856-7. In 1855, when Edward Goldsmith jnr was 19 years old, he accompanied his father to the Governor’s Levee, a grand ball held at Government House, Hobart by the incumbent, Sir William Denison. His cousins, the Day sisters, still children, would have been deeply impressed by their older cousin’s account of this fine affair. … More The Governor’s Levee 1855: Captain Goldsmith and son
Captain Henry James Day (1804-1882), first cousin of Thomas Nevin’s father-in-law, master mariner Captain James Day, was Guard Captain of the 3rd detachment of 99th Regiment of Foot on board the convict transport Candahar when it arrived in Hobart in 1842 with 60 troops under his command, and 249 male convicts. Also on board were a “lady and four children”, several soldiers’ families and government stores. The Candahar was a 4 gun barque of 642 tons built in Shields in 1840, class A1 which departed Spithead, England on the 2nd April 1842, docking in Van Dieman’s Land on the 21st July 1842. Captain Day’s arrival was noted in the Hobart Town Courier. The regiment was stationed at the Anglesea Barracks, Hobart. … More Captain Henry James Day of the 99th Regiment
Thomas Nevin’s sister-in-law Mary Sophia Axup nee Day, chaired a meeting in 1913 of the Tasmanian Workers’ Political League, the forerunner of the Australian Labor Party, seeking nominations for Labor candidates to stand for the seat of Bass in the forthcoming Federal election: … More Mary Sophia Axup chair of the WPL 1913
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
-Upon receiving the cup, Capt. Goldsmith remarked that he would retain the token until death ; and, with reference to some observations made by Mr. Carter, intimated it was not improbable he should next year, by settling in Van Diemen’s Land with Mrs. Goldsmith, become a fellow-colonist.
-The goblet, which was manufactured by Mr. C. Jones, of Liverpool-street, bears the following inscription:-“Presented to Captain Goldsmith, of the ship Rattler, as a slight testimonial for having introduced many rare and valuable plants into Van Diemen’s Land. January, 1849.” The body has a surrounding circlet of vine leaves in relief. The inscription occupies the place of quarterings in a shield supported the emu and kangaroo in bas relief, surmounting a riband scroll with the Tasmanian motto-” Sic fortis Hobartia crevit.” The foot has a richly chased border of fruit and flowers. In the manufacture of this cup, for the first time in this colony, the inside has undergone the process of gilding. … More Testimonial to Captain Edward Goldsmith 1849
The Electoral Rolls and Valuation Rolls for the district of Glenorchy, Tasmania show John Nevin occupying the school house and dwelling at Kangaroo Valley from at least 1858 up to 1887, the year of his death. In 1875, he applied to the Education Board to establish a night school for adult males. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds numerous stereographs of the school house at Kangaroo Valley taken by his son Thomas Nevin … … More John Nevin snr and the Genge family
The photographer of the original photos was not recorded by the TAHO in 1974, and no studio stamp is evident of the recto of each copy. As the original family album from which they were copied has yet to come to light, a photographer attribution is not yet possible. The copies deposited at TAHO by the Drew family included two childhood photographs of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s daughter Minnie Nevin, and one of son George Nevin. … More Childhood photos of son George and daughter Minnie Nevin
DECOR: the shiny low chair, the table with griffin-shaped legs, tinted flowers and hair ribbons, the draped curtain, the diamond-patterned carpet, and the backdrop of a patterned patio looking out from an Italianate terrace to a vista of a meandering river, characterise this phase or aspect of Nevin’s commercial practice. … More A highly coloured portrait
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.
Thomas Nevin had extensive experience working with police by 1881, both as the designated photographer of prisoners for the Municipal Police Office and Prisons Dept,and as a Special Constable. He no doubt assumed he had some authority and rank over constables on the beat. When approached by Constable Beard, he not only challenged the constable, he told Beard to “move on.” … More Nevin setting the police at defiance 1881
“‘I have the honor to inform you that in obedience to your instructions I visited the stockade on the 21st and the gaol on the 22nd inst. and likewise consulted the Sheriff and Superintendent of Convicts as to the best method of carrying out the wishes of the Government in regard to taking photographs of the prisoners in these establishments. I found in the stockade 147 and in the gaol 110 prisoners – of these say 120 in the stockade and 70 in the gaol, in all 190, would be such characters as the Sheriff or Commissioner of Police might desire to have photographs of for police purposes…” … More Prison photographers T. Nevin, C. Nettleton and F. Crawford
Clifford & Nevin appears as a handwritten inscription on the versos of several studio portraits in public and private collections, but their collaboration was principally in stereography, especially in the late 1860s. Several stereographs held at the State Library of Tasmania, collated in “The Clifford Album”, whether unattributed or which bear Clifford’s stamp may be original photographs by Nevin produced during their partnership.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds a sizeable collection of Thomas Nevin’s stereographs dating from 1868. Nevin exhibited at the Wellington Park Exhibition in 1868, and at the Hobart Town Hall Bazaar in 1872. This stereograph titled Hobart from Lime Kiln Hill looking down Harrington Street carries his New Town studio stamp on verso, taken in the mid to late 1860s. … More Hobart Town from Lime Kiln Hill
A significant issue of attribution arises around questions of authorship when two cartes of Tasmanian Premier Sir Richard Dry are compared: one at the State Library of Tasmania is attributed to J.W. Beattie, although his authorship of the original image is impossible in chronological terms; the other at the University of Tasmania is a commercial … More Authorship of Tasmanian Premiers
One of those convict images – last on lower right – is of Thomas Harrison. It is the same image which was printed on the postcard to advertise the exhibition of the T. J. Nevin convict photos at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1977, curated by John McPhee. Of the more than 100 photographs of Tasmanian prisoners which were exhibited from the QVMAG collection taken by Nevin, why the curator McPhee and the authors of Nevin’s biographical entry Stilwell and Kerr (1922) made the choice of the photograph of Harrison is strange, since it is not typical of the majority of his prisoner photographs which demonstrate the same technical approach used in his vignetted commercial studio portraits of clients, patrons and family members. Possibly Harrison was chosen because of his defiant stare and tattered clothes, signifiers of desperation and social deviance. … More Robert Hughes “The Fatal Shore” with mugshots by T. J. Nevin
The colonial Government of Tasmania had adopted the practice of taking identification photographs and establishing an Habitual Criminals Register or Rogue’s Gallery in 1872 from precedents set by the British Prevention of Crimes Act of 1871, and incoming legislation in NSW and Victoria. The extant photographs are variously “booking photographs” or “mugshots” taken of men who were arrested, arraigned, sentenced, reconvicted and/or discharged during the 1870s and early 1880s. For the most part they were recidivists, habitual criminals and repeat offenders. Thomas Nevin took the majority of these photographs at the Municipal Police Office (PO on their criminal record sheets) at the Hobart Town Hall, and at the Supreme Court and Hobart Town Gaol. The AOT records were copied from the QVMAG collection in the 1970s, although some originals were acquired in the 1950s from the Radcliffe Museum at Port Arthur via the Department of National Parks which managed the site. The original 1870s-1880s prisoner photographs – both paper prints and mounted as cartes-de-visite – were salvaged by John Watt Beattie for reproduction and for sale to tourists at his convictaria museum in Hobart, removing many from their original record in the process. Others were sourced from records originally held at the Town Hall Municipal Police Office and from records held at the Sheriff’s Office, Hobart Gaol. Beattie bequeathed his large collection to the Launceston Municipal Council which was then acquired by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (1930). … More Archives Office of Tasmania convict photographs by T. J. Nevin
The carte-de-visite full-length studio portrait of William Maguire was on display within the extensive exhibition of Islands to Ice: The Great Southern Ocean and Antarctica held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2007). The sprig daubed red and green is visible on his left-hand lapel. … More The red and green tinted sprig and Wm Maguire
This stereograph is listed at the State Library of Tasmania as unattributed – “Creator: Unknown” with the title “House in Newtown”. It is dated to 1870, although the majority of Thomas J. Nevin’s early stereographs were produced from his New Town studio in the mid to late 1860s. By 1868 he was principally operating from his city studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, although he maintained the New Town studio concurrently with his civil service during the years 1876-1880 at the Hobart Town Hall and police work in the courts until the birth of his last child in 1888. … More State Library of Tasmania’s “Unknown”