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
In 1859, John Nevin snr was granted ten acres one rood and seventeen perches in the parish of Bedford on the Huon River near Cygnet, about 60 kms south west of Hobart, but it appears he never moved his family from Kangaroo Valley to take up permanent residence on the grant. He may have used the land, however, to cultivate orchards, grow vegetables, and make jam for export. In 1870 he exhibited marrows at the Industrial Bazaar at the Hobart Town Hall. In 1873 he presented an exhibit of peat to a meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania, and in 1877, he exported jam on the Southern Cross to the colony of Victoria. The peat may have been extracted from Kangaroo Valley, known originally as Sassafras Gully in the 1840s, a valley rich with the type of flora that grows as ‘wet’ and/or mixed forest in Tasmania. … More John Nevin senior’s land grant 1859 at Port Cygnet
Mindful of his growing family after his dismissal in 1880, the Hobart City Corporation retained Nevin’s services as police photographer and bailiff with the Municipal and Territorial Police Forces on the recommendation of Superintendent F. Pedder, Sub-Inspector J. Connor and the Nevin family solicitor, Attorney-General W. R. Giblin. Younger brother Constable John Nevin (Wm John or Jack), the Hobart Gaol messenger in Campbell St, was his assistant when Nevin was required at Oyer sessions at the adjoining Supreme Court sittings. Together they continued to produce prisoner mugshots typical of commercial studio portraiture until 1888 (see this article).
But by January 1881, on dismissal from the Town Hall residency, Thomas Nevin relocated his family to the house his father John Nevin had built at Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley, Tasmania). He resumed commercial photography nearby from his New Town studio. When Elizabeth Rachel and Thomas Nevin’s second daughter and fifth child was born – Minnie (Mary Ann) Nevin – in November 1884 at New Town, her father declared his profession simply as “photographer” on her birth registration form. … More Thomas Nevin at the New Town studio to 1888
“I always prepare my albuminized paper with the pure white of eggs, which I believe to be preferable to all the cheaper compounds that have been substituted for it. Take any quantity of albumen with double the quantity of water, adding eight grains of chloride of ammonium to each ounce of the mixture. Whip up with a bunch of quills into a froth. The albumen will subside in an hour or two, then filter through a piece of fine linen cloth that has been previously slightly singed over a spirit lamp. Pour the albumen into a flat dish and float the paper for about three or four minutes, having previously folded back one of the corners of the sheet in order to keep it from coming into contact with the albumen. If the paper is pinned up by this unalbuminized corner, it will dry without the least streak or imperfection, but if the albumen conies into contact with the pin. a drip will begin which will end in innumerable streaks. By this precaution much paper may be saved…” … More The Albumen Process: examples by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1874
In early childhood’s joyous hour,
We brought her from her native soil,
To seek some calm and peaceful bower
Far on Tasmania’s sea-girt Isle;
While yet a gentle, fragile thing,
Her infant steps were tottering. … More “Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin” by John Nevin 1866
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