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

Clients posing with Thomas J. Nevin’s big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer

When this young woman presented herself at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (Tasmania) in the early 1870s for her portrait, he posed her standing next to his big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer, her right side to camera. For good measure, he placed the vase in the shape of a hand holding a cornucopia on top of the stereo viewer – an ornament which appears in some of his other portraits of women – and lightly tinted the flowers on printing the photograph, probably in the hope of brightening the scene otherwise made sombre by this young woman’s deflected, melancholy gaze. … More Clients posing with Thomas J. Nevin’s big box tabletop stereoscopic viewer

Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

Joseph Walmsley, 14 years old, one of 267 convicts transported on the Isabella (2), arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 19th May 1842. He was tried at Lancaster, Salford Quarter Sessions (UK), transported for seven (7) years for stealing shoes, coppers and money. He had in his possession when arrested a William the Fourth coin. His record (https://stors.tas.gov.au/NI/1443405) was transcribed with “Again transported” at some date, though no record shows how this was literally possible, since he remained in the Australian colonies from 1842 (including three years in a Melbourne prison from 1869-1871) to his death from senility in Tasmania in 1891, at 67 years old (born therefore ca. 1824). Rather, his sentence of seven years was extended to ten years’ transportation in Hobart, 4th July 1850, for burglary. Thereafter, his criminal offences – he was a man “as works for a living” as he put it in 1872 – were a series of breaking and entering, robbery, burglary, larceny, and the occasional swearing at and assault of the constabulary (see records below). When he was photographed by government contractor T. J. Nevin in 1872 on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol, he was 46 years old. … More Prisoner Joseph WALMSLEY: “a queer-looking man” 1842-1891

John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Photographer Thomas J. Nevin’s younger brother Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin (1852-1891) was a wardsman at the Hobart Gaol when James Thornton was imprisoned on 23 July 1889 to serve a sentence of twelve months for “unlawfully wounding” his son-in-law Thomas Webster. Thornton died at the gaol a few months into his sentence, on 4th December 1889. John Nevin gave evidence at the inquest into the prisoner’s death, caused by “exhaustion consequent upon cancer of the mouth”, according to the coroner. The prisoner James Thornton was 79 years old, born in Ireland, a hair-dresser of Liverpool Street, Hobart. His daughter Amy Amilda Thornton married Thomas Webster in 1886, and gave birth to a son, also called Thomas William Webster (b. 9 June 1886) who would become, as a 3 yr old toddler, the flashpoint which triggered Thornton’s stabbing assault on his son-in-law Thomas Webster in 1889. … More John Nevin at inquest for James Thornton 1889

Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Thomas Nevin had operated as a commercial photographer and government contractor since 1868, when W. R. Giblin acted on behalf of his interests in the dissolution of his partnership with Robert Smith advertised as the firm “Nevin & Smith” at 140 Elizabeth St.Hobart. In June 1872, for example, Nevin provided the Lands and Survey Department with a series of stereographs recording the damage caused by the Glenorchy landslip. As likely as not, he also provided lengthy witness reports to the officials at the Municipal Council, to reporters at the Mercury, and to Public Works Department contractors who regularly gathered at James Spence’s hotel The Royal Standard, next door to Nevin’s studio, 142 -140 upper Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (looking south from the corner of Patrick St.). As a contractor himself, he would have taken a keen interest in the meetings at which James Spence’s cohort of contractors’ aired their “grievances received at the hands of the Public Works Department”. … More Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Captain Goldsmith, AWOL seaman Geeves, and HMS Havannah

Henry Geeves was an articled seaman, one of twenty-two (22) crew members who sailed from the Downs (UK) on 22nd August 1850 on board the barque Rattler, 522 tons, Captain Edward Goldsmith in command, arriving at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 14th December 1850.  Cabin passengers numbered seven, with four more in steerage. The return voyage of the Rattler to London would commence on 19th March 1851, after three months at Hobart while Captain Goldsmith attended to his construction of the vehicular twin steam ferry SS Kangaroo and the development of a patent slip at his shipyard on the Queen’s Domain. Henry Geeves, however, had no intention of joining the crew on the Rattler’s return voyage to London when he went absent without leave (AWOL) on 31st December 1850. He returned to the ship three days later for his clothes. Appearing as the plaintiff in the Police Magistrate’s Court on January 20th 1851, his complaint against Captain Goldsmith was for wages which he claimed were due to him because he felt he had been discharged by the Rattler’s chief officer, having volunteered as an “old man-of-war’s man” to join the frigate H.M.S. Havannah  when an officer from the Havannah boarded the Rattler seeking additional crew … More Captain Goldsmith, AWOL seaman Geeves, and HMS Havannah

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the conundrums of the Ethiopian Serenaders 1851

WARNING & DISCLAIMER:
The resources in this article contain offensive language and negative stereotypes. Such materials should be seen in the context of the time period and as a reflection of attitudes of the time. The items are part of the historical record, and do not represent the views of this weblog. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. Please note that this example of a mid-19th century performance genre called “blackface” and the use of the “N” word here will offend 21st century readers; proceeding is your responsibility.
More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the conundrums of the Ethiopian Serenaders 1851

Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

Two soldiers of the 2nd battalion, H. M. 14th Regiment, William Sewell and Ralph Neill arrived at Hobart, Tasmania, in November 1866 from service in the New Zealand wars on board the military ship Siam. Within a year they were were charged with burglary of a hotel in Watchorn Street, and sentenced to 10 years at the Hobart Criminal Court. They served seven years, some of that time at the Port Arthur prison and were relocated to the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. on 25th October 1873 when they were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin prior to release. They were discharged to freedom on 6th February 1874. … More Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

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

Donation of Nevin graphica from private collector to the NLA

We are delighted to announce that a private collector and American resident has generously donated to the National Library of Australia, Canberra, a total of 45 photographs of Port Arthur convicts taken by Thomas J. Nevin, including the photograph of John Gregson, 1874 (pictured), together with original records, prison logs, prison ephemera and realia, and letters written to Thomas J. Nevin from the adiministration regarding his government commissions at both the Port Arthur penitentiary and Hobart Gaol, Tasmania during the 1870s-1880s. The donation was bequeathed from a large collection of 19th and early 20th century Pacifica, the bulk of which will remain in the United States. … More Donation of Nevin graphica from private collector to the NLA

Captain Goldsmith’s humorous remark at Wm Bunster’s dinner 1841

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

Captain Edward Goldsmith at the New Market banquet 1854

Captain Edward Goldsmith was highly esteemed by both the Hobart City Corporation’s Mayor and aldermen and the business community. He attended the Regattas as a judge, and at his testimonial dinner in 1849 at the Hobart Town Hall, he stated that he might become a colonist and settle in Hobart, but that was not to be. He attended many social functions sponsored by the Governor and Mayor before his final departure in 1855, sometimes with his younger son Edward Goldsmith jnr, who accompanied him to the Governor’s Levee. The construction of the New Market on the Hobart Wharves, and the banquet held to celebrate its opening in January 1854, was another of his interests and an event he attended in the company of Hobart’s most illustrious officers and the colony’s most modest traders alike. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith at the New Market banquet 1854

Thomas Nevin and the Loyal United Brothers Lodge

“ODD FELLOWS’ ANNIVERSARY. The eleventh anniversary of the Loyal Tasmania’s Hope Lodge, of the Manchester Unity, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was celebrated last evening by a tea and concert, at the Alliance Rooms. The tea, which was satisfactorily got up, having been disposed of, it was proposed by P. G. M. Mitchell, and seconded by P. P. G. M. Noah, that Mr. Davies, M.H.A., do take the chair, which was passed unanimously. The Chair-man was supported by the Provincial and other Officers of the Order, who wore their insignia. Mr. Davies wore the insignia of the G.M. of the A. 1.0.0. F. There was present a visiting officer of the M.U. from Queensland, P. P. G. M., H. E. Wright, who wore a handsome gold medal, presented to him by members of the Order in Brisbane, in acknowledgment of his services in introducing Odd Fellowship into Queensland, where there are two districts, Brisbane and Rockhampton, numbering five hundred members, who had been enrolled since Mr. Wright went to that colony in 1863….” … More Thomas Nevin and the Loyal United Brothers Lodge

Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett

In early December 1880, Thomas Nevin was dismissed from the position of “Keeper” at the Hobart Town Hall for inebriation while on duty. The Mayor’s Committee expressed deep regret at the dismissal (reported in The Mercury December-January 1880-1881), and mindful of his growing family, the Council decided to retain his photographic services. He was re-assigned to civil service with warrant and photographic duties as assistant bailiff with The Municipal Police Office, located at the Hobart Town Hall. Working principally in the City Police Court and Hobart Supreme Court as assistant to Sub-Inspector John Dorset(t), Nevin continued to provide identification photographs of prisoners up until 1889, a service he had provided for the Prisons Department and MPO since 1872. … More Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett