Prisoner William PRICE

William Price per Triton was a lifer, convicted of burglary in 1862, photographed by Nevin at the Hobart Gaol during incarceration in 1874, and discharged on 9 July 1879 with a TOL, photographed again by Nevin at the Municipal Police Office Hobart Town Hall. … More Prisoner William PRICE

Prisoner John WHITE

Two duplicates of the single image from Thomas J. Nevin’s original photographic capture of prisoner John White in 1875 are extant in two national collections with the same information inscribed on the versos. The first (below) is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the second is held at National Library of Australia. Government contractor Thomas J. Nevin photographed John White at the Mayor’s Court, Hobart Town Hall, on White’s discharge from the Hobart Gaol in the fortnight preceding 24 March, 1875. John White, 40 yrs old when discharged, was tried in the Supreme Court, Hobart on 13 March 1872 for burglary, sentenced to ten years, and discharged with sentence remitted in March 1875. … More Prisoner John WHITE

Prisoners Henry SINGLETON, Richard PINCHES and Robert BEW

According to the Tasmanian police gazette of 23 March, 1871, Henry Singleton absconded from the prison at Port Arthur, 23 March 1871, with two transport ships to his two names – as Henry Singleton per Lord Wm Bentinck, and as his alias Richard Pinches, per Lady Kennaway 2, also known with the moniker Harry the Tinker. Thomas Nevin photographed this prisoner at least twice, in 1873 and again in 1875. The questions posed by these two photographs centre on this man’s age and name at the time of transportation, his name and age when photographed in the 1870s, and his and his female companion’s literary tastes which warranted documentation when the police arrested him in a cave in May 1873 at Oatlands, Tasmania. … More Prisoners Henry SINGLETON, Richard PINCHES and Robert BEW

Prisoner George EDIKER 1874

George Ediker was tried for attempting to rape in the Supreme Court Hobart on 6th December 1864 and incarcerated at the Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol for 10 years. He was photographed on discharge from the Hobart Gaol by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin on 9th December 1874. Later records in the 1880s show George Ediker was housed a pauper at one of Hobart’s Invalid Depots. … More Prisoner George EDIKER 1874

Prisoner Charles HEYS [Hayes?] as Ward

Two different photographs are extant in the National Library of Australia collection – and not recorded in any other public collection – of a prisoner whom the police discharged as Charles Heys on 22nd July 1874, noting in the gazette that his alias was Ward, transported to Tasmania on the Moffatt 2. Thomas J. Nevin took both photographs at the Hobart Gaol, and possibly of two different men, but which photograph is the one taken on discharge in 1874 of the prisoner identified by police as Charles Heys in 1874? If it is the same prisoner in both photographs, he was photographed at different times wearing the standard issue winter prisoner uniform in one, and summer uniform in the other. Given that Charles Heys [what is the verso inscription -Heys or Hayes?] as Ward was discharged during the winter month of July, the prisoner wearing the heavy overcoat was most likely the man recorded as Charles Heys when Nevin photographed him for that event. … More Prisoner Charles HEYS [Hayes?] as Ward

Prisoner William WALKER

William Walker was photographed at the Mayor’s Court, Hobart Town Hall by Thomas Nevin on discharge, 22 July 1874, having served 7 yrs of a 10 year sentence. But William Walker was convicted again 23 October, 1875, sentenced to 6 months for larceny, and incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol. His age was listed as 68 yrs; and his occupation as “painter”. … More Prisoner William WALKER

Prisoner John TOOMEY

John Toomey was received from Port Arthur, photographed by T. J. Nevin on discharge at the Hobart Municipal Police Office, Town Hall on 1st May 1875. Also discharged and photographed by Nevin in the same week were John Moran and Bewley Tuck. … More Prisoner John TOOMEY

Prisoner Henry PAGE

Public outrage at capital punishment, sparked by the execution of Job Smith whom Nevin had photographed under the alias of William Campbell (NLA and TMAG Collections), referred to the reprieve granted to Charles Downes, as well as Marsh and Henry Page, in letters to The Mercury, May 29th 1875. … More Prisoner Henry PAGE

Prisoner James HARPER like Oliver Twist

A. Dangerous Character-A prisoner under going a sentence in H M Gaol was brought before the Police Magistrate yesterday for committing an assault on one of the warders of the establishment It appeared that the man, whose name is James Harper, of a remarkably villanous countenance was like “Oliver Twist, the workhouse boy, and wanted more breakfast, after consuming his legal allowance of “skilley”, and because the warder refused this most unreasonable request, he took up a zinc bucket containing about two gallons of the coveted “skilley, ” and sent bucket and all flying at the warder’s head … More Prisoner James HARPER like Oliver Twist

Prisoners Micheal GILMORE and James KILPATRICK

The information about Gilmore’s criminal activities from the police gazettes, called Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard, Gov’t Printer, is easily obtainable, so why was nothing but basic transportation records about this prisoner, Michael Gilmore (and the second man with a similar name) included in the National Library of Australia’s publication of their Tasmanian “convict portraits”, titled Exiled, The Port Arthur Convict Photographs (NLA 2011)? … More Prisoners Micheal GILMORE and James KILPATRICK

Prisoner Thomas GRIFFIN

Thomas Griffin per Rodney 2 was discharged from the Port Arthur prison on 22-26 June 1872, with a ticket of leave. He was not photographed at Port Arthur, despite the inscription on the verso of his photograph – if the NLA Catalogue notes have literally transcribed it, that is, which is often not the case with these photographs of prisoners bearing the 20th century archivist’s incorrect information compounded by the NLA’s batch edit of all 84 of their collection. His TOL was recorded earlier, on the 12 June 1872. He remained in service at the Military Barracks (Anglesea Barracks, Hobart) until he absconded on 6th January 1873. When he was found and arrested at Glenorchy, he was incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol where Thomas Nevin photographed him in the week of 10 June 1873. … More Prisoner Thomas GRIFFIN

Prisoner John APPLEBY

The inscription ‘Taken at Port Arthur 1874” is Beattie’s confabulation of facts in the name of tourism. Beattie prepared copies of these prisoner cdv’s for display in his collection of Tasmanian convictaria at his “Port Arthur Museum” located at 51 Murray St. Hobart (and not at Port Arthur) to coincide with the first of two early 20th century film adaptations (1908-9, 22 minutes – see theatre poster below; the second was filmed at Port Arthur in 1927) of Marcus Clarke’s popular fiction For The Term of His Natural Life which appeared as a serial in 1870 and in novel form in 1874. Hence the date “1874” and the place “Taken at Port Arthur” written on the verso of this cdv when the actual date and the actual place of photographic capture were respectively 1873 and the Hobart Gaol in Campbell Street. Beattie fabricated this fake history for several dozen original mugshots taken in the 1870s by government contractor T. J. Nevin because he was required under the terms of his own commission as government contractor (from ca. 1900) to market photographic imagery of Tasmania’s penal heritage to the intercolonial tourist. The loose cdv’s such as this one of prisoner John Appleby were prepared for sale and exhibition at Sydney’s Royal Hotel in 1915 to be displayed as Port Arthur relics, alongside relics and documents associated with the fake convict hulk Success which visited Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. The collection of “convict portraits” held at the National Library of Australia Canberra and at the State Library of NSW in the Mitchell Collection are the estrays from these exhibitions. … More Prisoner John APPLEBY

Prisoner Leonard HAND

Locally-born Leonard Hand was a mere 26 years old. He was a special case for the chaplain of the prison, Rowland Hayward, and the surgeon Dr Coverdale who made a strong representation to the House of Assembly’s committee on penal discipline on Hand’s behalf in 1873, hoping to remove the prisoner from the isolation of the separate prison. It was evident to Dr Coverdale that rehabilitation was only possible if Hand (and others) were removed to the general prison community . … More Prisoner Leonard HAND

National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Many of these convict cartes held at the NLA are duplicates of the same images held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Archives Office of Tasmania. This simple fact underscores the extensive copying which has taken place since the mid 20th century, principally from the QVMAG collection: 1958, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987 and most recently for a digital database. Although the Nevin brothers photographed more than 3000 prisoners, the bulk has been lost, destroyed or sold at private auction. The remaining 300 or so were selected or salvaged by Beattie ca. 1916 to sell to tourists; he selected only those prisoners whose sentences were severe enough to warrant a criminal sitting in the Supreme Court: the offender’s apparent notoreity was the selling point. In this respect, the are not a random selection, nor a series. But they were not salvaged because they were an archive held at Port Arthur; they were never held at Port Arthur, nor taken there. Nevin photographed the prisoner once as a single capture in Hobart, produced prints from his original glass negatives at his city studio and later at studios in the Gaol and MPO, and made at least four duplicates from his glass negative for circulation to other prisons and police in regional Tasmania, in addition to the copies needed to paste onto warrants, prisoner records sheets, and the central register held at the Hobart Town Hall. … More National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

The Queen Victoria and Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, seemed so intent on abrogating the name of Thomas J. Nevin as photographer from any association with its holdings of the “Port Arthur convicts” photographs which were exhibited there in 1977 as Nevin’s work that in a letter to a Nevin descendant dated 17th November 2005, the technical officer showed considerable confusion and made contradictory and incorrect statements. … More The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

NLA’s ‘Intersections’ with convict carte by Nevin

There is no doubt that the early years of transportation to Tasmania’s Port Arthur prison have been the primary focus and fascination for historians. It feeds and feeds off the aggressive promotion of the prison site as the State’s key historic attraction. And it has become the convention and norm of writers to corral one or more of these prisoner ID photographs within their new texts that deal with those early years. Michael Bogle’s recent publication on convicts (2008), as an example, has Nevin’s negative (1875) of convict Charles Rosetta on the front cover, unattributed to Nevin, and wrongly dated to 1917 with attribution to the copyists Beattie & Searle, from the NLA. … More NLA’s ‘Intersections’ with convict carte by Nevin

The Australian People: six prisoner cdv’s by T. J. Nevin

These six photographs of Tasmanian prisoners – “convicts” – were sourced by the publishers of The Australian People from the National Library of Australia’s collection of 84 photographs which were correctly attributed on accession in the 1960s and 1980s to commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin in Tasmania, 1872-1886. However, no photographer accreditation accompanied these photographs. They appear on page 20 within the context of Irish immigration. The caption repeats a commonly-held misconception in many 20th century publications, namely,  that prisoners in Tasmania “were still held at Port Arthur” until its closure, which was in 1877. This is factually incorrect. The Port Arthur prison was in a state of disrepair by 1873; its commandant A. H. Boyd was dismissed for corruption in January 1874; and from July 1873 to early 1875 all re-offenders and lifers were relocated to the Hobart Gaol and House of Corrections where they were photographed on being received, assigned and/or  discharged by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin with the assistance of his brother Constable John Nevin. … More The Australian People: six prisoner cdv’s by T. J. Nevin