Monday, December 10, 2007

Thomas Nevin's hand-coloured convict photographs

Professional photographers in the mid 19th century experimented with colouring photographs, sometimes to the displeasure of their regular clientele. Mrs Esther Mather expressed a distaste for the colouring of a portrait taken of her brother ca 1865 at SMITH'S, and it was Robert Smith who joined Thomas Nevin soon afterwards at the City Photographic Establishment, forming the business partnership "Nevin & Smith". See for example, their portrait of Nevin's fiancee Rachel Elizabeth Day, ca 1870. Thomas Nevin’s family cartes of his sister Mary Anne Nevin, later portraits of his wife Elizabeth Rachel Day, and his self-portrait, have survived in excellent condition in the Nevin family’s collections. They are all hand coloured, and so are several included on this site from private collections.

Nevin's reputation as a photographer and colorist or "photographic artist" was so well established that it warranted a mention in a report appearing in The Mercury, December 4th, 1880.


On the evening of December 3rd, 1880, Thomas Nevin was apprehended by two policemen who were chasing a man pretending to be ghost. Nevin was detained by police because he was (a) in the close vicinity of the man when the incident occurred, and (b) he was allegedly intoxicated while still on duty as keeper of the Hobart Town Hall. Although not charged with the offence of acting in concert with the “ghost”, he was dismissed from his position of Town Hall keeper for being intoxicated while on duty. The Mercury next day reported the court proceedings, which began with Nevin’s defense by the Mayor:

By the MAYOR: … It was not true that between the hours of 10 and 11 o’clock on Thursday night, Constables Oakes and Priest took witness home in a state of intoxication. Witness had a photographic apparatus and chemicals in his possession. He had not made any ornaments of different colours for any one lately. He was not at any time on Thursday night under the influence of liquor. He did not think it was right to leave the Town Hall for so many hours as he had. He considered, however, that when he heard the constables’ whistle he was justified in going to render them assistance.

The reader of the report learns that the “witness” - Nevin - who had spent the evening with photographer and friend Henry Hall Baily was on his way home to the Hobart Town Hall in the possession of photographic equipment and chemicals. This account clearly indicates that Nevin was still engaged in professional photographic practice with commercial photographer H. H. Baily in 1880 while duty-bound by his contract to render police any assistance.

Additional details in his defense underscore his reputation for producing coloured photographs - “ornaments of different colours” - although not for “anyone” lately. What might this mean? It most likely refers to these two prisoners and their ID photographs taken by Nevin during the first phase of his commission to provide criminal identification photographs for the Municipal Police Office, located at the Hobart Town Hall. His police work from 1873 had extended from the prison at Port Arthur and Hobart Gaol to rendering assistance to the New Town Territorial Police which was noted in the police gazettes.

The detaining detective Connor did not arrest Nevin that night in December 1880 because he was well-known to him, as Connor states in the account, as  was Constable John Nevin, Thomas' younger brother, who was Thomas' photographic assistant at the Hobart Gaol. The Nevin brothers enjoyed a privileged relation with the former Attorney General Giblin and then Premier, their family solicitor since 1868, whose contractual arrangements gave Nevin the commission of prisons photographer at the Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol from 1871 to the mid 1880s. Nevin’s coloured carte of W.R. Giblin is held at the Archives Office of Tasmania.


NLA Collection:

The fate of Job Smith aka William Campbell (or Brodie) was a cause celebre for opponents of capital punishment in the press when Job Smith was hanged for rape in June 1875. Nevin had travelled with William Campbell aka Job Smith back to Port Arthur a year earlier, in May 1874, during Dr Coverdale's tenure as Commandant, and would have been responsible for taking Smith's photograph prior to leaving Hobart. Smith was not considered physically dangerous. He had been sentenced to 8 years, free in servitude, on 19th March 1872 for forgery. Smith's next sentence of death for rape in 1875 must have come as a shock to Nevin.

The convict in the image identified as William Campbell in this carte from the NLA Collection of portraits by Nevin is the same convict hanged as Job Smith at the Hobart Gaol for rape in May 1875. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds an identical image of this convict, with this simple note written on the verso:

Job Smith Alias Campbell Alias Boodle

See this entry for an extended account of Job Smith's execution and the newspaper reports of the day.


NLA Catalogue

In the carte of Job Smith aka William Campbell (top), Nevin has coloured the neckerchief blue to reflect reality, as in this example of a typical neckerchief worn by convicts (QVMAG Collection):

In the carte of Walter Johnson aka Bramall (sic, below), however, there IS no neckerchief. He is not wearing one at all underneath his collar, so the blueish colouring we can see is actually just paint patterned in squares to look like the standard issue neckerchief. This is a telling detail, and would have been added by Nevin to the print he made of an earlier photograph he took of Bramall to underscore the fact that the man was in effect a prisoner who had asbconded in prison clothing. The eyes of this man have intense blue colouring as well. The reason for the colour was not to render a pretty picture; it was to aid the public's recognition of him. The carte would have been displayed at the Town Hall Police Office, and most likely exhibited in Nevin's studio window at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart Town. It would have been available to the public, on sale, since Johnstone alias Bramall alias Taylor absconded from the Cascades area of Hobart on June 6th, 1874, and appears to have succeeded in remaining at large, as his recapture was not recorded during 1875.

This notice appeared in the police gazette:

Source: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information Feb 6, 1874

There is a lot of detail in the written description concerning colour: sallow complexion, light brown hair, light brown eyebrows, large blue eyes, grey prison clothing. Nevin's colouring has attempted to match the verbal description. The question then arises: who wrote the description in the police gazette of February 6th, 1874? In all probability it was the photographer, Thomas Nevin, as no one other than the photographer would have noticed such detail and attempted to render it visually.

So, it was with these two prisoner cartes in mind when Nevin's defense by the Mayor stated - He had not made any ornaments of different colours for any one lately... He was not at any time on Thursday night under the influence of liquor.

The statement is not without derision towards a commercial photographer employed as a police photographer, and Nevin was both, who prettied up criminals' mugshots with artistic colour and used the term "artist" in the wording "T. J. Nevin Photographic Artist" on his studio stamp bearing the government insignia. Again, these are resonances of a social prejudice about photographers, and against the use of colour which Mrs Mather expressed in the 1860s.


The National Library of Australia recently digitised both cartes, which are listed there in Thomas Nevin's file as hand-coloured photographs. However, the recent digitisation of these two, and of fifty or more of their total collection of 84 photographs of Tasmanian prisoners is of very poor quality. Compare the auto-adjustment made here that was necessary to bring out the colouring with their originals at NLA (click on name below image). The original twenty-three convicts' photographs which the NLA digitised and attributed solely to Thomas Nevin in November 2000 were of exceptionally good quality. The NLA has shown poor judgment as well in resurrecting the A.H. Boyd misattribution in the form of a catalogue entry accompanying these convicts' photographs with reference to a worthless, sycophantic and intellectually dishonest "essay" by a former employee of the PAHSMA.

These two are supposedly inscribed on verso "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874 which is incorrect: all such cartes transcribed verso with this handwritten date is just an effect of a batch edit for commercial purposes by Beattie in 1916, whose use of the date and the name "Port Arthur" was intended to attract the tourist, or by archivists at the source of the photographs, the QVMAG, in 1958 and 1982-85.

Two hand coloured cartes of convicts by Thomas Nevin, NLA Collection, auto colour corrected.

Left: nla.pic-vn4270353 (incorrect information)
William Campbell, per S. [Sir] R. [Robert] Peel, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874.
1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen, hand col. ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm., on mount 10.4 x 6.4 cm.

Right: nla.pic-vn4270027 (incorrect information)
Walter Johnson, alias Henry Bramall, per Asiatic, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]1874
1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm. on mount 10.5 x 6.3 cms

The originals ...

RELATED POSTS main weblog

  • Rare Nevin & Smith portrait
  • Another rare Nevin & Smith stamp 1868

  • Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Tasmanian Studios to 1900

    PHOTOGRAPHERS working in TASMANIA 1860s-1900s


    ABBOTT, Alfred. Amateur. Hobart. 1859-1863

    ABBOTT, Charles (brother). Amateur. Hobart. 1857-1859.

    AIKENHEAD, William. Launceston. Amateur 1860-1890.

    ALLPORT, Morton. Amateur. Holbrook Place 1859-1866.

    AMERICAN STUDIO CO. Collins St. 1880; Allen & Gove.

    ANSON, Joshua at H.H.BAILY, 1872-1877.

    ANSON Bros; 132 Liverpool St. 1878-1880; 36 Elizabeth St. 1880-1887; 52 Elizabeth St. 1887-9; 129 Elizabeth St.1894-95.

    BAILY, H.H. (Henry Hall).Elizabeth St. 1865-1866; 94 Elizabeth St. 1866-1881; 88 Liverpool St. 1888-1897.

    BANKS, Samuel, Dundas, 1900.

    BARNICOAT, Herbert S. 90 Warwick St. ALEXANDRIA Studio 1887.

    BARNETT BIGGS, Alfred. Campbell Town. 1860.

    BENNETT, Clay. Launceston. Travelling, 1857-1858.

    BEATTIE, John Watt. Amateur 1879. At ANSON Bros Elizabeth ST. 1882-1891. At 52 Elizabeth St. 1891-1900.
    ANSON Bros. studio proprietor. Official government photographer 1896 - .

    BISHOP OSBORNE, John. 76 Murray St. 1879-93.

    BOCK, Thomas. 22 Campbell St. 1848-1855.

    BOCK, Alfred. 46 Campbell St. 1855; 78 Liverpool St. 1855 - late DURYEA & McDONALD; 18 Macquarie St. 1857; City Photographic Establishment 1858-1867; 138 Elizabeth St. 1859; Gippsland 1867; Sale, Victoria 1873.

    BRANSGROVE, Alfred S. Cutter St. Queenstown, 1897-1900. Lyell Studios, Burnie, 1900.

    BROWN & MILLER, 195 Charles St. Launceston. ca. 1897-98.

    BROWNE, Thomas. 52 Liverpool St. 1846; 31 Macquarie St. 1848-1853.

    BULL, Knud. Hobart 1856.

    BURROWS, A.E. (brother of W.H. Carl Burrows) Brisbane St. Launceston, ca. 1885-1888.

    BURROWS, W.H. Carl. 76 Murray St. 1877-78 at WHERRETT's; Melbourne and Sydney Portrait Rooms, Launceston 1878-1895.

    BUTCHER & HENRY, Launceston 1861.

    BUTTON, Henry. Amateur. Nephew of Edward Clarke. Launceston. 1860-1868.

    CAWSTON, William. St. John's St. Launceston. 1860-1866 and 1881.

    CAWSTON & SONS, St John St. Launceston 1888-1891.

    CHERRY, George. Hobart c. 1852; 5 Macquarie St. 1854-1855; 43 Macquarie St. 1855-1861;
    1 Elizabeth St. 1861-1864; 94 Liverpool St. 1864-1866; 80 Liverpool St. 1866-1867; Hobart 1868.

    CHESTER, Frank. Travelling tintype photographer, North West Tasmania.

    CITY PHOTOGRAPHIC ESTABLISHMENT, T. Nevin, late A. Bock, 140 Elizabeth St. 1867-1876;

    CLAPHAM & CLEVERTON, T.A.. Kings Building, Launceston, 1857.

    CLARKE, Dr. Edward. Amateur, Launceston 1854-1858.

    CLIFFORD, Samuel. 132 Liverpool St. c 1859-1878.

    CLIFFORD & NEVIN, Hobart Town 1860s-1870s.

    COTSWORTH, Haldane. Upper Argyle St. 1870s-90. Wilson, Cotsworth & co. 1880s.

    DALTON. George St. Launceston, 1860-62.

    DART, Harry. Harrington St. Hobart. Dart & Rollings, 1900.

    DAVIDSON, Mrs Letitia. Murray St. Hobart 1862-1866; 75 Collins St.Melbourne 1869-1870.

    DE BRETT STUDIO, Launceston, Tas. ca. 1896.

    DIAMOND CAMEO PORTRAITS, Quadrant, Launceston. William Paul Dowling, cdv's.

    DICKERSON, Walter.Murray St. 1855; Calotype Gallery 1855; SHARP & DICKERSON 1855.

    DOWLING Bros. travelling 1860-1861.Westbury, Deloraine, Carrick 1860. Torquay, Stanley 1861.

    DOWLING, Matthew P. 12 Elizabeth St. 1864; 39 Liverpool St. 1864-1867.

    DOWLING, William P. George St. Launceston; Kings Building, Brisbane St., Launceston 1859-1860s (brothers).

    DUFF, Frank Gee, 195 Charles St. Launceston, 1888-91.

    DUVAL & CO. 11 Quadrant, Launceston. 1888-1900. With A.E. Burrows.

    ELITE STUDIOS, Launceston, 1890-1894. See Richard Nicholas, with Mrs R.Nicholas.

    FAIRHALL, Alfred. Queenstown 1896; 1898-1900.

    FEREDAY, Rev. John. Amateur. George Town, 1862-1871.

    FERRIS, Thomas D. Launceston 1855.

    FINLAYSON, Miss Elizabeth. Devonport, 1898-1900. At ARSLONGA Studios.

    FLAVELLE, John. Assistant at G.B.GOODMAN's, St John's St. Launceston. 1842-1844.

    FLEGITAUB, Lewis. Queenstown, 1900.

    FOOT, Fred R. Lefroy, Tas. 1896.

    FRITH, Henry Albert. Campbell Town, Carrick, Stanley, Longford, Deloraine 1857-58; Travelling FRITH & Co. 1858;
    Brisbane St. Launceston 1858-1859; Hobart 1859; Sydney 1859; Launceston 1860-1861; Hobart 1862-1867.

    FRITH BROS. 19 Murray St. 1857-1865. Brisbane St. Launceston 1859-1861; Charles St. Launceston 1862.

    FRITH, Frederick. Liverpool St. 1855; 110 Collins St. 1855. At SHARP & FRITH, 8 Victoria St. Hobart 1856; 19 Murray St. 1857-1865.

    GRITTEN, Henry. Campbell Town 1860; Launceston c 1870s.

    HALL & FAIRHALL, Queenstown, 1896.

    HARTNETT, Queenstown 1898-1900.

    HAVENHAND, A. W. Latrobe, 1896-1900.

    HOLSTZ, Pierre. Tourist from France, Brisbane St. Launceston, 1858-59.

    HUSBAND, H. Murray St. 1853.


    KILBURN, Douglas T. Hobart 1852-1853.

    KING, Thomas Fleet. Stanley 1866-1880.

    KONRAD, Louis. 60 Cameron St. Launceston, 1896-1905.

    LATROBE PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIOS, Latrobe 1887-97. Phillip James Marchant.

    LEONARD, Frank. 19 Elizabeth St. 1866.

    LILLEY, Victor. Queenstown 1896-1900; Zeehan 1898-1900.

    LONDON PORTRAIT GALLERY, St. John St. Launceston. P.L. REID.1870-78.

    McDONALD, Albert. 121 St. John St. Launceston, 1888-91.

    McDONALD, Alexander. Travelling, Launceston, 1855.

    McGUFFIE, HARCOURT & CO. Richard McGuffie 1880, at C. Wherrett's ALBA STUDIOS 1897-1900.

    MARCHANT, Phillip John. Latrobe Photographic Studios, 1887-97.

    MELBOURNE PORTRAIT ROOMS, 90 Brisbane St, Launceston, 1878-95. With W.H. Carl Burrows.


    MILLS, John. Zeehan, Tas. 1896-1900.

    MOORE, R. J. Zeehan, 1892-97.

    MOORE, William. Launceston, 1882.

    NEVIN, William John (Jack), brother of Thomas J. Nevin. Prison photographer, H.M.Gaol, Hobart: 1877-1891

    NEVIN, Thomas J. City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. 1865-1876;

    NEVIN, Thos. New Town, 1860s - 1884. T.J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. 1865-1876;

    Clifford & Nevin, Hobart Town 1860s-1870s.

    NEVIN & SMITH, Thomas Nevin, also known as Thos. Nevin and T.J. Nevin, with Robert Smith 140 Elizabeth St; 1865-1868;

    NICHOLAS, Collam. 141A Brisbane St. Launceston, brother of Richard Nicholas, 1896-1900.

    NICHOLAS, Richard. 74 St. John St. Launceston. ELITE STUDIOS, 1896-97.

    NICHOLAS, Mrs R. J. 69 Brisbane St Launceston. ELITE STUDIOS. 1896-7.

    NIXON, Bishop Francis Russell. Amateur, 1858-1860.

    OXLEY, George W. Back Creek, Tas. 1861.

    PADMAN, G. Latrobe, 1878-1880, late P.L. Reid

    PATERSON, F.J. 53 Argyle St. 1864-1869.

    PAUL, George. Dundas, 1892-1900.

    PIGUENIT, William C. Amateur 1870-75 (also a painter)

    POUSTY, William. 63 Brisbane St. Launceston 1891; Queenstown 1899, Burnie 1890-91.

    RAY, Alfred. Gleadow St. nveresk, Launceston, 1896.

    REID, P. L. & Co. Messrs. LONDON PORTRAIT GALLERY, Oatlands, Ross, Campbell Town. Travelling 1865-1866.

    REID, Peter Laurie & Co. Elizabeth St. 1864. Partner of M.P. DOWLING, 172 Elizabeth St. 1864. St. John St. Launceston ca. 1870; Latrobe 1878.

    RIISE, Harold. Macquarie St. 1880.

    RIISE & BARNETT, Macquarie St. 1880-1882.

    SALE, J. T. Launceston, amateur. 1865.

    SAN FRANCISCO PORTRAIT PARLORS, Quadrant, Launceston (Duval & Co.) 1888-1900.

    SARGEANT, Albert. Elite Studio, 61 George St. Launceston. 1899-1900.

    SHARP, John Mathieson. 11 Collins St. 1856-1858. MATHUSON's (or Mathieson?) Chromatype Gallery.

    SHERWIN, H. Queenstown, VITA STUDIO, 1898-1900.

    SOMMERS, J.C. 39 Liverpool St. 1862-1864.

    SOURMAN, L. (Sauerman?) Launceston, Travelling. 1853-4.

    SPURLING, Stephen I. Amateur, Hobart 1856-75: 34 Brisbane St; 1857-59; 134 Liverpool St 1857-59; 62 Liverpool St 1860-61; 76 Murray St 1865-75.

    SPURLING, Stephen II. early 1870s-75 worked in father's business at 76 Murray St. St. John St. Launceston, 1873-78. 83 Brisbane St. Launceston, 1878-1900.

    SPURLING STUDIOS 93 Brisbane St 1902-24

    SPURLING, Stephen III. (son of Stephen II), 93 Brisbane St. 1902-1937; 53 Paterson St. 1938-41

    SPURLING, Frederick. 75 Murray St. 1870s. Son of Stephen Spurling I.

    STORY, Dr. George Fordeyce. Patterson St. Launceston 1855-59.

    STRANGE, Fred. Patterson St. Launceston 1855-59.

    STUBBS, W. J. Patterson St. Launceston, 1855.

    STUMP, A. At Charles WHERRETT's 1872-1873. 57 Collins St. 1880. Nicholas & Stump.

    SUTTON, H. B. 195 Charles St. Launceston. 1896.

    TASMANIAN PHOTOGRAPHIC CO. Charles St, Launceston, 1888-91.

    TAYLOR J. J. Launceston 1890s.

    TEAGUE, William H. Zeehan, 1894.

    THWAITES, W. Snr. 128 Liverpool St. 1861. Macquarie St. 1862-1865.

    TUCK, Henry. Haymarket, Hobart. 1868. Lucas & Tuck.

    UDNY, Dr. Amateur, Launceston, 1843.

    VITA STUDIO. 138 Liverpool St. 1875-1880.

    WARD, F. B. Deloraine, 1896.

    WARDE, Ernest. Waratah, Tas. 1900.

    WARREN, Launceston, ca. 1898.

    WATERWORTH, Henry T. Burnie, Tas.

    WEBB, T.D. & SON, St. John St. Launceston, 1867-70.

    WESLEY, A. S. Leltah (?), Tas. 1897.

    WESLEY, E. C. Roseberry, 1900.

    WHERRETT, Charles B. Charles Wherrett senior, 83 Elizabeth St. 1872-1881; Charles B. Wherrett (son) Melbourne Portrait Rooms, 113 Elizabeth St. 1884-1897 (or longer?). With R. McGuffie until 1897.

    WHITELAW, Alfred Percy, at CAWSTON's, Launceston, 1883-1889. 195 Charles St. 1892-95; 74 St. John St. Launceston, 1897-1900.

    WILLIAMS, Henry. 206 Murray St. 1859.

    WILLIAMSON, C. A. H. Brisbane St. Launceston 1860; Cameron St. Launceston 1862.

    WINTER, Alfred. 29 Bourke St. Melbourne 1860-1864; 90 Bourke St. Melb 1865-1867; 172 Latrobe St. Melb 1866; Bathurst St. Hobart 1869-1891; 19 Elizabeth St. 1874-1875; 23 Elizabeth St. 1878-1880; 91A Elizabeth St. 1880-1881.

    WOOLLEY, Charles A. 42 Macquarie St. c 1860-1870.

    Names, dates and studio addresses: Davies & Stanbury The Mechanical Eye in Australia, Oxford University Press 1986. State Library of Tasmania, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, National Library of Australia, Archives Office of Tasmania, Private Collections.
    Copyright KLW NFC Imprint 2005-2009. Do not reproduce.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Elizabeth Nevin's souvenir cruet of the Model Prison

    SOUVENIR WARE Model Prison Port Arthur Tasmania

    This piece of souvenir ware was "Made in Germany" and was either "57" in a series or made at a coded location, according to the mark on the bottom of the large bowl bearing an image on the front of what claims to represent the ruins of the Model Prison at the Port Arthur penitentiary, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania.

    Port Arthur souvenir ware made in Germany

    Souvenir cruet, Port Arthur model prison
    Photo © KLW NFC Imprint  Private Collection 2005-2009 ARR.
    Watermarked image.

    The three bowls constitute a cruet for mustard, salt, and pepper with a shaker lid.The inscription printed below the image states:


    Originally in the possession of photographer Thomas Nevin (1842-1923) and now in the possession of his descendants, it probably dates from ca. 1890 to the 1920s. The palm trees, which are little more than generic images of date palms and which as a species were unlikely to be found in Tasmania outside of the Royal Botanical Gardens in those years, appear to have been incorporated at the time of manufacture in Germany. The prison image was most likely added after importation by local artisans; their repertoire of images would have been chosen to suit the particular site or occasion.

    Photo historian Jack Cato remarked in his publication The Story of the Camera in Australia (1955:168) that photographer W.H. Carl Burrows (fl. 1876-1895, Launceston, and at Alba Studios Hobart 1900s) was the first in Tasmania to do photo ceramics -
    ... burning his landscapes on to china plates, cups and saucers. His clever daughters, named alphabetically from Eunice down to Octavius the son, painted medallions of wildflowers, mountain berries, and waratah that sold like hot cakes to the tourists.(1955:168).
    The image on this souvenir cruet is no photograph. It appears to be a lithograph of a photograph at best or just a sketch, an artist's impression of the entrance to the exercise yards derived from descriptions of what the ruins of the Model Prison may have looked like by the 1900s.

    The inscription printed below the image states:


    These images are watermarked.
    Photography and souvenir cruet copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection  2007 ARR 

    The separate prison - called The Model - was built at Port Arthur between 1848 and 1852. Fifty cells, arranged in three wings radiated from a central hall from which each wing was visible. The fourth wing contained the Chapel with fifty separate wooden stalls. There were four exercise yards, one of which was for convicts removed to one of the two Dumb Cells for a few days of severe punishment.

    Photograph - Port Arthur - Model Prison - exercise yard and solitary cell marked X
    Source: Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: 30/4536

    Pictured here is the entrance to one of the Dumb Cells, marked with an "X" , taken ca 1890 and printed by John Watt Beattie. The entrance to the Dumb Cells was through an outer door from the exercise yard, and then through three inner doors.

    Plan - Tasman Peninsula - Model Prison - Port Arthur
    Item Number: PWD266/1/1818
    Start Date: 01 Jan 1857
    End Date: 31 Dec 1857
    Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

    The Hobart Mercury reported on the 18th February, 1877:
    The two Dumb Cells are situated on either side of the right wing, with no windows or external entrance save through the internal exercise yard door, and then through three more inner doors. When the outer door alone was closed, the interior was perfectly dark and no sound could enter or escape.
    Source: Weidenhofer, Maggie, Port Arthur: A Place of Misery (1981,1990, p.77)

    This photograph (below), although taken by Jack Thwaites (1902-1986) in the 1960s, shows the crumbling wall which the sketch artist incorporated into the ceramic image of the Model Prison souvenir cruet:

    Photograph - Port Arthur - Entrances to the exercise yards, model prison.
    Item Number: NS3195/1/4630
    Start Date: 20 Dec 1967
    End Date: 20 Dec 1967
    Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

    Souvenir cruet, Port Arthur model prison
    Photo © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2019 ARR.
    Watermarked image.


    Text: Separate Prison
    Men under Strict Separate Treatment confined in the Separate Prison October 1867
    Mitchell Library NSW Manuscripts Original : B 5

    Detail of frontispiece photo © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

    The David Scott Mitchell Collection
    Photo © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

    The Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, holds the original documents detailing the names of prisoners incarcerated in the Model Prison 1860s-1870s, together with their activities and general behaviour, per this catalogue entry:

    SLNSW Mitchell Library
    Title : Convict Department - Separate Prison Reports, 1867-1871
    Creator : Tasmania. Convict Department
    Date of Work : 1867-1871
    Type of Material : Manuscripts Ask for : Original : B 5
    Physical Description : Collection comprises - 1 volume - 0.02 metres
    Admin / Biog Notes : The Separate Prison was located in the colonial penal establishment at Port Arthur, Tasmania. It opened in 1849 and provided the most severe measures of punishment. Here, constant surveillance, solitary confinement and silence were considered the way to reform. The building was a small modified version of the Pentonville Prison in London. It contained individual cells built around a four-wing radial design that ensured constant surveillance, as well as two dumb cells and a separate chapel.
    Contents : 1 October 1867 - 4 July 1871; Each page is headed with the name of a convict and the ship he arrived on. Beneath this are entries in columns under the titles of Week ending, Employment, Class, Amount of Work performed, Conduct, Industry, Signature of Officer in Charge (A.W., John Cassidy, M. McCarthy, and P.M. Guinness), and earnings letter.
    Inscriptions : Titled from handwritten inscription on paper plate affixed to front endpaper of volume, "No.38 / Separate Prison. / Men under strict separate / treatment confined in / the Separate Prison.- / October 1867-"Embossed on spine, "Convicts / Separate / Prison / Reports / 1867-71"
    Notes : Pages are ruled into columns and rows of a table and an account book.Some entries note, "Discharge to Hobart Town", implying that the prison is elsewhere in Tasmania.There are pin holes evident in the pages indicating that there were additional notes and papers.Volume was bound in July 1933.David Scott Mitchell bookplate inside front cover."D.S. Mitchell" signature at front of original volume.
    Source : Bequeathed by D.S. Mitchell, 1907
    Place : Port Arthur (Tas.)
    LC Subject : Convicts -- Tasmania.David Scott Mitchell Collection.Prisons -- Tasmania -- Port Arthur.
    Call no. : B 5

    Photo taken at Mitchell Library NSW © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

    To read more about these Separate Model Prison records for Edward Beaver and George White as Nut [sic,i.e. Nutt] - see this article here.

    We approached the Port Arthur Historic Site (PAHS) in 2005 for any information the museum there might have about early Port Arthur souvenir ware. The PAHS Collections and Interpretation Manager, Julia Clark, took these photographs of what is supposedly a piece from a tea set held on site, and despite their abject quality which made them useless for any discernible purpose, let alone display, submitted them to this weblog as a "courtesy". No apology was extended, and no offer was made to replace them:

    Tea set 001 and 002 "courtesy" of PAHS 2005.

    The PAHS proved to be very sensitive about these ridiculous photographs. They are the visual equivalent of the lamentable standard of "research" conducted by Julia Clark on Thomas J. Nevin's prison photographs taken at the Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol in the 1870s. This government employee of the PAHSMA proved to be so sensitive to criticism as to resort to fraud in order to seek revenge by attempting to wipe Nevin's name from the photographic records of Tasmanian prison history, all in the name of government funded "research" at which she is as inept and incapable as she is at photographing tea sets. The incident has earned Julia Clark the nick name "the Port Arthur shooter", which the PAHSMA and the Tasmanian public and taxpayer can ill afford to encourage. See related posts below for further examples of Clark's dogged abuse of Nevin and his descendants..

    Sensitivity about convictism and crockery has a precedent in the Tasmanian House of Assembly. As Terry Newman recounts it in History Briefs, Parliamentary History Project, this incident over a story of a teapot took place in 1894:

    "Teapot Tumult
    Tasmanian politics during the 1890s was full of federal tension, but other undercurrents persisted, one of which was convictism. Despite the cessation of transportation having occurred over four decades previously (August 1853), any mention of the convict past was still sensitive, especially so if it was made personally as occurred in the House of Assembly in July 1894.

    During debate on the Legal Practitioners Bill a lawyer, George Crosby Gilmore (MHA George Town), perpetrated a seemingly mild verbal assault on Allan MacDonald (MHA North Launceston), a co-founder of the Liberal Progressive League, and operator of a ‘crockery shop.’ ‘In the Chamber while the House was at work’ MacDonald was, so the newspapers reported, taking a ‘warm interest’ in the Bill, and his contribution was followed by Gilmore’s, who began to tell the House a story of a teapot.

    Left: G. C. Gilmore (1860-1937)
    Right: Allan Macdonald (c1853-1898)

    Gilmore had apparently purchased a teapot in Launceston, from ‘someone not a hundred miles from here’, but had found that it had been broken and glued, and when he tried to return it he was simply told that it was the ‘way it had been sent out from England.’ According to newspaper reports MacDonald interjected, saying that Gilmore was ‘sent out in the same condition as the teapot’. What this actually meant was unclear, although Gilmore took it to mean that he was a convict or, as he put it, ‘had convict blood in my veins’. Therefore he demanded an apology, but MacDonald refused, and debate continued. When eventually a parliamentary division was called for on the Legal Practitioners Bill the two parliamentarians in question went to opposite sides of the Chamber. However, while on his feet Gilmore apparently went over to MacDonald and twice repeated his demand for an apology, which was repeatedly refused. At this Gilmore struck MacDonald a ‘resounding blow on the face’ and simply walked on to where he could cast his vote on the Bill.

    Shocked by the events, the Premier Edward Braddon drew the attention of the Chairman of Committees, John George Davies, to the blow. Accordingly, Davies finished recording the vote on the question before leaving the Chair. The Speaker, Stafford Bird, resumed the Chair and duly took note of the ‘disorder’. Gilmore immediately apologised for his actions, but added that the convict allusion was the ‘gravest and grossest provocation’. To compound the matter, Gilmore then used unparliamentary language — he said that MacDonald had lied, which term the Speaker required that Gilmore withdraw.

    Other Members, such as Sir Elliott Lewis, said that he had been sitting ‘between’ the two MHAs, and that MacDonald had indeed said that Gilmore had been ‘sent out’. Worse still, Gilmore suggested that he would settle the matter with MacDonald ‘outside’, which the Speaker took as a threat as Gilmore’s tone carried a ‘most aggravated sound.’ After further debate Gilmore finally withdrew the ‘threat’. For his part in the ‘teapot’ tumult MacDonald made a statement that Gilmore’s interpretation of his remarks had been ‘erroneous’. He had only meant to refer to Gilmore’s legal background, he was ‘sent out a lawyer like the teapot’.

    Moreover, MacDonald refused to apologise under ‘threat’ and adding fuel to the fire explained that during the division he had said to Gilmore that ‘I always thought you were a fool and now I am convinced that you are a fool’, upon which Gilmore had struck him! After an attempt was made by Braddon to exclude Gilmore for the rest of the session he was ‘suspended from attendance in his place during this evening’s sitting’ only. The ‘teapot’ incident was over.
    Terry Newman January 2007
    Parliamentary History Project"

    RELATED POSTS main weblog

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Sonny Nevin's American journey with the Bates family

    Thomas, Gertrude and Athol Nevin travelled to and from California on board the steamers, S.S. Ventura and S.S. Sonoma, 1920-1922 to visit Getrude's family, the Tennyson Bates.

    Source of steamer postcard images

    First born son of Thomas James and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin was born on 16 April 1874 and died on 17 Jan 1948, not to be confused with his father with the same name.

    First-born son Thomas James 'Sonny' Nevin (1874 - 1948) ca. 1930
    Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2005 -2010 ARR. Watermarked

    Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin,
    ca. 1940, in Salvation Army uniform.
    Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009 ARR

    The genealogical information below was prepared in the USA by Jackie Cetnar with notes from Polly Laughlin and descendants of the Bates family sometime before 2004. The information gathered about Thomas Nevin clearly indicates (a) his middle initial "J" stood for "James" and (b) his registration was photographer in 1874, two years after he began his Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol photographic commissions, viz.

    Notes from Jackie Cetnar:

    Generation No. 1

    1. THOMAS JAMES1 NEVIN (Source: AVIR data.). He married ELIZABETH RACHEL DAY (Source: AVIR data.) July 12, 1871 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: CM 723336, 1871, reg state Tasmania, Ref number 271.).

    Occupation: 1874, Photographer

    Marriage: July 12, 1871, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: CM 723336, 1871, reg state Tasmania, Ref number 271.)

    Both father and son, therefore, were named Thomas James Nevin. See this entry here for an extended discussion of the confusion this has generated.

    Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's eldest son Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin (1874-1948) married Gertrude Jane Tennyson Bates (1883-1958) at the Wesleyan Church, Hobart, on February 6th, 1907. Her father, Walter Tennyson Bates, had died in 1905. By July 1907, Gertrude's mother, Elizabeth Jane Bates nee Jones, had left Hobart and arrived in Sydney with six of her seven children - Gertrude remaining in Hobart with husband Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin. Her mother and siblings migrated first to Vancouver, and eventually to California in 1910.

    These extended notes about Gertrude's parents and siblings are excerpts from information kindly forwarded by Jackie Cetnar, a Bates family descendant:

    WALTER TENNYSON BATES (Gertrude's father):

    Moved to Tasmania, Australia about 1885.

    Gravestone reads: In Loving Memory of Walter Tennyson Beloved Husband of E. J. Bates. Also little CHARLIE, Infant son of above, Also GERTRUDE BATES, Died 5th May 1958, At Rest.

    Obituary from "The Tasmanian Mail", for 06, Jan. 1906:(Photograph of WTB also available)

    The late Mr. Bates was a native of Hull, Yorkshire, England, and came to Australia some 23 years ago. He then spent about three years in Melbourne, and was leading cornet player in the Royal & Princess theatres. He came to Tasmania to lead the Rechabite Band, and was afterwards conductor of the Garrison Band for many years. He also conducted the Hobart City, Richmond, Bellerive, Kempton, Bismark, Sorell and Filibuster bands at different times, and formed several of them. For a long time he was Grand Trumpeter of the Masonic Lodge.

    At the time of his death the deceased was conductor of the City Band, but had been absent on leave for some time, Mr. Clay (his first pupil in Australia) acting in his stead. The late Mr. Bates acted as a judge at the competitions in Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston and Queenstown. The deceased was a connection of the late Poet Laureate, his mother being a member of the Tennyson family, Lincolnshire ... He leaves a widow and six children (one son and five daughters).

    Obituary for " The Mercury ", Tasmania, for 19 Dec. 1905:

    Walter Tennyson Bates answered the " Last Call" on the evening of 18th inst., after a somewhat long illness, having expired at his late residence on Lansdowne Crescent. He had been ailing for some months, and recently took a visit to England and Melbourne in search of a cure, but without avail. The deceased, who was in the 52 year of his age, came from the old country about 20 years ago, and settled in Hobart. Prior to leaving England he was the conductor of the Winter Gardens Band in Southport-one of the best combinations of instrumentalists in England. In Tasmania he had at various time been leader of both the Garrison and City Bands. He was for a long period acknowledged as one of the premier cornet soloists of Australasia. He had of late years conducted a flourishing produce business and had almost given up the idea of taking up the baton again, but when the City Band solicited him he went heart and soul into the work and make that band what it is today. Mr. Bates was highly respected by all who knew him as straightforward businessman. Much sympathy is felt for his wife and family. His funeral will be attended by the bandsmen of the city, and appropriate music will be played en route and at the grave.

    More About WALTER TENNYSON BATES (Gertrude's father):

    Burial: December 20, 1905, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: (1) Information given by Polly Laughlin., (2) Death Notice, Mercury Newspaper, 12-20-1905, Hobart.)

    Cause of Death: Ulceration of the bowel and exhaustion
    Occupation 1: Bandmaster (Source: Information given by Polly Laughlin.)
    Occupation 2: 1905, Produce Merchant (Source: Death Certificate.)
    Residence 1: December 18, 1905, Bonnington Rd., Hobart, Tasmania (produce merchant) (Source: Death Certificate.)
    Residence 2: 1854, 63 English St., Hull, Yorkshire, England (Source: Birth.)
    Residence 3: 1861, Hull, East Yorkshire, England (Source: 1861 Census Hull, Yorkshire, England.)
    Residence 4: 1871, Hull?
    Residence 5: 1879, Poulton Rd., High Park, North Meols, Lancashire, England (Source: Marriage certificate.)
    Residence 6: 1881, 33 Back Virginia St., North Meols, Lancashire, England, Musician (Source: 1881 Census North Meols, Lancashire, England, FHL film 1341898, PRO RG 11, 3752, folio 67, page 47.)
    Residence 7: 1882, Australia (Melbourne) (Source: Walter T. Bate Obit, Tasmain Mail.)
    Residence 8: 1895, Goulburn St., Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Birth certificate.)

    Notes for ELIZABETH JANE JONES (Gertrude's mother):

    Elizabeth and her children immigrated from Australia in 1907. They arrived in Surmas,Vancouver, British Columbia on a vessel named Manuka, which was the Australian Canadian SS C. They traveled with passports. The immigration officers examined them on board the ship. The date of arrival was August 7, 1907. They left Sydney on July 7, 1907

    From the 1910 Alameda County, Oakland, City CA census, Elizabeth is listed as: Elizabeth J. Bates, head of household, widow, 54 years old, had 7 children of which 6 are living, she was born in England, both of her parents were born in England, no occupation, immigrated to the USA in 1907. Her children were listed with her, all except Gertrude. Her ashes were buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, April 22, 1920. Her ashes were sent by Parcel Post from California to Cornelian Bay Cemetery. She died from Chronic myocarditis. This information is from the Undertakers Logbook.

    More About ELIZABETH JANE JONES (Gertrude's mother):

    Burial: April 22, 1920, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Information given by Polly Laughlin.)

    Residence 1: 1916, Oakland, Alameda, California
    Residence 2: 1881, 33 Back Virginia St., North Meols, Lancashire (Source: 1881 Census North Meols, Lancashire, England.)
    Residence 3: 1910, 2833 Persimmons Ave, Oakland, Alameda, California (Source: 1910 Census, Alameda, Oakland, CA, ed 210, page 9B.)
    Residence 4: 1911, renting at 2833 Persimmon Ave., Oakland, CA
    Residence 5: Bet. 1912 - 1915, renting at 2509 Persimmon Ave., Oakland, CA (Source: Oakland City Directories rom 1911-1915.)

    Marriage Notes for WALTER BATES and ELIZABETH JONES (Gertrude's parents):

    Information given by Polly Laughlin: The certificate states that William Lawrence Bates was the father of Walter and that his profession was a Joiner. Elizabeth father was John Jones who was a woodcarver. Edward Jones and Mary Kerfoot signed as witnesses. Walter was a musician and she was a spinster not working.

    Marriage: April 22, 1879, Poulton Rd, High Park, Lancaster, England (Source: Information given by Polly Laughlin, marriage certificate, North Meols, Lancashire, England.)

    Children of WALTER BATES and ELIZABETH JONES are:

    2. i. GERTRUDE JANE TENNYSON4 BATES, b. 1883, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia; d. May 05, 1958, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

    3. ii. WALTER LAWRENCE BATES, b. April 05, 1885, Carlton, Melbourne, Australia; d. December 19, 1959, Kaiser Found Hospital, Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, California.

    iii. CHARLES EDGAR BATES (Source: Information given by Polly Laughlin.), b. November 14, 1888, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: (1) Information given by Polly Laughlin., (2) Tasmanian Pioneer Index, Reg. year,1888, Registration number470, RGD No.33.); d. December 12, 1888, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Information given by Polly Laughlin.).


    Burial: 1888, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Ref. 239, Hobart,Tasmania, Australia.)

    4. iv. GLADYS ELIZABETH BATES, b. June 14, 1890, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; d. April 15, 1959, Oakland, Alameda, California.

    5. v. PHYLLIS IRENE BATES, b. December 18, 1892, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; d. March 02, 1989, Contra Costa, California.

    6. vi. DORIS BATES, b. October 29, 1895, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; d. July 15, 1968, Contra Costa County Hospital, Pittsburg, Contra Costa, California.

    7. vii. RITA TENNYSON BATES, b. February 12, 1897, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; d. March 24, 1989, Sharp Cabrillo Hospital, San Diego, San Diego, California.

    Generation No. 2

    2. GERTRUDE JANE TENNYSON4 BATES (WALTER TENNYSON3, WILLIAM LAWRENCE2, JOHN1) was born 1883 in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia (Source: PRO, Victoria, Australia, Birth Cert. 9259.), and died May 05, 1958 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.).

    She married THOMAS JAMES NEVIN February 06, 1907 in Wesleyan Church, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Marriage Cert. 150.), son of THOMAS NEVIN and ELIZABETH DAY. He was born April 16, 1874 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: (1) Marriage Cert. 150., (2) AVIR data, Reg year 1874, Reg. State: Tasmania, CB 1517475, birth, Ref. 415.), and died Abt. July 17, 1948 in Horbart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.).


    Victoria Pioneers Index. No. 9259, birth reference. Is this the Nevin, Gertrude Beatrice (B55836) in Cornelian Bay Cemetery Register. Gravestone: In Loving Memory of WALTER TENNYSON, Beloved husband of E. J. Bates, Also little CHARLIE, Infant son of above, Also GERTRUDE BATES, Died 5th May 1958, At Rest.

    Gertrude grave location: CE EE 277

    More About GERTRUDE JANE TENNYSON BATES (Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin's wife):

    Burial: May 15, 1958, Comelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)
    Residence 1: January 17, 1948, 23 Newdegate St. Hobart, Tasmania (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)
    Residence 2: August 16, 1911, 18 Paternoster Row, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)
    Residence 3: May 15, 1958, Mt. Nelson Rd., Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)

    Nick name-Uncle Sonny. Was in the Salvation Army.

    Baptism: May 26, 1874, Tasmania, Australia
    Burial: July 17, 1948, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)
    Occupation: Bootmaker, in Hobart (Source: Marriage certificate.)
    Residence: 1948, 23 Newdegate St., North Horbart, Tasmania, Australia

    Marriage: February 06, 1907, Wesleyan Church, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Marriage Cert. 150.)

    Children of GERTRUDE BATES and THOMAS NEVIN are:

    i. WALTER SYDNEY TENNYSON5 NEVIN (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.), b. 1910, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; d. August 16, 1911, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.).


    Burial: August 16, 1911, Comelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)
    Residence: August 16, 1911, 18 Patnoster Row, Hobart, Tasmania (Source: Cornelian Bay Cemetery records.)

    ii. ATHOL NEVIN (Source: Information given by Laurie Hoffman.), b. Unknown, Unknown; d. Unknown, Unknown; m. WINIFRED, Unknown, Unknown; b. Unknown, Unknown; d. Unknown, Unknown.

    More About ATHOL NEVIN:
    Burial: Unknown, Unknown

    More About WINIFRED:
    Burial: Unknown, Unknown

    More About ATHOL NEVIN and WINIFRED:
    Marriage: Unknown, Unknown

    [End of extract from Jackie Cetnar's information]

    Many thanks to Jackie Cetnar and Polly Laughlin (USA) © 2004-2007.

    VOYAGE to and from CALIFORNIA 1920-22

    See these related later articles here on this site for details of the voyage, and of Athol Nevin's WW2 service:
    The Electoral Roll for Denison (Southern Tasmania) in 1936 listed Athol Clarence Nevin as a pastry cook and resident of 85 Queen St. Queensborough (Sandy Bay), together with his mother Gertrude T. Nevin, domestic duties. He was about 25 years old in 1936. In 1940 he enlisted with the 2/8 Field Regiment and served in the Middle East and Borneo. He was now calling himself Athol Tennyson Nevin, replacing his middle name "Clarence" with the name of his mother's father's middle name (who claimed the poet Tennyson as a relative). His parents may have separated by the late 1930s. His father's address in 1948, the date of his death, was 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart, and by 1949 Athol was resident in Melbourne, working as a storeman. His father wore the uniform of the Salvation Army in the 1930s and 1940s, as the photographs above indicate.

    Information about Athol's marriage to Winifred Aird is yet to come, but they were listed on the Victorian Electoral Rolls as residents of Melbourne in 1954. Also, a postcard sent by Gertrude Nevin from California in the 1920s to her brother-in-law, George Ernest Nevin in Hobart, is yet to be scanned (in the Private Collection of Denis Shelverton). She began the postcard to George with the words "Dear lovey ..." (mmm!!!)

    First- born child May Nevin and her China trade soapstone vase/brush washer

    May Nevin (baptised as Mary Florence Elizabeth Nevin, 1872-1955) was born a fortnight before the great Glenorchy landslip which destroyed houses, farms, businesses and streets and tore boulders and vegetation from the slopes of Mount Wellington. She was born on 19th May 1872 and died to the day exactly 83 yrs later on the anniversary of the great landslip, on 4th June 1955. She was the first child born to Elizabeth Rachel Day and Thomas James Nevin who were married at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley (Hobart) on July 12, 1871. May was born at Thomas Nevin's studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart. She died in 1955 and was buried within the denomination of the Church of England at the Cornelian Bay cemetery.

    May Nevin's soapstone vase/brush washer
    Photo © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection ARR 2003-2015

    May was the child who witnessed the expansion of her father's commercial studio practice in the early 1870s to include his commissions with the Hobart City Council's Lands and Survey Department and the Hobart Municipal Police Office working in prisons. She was the child whose father was also a police photographer and whose uncle Jack (John Nevin jnr) was a Constable at the Cascades and Hobart Gaols. Her education was significantly enhanced by ready access to the world's newspapers and books held in the Public Library, housed within the Hobart Town Hall, when her parents took up residency there on her father's appointment to the civil service in 1876.

    In a sense, May Nevin was the beneficiary of her grandparents' military and merchant navy careers. Her maternal grandfather master mariner Captain James Day served in Australian and international waters for many years from the 1830s until his death in 1882. Her paternal grandfather John Nevin snr served in the Royal Scots from 1825-1841 in the West Indies and at the Canadian Rebellions. He arrived at Hobart as warden of Parkhurst boys on the Fairlie 1852 with his wife Mary Ann nee Dixkson, the parents of May's father Thomas James Nevin snr, of her uncle Jack (William John Nevin), and her aunts Rebecca Jane Nevin and Mary Ann Nevin. Thomas, Jack, Rebecca and Mary Ann were all under 12 years old on arrival in Tasmania.

    May also inherited her parents' cultural interests and memorabilia. She lived long enough to witness the trajectory of her father's career from young photographer to police agent to civil servant to horse trainer, and saw as well the arrival of six more of her siblings. She saw the arrival of her siblings' children who knew her as great aunt May, and saw the arrival of their children in turn, who knew her as great great aunt May. In 1955, her wake was held in the big house at the property 23-29 Newdegate Street, North Hobart, where her siblings George, William, and Albert also had resided from the 1920s, soon after their father Thomas' death in 1923. The house contained many beautiful objects and furniture pieces dating from the mid 1870s, including the China trade soapstone vase/brush pot (pictured below). Her wake in the big house was attended by the grand daughters of her siblings Minnie Drew nee Nevin, her youngest sister (1884-1974) and her youngest brother Albert Nevin who died in the same year (1888-1955. The longest survivor of all of May's siblings was Minnie Drew, born as Mary Ann Nevin in 1884. Minnie Drew died in 1974, aged 90 yrs. See this article for photographs and details of her siblings, children of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day and photographer Thomas J. Nevin.

    May Nevin never married. She inherited her looks from her father's side of the family rather than from her mother's side (tall and thin, the "cornstalk" look). Rumours were that she was a cross-dresser, but that might have been an occupational hazard. Her occupation on the Denison electoral rolls in 1905 was listed as "dressmaker". The "fur" jacket her young sister Minnie is wearing in this photograph, and which May is wearing in the two photographs below, one in her old age, the other with her Axup cousins, was probably her own creation from rabbit fur. It was passed down the female line too, but was tossed out in the 1960s, unlike the soapstone vase/brush washer.

    May Nevin's closest friends were her cousins, the Axups. They were the daughters and sons of Mary Sophia Day, her mother's sister who married mariner Hector Axup in 1878 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania. A few photographs of May Nevin survive, held in the Shelverton Collection, the Axup-Davis Collection, and the private collections of Albert Nevin's descendants.

    This photograph (below) shows Thomas and Elizabeth's youngest daughter, Minnie Drew nee Nevin on left (b. 1884, so she would have been 55 yrs old here ), and their eldest daughter May Nevin on right (b.1872, so she would have 67 yrs old here) - a difference of twelve years separated their births. Their cousin Eva Baldwin nee Axup second from right was six years younger than May Nevin (b. 1878, so she would have been 61 yrs old here) and six years older than Minnie Nevin. Their aunt Mary Sophia Axup was born in 1853 and died in 1942, a few years after this photograph was taken. She would have been 86 yrs old on this occasion, which was possibly the wedding of Eva Baldwin's daughter Ella to Glynn Davis (1939). The Nevin sisters, who would have attended the wedding, posed here with their cousin Eva Baldwin and "Aunt Axup" as she was known, at the railway station on their way back to Hobart from Launceston.

    [Above]:Minnie Drew nee Nevin on extreme left, youngest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin, and her sister May (Mary Florence Elizabeth) Nevin, eldest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin on extreme right, with their mother's sister Mary Sophia Axup, second from left with her eldest daughter Eva Baldwin nee Axup, ca 1939
    Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2005 ARR.

    [Above]: May (Mary Florence Elizabeth ) NEVIN (1872-1955), ca. 1952
    Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2005 ARR.

    [Above]:Mary Florence Elizabeth Nevin, known as May Nevin, second from right in fur coat.
    From left: Mary Sophia Axup's son Sidney Axup; behind him is his wife Emily Axup nee Tyson; in front of her is Sidney's mother Mary Sophia Axup nee Day; next in the fur is Mary Sophia Axup's niece May Nevin, (Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's eldest daughter),and extreme right is Eva Baldwin nee Axup, Mary Sophia Axup's eldest daughter
    Taken on the steps of St. John's 15.07.1939 at the wedding of Ella Baldwin to Glynn (David) Davis.
    Copyright © Private Collections of Davis and Axup descendants 2007 ARR

    [Above]: Webshot with photo insert:
    Burial record for May Florence Elizabeth Nevin 4 June 1955
    Southern Cemeteries Cornelian Bay Tasmania

    This beautifully carved soapstone vase/brush washer depicting a tranquil mountain landscape was passed down from Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day to her eldest daughter May Nevin, who died in Hobart in 1955. From May's estate it was passed on to her youngest brother Albert Nevin, who also died in 1955. It was then passed on from Albert Nevin's wife Emily Nevin nee Davis who died in 1971. From her estate it was passed on to one of Albert and Emily's daughters, who passed it on to her daughter - the present owner and great grand daughter of the original owner(now held in the KLW NFC Group Private Collection).

    The vase/brush washer's provenance may have been a gift from Elizabeth Nevin's father, master mariner Captain James Day, on one of his voyages between 1830 and 1880, or even from her uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith. A very similar vase is held by John Davis and the descendants of Mary Sophia Axup nee Day, Captain James Day's younger daughter. Both daughters - Mary Sophia and Elizabeth Rachel Day - were named as legatees in Captain Goldsmith's will of 1869.

    19th century China trade soapstone vase/brush washer
    Original collection of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914)
    Photography and vase copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection.
    NB: These images are watermarked 2015.
    These images are watermarked

    Back of 19th century China trade soapstone vase/brush washer
    Original collection of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914)
    Photography and vase copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection.
    NB: These images are watermarked 2015

    Mary Sophia's vase/brush washer was carved from a smaller chunk of stone than her sister's. Each is unique though similar in conception and execution. The motifs are identical, although the watchtower/pagoda at top right on the larger vase is missing on this smaller one. Both feature hanging willows, trees in blossom, shady bamboo, tea houses perched precariously on paths at the edge of steep cliffs, a cloudy sky, and two separate self-contained pots carved deep into the chunk of stone, leaving the centre void except for the lattice between them. This stone is also light grey overall, but unlike the larger vase which has streaks of pink and dark grey, this one is shot through with pink and bright blue streaks which the carver expertly used to fashion into the theme's motifs as the edges of paths, the tops of trees, and clouds.

    19th century China trade soapstone vase/brush washer
    Original collection of Mary Sophia Axup nee Day (1853-1942)
    Photography and vase © John Davis Private Collection 2017
    Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2017

    These companion vases/brush washers may have arrived in Tasmania aboard a barque such as the Lufra which was built in 1870 for the China trade and bought by Captain Alexander McGregor in 1874. The barque "plied the Hobart-London route for 23 years, her [its] fastest trip lasting only 79 days" according to Dan Sprod, Victorian and Edwardian Hobart From Old Photographs, (1977 Ferguson).

    State Library of Tasmania
    Title: Clipper ship “Lufra,” 672 tons
    Creator: Baily, Henry Hall, fl.1865-1880
    Title: printed below image., Mounted size 31 x 38 cm.,
    Notes: Believed to have been photographed by H.H. Bailey., Built in 1870 by McGregors Shipyard ; re-rigged as a barque in 1874 ; sold 1887 to L. Castellano of Naples ; broken up in 1905.
    Location: W.L. Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania

    RELATED POSTS main weblog

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Cartes-de-visite photographs of convicts by Nettleton and Nevin

    Charles Nettleton's Patents (Victoria)

    National Archives of Australia Ref: A2388
    Registers of Proprietors of Paintings, Photographs, Works of Art and Sculpture

    Charles Nettleton’s government commission to take photographs of the Benevolent Asylum, 
    National Museum, the Royal Mint (1873) etc
    Photography © KLW NFC 2008 ARR

    The numbers appearing on these cartes-de-visite (below) taken by commissioned prison photographers Charles Nettleton (Victoria) and Thomas [T.J.] Nevin (Tasmania) are the copyright registration numbers. Where Nevin's original 1870s glass negative has been reproduced by copyists such as John Watt Beattie and Edward Searle in the 1910s, the number written on the prints from the glass negative pertains to their claim of patent. In some instances, the same number was used by archivists when numbering copies at the holding institutions, eg. the QVMAG, to circulate to other institutions such as the NLA in the 1960s and 1980s. James Geary's carte is an example, below.

    Charles Nettleton's vignette of the convict Lowry bears the verso inscription The convict 'Lowry'. The copyright was registered in 1870, and the photograph received the number "190" handwritten on the recto inside the copyright stamp, a practice which continued in Victoria until 1873.

    In Tasmania, Thomas Nevin's vignettes of prisoners were registered with his government insignia trademark at the Customs House, which housed the Office of the Registrar of Patents, now at the Archives Office of Tasmania Series RGD9/1/1, RGD12, from 1859-1904.

    Webshot: Office of the Registrar of Patents (AOT)

    State Library of Victoria
    "H96.160/1584, a vignette bust portrait.
    He [Lowry] wears a shirt and unbuttoned jacket, and has a moustache."
    State Library of Victoria
    Nettleton, Charles, 1826-1902, photographer.
    Title: The convict ’Lowry’ [picture] / Charles Nettleton.
    Accession number(s): H96.160/1584
    Date(s) of creation: 1870.
    Medium: photograph : albumen silver ;
    Dimensions:10 x 6 cm.
    Collection: Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection
    Notes: Title inscribed on verso.
    Date of copyright registration ascertained from Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (VPOCC) Index: Aug. 6 1870.
    VPOCC registration number inscribed on item l.c. & l.r.: 189 & 190.
    Registered by Frederick Secretair, Russell Street, Melbourne.
    Original Picture Collection location number: Env. 24, no. 39 & 40.
    Source/Donor: Transferred from The Victorian Patents Office to the Melbourne Public Library 1908. The files which now comprise the Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection were begun by the Victorian Patents Office in 1870. In order to register copyright, a copy of the photograph, print or illustration was lodged with the Victorian Patents Office at the Melbourne Town Hall. A number was assigned and the photographs were mounted in scrapbooks. The photographs were stamped with the date of registration but this ceased in 1873. The original registers are now in the National Archives of Australia. The Picture Collection holds photocopies of these registers. The registers or indexes contain the following information: Date of registration, name and address of proprietor or author, description of the work and date of first publication. Images were registered from 1870 until 1906. The collection was transferred to the Melbourne Public Library in 1908."

    Tasmanian convict photographs by T. J. Nevin

    NLA Catalogue [incorrect information]
    Title James Gearey, native, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]
    Date1874. Extent 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm.
    Incription on reverse "149" , Pictorial: P1029/16,
    NEVIN, Thomas J. 1842-1923, photographer

    Thomas [T.J.] Nevin photographed James Geary (the NLA has mispelt his name) no earlier than the 20th February, 1874 on the occasion of Geary's discharge from the Hobart Gaol where he was incarcerated for escaping from the House of Corrections, and no later than his arrest, recorded in the police gazette for the week of 13th November, 1874. He was listed as "Free" when arraigned for horse-stealing in the Supreme Court, Hobart on 1st December, 1874. Mr Superintendent Richard Propsting, Nevin's supervisor at the Town Hall's Municipal Police Office, recovered the stolen horse etc.


    James Geary absconded from the Hobart Commissariat Stores, police gazette notice of 22nd April 1870. He was serving a sentence of 6 yrs for cattle-stealing, tried 7th July 1868, Hobart.

    James Geary was arrested by Sub-Inspector Dorsett, 20 May 1870. Thomas Nevin often accompanied Sub-Inspector Dorsett as assistant bailiff, a service he continued through to 1886.

    Geary was photographed by Nevin on being discharged from the Police Office on 20th February 1874.

    But Geary reoffended. Warrant for his arrest issued on 6th November 1874

    Geary was arrested again on 13th November, 1874, Supt Propsting etc

    Geary was arraigned and photographed again by Nevin at the Hobart Supreme Court on 1st December, 1874.

    A reproduction of the carte by government photographer John Watt Beattie in the early 1900s for his trade in convictaria at his Hobart museum included the inscription verso "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874" which was the Edwardian equivalent of a batch edit, applied regardless of the actual time and place of original photographic capture. The details that this convict was "native" (a local offender), as well as the patent number assigned to Beattie, were transcribed from the patents registrar, and not from the prisoner's record sheet or police documents which bore an entirely different set of numbers.

    The 1870s originals were intended to be pasted to the prisoner's record sheet. A similar photograph (unattributed) of convict George Miller dated 1881 is held in the State Archives of NSW. All three of these vignettes were produced within the conventions of commercial studio portraiture typical of 1870s prison photography in Australia when professional photographers were contracted under tender: the use of albumen, an oval frame, a darkened background in many instances, and the subject posed with sight lines to either semi-left or semi- right of frame. Very few absolute profile photographs were taken by these 1870s photographers, a feature of later prison photography influenced by the Bertillon method. See also this entry “Prison photographers Nettleton, Nevin and Crawford” for the vignette of Ned Kelly attributed to Nettleton, and for Frazer Crawford’s account of his methods used to photograph prisoners in South Australia in 1867.

    Gaol Photograph of George Miller [NRS 2138 Vol. 3/6044 Photo No. 2688 p. 219]
    Unattributed photo: NSW State Archives

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Wellington Park Exhibition July 1868

    This photograph was taken by Thomas Nevin from the balcony of the Superintendent's House at the Hobart Gaol:

    'Melville St West Hobart under snow' 
    TMAG Collection, Ref: Q9134

    Thomas J. Nevin exhibited this photograph at the Wellington Park Exhibition, Hobart, in July 1868. It appeared in the publication Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 1995:82).

    TMAG Catalogue:
    Ref. No: Q9134
    ITEM NAME: Photograph print :
    MEDIUM: Albumen silver carte de visite,
    MAKER: T Nevin late A Bock [Artist];
    TITLE: 'Melville West Hobart under snow '
    DATE:1868, July
    DETAILS: Wellington Park exhibition

    Nevin entry Tasmanian Photographers 1995

    On board the "City of Hobart" 31st January 1872