Monday, July 30, 2007

How misattribution can persist

Helen ENNIS (2000) and Isobel CROMBIE (2004).

Crombie 2004 photo Henry Smith

Isobel Crombie's book, Body Culture: Max Dupain, Photography and Australian Culture, 1919-1939, published by the National Gallery of Victoria (2004) includes this original photograph of a Tasmanian prisoner taken by government contractor and professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin, dated 1874, with misattribution to the Port Arthur Commandant A. H .Boyd on page 39.

In a discussion which lies outside the dates of the book's title, Isobel Crombie attributes this carte-de-visite of convict Henry Smith per Rodney 2 to A. H. Boyd, an accountant promoted through nepotism to the position of Commandant of the Port Arthur prison site, a position he held until forced to resign in December 1873. A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, and no works in any genre by him are extant.

The caption here gives the photograph's provenance from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's collection called "Portraits of Port Arthur convicts." It bears the number "128" directly below the oval image, a number which is absent on both the Archives Office of Tasmania (AOT) and Crombie's reproductions, which suggests it was copied either by Beattie ca 1916 when he lodged duplicates of Nevin's prisoner photographs with the State Museum (i.e. TMAG), or it was copied from the QVMAG Beattie collection for display at the Port Arthur Heritage Site in 1983-1984.  Together with 50 or more sourced from the QVMAG for that exhibition at Port Arthur, they were not returned to the QVMAG in Launceston; they were deposited instead with the TMAG in Hobart.

Convict Henry Smith with misattribution TMAG

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery catalogue with the Boyd misattribution:
Ref: Q15594
ITEM NAME: Photographic print:
MEDIUM: Albumen silver carte de visite,
MAKER: A H Boyd [Artist];
TITLE: '[Convict]: "128" "Henry Smith per Rodney 2 / Taken at Port Arthur 1874"
DATE: 1874
HISTORY: It is thought that the commandant of Port Arthur, A H Boyd may have taken the convict photographs at Port Arthur. Boyd was a very keen amateur photographer and is known to have had a room at Port Arthur fitted up in his garden as a studio and darkroom. Notes contained in the Mitchell Library's Tasmanian Papers refer instructions given to Boyd to photograph the convicts prior to the closure of Port Arthur and to photographic equipment sent to Boyd in 1873.

The last paragraph, "HISTORY" is based solely on hearsay, rumour and speculation. Whoever wrote the caption to this photograph at the TMAG had not sighted the Mitchell Library documents. There is no document held at the State library of NSW which instructs A. H. Boyd to photograph convicts at Port Arthur. There is only a memo from the Colonial Secretary held in the Archives Office of Tasmania requesting photographs of absconders, dated January 1874. It in no way instructs Boyd personally to take photographs of prisoners himself. Those photographs of prisoners already in existence by December 1873 were taken by Thomas J. Nevin at the Port Arthur prison and at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street. Nevin was contracted by the Attorney-General R. W. Giblin to commence the provision of prisoner identification photographs from early 1872 on receiving advice of the former Premier of Victoria and the Solicitor-General while on a visit to Tasmania in January 1872. Nevin was contracted on that occasion to photograph the group on trips to Adventure Bay and Port Arthur.

The photograph of prisoner Henry Smith per Rodney 2 is a copy of an albumen silver carte-de-visite (10.3 x 6.3cm) produced as a mugshot within conventional commercial practice. Another copy is held at the Archives Office of Tasmania (webshot below) with the historically correct attribution to Thomas Nevin, among at least 200 dated verso with the later incorrect transcription, "Taken at Port Arthur 1874".

PH30/1/3260; Title: Henry Smith
Date: 1874; Convict, transported per Rodney.
Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin

In the accompanying text in her publication, Isobel Crombie states:
The popularity of photography in enabling large-scale physiognomic projects was widespread, with scientists in most western nations embarking on archiving aspects of the human psyche. In Australia, A. H. Boyd used the accurate recording capabilities of photography to document the faces of Port Arthur convicts. As the Commandant at Port Arthur from 1871-74 he used the camera to take an inventory of the men incarcerated in the penal system in Tasmania ... [note54].
Isobel Crombie makes a fundamental error in this statement. She assumes an ethnographic purpose underlined the photographic documentation of Tasmanian prisoners in the 1870s, and completely ignores the most obvious purpose, viz. the pressing need for police to acquire accurate identification methods on a daily basis to keep track of habitual and repeat offenders at large. These photographs by Nevin were mugshots, taken on commission for police and prison authorities, most at the trials in the Supreme Court, and for the same reasons the police use identification photographs - mugshots - today. Thomas Nevin would have displayed these prisoner mugshots for the public to view at the Municipal Police Office, the central registry of criminal records at the Town Hall from the beginning of his commission in early 1872 and where he assumed full-time civil service as Town Hall Keeper from 1876 to 1880. He may have even displayed a few in his studio shop window while still working from his studio in Elizabeth Street, especially in the case of absconders from servitude.

POLICE NOTICES for Henry Smith per Rodney 2
The subject of this mugshot, Henry Smith, repeatedly offended in the 1870s. The weekly police gazettes published these notices:

Notice of arrest of Henry Smith per Rodney 2 was published in the police gazette of 18th August 1871. He was sentenced to 5 yrs for housebreaking at the Supreme Court, Hobart Town on 12 September 1871.

Henry Smith absconded and was arrested, per this notice published on October13, 1871

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police James Barnard Government Printer.

Henry Smith was arrested on 13th April 1873 at Oatlands, received at the Hobart Gaol and photographed by Thomas J. Nevin on arrival. Henry Smith was discharged on 13th September 1876.

Prisoner Henry Smith, photo by T. J. Nevin

Above: The original photograph of prisoner Henry Smith printed by Thomas J. Nevin from his negative, 1873.
One of forty prints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners in three panels
Original prints of negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprised and offered for sale by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915-1916
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Isobel Crombie's misinformation and misattribution can be traced back to two earlier sources:

1. Helen Ennis' use of the TMAG catalogue entries of their Port Arthur convicts as curator of the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition, "Mirror with a Memory" in 2000. Note 54 to the Crombie chapter gives the following:
54. Ennis, Mirror with a memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia , p.16, fn. 45, p.44.
2. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's error in attributing their holdings of several 1870s photographs of Tasmanian prisoners to A. H. Boyd instead of T. J. Nevin, an error which persisted with confusion in their 1995 publication Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (ed. G. Winter). In that publication, writer Chris Long cites three way bills - lists of passengers and cargo travelling to and from Port Arthur on the government schooner Harriet as evidence that Boyd was the likely photographer in 1874 (1995:36). A. H. Boyd was a career accountant from 1853. He was sacked from the position of Superintendent at the Orphan School, New Town, for bullying and misogyny, and forced again to resign from the position of Commandant at Port Arthur for corruption in December 1873. As an accountant, Boyd merely signed documents to pay for the site's operation. His signature can also be found on documents pertaining to the exhibition of cabinetry and shoes made by convicts at the Port Arthur prison: does that make him a carpenter and shoemaker too?

A close examination of the original way bills cited by Long and held at the Mitchell Library (SLNSW) gives no indication in any sense that Boyd was the photographer. The photographic equipment on two way bills went into government stores. The third and last way bill cited by Long (dated 2nd April 1874) purportedly shows that a photographer's tent was shipped back to Boyd as personal property in Hobart after his term of service at Port Arthur expired (Long, 1995: 36), which is a curious state of affairs for government stores property. The document actually shows only a few feminine items belonging to a Mrs Boyd that were amongst the cargo that day. The tent was simply listed amongst other cargo. It probably belonged to Samuel Clifford who photographed the site's buildings and landscapes in 1873 or to Thomas Nevin who visited the site regularly with both Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford. His visit on May 8th, 1874 was significant because he accompanied William Campbell, whose photograph in the NLA Collection is one of the more remarkable for being hand-tinted. Campbell was hanged a year later at the Hobart Gaol under the name "Job Smith".

To enhance the totally improbable story that A. H. Boyd was the photographer of "convict" portraits taken in the 1870s which bear the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" verso, which was probably written by Beattie who touted them to tourists in the 1900s, Chris Long cites two circumstantial pieces of "evidence":

1. There is ONE photograph supposedly taken by A.H. Boyd held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW, according to Chris Long. However, in every instance when writers about this so-called "mystery" of authorship engage in the discussion, no one has actually obtained and cited a catologue number for that particular photograph, and no one has given a description of the subject of that one photograph. It is in fact a reprint by the Anson Bros. of a building at Port Arthur, not of a man in prison clothing, and it is dated 1894: someone has pencilled Boyd's name on the mount. It looks most suspiciously like a fake inscription written in a modern hand, to mislead researchers idto believing Boyd actually photographed something or someone when nothing at all exists that can be proven to be his photographic work. The only document listed with A.H. Boyd's name in the SLNSW catalogue of MS and pictures is his pencilled name on his copy of Rocher's rules of convict discipline dated 1839.

Furthermore, the Mitchell Library SLNSW holds a vast collection of original documents from the Tasmanian colonial period - 368 volumes - bequeathed by D. S. Mitchell in 1907, including a later acquisition from photographer John Watt Beattie (1919) from whose bequest in the QVMAG the Nevin portraits of convicts were drawn for exhibition (1977) and distributed piecemeal to other State and National institutions (e.g. AOT, NLA and TMAG 1987).

Title : Tasmanian Papers, 1803-1890, re the administration of the Tasmanian convict system
Creator : Tasmania. Government
Date of Work : 1803-1890
Contents : Official records relating to the government and administration of Tasmania. The records relate to both free citizens and convicts and include material as diverse as jury lists, correspondence, supreme court records, police records, convict indents, convict returns and convict assignment lists, musters, land grants, financial records, Commisariat records, executive council minutes, stock and produce returns, magisterial records, marriage records, plans etc.
Title : Tasmanian Papers, 1821-1877, bequeathed by D.S. Mitchell, 1907 [87 vols. from a series of 368 vols.]
Date of Work : 1821 - 1877
Type of Material: Manuscripts
Bequeathed by D. S. Mitchell, 1907 (Tas. Papers Nos 16, 21-30, 129-141, 161-174, 198, 209-211, 221, 229, 233, 247-251, 294-302, 305-308, 310-314, 316, 318-321, 332, D 2-D 13, D 23).
Other volumes were acquired from Angus & Robertson, 1911,1913, Mr Beattie, 1919, Mr. Eldershaw, 1939, C.R. Fisher, 1946, C.L. Wilkes, 1949 and C.H. Lucas, 1954.

Mitchell Collection State Library of NSW
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Any researcher on this question of "authorship" - which is a debate amongst art historians founded on essentialist notions of the "artist" - needs to examine the Mitchell holdings: to imagine that the only extant records relevant to the period are held by Tasmanian institutions and Tasmanian historic sites, is indeed naive. There are eleven photographs of Tasmanian prisoners taken in the 1870s by Thomas J. Nevin held at the Mitchell Library NSW, two of which bear his Royal Arms colonial warrant studio stamp. These Tasmanian prisoners were not photographed because they were transported convicts per se as some sort of ethnographic portfolio, a notion often applied by social anthropologists to photographs of Aborigines of the period. They were photographed because they were repeat offenders, recidivists and habitual criminals who earned a further sentence in the Supreme Court and a mugshot.

2. There is ONE photograph supposedly by A.H. Boyd held at the TMAG. Again, no catalogue number is cited. No subject of the supposed photograph is described when cited by the Boyd apologists. There is one photograph taken by Charles A. Woolley of a man whom Chris Long claims to be A. H. Boyd (published in the TMAG Directory 1995:129). It looks like an early photograph of a young man, too young to be A.H. Boyd in 1874, and as Woolley had wound down his photographic operations by about 1870, the photograph must have been taken elsewhere and in the 1860s. There is another photograph of a man who looks very similar but ten years older which was taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1876, and which bears Nevin's studio stamp with the government Royal Arms insignia on verso (Personal Collection of G. T. Harrisson).

Why foist this nonsense onto Boyd, then, who has no extant work and had no reputation as a photographer in his lifetime, when government contracts issued to professional photographers for prison photography was already common practice in South Australia, NSW, and Victoria?

A story circulated at the Port Arthur Historic site in the 1980s that a descendant of A. H. Boyd recalled seeing a camera at the Commandant's House. This is the source of the Boyd misattribution manufactured by Chris Long which referenced statements that historian Margaret Glover did NOT make in her article on Port Arthur experiments (1979). Chris Long's research strategy was to approach descendants for information about the family collections (Nevin family included -1984) regardless of their wishes.

The Boyd descendant was a niece, E.M. Hall, whose so-called "remininences" about her uncle at Port Arthur was in reality a children's fictional tale about a holiday which was submitted in typescript to the State Library in 1942. The story mentions neither Boyd by name nor the photographing of prisoners. The construction of A. H. Boyd as the photographer of prisoners, which was repeated by Warwick Reeder again in 1995 (MA thesis ANU, page 69) was - and still is - founded on hearsay about the presence of a camera on the site - nothing more substantial than that. Hearsay, of course, is a legally discredited term. By the 1880s, when the Commandant's House had become the Carnarvon Hotel, there were several photographers and cameras on site to supply the tourists with a memento of their visit. This is one example by A. Sargeant ca. 1885, also from the TMAG, and it correlates with the imagery in E.M. Hall's story, a place which by 1880 was a deserted ruin:

Port Arthur photographer 1885

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Q1998.25.5
ITEM NAME: Photographic print in album:
MEDIUM: gelatin silver print toned,
MAKER: A Sargeant [Artist];
TITLE: 'Citadel Port Arthur. A Sargeant Photo 89'
DATE: 1885 c

The inscription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" appears on the verso of several of the convict cdv's held in public collections. The handwriting is consistent and similar across all these prisoner photographs from the 1870s, and is consistent with handwriting styles of the 1920s.

A remarkable oversight by Chris Long - if he saw the original way bills at the Mitchell - is the presence of a Mr Clifford on the passenger list for the government schooner Harriet's way bill dated July 30th 1873. He was indeed the photographer Samuel Clifford on his way to photograph the general degradation of the site, the buildings in disrepair and the underdeveloped surrounding landscape, at the behest of the parliament questioning the outrageous cost of maintaining the site, and the misappropriation of government resources by its Commandant A. H. Boyd in collusion with public works administrator Mr. Cheverton.

On board the schooner Harriet on its way to Port Arthur that day in July 1873 was a listed cargo of 288 photographic glasses, which may have been intended for any or several purposes. Many of Clifford's photographs of Port Arthur taken in 1873 are held at the State Library of Tasmania. The cargo of 288 glass plates supposedly shipped there in July 1873 reflects the photographic difficulties of the era - accidents, mistakes, breakage, clouding and dirt. The number of plates in no way bears any correlation to the number of inmates at Port Arthur in July 1873; by 1871 there were fewer than 109, and by 1873 even fewer. Having started the transfer back to the Hobart Gaol and other municipal asylums in Hobart by 1871, the colonial government was intent on closing Port Arthur because of the corrupt practices of its administrators - A.H. Boyd in particular - who bolstered the numbers of inmates by whatever artificial means to arrest the site's closure and thereby protect his well-heeled existence as the brother-in-law of the Attorney-General W.R. Giblin.

Professional photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas J. Nevin used a joint signature - "Clifford & Nevin, Hobart Town" - on several photographs they produced while in partnership. They toured the island of Tasmania in 1874, Clifford producing commercial views for sale while Nevin visited regional police offices on government business. Clifford also copied and printed Nevin's stereographs in the late 1870s. Thomas Nevin, with his younger brother Constable John Nevin (1851-1891) who was salaried with H.M. Gaol, worked principally as a team under contract as prison photographers between 1873-1884, and there is also evidence of Thomas Nevin's earlier presence there in the late 1860s, just as there is evidence of his presence at the Port Arthur prison in May 1874 when Dr Coverdale had become Commandant Surgeon of the site, and when the transfer of prisoners to Hobart was almost complete.

Thomas J. Nevin's commercial cohort and close associates were Morton Allport, Alfred Bock, George Cherry, Samuel Clifford, Charles A. Woolley, Alfred Winter, and particularly Henry Hall Baily whose studio was opposite Nevin's in Elizabeth St. and who was out with him that fateful night in December 1880 when Nevin was detained on suspicion of pretending to be a ghost. The ghost was not caught, but propinquity would suggest that it was Mr Edwin Midwood, the Information Officer at the Town Hall Police Office, or his famous cartoonist son Thomas Midwood, who would publish that same year a caricature of Police Superintendent Propsting.

Henry Hall Baily's stamp Elizabeth St. 1860s

Henry Hall Baily did not receive official government endorsement until the 1880s, and no association has been established between Samuel Clifford and the photographing of convicts. Misattributions still persist with these 1870s photographs of Tasmanian prisoners. The National Library of Australia calls them "portraits" as though they were aesthetic objects, and has been misled into adding A.H. Boyd's name to each photographic record under pressure from the commercially driven interests of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority. However, it is not good enough that Ennis and Crombie failed to check the history of the seminal exhibition in 1977 of Port Arthur convict photographs by Thomas J. Nevin at the QVMAG. No acknowledgement was extended to work of the original curator John McPhee, nor to the publications by researchers Geoff Stilwell and Joan Kerr in 1992 when Helen Ennis and Isobel Crombie used these prisoner cdv's to inflect a postmodernist discursive turn of power differentials as their preferred interpretation.

Above: QVMAG press release 9th March 1977. John McPhee curator.

RELATED POSTS main weblog

Visual pleasures 15 July 1871: the Diorama

Visual pleasures for the newly-weds Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin in 1871 were presented at the Hobart Town Hall in the form of panoramas and dioramas. Charles’s panorama (1871) occupied 10,000 square feet of canvas, and each painting was 17 feet by 8 feet.

Crowded houses
The Mercury Saturday 15 July 1871

This advertisement for Charles's great panoramas and dioramas of the Franco-Prussian War, Suez Canal and Nile, the "finest specimens of scenic art ever introduced to the Colonies", appeared in The Mecury, Hobart Town, Saturday morning, July 15, 1871, in the same edition carrying the marriage notice for Elizabeth Rachel Day and Thomas Nevin who were married on July 12, 1871.

Four years later, Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin took up permanent residence at the Hobart Town Hall when Thomas was appointed Office and Hall keeper (January 1876). Panoramas, dioramas of the American Civil, the Zulu Wars, and The Confederate Mirror were a staple of popular entertainment during the Nevins' tenure in the 1870s. Newspaper advertisements attracted huge crowds with enticements of free gifts such as papier mache tables, work boxes, picture frames and baked cakes.

This advertisement ran throughout February 1879.

The Mercury, 14th February 1879.

Moving panoramas presaged the arrival of the moving image on film. This short description from Canvas Documentaries by Mimi Colligan (2003) explains the mechanisms:


Although not photographic in nature, the 19th century moving panorama was a form of entertainment that was similar in some respects to the magic lantern show, and in many newspaper reports it is difficult to know whether the reporter was describing a moving panorama painted on a canvas roll or a series of lantern slides projected on a canvas sheet.

The moving panorama, or diorama, consisted of a series of paintings on canvas which were then joined together to form one very long canvas sheet that was wound onto a vertical roller. From this roller the canvas was moved across the stage and wound up on a similar roller on the other side. The canvas could be illuminated from behind, from the front, or by a combination of both, using oil or gas lamps.

Above: Diagram showing a typical arrangement for unrolling the canvas of a moving panorama. Dotted lines show the position of the framework that concealed the mechanism. The picture represents the first scene of the Burke and Wills panorama.

Some panoramas were very large. Charles’s panorama (1871) occupied 10,000 square feet of canvas, and each painting was 17 feet by 8 feet. Mankiewicz’s Pantascope used paintings that were 18 feet wide by 9 feet high, and Riseley and Humphrey’s Mirror of England had 120 paintings that were 25 feet long by 14 feet high, making a canvas that was 3,000 feet long and took two hours to unroll.

See also:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thomas Nevin, self-portrait ca. 1871

This vignetted self-portrait was used by Thomas J. Nevin on commercial circulars advertising his services and prices sent to clients, patrons, government and newspapers.

Tasmanian photographer Thomas James Nevin (1842-1923).
Self-portrait ca. 1871. This is one of five extant photographs of Thomas J. Nevin held in family collections.
Watermarked carte-de-visite, hand coloured
T. Nevin's studio stamp on verso -
"The City Photographic Establishment,
T. Nevin late A.Bock ,
140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town."
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2005 ARR.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Convict Carte No. 1: George WHITE aka NUTT


George White as Nutt, George Nutt alias White ...

Above: The database image with verso at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery: note that the verso is inscribed with the conventional date of Nevin's photographic registration (1874), the alias, and the ship on which Nutt was originally transported before 1853, but the transcription which appears on many other versos of convicts' cartes - "Taken at Port Arthur" - is absent. Nevin may have photographed Nutt at Port Arthur between 23rd February and 8th May 1874; the former date being another sentence for Nutt for breaking the cell while trying to escape, the latter being one of the dates on which Nevin attended Port Arthur on police business. He was absent from Hobart when his father-in-law Captain James Day registered the birth of Thomas James Nevin jnr in May 1874.

The transcriber of the notes on the verso of the carte - probably at Beattie's Museum in Hobart in the early 1910s - has collated the prisoner's record with the photograph, and assumed the date "1874" was the date of Nevin's photographic capture. As prison official A. H. Boyd was gone from Port Arthur by December 1873, his attribution is doubly impossible, being neither there nor being a photographer, amateur, official or otherwise. There was NO photographer in Tasmania by that name, nor are there any extant photographs bearing that name.

Thomas Nevin would have taken another photograph of Nutt in any event as a re-offender in 1875 when Nutt was arrested for absconding, and this is the image.

Webshot AOT of Thomas Nevin's carte of George Nutt alias White 1875

The carte-de-visite of convict George Nutt alias White, which is also online at the Archives Office of Tasmania (the AOT has reversed the alias per original Separate Model Prison records of 1870-1), was taken by Thomas Nevin soon after Nutt was arrested on September 3rd, 1875. Nutt escaped while under sentence on 24th August, 1875 from the Port Arthur settlement, and was considered desperate enough that a reward was offered which was posted in the weekly police gazettes (Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875) during the fortnight of the convict's freedom.

Above: The notice in the gazette on 27th August, 1875.

Some details about his height were amended in the following week's description for police information:

The notice appeared again on the eve of Nutt's capture:

And the notice of his arrest appeared in the same issue, September 3rd, 1875.

Nutt arrested 3 Sept 1875

Sources: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875.
James Barnard, Govt printer.

Thomas Nevin would have been able to recognize and describe George Nutt from their common experience as passengers travelling to Australia on board the Fairlie, which arrived in Hobart on July 3rd, 1852. Thomas Nevin was still a child in 1852, the ten year old son of a guard, formerly of the Royals Scots, John Nevin, accompanying his mother Mary and three siblings, William John  (Jack) , Rebecca and Mary Ann. George Nutt was a Parkhurst boy, a transported exile from the prison of the Isle of Wight. He would have been about 18 years old in 1852, if he was 42 years old when he fled the Port Arthur prison in 1875.

Above: Nutt's convict record at AOT
Ref: CON33-1-107_00197_L

Unlike many of these transportation records, this one contains some information of Nutt's work record and serial criminal offenses upto his discharge in 1884.

The Archives Office of Tasmania & the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery copies of this prisoner's vignette both bear the number "1" on the mount, recto. An ink stain of a square stamp partially covering the convict's face is evident on the AOT copy.

AOT: PH30/1/3222
Caption by AOT: Possibly George White alias Nutt convict transported per Fairlie 1852
Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania photographic database:
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits
Locality: not identified
Date: 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania Convicts' names database:
Database number:81329 Name: White, George
Arrived: 03 Jul 1852 Fairlie
Departed: 11 Mar 1852 Plymouth
Transported as George Nutt

The AOT has used Nutt's transportation record with details of his incarceration in 1870-71 at the Separate Model Prison Port Arthur where he was documented George White as Nutt -

White as Nutt in Separate Prison July 1870

White as Nutt Separate Prison April 1871

George White as Nutt,
Separate Model Prison 1870-1
Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

The police, however,  documented his escape as Nutt alias White. According to information detailing the Parkhurst Boys at Convict Central, a 13 year old boy called George Nutt was convicted of larceny on 15th May 1848, sentenced for 7yrs and transported on the Fairlie departing Plymouth on March 2nd, 1852, arriving in Tasmania on July 3rd, 1852. The transportation record (above) confirms these details, although his age by 1852 was given as 19 yrs. He was listed as a tailor or shoemaker. George Nutt would have been born ca 1834 if aged 13 at the time of conviction in 1848, and would have been around 42 in late 1875. The photograph by Nevin shows a man of that age.

Nevin took the one surviving image of Nutt as a police photograph at the Hobart Gaol where Nutt was incarcerated after arrest in 1875. The photograph was printed from the glass negative  as a standard police identification carte-de-visite in an oval mount, typical for police mugshots of the period, and pasted to Nutt's criminal record sheet. The number "1" on the mount may have been written by the same person in the 1980s at the QVMAG when so many of these prisoner cdvs were copied and dispersed to the TMAG and Archives Office in Hobart. It might be Nevin's numbering, on the other hand, or one used by the police, and there would have existed at least five more duplicates circulated to police, but more likely it has been numbered by museum archivists on accession or for copying. Another indication on this carte that it was the first photograph in an album copied as a series at the QVM in 1958 is the impress left by the square QVM stamp across George Nutt's left cheek and collar from the verso of the second carte in the series in 1958 which was placed on top of it, that of convict carte No.2, Nevin's vignette  of Wm Yeomans.

For this reason, the square stamp ink is visible in the AOT image, but not in the QVMAG image, although identical in all other respects, which points to multiple copies made by the QVMAG archivist (in Launceston) for circulation to the AOT office (in Hobart). The original from which 20th century copies were made may be the one held at the QVMAG but not necessarily the only duplicate which was first made by Nevin from his glass negative and used in criminal registers hedl at the Hobart Gaol and Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall.

For example, there are three extant copies of the photograph taken once and once only by Thomas Nevin of prisoner William Yeomans: one at the QVMAG, one at the AOT, both numbered "2" on the front, and a third which is held at the National Library of Australia with no numbering on the front, rather, it is numbered "57" on the verso, testifying to further copying from a single original glass negative either by Nevin for the prison authorities' immediate use, or by later archivists again. The NLA copy of the Yeomans carte is an archival estray donated there by Dr Neil Gunson in 1964 and accessioned in Nevin's name. But under the influence of Elspeth Wishart and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, the NLA has recently been co-opted  to apply the misattribution to Boyd of their 84 "convict portraits", further effectively suppressing Nevin's former sole attribution, for no reason other than to attempt to mask their collective foolishness in believing Chris Long's idle speculations (1984,1995). Their doggedness is tantamount to professional fraud.

NLA Catalogue notes:
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.; Title from inscription on reverse.; Inscription: "No 57"--On reverse.; Also available in an electronic version via the Internet at:

Photograph of convict William Yeomans by Nevin at the QVMAG and AOT.

The recto on Yeomans' carte is numbered "2' and was most likely placed on top of the front of Nutt's carte when the QVMAG archivist was in the process of copying them in 1958. The catalogue number for the job in 1958 was 1958:78:22, accompanied by the QVM stamp with more numbers.

The original transcription of the convict's name and ship and the date 1874 was added much earlier, probably ca. 1900-1927, given the calligraphic style. The most recent inscriptions by archivists date from 1985; e.g. QVM1985:P69, and are in a childish hand. Again, there is NO statement on this verso that the photograph was taken at Port Arthur, the probable explanation being that these first few cartes were transcribed verso and copied by one person, and the remainder at a later date by another.

Cataloguists, librarians, archivists, students, photo historians and others in public service have made a real mess of storing and recording the accession history, numbering, and data collation on these Tasmanian prisoners' identification photos: obliteration, reinvention, fads, guesses, fashions, and personal agendas have managed to obliterate valuable data and thus the traces of facts from their past.

George Nutt's prisoner identification photograph is one example. It was one of more than 70 exhibited at the Queen Victoria and Museum Gallery in 1977, with correct attribution to Thomas Nevin from the Beattie collection. But by 1984 a researcher on a very tiny budget, Chris Long, who had the job of putting together an A-Z directory of Tasmanian photographers (published in 1995) for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, indulged a speculation that photographic supplies supposedly sent to Port Arthur in August 1873 were used personally by the Civil Commandant to photograph the prison's inmates (letter to Nevin descendants 1984, letter to the authors Davies and Stanbury, The Mechanical Eye 1985). The Civil Commandant from 1871 to December 1873 was A.H. Boyd, with no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, no history of training or skills, and no extant works. No police or official documentation associates his name with prisoner photographic records and there has never surfaced any evidence to support this "idea" or "belief", but because of the self-referential world of art history, photo historians such as Ennis, Crombie and Reeder have credited Chris Long and used his "idea" as a possible attribution, extending to the present as a "likely" attribution by the sycophantic Clark. This simple fallacy of judgment by Long and his unquestioning cohort has misled commentators, and more significantly, librarians and museum cataloguists into suppressing Nevin's attribution, foregrounding the name A.H. Boyd, ignoring the circumstances and contexts of police practices, and labelling the ID photos as "portraits" - aesthetic objects, in other words. Chris Long has since regretted the confusion he caused (acknowledged 2005, email to these weblogs), blaming difficulties with his editor Gillian Winter (1995) and unsubstantiated rumours spread by Boyd's descendants, but the misattribution in public institutions is still evident in their catalogues. George White aka Nutt's carte has gone from this record:

Archives Office of Tasmania (and current at June 2010)
Carte no. 1
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits Locality: not identified
Date: 1874 Possibly George White (alias Nutt) convict transported per Fairlie.
Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin

and this original record at the QVMAG (prior to 1985)
Nevin, Thomas J. 1874
QVMAG carte no. 1
George White, alias Nutt

to this now at the QVMAG from 1985 (until 2009) when Elspeth Wishart re-catalogued all these convict photographs for an Exhibition purely because of Long's idle speculation:

QVMAG from 1985-2009
Registration Number: QVM: 1985:P :0070
Type: carte de visite
Producer/Photographer: Boyd, Adolarious Humphrey
Content: Portrait of George White alias Nutt at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1874.

Notice that the data about ship, date of transportation, and former catalogue numbers are all gone, and the aesthetic term "portrait" has subsumed the documentary facts. When asked why the QVMAG had obliterated Nevin's attribution, which was correctly assigned in 1977 by the same institution, the QVMAG, their reply was simply - "because of comments made by Chris Long, " without so much as a backwards glance at their own curatorial history (letter from Community History Technical Officer - see this article: The QVMAG, Chris Long and A. H. Boyd.)

The QVMAG has now brought online most (but not all) of their database holdings of these convict photographs, with a revised catalogue entry for Nutt (below). The first cataloguing of these photographs by the QVM was in 1958, evidenced by the stamp on versos, and the second database dates from 1985. A new database collation needs to be performed, going back to the original cartes and glass negatives to include the criminal records sheets with prisoners' cartes attached, mentioned by Nevin's curator for the 1977 QVMAG exhibition, John McPhee, in correspondence with the Specialist Librarian G.T. Stilwell.

Purely because of one idle comment by Chris Long that forced an association with the Commandant A.H. Boyd as the photographer of these "convict portraits" (i.e. police mugshots), the former employee at the QVMAG and now an historian at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Elspeth Wishart, has pushed onto the public the Boyd misattribution, both at the TMAG and per this entry online at the QVMAG website (webshot below). A.H. Boyd has no entry in the mammoth publication, Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870 (ed. Joan Kerr 1992), while Nevin does, complete with attribution as the photographer of these convict images (p.568), yet Boyd has an entry as THE photographer of these prisoner cartes in the DAA online version, probably because Wishart and Clark were actively involved as contributors who authored the fatuously illogical comment -"not surprising given his job as penal officer".

The entire misattribution problem has its genesis in a belief that a single sentence in an unpublished children's fictional tale about a holiday at Port Arthur, written in 1930 by a niece of A.H. Boyd, E.M. Hall, called "The Young Explorer" (SLTAS) which does NOT mention Boyd by name NOR does it refer to the photographing of prisoners at the Port Arthur prison, can be taken as FACT. Elspeth Wishart and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, are determined to promulgate the A.H. Boyd misattribution with appeals to impressionable staff at the National Library of Australia and other public institutions, not to mention the editors of academic journals (JACHS 2010) purely to mask their own gullibility in placing all their faith in Chris Long's assumption that a paragraph from children's fiction can function as historical fact.

No one knows anything!

For further discussion on this issue see these articles:

Separate Prison records, Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Kangaroo Valley house and New Town stereographs ca.1868

KANGAROO VALLEY Lenah Valley Tasmania since 1922
NEVIN John snr, poetry and house at Ancanthe
STEREOGRAPHS by Thomas J. Nevin 1860s-70s

John Nevin at Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania, 1854-1887
In the year 1877, about 300 people resided in the village of Augusta located in the county of Buckingham, Tasmania. It was in the police district of Hobart, the electoral district of Glenorchy, and home since 1854 to the settler family of Thomas James Nevin: his parents John Nevin snr and Mary Nevin nee Dickson, and his three siblings Rebecca Jane, Mary Ann, and William John Nevin.

Excerpt from Bailliere's Tasmanian Gazetteer and Road Guide 1877, page 7
Source: State Library of Tasmania.

AUGUSTA (Co. Buckingham) is a postal village and residential suburb of Hobart Town, in the police district of Hobart, and electoral district of Glenorchy. It is situate on the main road from Hobart Town to Launceston, about 2 miles from the former place, and on the New Town Rivulet, which empties itself in to the Derwent, near Risdon. A portion of Mount Wellington overlooks the district. There are no mills or manufactories in Augusta at present, except a pottery. The surrounding district is agricultural to a large extent. There are several coal seams in the district; two or three are being worked, and produce very good domestic fuel. The communication with Hobart Town is by 'busses and other conveyances which run hourly. The city of Hobart Town adjoins Augusta N.W. There is one hotel in the village, the Harvest Home. The surrounding country is undulating and hilly. The population numbers about 300 persons. There are places of worship as follows: Church of England, Church of Rome, and Wesleyan Church.

Thomas J. Nevin's father John Nevin (b.1808 Ireland - d. Hobart 1887) had served in the Royal Scots First Regiment in the West Indies from 1825 to 1836 and at the Canadian Rebellions of 1837-38. He was pensioned at London, West Canada in 1841. He worked his family's passage to Australia as a Chelsea out-pensioner guard of adult convicts and warden of the 32 exiled boys from the Parkhurst Prison, accompanied by the 99th Regiment on board the Fairlie, arriving in Hobart Tasmania, 3 July 1852. With his wife Mary Ann Dickson (b. 1812 England - d. Hobart 1875, sister of nurseryman Alexander Dickson of Newtonards) and four children all under 12 yrs old, he settled at Kangaroo Valley, also once known as Kangaroo Bottom, near the village of Augusta a few miles from Hobart. He built a cottage there on the rise above the (Lady) Franklin Museum on the Ancanthe estate, with views to the River Derwent (now demolished). It was his home for more than three decades where he raised his family, buried his daughter and then his wife, remarried, made and exported jam, taught children and adults, wrote poetry, exhibited wildlife, and tended his gardens and orchards adjoining the Museum until his death in 1887. An affectionate obituary was published in the Mercury, 11 October 1887 by the "boys in the Royals" who "had known him in Canada 50 years ago."

John Nevin snr settled his family on land in trust to the Wesleyan Church at Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania, although he was granted ten acres at Cradoc, near Cygnet soon after arrival . He published a poem in pamphlet form in 1868 titled "My Cottage in the Wilderness" (Mitchell Library, SLNSW) in which he alludes with regret to his days as a "rover" but which celebrates peace, solitude, contentment with his life's choices, delight in his garden, the security of his wife and children, and the fruits of his industry, despite the death of his daughter Rebecca Jane in 1865. He may have left Tasmania briefly to seek his fortune on the Californian gold fields. On 11th, July 1854, John Nevin, schoolmaster at Kangaroo Valley, paid £5 at Hobart for the passage of a "relative". No details of the passenger, the ship or origin of the journey are listed, but the date may coincide with John Nevin's brief absence at the gold fields.

John Nevin 1854 Schoolmaster Kangaroo Valley Tasmania
Payment of ticket for one relative

Source Citation: Archives Office of Tasmania
Register of applications for immigrants from Europe, of payments received and bounty tickets issues with some monthly and half yearly summaries; Film: SLTX/AO/MB/266; Series: CB7/30.

Eldest son Thomas J. Nevin, 26 yrs old by 1868, with a successful photographic business at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, took a photograph of his parents at the front door of their cottage in 1868 to celebrate (and illustrate) the publication of his father's poem "My Cottage in the Wilderness". The photograph with poem was exhibited at the Mechanics Institute and Wellington Exhibitions, 1868. It may have been lithographed, as were several  of his colleague Samuel Clifford 's stereographs for publication. Details in both John Nevin's obituary and lines in poem describe the location and aspect of the cottage, viz:

From John Nevin's Obituary (Mercury, 11 October 1887)

DEATH OF AN OLD VETERAN.- There passed away very quietly on Sunday, 9th inst., at the good old age of 79, Mr. John Nevin, who for the last 30 years has lived in the secluded shades of Kangaroo Valley, adjoining Lady Franklin's old Museum. He lived a retired life on his pension and in working his plot of garden ground at the Wesleyan Chapel, enjoying the respect of all in the neighbourhood as a consistent Christian....

 From John Nevin's poem "My Cottage in the Wilderness" (1868)
A rural building I have founded,
My cottage in the wilderness...
Defend'd by a row of pailing
My cottage in the wilderness...
We can view the Derwent flowing
List to its noiseless current by,
Or at times the fleet skiff rowing
Beyond my cottage windows high;

The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley
“T .J. Nevin Photo” inscribed on verso, 1868.
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & The Liam Peters Collection 2010.

"My Cottage in the Wilderness" by John Nevin, 1868.
Mitchell Collection, State Library of NSW
Photo © KLW NFC 2009

Above: a glimpse of the Derwent, the view today from 270 Lenah Valley Road, from the original site of John Nevin’s cottage near where the present farmhouse, roof visible here, built ca.1890 still stands.
Photo Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint.

The Wesleyan Chapel, 1859
The 1858 Valuation Rolls for Southern Tasmania listed John Nevin's occupancy of the school house and house on one acre, valued at five pounds - £5 - held by the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church.

Nevin, John, Kangaroo Valley
Nairn, W. E., Stephen St.
Camille Del Sarte, composer and concert master (1818-1877), D'Arcy and Upper Wentworth St.
Hobart valuation rolls, 1853-1890 : extracts from the Hobart Town Gazette, 1858, p. 782
Source: State Library of Tasmania

Description: school house and house
Location: Kangaroo Valley
Area: 1 ac
Value: £5
Occupier: NEVIN John
Residence: on property
Owner: for Wesleyan Church Trustees

By March 1859, the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church who owned the land had erected a new building for a Chapel and Sunday School.

Wesleyan Chapel and Sunday School opened at New Town
Launceston Examiner 26 March 1859

On Tuesday afternoon the new building erected at New Town, for a Chapel and Sunday School, in connection with the Wesleyans, was opened by a tea meeting, The Chair was taken by Samuel Crisp, Esq., and addresses were delivered by the Revs. Messrs Cope and Lelean [sic-McLean?], Messrs. Shoobridge, Brown, Crouch &. Divine service will be held every Sunday, and a Sunday School will be established.
Launceston Examiner 26 March 1859

Wesleyan Chapel Back Road New Town
Launceston Examiner, 9 June 1859

Sermons were preached on Sunday on the occasion of the opening of the new Wesleyan Chapel, Back Road, New Town. The Rev. Mr. Quick, of Horton College, preached in the morning to a numerous audience, and the Rev. J. Cope in the afternoon. Mr. Quick again preached for the same object at Melville-street Chapel in the evening.
Launceston Examiner, 9 June 1859

Both the Franklin Museum, erected on the estate established by Jane, Lady Franklin, wife of Governor Sir John Franklin, and which is still known as Ancanthe, and the Wesleyan Chapel, were situated on the Back Road, now Lenah Valley Road. Travellers on foot and horseback from Kangaroo Valley utilised this road, which ran along the banks of the New Town Rivulet, to access South Hobart across the foot hills of Mount Wellington.

By 1872, John Nevin had leased an additional acre of land nearby for gardens and orchards from Maria Nairn, wife of William Edward Nairn (1812-1869), assistant comptroller of the Convict Department in 1843, in charge of prisoners in Tasmania and on Norfolk Island, and sheriff of Hobart in 1857-68. His wife Maria Nairn was a sister of John Swan, Inspector of Police in the 1870s. The Nairns, as well other influential neighbours at Kangaroo Valley including the Hon. W. R. Giblin, endorsed Thomas Nevin’s government contracts with the Lands and Survey Department and the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart City Council, Town Hall. Thomas Nevin may have produced this photograph of William Nairn who died in 1869, which John Watt Beattie reprinted ca. 1895:

William Edward Nairn (1812-1869)
Photograph by Thomas Nevin ? ca. mid 1860s,
Reproduced by John Watt Beattie ca. 1895
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001125646943

Friends and neighbours at Kangaroo Valley and fellow electors in the Glenorchy district included Royal Mail coach operator and patron Samuel Page; Commandant of Port Arthur and MD at the Hobart Gaol Dr John Coverdale; Thomas Nevin's solicitor (from 1868) Attorney-General W.R. Giblin; Under-Sheriff Thomas Crouch; and Police Superintendent Richard Propsting. See this entry, Working with Police and Prisoners.

John Nevin, occupier of the Wesleyan Chapel, school house, dwelling, and garden leased from Maria Nairn.
Hobart Valuation Rolls, Hobart Town Gazette, November 26, 1872. p. 1678
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Death of Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson (1810-1875)
John Nevin's wife Mary died suddenly on 13th April 1875. She predeceased her husband, John Nevin and father of their three surviving children - Thomas James, Mary Ann and Jack (William John) - the other daughter Rebecca Jane had died at Kangaroo Valley in 1865 - by twelve years. Her death notice stated her residence as the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley:

Death notice for Mary Nevin (1810-1875), The Mercury, 15 April 1875.


NEVIN- On the 13th April, at her residence, the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Mary, the beloved wife of John Nevin, in the 65th year of her age. The funeral will move from her late residence, on Friday, at 3 o'clock sharp, when friends are respectfully requested to attend.

Last entry; death of Mary Nevin, 13 April 1875, from bladder complications.
Described as "farmer's wife". Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Thomas Nevin took this photograph ca, 1873 of his mother Mary Ann Nevin a few years before her death, along with a companion photograph of his father John Nevin. These particular images of Mary Nevin (mother) and John Nevin (father), are scans from sepia prints of full length photographs which had been pasted into the scrapbook of Thomas' son George E. Nevin (Shelverton Collection).

Thomas Nevin's photographs of his parents Mary and John Nevin ca. 1873
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint and Private Collection (Shelverton) 2007-2012

These significant events for Nevin family members took place at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.

1865: John Nevin's daughter Rebecca Jane died there aged 18 yrs on 23 November, 1865. As her father, he was compelled to write a poem to commemorate her death, published in 1866 titled "Lines on the much lamented death of Rebecca Jane Nevin : who died at the Wesleyan chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on the 10th November, 1865, in the 19th year of her age" (Melbourne University Library Special Collections)

1871: John Nevin's eldest son Thomas James Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day, daughter of Captain James Day at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.

1875: John Nevin's wife Mary, mother of Thomas James, William John, Mary Ann and Rebecca Jane, died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.

1875: John Nevin's application to the Education Department was accepted to establish a school for local children by day and adult males by night at the school house next to the Chapel.

1877: John Nevin's only surviving daughter Mary Ann married John Carr, son of the late Captain James Carr, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, on May 12, 1877. She died in 1878 at Sandridge, Victoria, weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Ann (Minnie) Carr.

1878: Thomas Nevin's sister-in-law, his wife Elizabeth Rachel's sister, May Sophia Day, married Captain Hector Charles Horatio Axup also at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley.

John Nevin snr (1808-1887) died at age 80 (father)
Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson (1812-1875) died at age 63 (mother)
Thomas James Nevin  (1842-1923) died at age 80 (son)
Mary Ann Nevin  (1844-1878) died at age 34 (daughter)
Rebecca Jane Nevin (1847-1865) died at age 18 (daughter)
William John Nevin (1852-1891) died at age 39 (son)
Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914) died at age 65 (wife of Thomas Nevin)

The New Town Studio and School Stereographs
Thomas Nevin produced a range of views in the Kangaroo Valley district, including streetscapes, buildings, grave stones, views of Mount Wellington, ferns, visitors to the Franklin Museum, family members, and local identities. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery databases list several stereographs (not currently online):

Thos Nevin New Town studio stamp (TMAG Collection)

This is a selection of Thomas Nevin's New Town stereographs held at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart.

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870 of the New Town Public School
Verso stamp "Thos Nevin New Town"
Inscriptions "New Town Public School 1870s per G. Stilwell"
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.27

Verso stamp "Thos Nevin New Town"
Inscriptions "New Town Public School 1870s per G. Stilwell"
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.27

Group on the steps of Lady Franklin's Museum, Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart.
Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.34 and University of Tasmania Royal Society No. 189

See more stereographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin around Kangaroo Valley in these posts:

Collage of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin, and Kangaroo Valley stereo
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & Shelverton Private Collection

These two portraits of Elizabeth and Thomas Nevin were pasted into a scrapbook by their son George E. Nevin (held in the Shelverton Collection). Between the two portraits of his "Mar" and "Par", George pasted half a stereograph showing the path at Kangaroo Valley leading to the Franklin Museum, as it was then called. Completed in 1843 on Lady Franklin's property called, Ancanthe, this little museum was inspired by the Temple of Athene in Athens, and intended to house specimens of natural history and a small library.

The portraits probably date to ca. 1876. Thomas took the portrait of his wife Elizabeth; his own full-length portrait here was probably taken by his younger brother Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin, also a photographer and civil servant (1852-1891). The two brothers maintained a photographic studio at New Town into the 1880s, although Thomas' principal studio was at the former premises and studio of Alfred Bock from 1867 with the business name of The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town.

The Road to Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley

LADY FRANKLIN'S MUSEUM In a little secluded valley, enclosed by hills and ridges at the foot of Mount Wellington, stands a now dilapidated building, which seems as if the designer had been day-dreaming of the Paestum temples, and shaped this fast-perishing structure in humblest imitation of those might shrines. Like them, too, in silence and desertion it awaits decay. Built about 1838, by Lady Franklin, and by her devoted to the reception of collections in the various branches of science, it became for some time a favourite goal for pedestrians, and the frequent scene of pleasant al fresco parties. It was in time found inconvenient for a museum to be placed at such a distance from town, and the collections were removed first to rooms in Harrington-street, and finally to their present noble abiding place in Macquarie-street. The gist of the accomplished and esteemed lady whose name it bears thus became despoiled of its treasures, and found its "occupation gone". Unfortunately it is placed in so unpeopled a neighbourhood, that neither as church or school can it be made usefully available. The visitor desiring to reach this retired spot should turn along Augusta-road, at the top of Swan's Hill, and a rough winding road (which passes the New Town coal mines, producing an anthracite coal used only for domestic purposes), between sweetbriar hedges and somewhat slovenly fences, pursued for a mile or mile and a half, will bring him in sight of the deserted temple.
"Nothing stirs Save the shrill-voiced cicada flitting round On the rough pediment to sit and sing; Or the green lizard rustling through the grass, And up the fluted shaft with short quick spring To vanish in the chinks that Time has made"
- Rogers's "Italy"
From Walch's Tasmanian Guide 1871 © KLW NFC Imprint 2012

The State Library of Tasmania holds a photograph of a house similar to the cottage built by John Nevin, which may have been taken ca. 1890, but with misleading information. The library wrongly lists this photo as Colonel Davey's house called Roseway Lodge:

Title: Roseway, Col. [i.e. Colonel] Davey's house, Kangaroo Bottom, i.e. Lenah Valley (incorrect information)
Publisher: [Hobart, Tas. :s.n., between 1860 and 1880]
Description: 1 photographic print : b&w ; 88 x 139 mm
Format: Photograph
ADRI: AUTAS001126252196
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

This photograph is not Colonel Davey's house called Roseway Lodge. It is a photograph of a house up on a hill taken ca. 1890, of another house which Nevin & Smith photographed ca. 1868. Their view of this house was taken at the rear, showing the wall with dark stones - i.e. bluestone - on the other side.

Stereograph by Nevin & Smith of four people outside a house with side extensions
Verso: Nevin & Smith yellow label ca. 1868
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.9

The land currently vacant at 270A Lenah Valley Road shows traces of foundation stones of two houses; this house might have adjoined John Nevin's house.

The original Roseway Lodge was built by James Scott who married Col. Davey's daughter on land he gave her on marriage. It was located on the site currently occupied by Pura Milk, formerly Bakers Milk, on the banks of the New Town rivulet, at the end of Creek Road and next to the tramway extension which opened in 1922. By 1922 the original Roseway Lodge had been demolished and another house called Roseways had been built in the Victorian style on the same site, mentioned in this article -

The last rail of the Augusta-road ex- tension of the Hobart tramways has been laid and the line will be officially opened on Saturday.
This extension will link up with the city the charming district at present known as Kangaroo Valley but formerly known as Kangaroo Bottom and until recently was included in the Augusta district. In the early days this district was settled by bushmen and sawyers who supplied Hobart Town with large quantities of building timber. In 1815 the property just at the end of the tramway extension was owned by Governor Davey, who built a residence there for his daughter who married Dr James Scott, Colonial Surgeon. The property is still known as Roseway but the house has been rebuilt since then.
Just beyond Roseway Lady Franklin purchased some 400 to 500 acres. That was just after Sir John Franklin, the tenth Lieutenant Governor, was appoint-ed. It is said that Lady Franklin, who frequently visited Roseway, was so charmed with the beauty of the locality that she secured the area above mentioned and it was known as Ancanthe. At that time and for a number of years after the only track to Mount Welling ton was through this property Lady Franklin built a small cottage close to where the Anglican Church now stands, and had a number of bridle tracks cut, for she was very fond of riding through the bush property, which she desired should be regained for the formation of a native arboretum, which the place almost was by nature. Out of her private purse Lady Jane Franklin built that solidly constructed stone building which still retains the name of Lady Franklin's Museum. Sir John Franklin laid the foundation stone of this building on March 16, 1842, in the presence of the masters and scholars of the Queen's School, and others. This building was completed in 1843. The builder was the father of Mr Edward White who is still a resident of New Town. The building, although much out of repair, still stands as a tribute to the excellent workmanship of the stone-cutters and builders of 80 years ago. Great regret is felt that this historical building is used as an apple store, but we understand that Alderman F. D. Valentine, who has always taken a deep interest in the welfare of this district, and who was instrumental in getting the cross road, now being built, which will connect it with Glenorchy at Barossa road, is now taking active steps to secure the build- ing and place it in the hands of a responsible body willing to obtain the necessary funds to provide a suitable apple store for the lessee and reinstate the building and put it to some better use somewhat on the lines intended by Lady Franklin.
TRAMWAY EXTENSION. (1922, September 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 4. 
Retrieved January 30, 2014, from

This is the original location of Roseway Lodge in the foreground at end of driveway, at Kangaroo Bottom:

Title: Photograph - Augusta Road, Lenah Valley showing the property 'Roseways' in foreground and a distant view of 'Malvern,' owned by W.C Cato
Description: 1 photographic print
Format: Photograph
ADRI: PH30-1-1046
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

This photograph (below) shows the location of the original location of Roseways and the Victorian house rebuilt on the site. It is undated, but was probably taken ca. 1920 when photographer W. Little resided in the area and took the postcard view (below) of the road leading to the Lady Franklin Museum. It gives an idea of the incongruity of a classic Greek temple in the midst of farms and orchards. The locality was renamed Lenah Valley in 1922, and the village name "Augusta" was simply retained as the name of the main road leading up to the Museum.

Format: postcard
Location: Tasmaniana Library
Photo: W.L. Little. Date: ?
ADRI: au-7-0016-125397091

The house that John Nevin built is not visible on the rise to the left. It may be further back behind the house on the hill on the left with verandahs, or it may have been demolished after his death in 1887 and another rebuilt in its place, visible as the first house on the rise, the farm house at 270 Lenah Valley Road located inside the boundary just above the Museum, on land which was sold by the Hobart City Council on it acquisition from the Church Trustees (those originally designated by Lady Jane Franklin). The area is visible in this Southern Met map of 1973:

Lenah Valley (1973).Ref: 5172-18.
Southern Met maps
Archives Office Tasmania

Next to the house above the Museum visible in this view is a vacant block currently listed as 270A Lenah Valley Road.

The bridge in the foreground crosses the rivulet. The Lady Franklin Museum sits below the site where John Nevin built his cottage (now demolished), next to the house (pictured) above on the rise at 270A Lenah Valley Rd. Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR.

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