Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hector Charles James Horatio AXUP, Thomas Nevin's brother-in-law

HECTOR CHARLES AXUP Captain and Only Mate
MARY SOPHIA AXUP nee DAY marriage and family
NEVIN FAMILY in-laws and cousins

Hector Charles James Horatio Axup (1843-1927)
Undated and unattributed, ca. 1880s.
Photo courtesy and copyright © Suzy Baldwin.

Apprentice 1859
Records held at the State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master's Office show that Hector Charles Axup served his apprenticeship with three others on board the ship Graces, 449 tons which arrived at Sydney, NSW from London on 9th July 1859. He did not settle in Tasmania until about 1876, having served on the barques The Planter, The Queen of the Sea etc (see seafaring service record 1867 below).

"Hector C. Axup, apprentice"

Source: State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master's Office;
Passengers Arriving 1855 - 1922; NRS13278, [X100-102] reel 407.

Certificate of Competency 1867
Hector Charles James Horatio Axup, born on 7th February 1843 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK, was awarded a Certificate of Competency to fulfil the duties of Only Mate in the Merchant Service (UK) on 17th April 1867.

Hector Charles James Horation Axup's Cerificate of Competency as Only Mate, Merchant Service, UK, 17th April 1867

Page 1:Hector Axup's Application to be Examined for the Certificate of Competency, for Master or Mate, Merchant Service, UK, 1867
Page 2: Hector Axup's record of seafaring service on coastal vessels (UK)

Source: Wikitree Genealogy, courtesy of J. Robinson

Marriages and children 1878
Hector C. Axup (1843-1927) married Mary Sophia Day (1853-1942), the younger sister of photographer Thomas J. Nevin's wife Elizabeth Rachel Day, on May 1st, 1878, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley (renamed Lenah Valley in 1922) Tasmania where the Nevin family lived on property in trust to the Wesleyan Church adjacent to the Lady Franklin Museum and where they leased an additional acre of land from Maria Nairn. Thomas Nevin's father, John Nevin, built a cottage on the land and taught local children in the schoolhouse erected in 1853.

It was Hector Axup's second marriage. He was registered as a mariner and a widower, 34 years old. Mary Sophia Day was registered as a mariner's daughter and spinster, 25 years old. Witnesses were her father Captain James Day, her sister's father-in-law John Nevin snr, and Margaret McGuigan (the spelling of her name is not clear nor her role in Mary Sophia's life). They were married by the officiating minister Nathaniel Bennett according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Wesleyan Curch by virtue of Act 23 Vict No. 11.

"Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1933," RGD 37/37.
Marriages, 1878, image 9 of 224; citing Archives Office of Tasmania, Hobart.

Hector and Mary Sophia Axup had five children.
The names by which they were commonly known are indicated in heavy type.

1. Rachel Frances Eva Axup b. 1878 at Hobart, Tasmania

2. Sidney James Vernon Axup b.1882 at Hobart, Tasmania

3. Edward Harold Leslie Axup b.1885 at Georgetown, Tasmania

4. Patience Ella Mary Axup b.1889 at Georgetown, Tasmania d.1913

5. Olive Lilian Ethel Axup b.1891 at Georgetown, Tasmania

Captain Edward Goldsmith and Captain James Day
Mary Sophia Axup's elder sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day was born and baptised at Rotherhithe, London UK in 1847. The address of their father, Captain James Day who married their mother Rachel Pocock at St. David's, Hobart in 1841, was listed in the General Directory for Hobart, 1854, as "DAY, James, mariner, Bathurst Street" (NLA Ref: MCN 872). Captain James Day's sister, Elizabeth Day, after whom his daughter was named, married merchant mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith at Liverpool, England in 1829.

Hector Axup inserted this notice in several issues of the Hobart Mercury between 16th-20th November 1882, following the death of his father-in-law Captain James Day:

DAY.- At his son-law's residence, H. C. Axup, Sloane-street, Battery Point, in the 78th year of his age, Captain James Day, for many years master mariner of this port, and brother-in-law of the late Captain Goldsmith.
Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) Thu 16 Nov 1882 Page 1 Family Notices

Pilot Station, Low Head, Tasmania
By 1885, Hector and Mary Axup had moved to northern Tasmania and were based at the Pilot Station, Low Head.

Pilot Station, Low Head, Tasmania - Postcard
Item Number: LPIC36/1/22
Start Date: 01 Jan 1900
End Date: 31 Dec 1920
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Des Wootton of George Town and District Historical Society, Tasmania, has provided these details from records which are summarised below (some verbatim) from a communication with this weblog:
Hector Axup was registered on the Assessment Rolls of 1885 as "Hector Axup, Oak Point Cottage Consolidated Marine Board of Hobart 2 acres 20 pound." Oak Point is now called She-oak point with two old lightkeepers cottages, and two leading lights which are still used as navigation lights to guide ships into the river.

From records held at the Low Head Pilot Station indexes the following references are listed for the Axups. Most are only short statements, log book entries, however, there are quite a few mentions in the newspaper cuttings.

Hector was based at the Pilot Station and may have been the coxswain. References stated that he was "in charge". In one book which appeared to be when seamen signed on or off a ship, the date recorded is Sept 6, 1912, name of H. C. Axup, Norfolk Mate, Torous, (Engaged) . He appeared discharged from same steamship on August 6, 1912 and again discharged December 7, 1912. A note reads "left at the coast" no charges. Another entry: H C Axup, Sept 14 1916, British, Mate, Warratea, engaged.

Other Axups mentioned:

Edward Harris Axup, 1890, 5yrs 1mth attended Low Head School.

Ella Axup, 1897, 7yrs 6mths attended Low Head School.

Ethal [sic] Axup, 1897, 5yrs 1mth Attended Low Head School.

Eva Axup, 1891, 12yrs 2mths attended Low Head School.

Harold Axup, 1893, 8yrs 7mths attended Low Head School (Admission 9/9/89)

Sydney James Vernon Axup,1890, 6yrs 6mths Attended Low Head School (Admission 9/9/89)

There was also a Mr T. Axup and a J.H. Axup.Mrs Axup also has references. One was when she was sick.

The letters H. C.Axup wrote to the newspapers in the 1920s are also recorded in the Pilot Station Research Books. A cutting on page 67 is from a cutting from the Examiner newspaper of the 29th October, 1916:

Royal Commission on Tamar Improvements: -

"Hector Charles Axup - master mariner expressed the opinion that the Porpoise Rock should be removed first. That and the Bombay Rock were the chief obstacles to a straight run up the River. He had previously been in the pilot service of the Launceston Marine Board for many years." -

The letters to the newspaper referred to the blasting of two rocks from the Tamar River."
All information from the Pilot Station records are courtesy of Des Wootton and are copyright © George Town and District Historical Society 2005-2007.

Newspaper Reports
Sometime during the years 1887-1888 Hector Axup came into conflict with the Marine Board resulting in his suspension and dismissal.

Hobart Mercury 11 December 1882:

Hector Axup, longwhile chief officer of the Acacia, appointed similar position in the barque Natal Queen.

Above and below: the barque Natal Queen ca.1890
State Library of Tasmania
Built at Grangemouth in 1866 ; registered in Hobart 1873 ; wrecked in Adventure Bay 1909
Photographer: Williamson, William, 1861-1926
Ref: AUTAS001126071323; AUTAS001126071315

Hobart Mercury 11 October 1887:

Hector Axup thanked by the Governors of the Boys Home, Hobart, for his donation and wish that the boys be trained for the seafaring life.

Hobart Mercury 16 July 1887:

Recommendation that Hector Axup be dismissed from Marine Board service on several counts: "leaving his station without permission"; language and conduct "most disrespectful and irritating, tending to subvert discipline on the station."

Hobart Mercury July 1887:

Hector Axup, the assistant keeper at Kent's Group (Bass Strait), was suspended from the Marine Board.

Hobart Mercury 13 March 1889:

Hector Axup, late master of the Linda, appointed boatman.

Kent Group, c1891
Photograph by John Watt Beattie, in Crowther album 3 No. 10.
W.L. Crowther Library, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

Master of the "Yambacoona" 1914
Hector Axup was 71 years old when sailed with passengers and crew in command of the Yambacoona, 184 tons gross, 83 tons nett from Launceston to Sydney, NSW , arriving on 19th June 1914.

Source: State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master's Office;
Passengers Arriving 1855 - 1922; NRS13278, [X388] reel 2079, 2080.

The Final Years
Hector Axup arrived in Tasmania in 1876, and died in Launceston, Tasmania in 1927. A few months before his death he published a "unique booklet" titled The Reminiscences of an 'Old Salt' of 83 Years by H. C. Axup (Launceston, ca. 1926) with this photo of himself on the front cover:

Hector Charles James Horatio Axup (1843-1927)

In his "Unique Booklet" Hector roams over subjects as diverse as the launch of the last of the wooden three-deckers, the Royal Albertin 1854 which he witnessed as a school boy attending the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich; the good looks of Princess Alexandra of Denmark; Darwinism; Biblical Geometria; the Apocalypse; the Launceston Marine Board; "British Israel Truth" and Zionism; and a final word on the attitude of Christian men to Disarmament. He was in the end both disillusioned and traumatised by the Great War (World War I).

Hector Axup circa 1925, with other old salts and dog.
Old Salts, image courtesy Des Wootton,
Copyright © George Town and District Historical Society, Tasmania.

Des Wootton's comments on the above photo::
Left to right they are Thompson, Axup, Pilot Moncur, Clements, Pilot Mullay in front of the Chart Room (still exists and used). Don’t know the dog’s name.
Obituary 30th November 1927
Tom (Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin) and Albert Edward Nevin, nephews of Hector and Mary Sophia Axup and sons of photographer Thomas J. Nevin and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, attended the funeral of their uncle Hector Axup at Carr Cemetery, Launceston on 29th November 1927. They represented the Nevin family on behalf of their parents who had both predeceased Hector Axup: Thomas Nevin in 1923 and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day in 1914. Hector's wife Mary Sophia Axup nee Day, sister of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin, died in 1942.

Obituary for Captain Hector Axup
Examiner, Launceston (Tas) Wednesday 30 November 1927, page 6

The funeral of Captain H. c. Axup, who died at the Public Hospital on Sunday evening in his 85th year, took place yesterday afternoon when a large cortege followed the hearse to Carr Villa Cemetery. Included were Messrs. N. Clements and W. D. Thompson, the two surviving members of the pilot station, who were associated with Captain Axup in that work. May wreaths were received, including tributes from the Northern Totalisator Staffs Association, "The Examiner" and "The Weekly Courier" office staffs, the R.A.N. Sports Club, St. John's Guild, and Mrs Royal Holyman. The chief mourners were Messrs S.V. Axup, of Melbourne, and Harold E. Axup, of Launceston (sons), and Messrs. T. and A. Nevin, of Hobart (nephews). The service at the graveside was conducted by Rev. F. L. Wyman. Mr. T. J. Johnston, 20 Hampden-street, writes: - Many were the expressions of sadness when it became known over the week-end that Mr. Axup had gone to his reward. I say "his reward", because I believe if it could be said of anyone in sure and certain hope it could be said of him. He lived a long and a useful life, and if there was one thing more conspicuous in usefulness than another it was the many contributions of his pen to the columns of your widely read paper. As Divine recorder has it, "Truly his pen was the pen of a ready writer, and whilst he wrote on any subject, on none did he wield his pen more trenchantly that in defence of Holy Writ, as he was often pleased to term it. He felt as many feel, that if ever there was a time when many should "be set for the defence of the Gospel" it is now, when the Sciptures are being attacked openly as they have been recently from every side. It never could be said of him, as it is said of many, that he lacked courage in these matters. He will be better known to your many readers by the pen name of "Old Salt".
Source: Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954), Wednesday 30 November 1927, page 6

Nevin & Axup cousins: the next generation
Mary Sophia Axup nee Day died in Melbourne on 18th June 1942, aged 89 years. Elizabeth Rachel Day, her elder sister by five years who married photographer Thomas J. Nevin in 1871, died in Hobart on 29 June, 1914, aged just 67 years. The sons and daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin kept open house at 23-29 Newdegate St. North Hobart whenever their cousins, the sons and daughters of Hector and Mary Sophia Axup visited Hobart. More photos of Mary Sophia Axup and her adult children are available here.

From left to right:
Minnie Drew (nee Mary Ann Nevin) Thomas & Elizabeth Nevin's youngest daughter
Elizabeth Nevin's sister Mary Sophia Axup nee Day,
Eva Baldwin nee Axup,Mary Sophia Axup's eldest daughter
and May (Mary Florence Elizabeth) Nevin, Thomas and Elizabeth's Nevin's eldest daughter
Taken ca. 1938-1939. Copyright © KLW NFC Private Collections 2009 ARR.

RELATED POSTS main weblog

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

The Queen Victoria and Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, seemed so intent on abrogating the name of Thomas J. Nevin as photographer from any association with its holdings of the "Port Arthur convicts" photographs which were exhibited there in 1977 as Nevin's work that in a letter to a Nevin descendant date 17th November 2005, the technical officer showed considerable confusion and made contradictory and incorrect statements:

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Dear [name],
Please find enclosed some documentation relating to the convict photograph exhibition that was attributed to Thomas Nevin in 1977. Also enclosed is a list of the convict photographs that include the registration number, the type and content of the photograph, as well as the photographer who is listed as Adolarious Humphrey Boyd. I have highlighted registration number QVM:1985:P:0131 and included a photocopy of the reverse of this image, as it contains the photographic stamp of T.J. Nevin. The photographer of the convict photographs has been listed as Boyd, in accordance with comments made by Chris Long.
We have two photographs in our collection which have the photographer listed as Thomas Nevin. I have enclosed information about QVM:1987:P:0220. The other is QVM:1985:P:0005 that we have discussed via e-mail.
Thank you for your enquiry. Please be in contact if you have any questions.
Danielle Grossman
Technical Officer
Community History Centre

A. Firstly, their holdings of Nevin's attributed photographs:

One photograph held at the QVMAG bears the inscription on verso "Clifford & Nevin, Hobart Town", QVM:1985:P:0005. That is a double attribution. It was published in Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995:34).

The second catalogue number QVM:1987:P:0220 refers to a photograph by Nevin titled "View of the Hobart to Launceston coach, 1872, Tasmania".

But there are more, and in particular this one - QVM:1985:P:0131 - which is the verso of a convict portrait:

Above: Convict William Smith, portrait with Nevin stamp on verso, QVMAG.

That makes three. And there are more. Several comments by Chris Long in a letter to Nevin descendants 1984 about Nevin's work indicate that the QVMAG holds quite a few of his photographs -

"Most of his work was commercially commissioned - business premises and commercial products. He photographed the coaches used by Page's coach lines in about 1873."

In addition, Chris Long mentions " a number of convict photographs with the commercial stamp T.J. Nevin" (p. 36).

And these are apart from the whole collection of more than 140 convicts' photographs at the QVMAG which the curator and researchers attributed to Nevin in 1977.

B. Secondly, the Chris Long "comments"

" ... in accordance with comments by Chris Long"? What comments exactly, and has the QVMAG ever investigated their veracity?

The source given by the QVMAG is pages 35-36 of the TMAG publication, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995), and in that entry on pp 35-36 the writer Chris Long DOES NOT attribute the Port Arthur photographs to A. H. Boyd.

On page 35, he says:

"The authorship of these photographs is difficult to trace. Cato attributes offical convict photography to 'various studios in Hobart and Launceston ... (Jack Cato 1955:164)".

The authorship was not difficult to trace. John McPhee, curator of the QVMAG exhibition, and Geoff Stilwell and Joan Kerr had ascertained Nevin as the photographer in 1977, and in publication 1992. But Chris Long was not familiar with John McPhee at all - his letter to Nevin descendants in 1984 referred to a Carl McPhee, not John McPhee.

The "authorship" comment by Long is a segue into a somewhat arrogant dismissal of Cato's seminal early work The Story of the Camera in Australia, whose publication in 1955 preceded the 1977 exhibition and contains no information on these Tasmanian convict portraits. Long then proceeds to dismiss the possibility of convict photos taken by photographer W.P. Dowling in Launceston (fl. 1859-18740 (also Cato's suggestion p. 165) because it seems -

" ... highly unlikely as the work would have been associated with the establishment at Port Arthur" (p.36)

The use of "associated with the establishment at Port Arthur" does not in any way confirm the assumption he then makes that these Port Arthur convicts were in fact photographed at Port Arthur. Several of the convict cartes are inscribed on the verso with the convict's name, the date of his transportation and the ship's name. Some also bear the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874". But Long includes copies of TWO photographs and their versos - one of Job Smith alias Campbell alias Boodle - which DOES NOT bear the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874", and another of Samuel Blore per Lrd Petrie which does bear the familiar "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874". So one of the photographs - Job Smith's - cannot be said to be "associated" with Port Arthur. And there are many such photographs.

Long's speculation then continues with this curious statement which is now known to be nothing more than hearsay:

"A.H. Boyd, Superintendent at Port Arthur from June 1871 to March 1874, was a very keen amateur photographer and is known to have had a room fitted up in his garden as a studio and darkroom."(p.36)

Where's the source? It appears not here in Long's entry but in a Masters thesis submitted to the ANU by Warwick Reeder. Reeder notes (1995:70) that -

"Chris Long was the first to suggest that they [Port Arthur cartes 1874] might have been taken by A.H. Boyd".

Reeder states clearly in his thesis (1995:69) that the Boyd attribution arose from hearsay about a story circulating at the Port Arthur Historic Site where a Boyd descendant recalled seeing a camera at the Commandant's house:

Boyd's niece, E. M. Hall, nee Giblin, recalls that while Boyd was in charge of Port Arthur, he "had a room fitted up in the garden [of the Commandant's house] and was always on the lookout for sitters, [she being] a proud and constant occupant of the only available chair." (footnote 65, Ibid, Reminiscences of E. M. Hall, Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania in Glover, Margaret, Report on the physical fabric of Port Arthur, n.d.).
Not only is this a piece of legally inadmissable hearsay, Reeder and Long are seriously proposing that a FICTIONAL children's tale about a holiday at Port Arthur, delivered as a talk to a literary society in 1930 by a niece of Boyd's, E.M. Hall, and extant only in typescript, titled "The Young Explorer" (submitted to the SLTas in 1942) can function as an authentic historical document and reference. There is no reference to this children's tale in the cited article by Margaret Glover (1991). The children's tale is not a personal memoir, its author makes no reference to either Boyd by name nor to the photographing of prisoners at Port Arthur. It was written by a 62 year old woman in 1930 with the intention of giving her young readers a taste of old Port Arthur. These two "researchers", Chris Long and Warwick Reeder, with nothing to offer apart from this ridiculous "research" are principally responsible for the creation of the Boyd furphy. Clearly their "evidence" is nonsense.

However, having put this "evidence" in place, Chris Long then continues with the citation of three "notes contained in the Mitchell Library's Tasmanian Papers" [Ref:320].

30/7/1873 - 288 photographic glasses sent to Port Arthur
12/8/1873 - 1 case of photographic equipment sent to Port Arthur
2/4/1874 - sent from Port Arthur to A.H. Boyd, Hobart - one photograph stand and one photograph tent.

Investigation at the Mitchell Library ascertained exactly what these "notes" indicate. They are in fact the dates of three way bills or cargo and passenger lists for the delivery of goods to and from government stores at Hobart and Port Arthur on board the government schooner Harriet.

The government schooner Harriet carried hundreds of passengers and tonnes of cargo to and from Hobart and Port Arthur while in service during these years. The names of professional photographers appear frequently on the passenger lists during 1873 and 1874, including Samuel Clifford's and Thomas Nevin's (misspelt in one instance as "Nivan"). Private goods were usually listed as simply packages, parcels, or boxes, while government cargo was usually detailed by its contents. The Civil Commandant or his proxy signed against the lists of both types of cargo.

Examination of the three original way bill documents revealed no data that could be used to determine that Boyd was the photographer - or "author" to use the photo historian's misuse of the literary term - of the convicts while Civil Commandant of the Port Arthur prison. Chris Long's is a spurious argument underpinned by nothing more than speculation about the ownership of a photograph stand and tent listed as household goods destined for Hobart on the Harriet's way bill dated 2nd April 1874.

The name of  Boyd appears twice on this particular way bill list against cargo designated as "private", firstly as a general signature against 300 or so items of goods, some of which are identified by the owner's name, eg. "1 Umbrella ... Mr G.B. Walker". The photograph stand and tent are NOT identified by the owner's name.

The second appearance of Boyd's name specifically brackets four items which included "1 child's carriage, 1 package Deer Horns, 1 Hat Box, Leather, 1 package of Buttons [?]". These FOUR items were bracketed as Boyd's personal property, but the photograph stand and tent DO NOT appear here. Therefore, the stand and tent cannot said to be Boyd's personal property: to argue for attribution to Boyd as the photographer of Tasmanian convicts on the basis of unproven ownership of two pieces of photographic equipment, is patently absurd. A cursory glance at the Tasmanian Pioneers Index (AOT) shows hundreds of Boyds alive in Tasmania in the 1870s, and not one of those Boyds has ever been documented as a photographer in their own lifetime or subsequently. Even A.H. Boyd's predecessor in the position of Commandant at Port Arthur, James Boyd, who was the owner of stereoscopic equipment auctioned from his house in Battery Point in 1873, has never been documented as either an amateur or skilled professional photographer. Ownership of cameras does not presuppose authorship of photographs.

A.H. Boyd's only connection with Thomas Nevin was through the Attorney-General, William Robert Giblin. Boyd was Giblin's brother-in-law. He married Giblin's sister Henrietta Selina Giblin (b.1839) in 1871. Thomas Nevin photographed W. R. Giblin while contracted as the Hobart prisons and police photographer. Giblin chose Nevin as his photographer for a personal portrait [AOT Ref: NS1013/1971], he also chose Nevin as his official photographer. The photograph stand and tent, far from being Boyd's personal property, would have been returned ultimately to Attorney-General Giblin's care, if they had been used for official purposes, and there is nothing to indicate who used them, when, where or for what purpose.

Boyd was not even at Port Arthur in April 1874. His tenure as Commandant terminated in December 1873 under allegations of corruption and nepotism levelled at his brother-in-law Attorney-General W.R. Giblin in the Parliament through June and July 1873. A.H. Boyd was a reviled individual whose bullying of employees attracted extensive comment in The Mercury over the period of his tenure as Civil Commandant at Port Arthur and Superintendent of Paupers at the Cascades depot. His obituary makes no mention of photography, nor is there any official document which associates Boyd with either the mandate or the skills to personally provide the colonial government with photographs of prisoners.

The government schooner Harriet's waybills for the remainder of 1874 detail Dr Coverdale's journeys several times a month to Hobart accompanying groups of prisoners on their way to prisons in Hobart, as the process of closing down Port Arthur continued. Most of the prisoners returned from Port Arthur to Hobart had been sent there in 1871 at the discretion of the Hobart Gaol Sheriff Thomas Reidy. Sixty had already returned to Hobart by July 15th 1873, noted by Giblin and tabled in Parliament  on that date, July 15, 1873. The remaining 49 on the list tabled in Parliament on that date were back in Hobart by October 1873. On their arrival back in Hobart, the prisoner was bathed, shaved and clothed in standard gaol issue which included a black leathern cap (two photographs by Nevin of prisoners wearing this cap are held at the Mitchell Library, NSW). The prisoners' records were updated with a photograph taken by T.J. Nevin, the only contracted commercial  photographer to provide this service. His commission was paid out by Treasury, and appeared in the 1874 documents pertaining to expenses for the year 1873. T. J. Nevin had already photographed some of these men at their Supreme Court trials from mid 1871 at the adjoining Supreme Court.

The fact that no government documents such as these were sought and sourced by Long or Reeder pertaining to  the prisoners' photographs is indicative of the problems art-trained photo historians bring to attribution issues.

Aesthetic judgement and personal taste also cloud Chris Long's "comments". Because he judges the nature of the convicts' poses" to be "amateurish" -
" ... it is quite possible that Boyd may have been the photographer."
But Boyd was NOT a photographer. Chris Long has not established here or anywhere else that Boyd took a single photograph. As Kerr and Stilwell stated in 1992 (p. 568),

" ... no photographs by Boyd are known."

T. J. Nevin, however, does receive accreditation by Chris Long for "a number of convict photographs" bearing his "commercial stamp "T. J. Nevin". (p.36)

As Chris Long says, his "belief" about Boyd was based on "an interpretation of the known facts" but the "facts" he has established are simply these: some photographic materials were listed as cargo for Port Arthur in 1873. A photograph stand and tent were returned to Hobart on 2nd April 1874. Boyd's supposed "ownership" of a stand and tent is all that Chris Long offers as argument for a Boyd attribution. In itself, it is indeed a slender argument. As unproven, in any case, it is seriously nonsensical.

The other "fact" which Long believes is his own creation of a darkroom belonging to the Commandant, also derived from the children's tale by the Boyd descendant. The "room" which the child narrator mentions in the FICTIONAL children's tale has become a "darkroom" in Chris Long's imagination:

"It is highly likely that the photographs were taken at Port Arthur, and highly unlikely that there would have been a darkroom there apart from the commandant's own."(p.36)

Above: page 36 of Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory

"Belief" and "interpretation" do not constitute evidence. In personal communication with Nevin descendants in 2005, Chris Long stated that he "never said Nevin was not the photographer".

CRONYISM at the National Library of Australia

So, why has the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery set about so assiduously to suppress Thomas Nevin's attribution as photographer of their holdings of Tasmanian convict photographs?

Their ill-considered decision may have been based on a misreading of Chris Long's "comments", as the letter above indicates. It would seem, however, that the QVMAG and particularly the National Library of Australia are implicated in cronyism.

A concerted effort by Chris Long, and particularly by Warwick Reeder has influenced these institutions into promoting the A. H. Boyd attribution. Clearly, recapitulation by both Long and Reeder is difficult while their error of judgement re Boyd remains in print. Reeder, in particular, has used his (former) collegiate status to influence Pictorial staff at the NLA. Why? Because he circulated copies his Master of Letters sub-thesis - a student essay, a minor event in academic terms - to the Mitchell Library and to the National Library of Australia, and he is now aware of its major flaws and claims, and its errors concerning Nevin's life and work.

Far from wishing to issue or attach statements of errata to the thesis (email to Nevin descendant), Reeder would rather see the national heritage compromised than his own "reputation". He would rather see Thomas J. Nevin's name written out of the "official records" than his own name. Cronyism is a form of corruption. Compromising historical fact, and the national heritage, is the way the future will remember these public servants in public institutions, who seem to overlook the basic fact of their existence - they are servants of the public. Reeder's investment extends deeper: he is a self-publisher.

So the real reasons for the National Library of Australia's change of attribution from Nevin to Boyd this year, 2007, "on the basis of research by Julia Clark" are becoming more apparent. It would seem at first that the NLA had been swayed by a confused and error-ridden essay containing deliberate obfuscations about Nevin, written by Clark at the Port Arthur Historic Site, and acted on it by effectively removed Thomas J. Nevin's long-standing attribution from their digitised holdings of Tasmanian convict photographs. Their full-record URLs for the 25 convict portraits displayed this notice between April and August 2007:

"Formerly attributed to Nevin, Thomas J., 1842-ca. 1922. Attribution changed in 2007 to A.H. Boyd on the basis of research by Julia Clark, Manager Interpretations and Collections, Port Arthur. See TRIM R07/44377."

In September 2007, the NLA amended the full record with this statement:

"No photographer name or studio stamp appears on these photographs. It is likely that the photographer was either A.H. Boyd or Thomas J. Nevin. An essay supporting attribution to Boyd, prepared by Julia Clark, Manager Interpretations and Collections, Port Arthur Historic Site, is on file (TRIM R07/44377); copies available on request."

Why leave the reference to such a poorly researched and facticious essay, an essay padded with irrelevant convictism and singularly intent on deceiving the reader? This entry too will have to be amended. The NLA holds a file of ephemera relating to Nevin and their holdings of the Tasmanian convict cartes, cited as:

Record Id: 41137628 (Australian Library Collections)
Nevin, T. J. : photography related ephemera material collected by the National Library of Australia].
Description:1 folder of miscellaneous pieces.
Series:Australian photographer files
Contents:File contains material such as accession sheets, listings of works biographical material and correspondence related to convict portraits.
Subjects: Nevin, Thomas J., 1842-1923.Photographers -- Australia.
Libraries that have this item: National Library of Australia. National Library of Australia (ANL) 3821234 Australian photographer files

The essay by Clark should be filed away as just another piece of ephemera, and the file itself should be referenced on the full record catalogue entry for the Digital Collections display of these Tasmanian convicts photographed by Nevin, minus any reference to Clark. Anything with Clark's name attached is a waste of the reader's time.

Sadly, Ms Clark - who does not even appear on the PAHS website staff lists nor is her position there in any way guaranteed (jeopardised, rather, in the face of this episode) - has not conducted "research" which proves Boyd as the photographer of the Tasmanian convict/prisoner photographs held at the NLA, some of which are dated by the NLA for 1884 and were taken at the Hobart Gaol where Thomas Nevin's brother Constable John Nevin continued with the provision of prisoner ID photographs, nor does she come anywhere near to proving that Boyd ever produced a photograph on any subject. Her deliberate obfuscations are in some cases outright falsifications of statements found in readily available publications and documents (e.g The Mechanical Eye; Intersections). Clark's "research" is also full of Reeder's claims.

Some examples from Clark's "basis of research" which the NLA has found so compelling concern incorrect statements about the NLA's own history of involvement. This paragraph in the essay from Clark, for example, makes these baseless claims:

Claim A: wrong
Some further confusion has arisen because the NLA holds an album known as the ‘Nevin Album’. I, and it would seem some others, assumed that this was an album that Nevin himself had compiled or that was at least composed of work known to be Nevin’s.
Claim B: wrong

In fact, the NLA compiled it from cdvs in preparation for an exhibition on colonial photography at the National Library in 2003, ‘In a New Light; Australian Photography 1850s-1930s’, curated by Helen Ennis.
Claim C: wrong
In doing so, they were following their attribution of these images to Nevin; the source of this attribution is lost in the mists of time but may have been obtained from QVMAG. This object has now developed a power of its own, such that NLA staff had come to believe that each cdv bore Nevin’s stamp.
Claim D: wrong
However, when the album was taken apart it was discovered that not one of the images bore this stamp. Interestingly, the Curator Helen Ennis attributed the images to Boyd in 2000 in Mirror with a Memory.

None of these claims by Clark observes known and knowable facts.

Assumptions made by Clark or by anyone else are not legally tenable evidence. The album of convict cartes held at the NLA was originally sighted by Nevin descendants at the QVMAG Launceston exhibition in 1977, again at the QVMAG as the same and as a complete entity in 1984, and again at the NLA, Canberra in 1996 and in 2000, so far from being a compilation, its integrity up until 2003 had remained complete and intact.

The source of the "Nevin album" as the staff in the Pictorial section of the NLA called it - they also had a map drawer labelled "Thomas Nevin" containing photographs of NSW prisons which were NOT correctly located or attributed, however - was the QVMAG via the National Gallery of Victoria (deposited by curator John McPhee). The NLA staff stated in 2000 to a Nevin descendant working there as a volunteer that the versos of the cartes in their "Nevin album" were printed or inscribed, but whether with a photographer's stamp or simply with handwriting, was largely unknown because they had not disassembled the album. A few loose cartes were copies from the Gunson Collection. The 19th century album, however, was not dismantled until Helen Ennis used several cartes for the NLA exhibition "In a New Light: A Love of Order " in 2003, and then her attribution to several cartes was "photographer unknown". This exhibition is online at the NLA.

The cartes that were used in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Mirror with a Memory in 2000 were drawn NOT from the NLA but from the TMAG where Clark had worked, and where she had probably contributed to the Boyd mess of misattribution because her sole knowledge of these cartes was from the Chris Long hypothesis and error about Boyd in the 1995 TMAG publication, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (page 36).

This statement in particular - "lost in the mists of time" - from Clark is a measure of the supercilious attitude she has towards her government position at the Port Arthur Historic Site where this so-called "research" is being funded. Far from being lost, Nevin's contractual employment as police and prisons photographer was common knowledge in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, his work was valued to the extant that his "convict photographs" were salvaged, copied and sold to tourists by later photographers such as Beattie and Searle. The late 20th century validated the Nevin attribution at the QVMAG in 1977 with an exhibition  documented in the press releases and reviews of the day, and in correspondence between researchers and curators held by the State Library of Tasmania and the QVMAG. These documents are easily accessible to the public, and many (but not all key documents) have been visible on these Nevin family weblogs since 2003.

In the NLA publication Intersections, which appeared in 2004, Helen Ennis clearly attributed a carte of convict John Moran taken from the NLA's "Nevin album" to T. J. Nevin.

Clark has peddled her so-called "research" to public institutions holding these 19th Tasmanian convict photographs with the insistence that they suppress Thomas Nevin's name as the photographer of Tasmanian convicts. Poor Clark and her Port Arthur psychosis, deeply to be pitied for the redneck manner in which she has approached what is only a minor issue of misattribution, and so roundly despised for her lack of courtesy in requesting permission from Nevin's family for use of their research and private collections.

The rest of the Clark essay, written in the mode of hero discourse - she will rescue the cartes, she will save them etc - is equally silly, equally invalid, equally duplicitious and dishonest. Ideas for discussion and original documentation were- and continue to be - purloined and plagiarised from the writers of these Nevin family weblogs by Clark and then abused for whatever has suited her contrary arguments.

The National Library of Australia should and can be held accountable for this act of cronyism. It's not about whether their prisoner photographs are stamped verso by the photographer. Who would seriously expect police mugshots - in 1870 or in 2009 - to signify the photographer's "authorship"? Even without Nevin's stamp, which DOES appear on several of these Tasmanian prisoner cartes (for registration of his commission and contract renewal), there is ample evidence to be found in other documents of his "authorship". The cry for a photographer's stamp by the NLA on current catalogue records is simply the subterfuge of a biased staff who have demonstrated the degree of contempt in which they hold the noble profession of librarianship, the time they are prepared to devote to obscure their errors, their laziness, and their bias, and the errors of those who flatter them; these are librarians who assume they can sanction the rewriting of history by any fool regardless of the readily available historical documents held within the National Library building itself, especially those which testify to Nevin's photographic duties as THE photographer of their "Port Arthur convict photographs 1874". These public servants are not interested in the effects of their abuse of the national heritage and of our bona fide and extremely generous research, nor of the confusion they inflict on the Australian public. The effect of whimsical cronyism will ensure that no amount of research will write Nevin's attribution back into "the official records" to use Reeder's terms (email to Nevin descendant), at the NLA at least. Such action from the NLA puts into question any claim they make about any of their holdings: it generates distrust, and ultimately earns them derision and calls for accountability. Families such as the Nevins, with valuable collections and a history of service to King and country dating back to the Interregnum, have no option but to contemplate deposits elsewhere such as Britain or the USA.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The journey from Hobart to Port Arthur 1873-4

The notice below was published in Walch's Tasmanian Almanac in 1873, at a time when the Port Arthur prison site on the Tasman Peninsula, 60 kms from Hobart, was still in operation. The traveller from Hobart faced a frequently interrupted, long and uncomfortable journey, alternating between road and sea transport and an overnight hotel stay.

The Government schooner Harriet in foreground at Port Arthur 1874 and the Southern Cross in background.
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Ref: 30/3335. Unattributed.

Entry to the Tasman Peninsula depended on the issue of a pass, signed by the Colonial Secretary, by prior arrangement, which was collected by the armed guard at Eagle Hawk Neck, 14 miles distant from the prison itself (so the story goes, though many visitors on government business arrived without the pass).

By 1874, however, the traveller could take an alternative route. In 1874, at a cost of £27 000 the 5 km causeway across Pittwater linking Sorell to Midway Point and Midway Point to Hobart was completed. It had taken six years and was primarily designed to link Port Arthur with Hobart.

Photographers including Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin in the 1860s, and Thomas Nevin and Samuel Clifford in 1871 and 1873, used the government schooner Harriet. Thomas Nevin may have travelled along the causeway to Port Arthur at some time later than 1874, and travelled by sea as well with his father-in-law, Master Mariner Captain James Day. He was on police business when he travelled to Port Arthur on board the schooner Harriet on May 8th, 1874, one week after the official tenure began of the new Commandant, Dr. Coverdale. In reality Coverdale had already replaced A.H. Boyd in January 1874 with A.H. Boyd's sudden resignation from the position under allegations of corruption and nepotism levelled at him and his brother-in-law Attorney-General W.R. Giblin in the Parliament in July and continuing through 1873. On May 8th 1874, Nevin arrived at Port Arthur accompanied by the prisoner William Campbell who was hanged as Job Smith one year later. It was at the insistence of Dr Crowther in Parliament and Dr Coverdale that no more prisoners be sent to Port Arthur and those still remaining be removed to Hobart asylums and gaols, a process begun in 1871. It was Thomas Nevin who photographed the transferees on their arrival at the Hobart Gaol if he had not already photographed them on committal to the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol prior to their removal to Port Arthur.

Photographed as William Campbell from the Supreme Court trial, and recorded as Campbell on being received and photographed at the Hobart Gaol; by Nevin, March 1872. This carte is hand coloured, probably by Nevin's studio assistants for display in his shop window when Campbell was tried again at the Supreme Court Hobart 11-14 May 1875 and executed.

The misattribution to Commandant A.H. Boyd, Dr Coverdale's predecessor, as a photographer, and THE photographer of convicts at Port Arthur was argued as a "belief" by Chris Long in the 1980s and 1990s, despite all evidence available to him pointing to the use of commercial photographers in prisons by governments in other Australian states (South Australia, Victoria), and readily available newspaper, police and Treasury documents of the period detailing Nevin's work with police and the Hobart Gaol.

Chris Long's argument centered on three points:

1. photographic materials were supposedly sent to Port Arthur in 1873, and a tent and stand were returned in 1874 to Hobart.

2. a descendant of Boyd told a story in the 1930s about cameras at the Government Cottage.

3. the wet collodion process must have been used, and the Government Cottage must therefore have been the place where the "darkroom" was situated. Ergo ...

None of these pieces of information is factual nor adds up to anything close to proving attribution. The cargo lists of photographic materials indicate nothing more than cargo. The descendant's story was a children's tale about a holiday at Port Arthur called The Young Explorer (E.M. Hall), an unpublished 3 page piece of FICTION which mentions neither Boyd nor the photographing of prisoners. The mention of a "room" with cameras in this children's tale was turned into a "darkroom" by no-one else, just Chris Long.  It was a story told in the 1930s by a woman in her sixties to give her young readers a taste of the old days, yet Long incorrectly ascribed it to an article by Margaret Glover in 1979, The same hearsay was embellished in the 1990s at the Port Arthur Historic site for the tourists visiting the Government Cottage. The third point is also unfactual:  the dry plate process, or "Russell's Tannin Process" rather than the wet collodion process was already in use by Samuel Clifford and Thomas J. Nevin in the mid 1860s (see Kerr 1992, entry on Clifford).

It may have been Samuel Clifford, partner of Thomas Nevin, who travelled on the Harriet in 1873 with the cargo of one case of photographic plates; a Mr Clifford or Gifford was listed as a passenger on the way bill, accompanying 288 photographic glasses which allegedly arrived there on board the government schooner Harriet on July 30th, 1873. The case was intended for the prison storekeeper from government stores in Hobart. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that the photographic plates arrived at Port Arthur: see this article here.

Photographic glasses as cargo to Port Arthur 30 July 1873
Tasmanian Papers Ref. 320, Mitchell Library, SLNSW

The detail (above) of the first page of the Way Bill from Hobart Town for goods conveyed to the Port Arthur prison storekeeper on the government schooner Harriet, is dated July 30th 1873. These glasses, if they were actually sent, were primarily used by Clifford and Nevin to photograph the Port Arthur site and its surrounds, including the steady stream of visiting dignitaries. And they were probably used for stereoscopic photography, IF they had been used by these two professional photographers.

Photographic material to Port Arthur on the way bill of August 12, 1873.
Tasmanian Papers Ref. 320, Mitchell Library, SLNSW

This second way bill (detail above), dated August 12th, 1873, delivered "Photographic Material - 1 case" to the Port Arthur government stores. Included on this way bill is "Bunting Red" and "Braid Red", suggesting preparations for a festive or official occasion, such as the visit by the Governor of South Australia whom Clifford photographed there in 1873. On December 1, 1873, another passenger who may or may not have been Samuel Clifford returned to Hobart on the Harriet with some very large boxes.

Nowhere on these way bills is there evidence that Commandant A.H.Boyd personally used these plates and equipment to take the photographs of the remaining convicts of the criminal class at the penitentiary.

The third way bill cited by Chris Long (TMAG, 1995:36) - dated 2nd April, 1874 - which details two photographic items - a tent and stand - shipped back to Hobart, is offered by Chris Long as pivotal proof that Boyd was the "Port Arthur photographer." Nothing more substantial than that, and unproven in every detail. Examination of the third waybill showed that this same tent and stand were NOT the possessions of A.H. Boyd; a Mrs Boyd travelled on the Harriet on that date, with only a few personal items such as a hat box and pram.

See the extended discussion on this site about the use of this argument.

Page 36 citing the three way bills and attribution to T.J. Nevin with mention of A.H. Boyd

Nonetheless, these way bills are cited by Chris Long in Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940 : A Directory (TMAG 1995:36) as evidence that the Commandant of the Port Arthur penitentiary, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd, "may have been" the photographer rather than Thomas J. Nevin , an opinion adopted by Warwick Reeder without substantiation and without checking the Glover reference or descendant's story (MA sub-thesis, ANU 1995) and summarily dismissed by the authoritative photohistorians Geoffrey Stilwell and Joan Kerr (1992), and John McPhee (1977) who curated the original QVMAG exhibition of Nevin's convict portraits. The misattribution is best termed a PARASITIC attribution, circumstantial and without substance or basis in fact. At worst, it is a personal fantasy.

The original bundle of convicts' portraits was "discovered" in the basement of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in the mid 1970s among the 20 tonnes of materials which John Watt Beattie transferred there in 1927 from his Port Arthur Museum in Hobart (David Young, 1996).

Beattie had acquired the convict photographs from government sources such as the Sheriff's Office, sources readily available to him as official government photographer in the 1900s, and from his purchase of the Anson Bros photographic studio in 1892. The Anson Bros in turn had acquired stock from Clifford's sale of his studio in 1878, stock which included materials from Nevin's partnership with Clifford in the 1870s. Between 1927 and the exhibition of Beattie's collection in 1934, cataloguing at the QVMAG in 1958, the Nevin exhibition in 1977, and another cataloguing event in 1985 through to 1987, the original bundle was split up, and in some instances the photographs were copied: several remained at the QVMAG, several sent to the TMAG (1987), several to the Archives Office of Tasmania (1982), and several to the National Library of Australia (1982-1995).

Warwick Reeder states clearly in his thesis (1995:69) that the Boyd attribution arose from hearsay about a story circulating at the Port Arthur Historic Site where a Boyd descendant recalled seeing a camera at the Commandant's house:

Boyd's niece, E. M. Hall, nee Giblin, recalls that while Boyd was in charge of Port Arthur, he "had a room fitted up in the garden [of the Commandant's house] and was always on the lookout for sitters, [she being] a proud and constant occupant of the only available chair."

(footnote 65, Ibid, Reminiscences of E. M. Hall, Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania in Glover, Margaret, Report on the physical fabric of Port Arthur).

But Margaret Glover makes no such reference to either E.M. Hall or A.H. Boyd and cameras in that article (1979). That piece of hearsay, derived purely from a story scripted in fictional form for children by E.H. Hall in 1933, forms the sole evidence put forward by Long (1995) and Reeder (1995) wishing to claim Boyd, a career accountant, to be the one and only (proficient and professional) photographer involved when Boyd had no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, no training or extant works, and no official documents associates him with prison photography. Long and Reeder had nothing more than a sentence in a children's story. 

The informant's story dates from the 1930s, and was falsely attributed to statements which do not appear in  Margaret Glover, effectively fabricating photohistory for the next three decades, yet this story, coupled with the waybills, forms the cornerstone of Chris Long's "belief" that A.H. Boyd took the extant cartes of Tasmanian convicts which bear the inscription on verso "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874". Many were copied by John Watt Beattie from the originals taken in the 1870s, and catalogued with that inscription by archivists decades later, using primarily the place and date of photographic capture as a lure for the Edwardian tourist.

The original commission was requested by Attorney-General W.R. Giblin, Chief Justice Francis Smith, supervised at the Hobart Gaol by Ringrose Atkins, and managed by tender at the Office of the Superintendent of Police at the central Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall. The work done by Thomas Nevin while under tender until 1876 was commercial and consistent with his family portraits and his portrait of Judge W.R. Giblin which bears Nevin's stamp on verso. Warwick Reeder notes (1995:70) that -

Chris Long was the first to suggest that they [Port Arthur cartes 1874] might have been taken by A.H. Boyd

He is also the last, and should be the last (any redux of this issue is an echo effect, nothing more). Neither Long nor Reeder, the only two to hypothesize the Boyd attribution with such spurious logic and lack of proof, followed the history behind the movement of the photographs from location to location to location. In none of the debate has mention been made of Thomas Nevin's brother, Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol nor to the fact that the Sheriff's Office held the records from 1887 to 1951.

Samuel Clifford's presence (and probably Nevin's) at the Government Cottage, Port Arthur in 1873 was recorded on this image of the gardens, with the date on mount:

Title: From the Government Cottage, Port Arthur
Creator(s):Clifford, Samuel, 1827-1890
Date: ca. 1873
Description: 1 photograph : sepia toned ; 11 x 19 cm.
Notes: Title inscribed in ink below image ; date noted in pencil at lower right of image on album page ; item number noted in ink at centre left of image on album page.
Exact size 105 x 184 mm., "Tasmanian scenes" also known as "Clifford album 1".
Location: W.L. Crowther LibraryADRI: AUTAS001124075870

Samuel Clifford's partnership with Thomas Nevin has not been examined by the ardent "mystery solvers" of the "authorship" of the convict cartes held in both public and private collections. Clifford reprinted many of Nevin's commercial studio portraits, stereos and landscapes for Nevin's clients over many years into the 1880s. The "mystery" is compounded by the fact that records kept at the Port Arthur Historic Site are incomplete and therefore unreliable; several valuable record books are held in private collections, and in NSW private and public collections.

For example, the Mitchell , State Library of NSW holds the Port Arthur "Officers' visiting book, 1873" (Location No.: Tasmanian Papers Ref: 308). The Giblin contract issued to Nevin and held at the Allport firm of lawyers where Giblin was an associate was located by G.T. Sitwell in the Allport Bequest, State Library of Tasmania in 1978, and the portrait of W.R. Giblin taken by Thomas Nevin ca. 1876 was located in The Pretyman Collection, Archives Office of Tasmania.

When evacuation of inmates from Port Arthur was completed in September 1877,

" ... the central records were maintained in the office of the Administrator of Charitable Relief (within the Chief Secretary's Department), but in 1887 the Deputy Sheriff complained of their filthy condition and asked that they should be entirely under the Sheriff's care. This was evidently agreed to, for the great bulk of the records comprising this Record Group were still in the custody of the Sheriff when they were transferred to the State Archives in 1951."

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

"The great bulk "? Not so. The Mitchell Library of NSW 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 T.J. Nevin portraits of convicts were drawn for exhibition (1977) and distributed piecemeal to other State and National institutions (e.g. NLA 1980s 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, Commissariat 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.

Any researcher on this question of "authorship" - which is a debate amongst art historians and fine art dealers founded on essentialist notions of the "artist" - needs to examine the Mitchell holdings: to imagine that the only extant records relevant to the period - and the debate - are held by Tasmanian institutions and Tasmanian historic sites such as the Port Arthur Historic Site, is indeed naive. The Mitchell papers also show that prisoners at Port Arthur were being relocated elsewhere to prisons in Hobart as early as 1871. The Mitchell Library also holds eleven convict photographs, catalogued in Nevin's name, some bearing his government contract studio stamp. The prisoners in these photographs, like all the extant photographs of convicts by Nevin, were repeat offenders whose mugshots were taken by Nevin as early as 1872 at Supreme Court committals at the request of the Police and Prisons Departments.

Just as with Samuel Clifford's partnership with Thomas Nevin, Charles A. Woolley's association with A. H. Boyd has not been examined by any commentators. Another non-sequitur by Chris Long appears on page 20 of the TMAG publication, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995).

Under the entry for BOYD, Adolarious Humphrey, Chris Long writes:

Superintendent at Port Arthur, 1871-1874. Thought to have taken most of the extant Tasmanian convict photographs (MEA). See also Charles Woolley.

Notice the use of the passive construction "Thought to ...". No-one before Chris Long believed A. H. Boyd took these photographs; his "belief" is purely through idle speculation, not through documented proof. The entry for Boyd under "B" is as brief as this, and Chris Long gives no follow through to demonstrate that Charles A. Woolley had any association with these Tasmanian convict photographs, the reason being that Woolley in fact had no association with prison photography.

Notice also the slippage in exchangability between "Port Arthur convict photographs" and "Tasmanian convict photographs", as though they are synonymous, when they are not. The carte printed on page 36 on the left-hand side does not carry the inscription on the verso "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874", whereas the verso of the one on the right does bear that inscription. All of these convicts were photographed by the police and prisons photographer employed to do a specific job, and that photographer was Thomas Nevin working principally at the Supreme Court, the Hobart Gaol and Municipal Police Office Town Hall between 1872 and 1884 with his brother Jack Nevin. Constable W.J. (John or Jack) Nevin's service began in 1875 and continued until his untimely death in 1891, aged 39 yrs.

In summary, Chris Long's research is a mess, and should NOT be used as a creditable source of information.

Carte by Charles A. Woolley believed by Chris Long to be a photograph of the Commandant at Port Arthur, A. H. Boyd (TMAG 1995:129).

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

NLA's 'Intersections' with convict carte by Nevin

Helen Ennis 2004 and the National Library of Australia collection …

Intersections: Photography, History and the National Library of Australia
By Helen Ennis
ISBN 0 642 10792 0
pb, large format 270 b&w and colour photographs.
297 x 240mm 285pp
Publisher: National Library of Australia 2004

Included in this publication with attribution to professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin is the carte-de-visite of a Tasmanian prisoner, John Moran, selected from a collection of 84 "Port Arthur convicts" photographs held at the National Library of Australia.

Thomas J. Nevin’s photograph in an oval mount of convict John Moran 1874

The photograph appears on page 18 with this caption, copied from the NLA catalogue:
Thomas J. Nevin (1842-ca.1922) [i.e. the photographer] John Moran per Ly (i.e. Lady) Lady Franklin, Taken at Port Arthur 1874 albumen photograph on carte-de-visite mount; 9.4 x 5.7 cm nla.pic-an24612479
Notes from the Publisher:
“The National Library holds more than 600 000 photographs in its Pictures Collection. This large collection of images is contemporary, diverse, exciting, historic, whimsical and unexpected, embodying the challenge and pathos of history and the extraordinary dimensions of memory.
Now, in this first representative survey of the Library’s photographic holdings, Helen Ennis introduces us to Australia from the 1840s to the present as we have never seen before – at peace and at war, and in all of its splendour and ordinary dailiness, as seen through the cameras of Charles Bayliss, Samuel Sweet, Olive Cotton, May and Minna Moore, Peta Hill, Frank Hurley, Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain, Philip Gostelow, Raymond de Berquelle, Wolfgang Sievers and many more.”
As the majority of photo-histories are written within or from a context of art theory and practice, the focus on factual documentation is often foreshortened. Police records and biographical information on this convict details his crimes of burglary and incarceration at the Hobart Gaol:

The Archives Office of Tasmania holds this information:

Database No:50512
Moran John 12 Oct 1845 Lady Franklin Norfolk Island To NSW per Florentia. To Norfolk Island 1836. Soldier 99th Regiment. Tried Sydney May 1841.

From being “enlarged” with a ticket-of-leave in January, 1874, John Moran was in and out of Hobart Gaol on a regular basis. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin on discharge in February 1874 at the Municipal Police Office, Town Hall, and this photo of him was circulated with the warrant in October 1875.

John Moran:Ticket of leave granted 30th January, 1874

John Moran: Discharged 6th February, 1874

John Moran: Discharged 4th August 1875

John Moran: Arrested 26th October, 1875

John Moran: Discharged 27th October 1875

John Moran: Warrant for arrest 26th November, 1875

John Moran: Convicted 4th December, 1875
etc etc John Moran died in custody at the Hobart Gaol in July 1889.
Source: Tasmania Reports on Crime For Police Information 1871-1875 J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.

Three print formats are extant of government contractor T. J. Nevin's original capture from the only sitting with prisoner John Moran between 2-6 February 1874:

Uncut sepia print of prisoner John Moran, original capture
Photographed by T. J. Nevin February 1874
QVMAG Collection (one of forty in three panels)

Prisoner MORAN, John
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin February 1873
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collection
TMAG Ref: Q15582

The two identical photographs of John Moran printed in an oval mount are Nevin's copies from his original capture. The NLA copy was acquired from the QVMAG ca. 1985 for an exhibition at the NLA (McPhee, personal communication). The TMAG copy was acquired from the QVMAG for an exhibition held at the Port Arthur Heritage Site in 1983 and returned - not to the QVMAG - but to the TMAG (Wishart et al).

The original uncut sepia print was cleaned of scratches and cracks, and re-photographed as a black and white print by Chris Long at the QVMAG in 1985 for reasons known only to himself since they serve no purpose. The original print taken from Nevin's glass negative of the 1870s was removed from the prisoner's Hobart Gaol rap sheet and collated into one of three panels, forty (40) in all, by convictaria collector John Watt Beattie and advertised for sale in his catalogue, 1916. Both the original 1874 sepia uncut print and the 1985 reproduction are held at the QVMAG.

Black and white print of John Moran
Reproduced from T. Nevin’s negative 1874
QVMAG Collection Ref: 1985 p 0163

John Moran was not photographed at Port Arthur, despite the NLA’s catalogue entry which suggests there is a handwritten inscription on verso. The inscription “Taken at Port Arthur, 1874” appears inscribed on the verso of many dozens of these cartes of Tasmanian prisoners. The number “3″ appears on the verso, too, apparently, and like all these numbers on either the verso or mount ranging from 1 to more than 300, the sequencing has been devised by the copyists for inclusion in an archive decades later.

The photograph was taken at the MPO, Hobart Town Hall, between the 2nd and 6th February 1874, and NOT at the Port Arthur prison. This prisoner was one of three men photographed on that date: Thomas FRANCIS and Thomas SAUNDERS were also discharged and photographed in Hobart by T.J. NEVIN between 4th-6th February 1874. Thomas Francis’ mounted mugshot is held at the National Library of Australia, and a print from Nevin’s original negative is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Thomas Saunder’s mounted mugshot is also held at the QVMAG.

The methodical copying, printing and cataloguing of the originals, some reproduced from Nevin’s glass negatives as lantern slides, others reprinted in an oval mount conventionally used by commercial photographers working in prisons in NSW and Victoria of the 1870s, date from 1900s -1920s and were displayed by John Watt Beattie in his convictaria museum in Hobart and for inclusion in travelling exhibitions of convictaria associated with the fake convict hulk Success. Who else but a curator/archivist would write “Taken at Port Arthur …” on the verso of a photograph, unless the image was to be directed at tourists as an artefact of Tasmanian history? Not the prison photographer working in situ with government documentation, and as the several copies circulated for police reference were pasted to documents such as the warrant and the prisoner’s criminal record, inscribing the verso would serve no one; it would not be visible. Likewise, printing the verso with a studio stamp would have been a waste of effort and ink. The several extant prisoner cartes which do carry T. J. Nevin’s studio stamp enclosing the government insignia (located at the QVMAG and Mitchell Library, NSW) were used to register his copyright (of a batch per 100 capita), renew his contract, and access his commission.

There is no doubt that the early years of transportation to Tasmania’s Port Arthur prison have been the primary focus and fascination for historians. It feeds and feeds off the aggressive promotion of the prison site as the State’s key historic attraction. And it has become the convention and norm of writers to corral one or more of these prisoner ID photographs within their new texts that deal with those early years. Michael Bogle’s recent publication on convicts (2008), as an example, has T. J. Nevin’s negative (1875) of convict Charles Rosetta on the front cover, unattributed to Nevin, and wrongly dated to 1917 with attribution to the copyists Beattie & Searle, from the NLA collection.

Michael Bogle, Convicts (2008) Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

These sorts of publications ignore the fact that the circumstances in which T. J. Nevin produced the photos in the mid 1870s were very different from those experienced by transported convicts at Port Arthur in the 1850s; moreover, they ignore the very obvious fact that these “booking photographs” as they were called, represent old men with 20 more years’ experience of felonies and incarceration since their early Port Arthur days, transportees who had become conventional prisoners in and out of a conventional town gaol. This blind spot explains in part why the site of Port Arthur with the date of 1874, embellished with the fantasist creation of a photographer attribution to one of its Commandants (A.H. Boyd) in the 1990s (Chris Long, Warwick Reeder), has been assigned across the board to the National Library of Australia’s collection under pressure from these writers’ errors in printed publications. The mundane reality of these convicts’ later prison exploits does not make good tourist copy, and by association nor do the routines of a jobbing photographer, as Thomas Nevin was, employed at a city gaol to produce the prisoner’s mugshot. Who can name a prison photographer in any era? No one, because they are not deemed “artists”. They remain invisible to the public, without attribution. Anonymity is de rigeur in their job. See also this post with reference to Helen Ennis.

page 18, Intersections, photograph by Thomas Nevin of convict John Moran.


"Tea and sugar Tommy" Chapman