Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thomas James 'Sonny' Nevin (1874 - 1948)

Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin ..

First-born son Thomas James 'Sonny' Nevin (1874 - 1948)
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2003. ARR. Watermarked

Thomas James Nevin was born in 1874 at the residence attached to his father's photographic studio at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart Town. He was the second child of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin - May was the first (born 1872) - and the first son.

Known as "Sonny" to family descendants, he travelled to California to reside there for a time with his wife Gertrude Tennyson Bates and his wife's family who migrated there in the early 1900s. Both returned to Hobart and both died there, Thomas James in 1948, and Gertrude Bates in 1955.

Photograph taken ca. 1930 at 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart, by which time Sonny Nevin had joined the Salvation Army. He was listed in the electoral rolls for Denison in 1905 as a bootmaker.

Confusion with his father's name has arisen from documents such as this one:

This document comes from State Library of Tasmania Special Collections Librarian Geoffrey Stilwell's correspondence files on Thomas Nevin, written at the time he was researching the 1977 exhibition of Thomas Nevin's Port Arthur convict photographs at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. It shows the addition in his hand of a "J" as a middle initial in Thomas Nevin's name.

The "J" which has been inserted into Thomas Nevin's name on this letter makes its appearance here because it is included in Nevin's name - "T. J. Nevin" - on the studio stamp found on the verso of the Port Arthur convict photographs in the QVMAG Collection.

left: 1874 stamp; right: 1871 stamp

The "J" also appears in the National Library of Australia catalogue entries for Nevin, and in book publications featuring Nevin's convict cartes. Most of Nevin's other portraits, stereographs and signatures on official documents carry the simpler "T. Nevin" or "Thos Nevin" imprint on mount or stamp on verso. The special printing of his stamp with full initials -"T. J. Nevin" - is an indication of the formality associated with his status as a photographer under government contract.