Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thomas Nevin's portraits of his wife Elizabeth Rachel Day (1847-1914)

Early and later portraits of Elizabeth Rachel DAY by Thomas J. NEVIN
Hand-tinted cartes-de-visite 1860s
Overpainted photographs 1900s

Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914), wife of Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923), was born in London on 26 March 1847, and christened one month later at St Mary's, known as the Mayflower Church, Rotherhithe, London, on 28th April 1847. Her father, master mariner Captain James Day (1806-1882), was born on 10th June 1806, in York, UK and died in Hobart, Tasmania on 21st November 1882. Her mother Rachel Day nee Pocock (b. London ca. 1812-1857) died of consumption in Hobart, Tasmania in 1857. Her younger sister Mary Sophia Day (1853-1942) was born in Hobart in 1853 and died in Melbourne in 1942.

Elizabeth Rachel Day's parents Captain James Day and Rachael Pocock were married at St David's Church, Hobart Tasmanian on 6th January 1841, witnessed by her uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith ((Chalk, Kent 1804 - Higham, Kent, 1869). Elizabeth Rachel Day was named after her father's sister, Elizabeth Day (Yorkshire, 1802 - London, 1875), who married Captain Edward Goldsmith in 1829 at Liverpool, UK.

Elizabeth Rachel Day married professional photographer Thomas James Nevin on 12th July, 1871 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart Tasmania. Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin had seven children between 1872 and 1888, six surviving to adulthood.

Elizabeth Rachel Day (b. Rotherhithe 26 March 1847 - d. Hobart Tasmania 29 June 1914)
Father: Captain James Day; mother Rachael Pocock
Spouse: Thomas James Nevin

Mary Sophia Day (b. Hobart 9th March 1853 - d. Melbourne Victoria 18 June 1942)
Father: Captain James Day; mother Rachael Pocock
Spouse: Hector Charles James Horatio Axup

Birth and christening: Elizabeth Rachael [sic - she dropped the "a" on marriage] Day, christened on 28th April 1847 at St Mary's Church Rotherhithe, London UK. Source:

Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day ca 1900

This image of just the face of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914) magnified from a piece cut from the larger original.
Photograph taken by her husband Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1900.
Copyright © KLW NFC Private Collections 2009 ARR

This is an old black and white enlargement of a detail of a portrait of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914) in her later years, taken ca. 1900 by her husband. Just her face was magnified to an unusually large size, measuring approx. 8x10 inches. It has the impact of a modern cinematic close-up. The magnified final image was pasted to grey cardboard.

The entire original photograph is yet to surface; it may have been a carte-de-visite head and upper body pose in semi profile, or a cabinet-sized seated pose . It may have been magnified for a specific purpose or event such as the publication in a newspaper, or placement on her headstone (she died in 1914 and was buried at the Cornelian Bay cemetery on 21 June, Church of England, site no. 258).

The remarkable aspect of the image is the evidence of hand-painted strokes around the hair line and eyes. The original photograph may have been hand-coloured, though not as heavily as the fashion of painting over photographic portraits which became popular in the 1890s. Many of her husband's early extant portraits of his wife, of himself, his private clients, and even a handful of extant mugshots of Tasmanian convicts taken during his commission to provide the colonial government with prisoner identification portraits in the 1870s, show evidence of hand-tinting. Some were expertly and finely done done by Nevin and his studio assistants, others were ineptly daubed with blobs by clients or collectors after purchase. Elizabeth Rachel Day may have assisted her husband in his studio as his colourist from the beginning of her marriage, and may have even touched up this photographic portrait of herself taken thirty years later.

Given the existence of another item from the same family source of a fully-painted picture of Albert Nevin, Elizabeth's youngest son , posing with his horse ca 1917 which was copied almost exactly from a photograph, or was even painted over the original image, this image of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day may have been the preliminary study for a fully painted portrait.

Earlier portraits by Thomas Nevin of Elizabeth Rachel Day:

Vignette of Elizabeth Rachel Day ca 1867
Studio stamp on verso "Nevin & Smith, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town".
Copyright © KLW NFC Private Collections 2005-2009 ARR

Photographed by Thomas Nevin in the late 1860s a few years before their marriage, these two portraits (above) of a very young Elizabeth Rachel Day were taken by Thomas J. Nevin while operating with partner Robert Smith as the firm "Nevin & Smith, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town" .The partnership was dissolved by Thomas Nevin's mentor, the Hon. W. R. Giblin in February 1868.

Elizabeth Rachel Nevin 1870

A delicate hand-tinted carte-de-visite vignette taken by Thomas J. Nevin just before their marriage in 1871.
Elizabeth Rachel Day, 23 years old.
Copyright © KLW NFC Private Collections 2005-2009 ARR

This photograph of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (below) was taken in the late 1870s by her husband. It exists pasted into the scrapbook of her son George Ernest Nevin (1880-1957) together with stereographs of Kangaroo Valley (Hobart) and photographic portraits of his grandparents John and Mary Nevin, mostly taken by his father Thomas J. Nevin in the 1860s -1880s. The scrapbook is held in the private collection of the Shelverton family descendants of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's youngest daughter Minnie (May) Nevin (m. Drew). The background of this copy was photo-edited and submitted courtesy of the Shelverton family in 2008.

Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day ca. 1878
Photo taken by her husband Thomas J. Nevin late 1870s
Copyright © KLW NFC Private Collection 2008 ARR.

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Prisoner James JONES alias Brocklehurst, known as Spider

Three duplicates or copies are extant in public collections from T. J. Nevin's original negative taken of prisoner James Jones alias James Brocklehurst at the Hobart Gaol in late February 1875 on Jones' discharge. This prisoner James Jones aka James Brocklehurst, known by the moniker "Spider" is not to be confused with the prisoner Elijah Elton, transported as Elisha Nelmes, who used the alias "John Jones" and was known by the moniker "Flash Jack", an error which has appeared on the National Library of Australia catalogue entry. Read more about Flash Jack here.

The National Library of Australia copy
This copy of the photograph of prisoner James Jones was donated to the NLA in  the 1960s as part of the Gunson collection of estrays from a defunct government department. It bears the number "209" on the mount, a number inscribed by late 20th century archivists on accession, and used by curators for several exhibitions held at the NLA and NPG Australia.

Prisoner James or William Jones alias James Brocklehurst per Theresa
Photographed by Thomas J. Nevin, Hobart Gaol, March 1875
Verso and mount carry the number "209"
Ref: PIC P1029/27a LOC Album 935/
National Library of Australia

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery copy
Possibly the first print to be mounted from Thomas Nevin's negative, the original sepia print from which this black and white copy was made was acquired by the QVMAG from the estate of convictarian John Watt Beattie on his death in 1930,  where it remains. It bears the earlier number "146" on the mount, which was used by the QVMAG for their exhibition in 1978 of a selection of T. J. Nevin's prisoner mugshots.

Verso of cdv of prisoner William or James Jones.
The mount is numbered "146" and the verso "209" which indicates the single capture by Thomas Nevin in 1875 was reprinted to be included on further copies of the prisoner's rap sheets.

The verso of this print shows three different accession numbers: the first QVMAG  147-19 originated in the 1930s; the second QVMAG 1958.78.22 originated in the 1950s; and the third QVMAG QVM: 1985:P:81 indicates when the black and white copies were made. It was in the 1980s that a visitor to the QVMAG, Chris Long, created the b&w copies for reasons best known to himself, since they are significantly less attractive than the original sepia albumen carte-de-visite produced by Thomas Nevin from his negative in the 1870s.

The Archives Office of Tasmania copy
The AOT copy was made in 1977-78 from the QVMAG copy bearing the number "146" on mount.

A photocopy was made at the AOT in the 1970s of the copy held at the QVMAG.
AOT Ref: PH30/1/3205
Caption: "William Jones (alias James Jiones and James Brocklehurst , convict per Theresa. Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin." He was in fact photographed by Thomas Nevin, not at Port Arthur, but at the Hobart Gaol, in late February, early March 1875 on discharge.

POLICE RECORDS for James Jones

1872: Larceny

James Jones known as Spider, absconded, 26 June 1872

James Jones, alias Brocklehurst, 48 yrs old according to the police gazette notice, was arrested on 15 July 1872 by Sub-Inspector McVilley [sic. i.e. McVilly] of the Ross Police.

James Jones convicted during the week ending 7 September 1872 for larceny, and sentenced to 12 months.

1874: to the prison at Port Arthur

James Jones arrived at the Port Arthur prison on 17 January 1874, to serve 3 years.

1875: transferred to House of Corrections, Hobart.

James Jones alias Brocklehurst discharged at Hobart from a 3 yr sentence on 3 March 1875 for larceny and absconding, was transferred back to the House of Corrections, Hobart on 9 January 1875. He was photographed by T. J. Nevin on discharge, late February to early March 1875.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, (weekly police gazettes) J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Third son William John Nevin (1878-1927)


William John Nevin (1878-1927), sporting a shaggy half-horseshoe moustache
Photographed by his father Thomas J. Nevin ca, 1897
Copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR Private Collection

William John Nevin ( 1878-1927), photographed by his father in 1897,  was the fourth child and third surviving son born to photographer Thomas James Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day. He was born on the 14th March 1878 at the Hobart Town Hall where his father Thomas J. Nevin was employed as Office and Hall keeper for the Hobart City Corporation and photographer for the Municipal Police Office, having leased his photographic studio in 1876 at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, while maintaining a photographic practice and studio  at New Town, near Hobart, Tasmania with his younger brother Constable John Nevin. This son was thus named after his uncle, i.e. Thomas J. Nevin's younger brother, William John Nevin (1852-1891), known as Jack to the family, who worked on salary at the Hobart Gaol until his death from typhoid fever in 1891, (pictured here in plain clothes):

Uncle of William J. Nevin, Constable W. J. Nevin ca. 1880
Photograph taken by his brother Thomas J. Nevin
Copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR Private Collection

Constable John Nevin's nephew William John Nevin may have been courting when he wrote "Yours Truly, Will" across this print ca. 1905, although he remained a bachelor living with his siblings up to his death in 1927.

"Yours Truly, Will": William John Nevin ca. 1905
Print from a glass negative of Thomas J. Nevin's third son William John Nevin (1878-1927)
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & The Private Collection of Denis Shelverton 2006-2009 ARR.

Here William John Nevin is sporting the style known as the gunslinger moustache. When this photograph was taken ca. 1905, he was listed on the Denison electoral roll as a shop assistant.

William Nevin may have lost his temper in a kitchen, unleashing a series of expletives. His occupation was listed as "cook" when he was charged with using obscene language and photographed at the Police Office Hobart in December 1920. The charge "Obscene Language", of course, might have denoted any mild curse or epithet. These sorts of menial and trivial charges were a source of revenue for the State Government in an era when personal income tax was yet to be formally legislated.

Detail and photo from rap sheet below:
William Nevin, , 42 yrs old, occupation listed as "cook", charged with  indecent language,  sentenced to 3 days,
Hobart Gaol, 8 December 1920

William Nevin, charged with obscene language on 8th December 1920, was sentenced to three days at the Police Office, Hobart. Source: Hobart Gaol Photo Book 7,
Archives Office of Tasmania

William Nevin, charged with obscene language on 8th December 1920, was sentenced to three days at the Police Office, Hobart. These police records in Book 7 were damaged by fire at the Hobart Gaol, but some detail is visible: William's occupation was "cook" in 1920, for example. His moustache had become a shaggy half-horseshoe once again.

William John Nevin was 49 years old when he died in a horse-and-cart accident on the 28th October 1927. The accident was reported in the Mercury 31st October 1927. This is an extract from the inquest as recorded by the Mercury from the Coroner's report;
... The story of the accident was told by Percy Johnson, a carter, living in Murray Street. On Tuesday night, about, about 8.20, he said, Nevin and a man named Leslie Smith came to his house under the influence of drink. Nevin's cart was standing outside the Waratah Hotel. Witness joined the two men, and had a drink with them in the hotel. Smith was not served with intoxicants, as "he has had too many." The three then got into the cart, and witness intended to drive the other two home. However, Nevin insisted on driving, and they went along Warwick Street and down Elizabeth Street at full gallop. They "pulled up" outside McLaren's Hotel, in Collins Street, and when they got out of the cart a man said to witness, "There are two sergeants on the corner watching you". Witness got the two men into the cart again, and took charge. Nevin and Smith sat down. Witness drove up Elizabeth Street until just before Warwick Street. Smith's legs were hanging over the back, and he said ,"Pull up. I am going to get out." Witness "pulled up" and Nevin and Smith got out. A few minutes later they got into the cart again. Nevin stood up and made a dash forward. He snatched the reins from witness, and fell over the side. Witness felt a bump, and when he got out he saw Nevin on the ground with the reins round his foot and his leg through the wheel. He drove Nevin and Smith to the Public Hospital... Dr. B. M. Carruthers, House Surgeon at the Public Hospital, said there were hardly any signs of external injury on the deceased when he was admitted to hospital. He was injured severely internally. His collar-bone was broken, a broken rib had pieced his heart,  Death was due, in the first place, to shock, and secondly, to collapse caused by haemorrhage....

The Mercury 31st October 1927

Fortunately, neither parent was alive to experience this loss: William Nevin's mother Elizabeth Rachel had died in 1914, and his father Thomas J. Nevin died in 1923.

NEVIN.- Friends of the late Mr. William J. Nevin are respectfully invited to attend his funeral, which will move from his residence, 23 Newdegate Street, North Hobart, on Friday Afternoon (Tomorrow) at 2.30, arriving at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, at 3 o'clock.
Funeral Directors
17 Argyle Street - Phone 1077

The Southern Regional Cemetery Trust, Cornelian Bay, Hobart, Tasmania

First names : William John
Surname : NEVIN
Age : 49
Service type : Burial
Service date : 28-Oct-1927
Area or denomination : Section : EE
Site number : Number 277

This In Memoriam notice was inserted in the Mercury a year later, on 26 October 1928, by his siblings who knew him as "Bill" - by his brothers Tom, George and Albert, by his eldest sister May (b. Mary Florence Elizabeth Nevin 1872-1955), and by his younger sister Minnie Drew nee Nevin (1884-1974):

In Memoriam: William John Nevin, the Mercury, 26 October 1928

William Nevin's occupation was listed as "shop assistant" in the 1905 Electoral Roll for Denison, Tasmania, and his place of residence was the home of his parents, No. 236 Elizabeth-street, Hobart. By 1927 he was resident at the large property No.23-29 Newdegate Street, North Hobart (pictured below) which included two residences. At the time of his death, William was operating a horse and cart haulage and carrier business from the property at 23 Newdegate Street. Five of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's adult children periodically resided there at varying intervals right into the 1950s - Mary Florence Elizabeth (May Nevin), George Ernest (Georgie Nevin), Thomas James (Sonny Nevin), Mary Ann (Minnie Nevin) and Albert Edward Nevin - where they maintained and trained race horses, stables and vegetable gardens.

Descendants remember William's cartage business sign positioned at the gate next to the old house, visible in this photograph (sign on left) taken ca, 1933 of three of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's grandchildren, the children of Albert and Emily Nevin: Hilda, on extreme left, with Willie and Margaret outside the front door.

The house at 23 Newdegate St , North Hobart
Copyright © KLW NFC 2006-2009 Private Collection ARR.

Metropolitan Drainage Board Map. No. 58 ca. 1908
The property 23-29 Newdegate St. formerly Queen St. where Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's adult children settled from c 1923 to the late 1950s.
Queen St. North Hobart was renamed Newdegate St. after Governor of Tasmania Francis Newegate (1917-1920).
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: 628270


THE INQUEST 29 October 1927

Nevin, William John
Record Type: Inquests
Coroner: Turner, Ernest William
Age: 49 years
Description: Internal pulmonary haemorrhage
Date of death: 26 Oct 1927
Registered: Hobart
Date of inquest: 29 Oct 1927
Verdict: Accidental
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1731713
Resource: SC195-1-90 Inquest 15300

DISAMBIGUATION: three men called "William John Nevin"
A "William John Nevin" was an M.U. of the Loyal Mathinna Lodge, pictured below in The Tasmanian Mail, February 14th, 1903, top row, last on viewer's right. This William John Nevin who appears on Tasmanian BDM and Digger Tasmanian Federation Index records 1900 was a farmer who lived in Northern Tasmania, who was married to Sarah Jane French, who was the father of several children, and who died in 1923. This William John Nevin therefore is not to be confused with Thomas J. Nevin's brother Constable John (William John or Jack) Nevin whose death in 1891 precluded any Federation listing, nor to Thomas J. Nevin's third son pictured above, William John Nevin, (1878-1927), shop assistant in 1905, cook in 1920 and carrier in 1927 when he died in a horse and cart accident.

W. Nevin top extreme right

Loyal Mathinna Lodge
Tasmanian Mail, 14th February 1903, p.21

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prisoner John GREGSON

Multiple copies or duplicates of this photograph are extant in public collections. It was taken by Thomas J. Nevin of absconder John Gregson at a single sitting at the Municipal Police Office Hobart Town Hall on February 18th, 1874 after Gregson's arrival from Launceston where he was arrested with his brother Frances Gregson.

The TMAG copy/duplicate

Prisoner John GREGSON
TMAG Ref: Q15577
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin

The National Library of Australia copies/duplicates
These two very clean copies or duplicates of Nevin's prints from his glass negative taken in February 1874 are held at the NLA, photographed in December 2016.

Prisoner John Gregson, NLA copies x 2
Photographed by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart MPO February 1874
Photographs taken at the NLA 16 December 2016
Copyright © KLW NFC 2016 ARR Watermarked

Versos: Prisoner John Gregson, NLA copies x 2
Photographed by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart MPO February 1874
Photographs taken at the NLA 16 December 2016
Copyright © KLW NFC 2016

NLA Catalogue notes verso transcription
nla.pic-vn4269980 PIC P1029/20a LOC Album 935 John Gregson, native, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874. 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm. on mount 10.5 x 6.3 cm.

Police Records

These are the prisoner identifications photographs mounted in carte-de-visite frames of Francis and John Gregson, photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the MPO Hobart, on their arrest February 20th, 1874. Duplicates are held at the NLA, the TMAG, and the AOT.

The Gregson brothers were convicted, 9th October, 1871 for five and six year sentences.

Gregsons absconded January 9th, 1874

Gregsons arrested February 20th, 1874

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1880. J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.

The Gregsons were discharged 27th January, 1875, and were photographed again by Nevin in the preceeding week. They were not photographed at Port Arthur before January 9th, 1874. They escaped from the Domain in Hobart on that date and were photographed on arrest one month later by Nevin when they were received and sent to the Hobart Gaol.They were photographed at the Police Office Hobart on February 18th 1874 after arrival from Launceston when arrested (see TAHO: CON37-1-1000498 and 9).

John and Francis Gregson, sentenced 18th Feb, 1874 at the Police Office, Hobart
TAHO Ref: CON37-1-1000498 and 9

Samuel Page's Coach Line
Page's coach line conveyed prisoners in irons, accompanied by constables such as Constable John Nevin, Thomas Nevin's brother and photographic assistant, from Launceston and regional lock-ups to the Hobart Gaol.

This notice about the Gregsons appeared in The Mercury, 19th February 1874

By Page's coach yesterday morning, three prisoners were brought down from Launceston in irons, under the charge of Superintendent Tinmins and Sub-inspector Clements, of the Hamilton Police. Two of the prisoners, named Gregson, absconded from this city [i.e. Hobart] some seven or eight weeks ago, and made their way through the back country to their sister's residence in Launceston, where they were arrested. The other one, Mitchell, is known by several names. He absconded from the Launceston gaol, and having been arrested in the country, has now been removed, and with the Gregsons, placed in the gaol here.

"By Page's coach yesterday morning, three prisoners were brought down in irons ..."

Above: Original photograph by T.J. Nevin with the figure of Tom Davis and Burdon's company name painted out (QMAG Collection Ref: 1987_P_0220). Tom Davis was a coach painter. The verso bears Nevin's Royal Arms insignia stamp used for government commissions, in this instance for the Royal Mail coach.

"By Page's coach yesterday morning, three prisoners were brought down in irons ..."

Inscription: handwritten on the reverse:
"From same photo held at Entally/ painted out background/ Burdons Coach Factory/ Man on r.h.s. of photo Tom Davis (has been painted out)/ 1872/ A.B. McKellar 328 Liverpool St/ coach body maker employed at Burdon and son when this coach was built"

This is an original photograph by T.J. Nevin with the figure of Tom Davis and Burdon's company name painted out (QMAG Collection Ref: 1987_P_0220). Tom Davis was a coach painter. The verso bears Nevin's Royal Arms insignia stamp used for government commissions, in this instance for the Royal Mail coach.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Prisoner James THOMAS

NLA Catalogue (incorrect information)
Title James Thomas, per Wm. [William] Jardine 2, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]
Extent1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm., on mount 10.4 x 6.4 cm.


James Thomas was convicted in the Launceston Supreme Court for 6yrs, transferred to the Hobart Gaol and photographed on discharge by Nevin on 28 June 1876. He was admitted as a pauper to the Brickfields Depot and went AWOL in January 1877.

Prisoner Walter JOHNSTONE aka Henry BRAMALL or TAYLOR

NLA Catalogue (incorrect information)
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.; Title from inscription on reverse. Two copies of the same image, one of which has been hand coloured.; Condition: Foxing lower left and right and upper left.; Inscription: title and "71"--In ink on reverse.


Henry Taylor was tried at the Supreme Court Hobart on 4th July 1871, along with John Appleby, one of the first photographs of prisoners taken by T.J. Nevin at the Supreme Court Hobart. The photograph of Taylor aka Bramall or Johnston(e) was hand coloured by Nevin's studio and placed in his shop window to assist the public in recognition and recapture of the prisoner when he absconded on February 6, 1874 from a gang at the Cascade factory.

Auto adjusted to show the colouring, especially the prison scarf painted onto the prisoner's neck.

Johnstone aka Bramall or Taylor absconded, reported February 6, 1874
Source: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information


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