Monday, January 19, 2009

Prisoner Job SMITH aka William Campbell

EXECUTION at the HOBART GAOL
Thomas J. NEVIN at PORT ARTHUR

Job Smith and his aliases
These two copies/duplicates from Thomas J. Nevin's glass negative taken at a single sitting with the prisoner Job Smith aka Campbell, are held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.



Vignetted copy: Prisoner CAMPBELL, William as SMITH, Job
TMAG Ref: Q15578 see also TMAG Ref: Q15572
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin



Prisoner SMITH, Job alias CAMPBELL alias BRODIE
TMAG Ref: Q15572
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin 1874

The National Library of Australia holds a third copy/duplicate of the same photograph of Job Smith, catalogued with the alias William Campbell. It is one of three convict cartes (found to date) by Thomas J. Nevin which had been hand-tinted, probably at the time of the original capture, by Nevin's studio assistants.



Prisoner Job Smith alias CAMPBELL alias BRODIE
Photographed by T. J. Nevin, Hobart, February 1874
Photo taken at the National Library of Australia, 16 December 2016
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2016 ARR



Verso:Prisoner Job Smith alias CAMPBELL alias BRODIE
Photographed by T. J. Nevin, Hobart, February 1874
Photo taken at the National Library of Australia, 16 December 2016
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2016 ARR



NLA Catalogue (incorrect information)
nla.pic-vn4270353 PIC P1029/53 LOC Album 935 William Campbell, per S. [Sir] R. [Robert] Peel, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874. 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen, hand col. ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm., on mount 10.4 x 6.4 cm.

The inscription on verso, "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874" was written by John Watt Beattie in 1915 when hundreds of these prisoner cdvs were copied from Nevin's original glass plate negatives and offered for sale at his convictaria museum in Hobart decades before the NLA's acquisition of their collection between 1964 (from Neil Gunson) and 1982 (from John McPhee). The two duplicates of the same photograph held at the TMAG (see first two above) are not hand-coloured.

Whatever the circumstances of each copy's deposit in public collections, it is the same single image of this convict with several aliases, taken by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin once and once only. All three items in these collections are evidence of use and re-use by police, and there were probably many more in existence at the time of Job Smith's - aka William Campbell's - hanging, given the notoriety of the case. Thomas Nevin's reputation for hand-tinted photography was reported in The Mercury, December 4th, 1880. See this entry for more information on Nevin's coloured convict portraits at the NLA.

POLICE RECORDS for Wm Campbell, hanged as Job Smith



Discharged as Job Smith and received at Hobart from Port Arthur, published 2nd December 1868.



Convicted again as Job Smith 4th September 1869 for larceny, three months at the Hobart Gaol.



Job Smith was a suspect for theft, published on 13th May 1870, at which point he changed his name to William Campbell.



William Campbell alias Robert Boodle (or Brodie) alias Job Smith was convicted on 19th March 1872 for uttering a forged cheque and sentenced to 8 years.



William Campbell was arraigned for rape on 11th May 1875, and hanged as Job Smith on 31st May 1875. Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1875 Gov't Printer

William Campbell alias Boodle or Brodie was executed as Job Smith on 31st May, 1875. The Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site website gives this summary of the background to the case (after Ian Brand):

JOB SMITH - 31st May 1875
Job Smith was a prisoner at Port Arthur, who had served most of his sentence by 1875 and had conducted himself well while there.
Margaret Ayres was a housemaid and in the service of Rev. Mr. Hayward the Church of England clergyman there. Shortly before 5 p.m. on 27th February, 1875, she went into the bush to search for Hayward’s cow.
On the way she met Smith and asked him if he had seen the cow and he pointed out the direction in which it had gone. She noticed that Smith was following her so she began to go back telling him she was afraid of snakes. She then claimed Smith made improper advances to her and when she fell trying to get away, he raped her.
Smith was charged with rape in the Supreme Court on 12th May, 1875.
The defence claimed there was no evidence of rape, that any of six prisoners were free to commit the offence and that Ayres had not noticed her assailant had lost the use of one arm as Smith had.
The jury rejected these claims and found Smith guilty and he was sentenced to death.
Smith went to the gallows on 31st May, 1875 declaring his innocence, but this contradicted a written statement he left with Father Beechinor.
A letter in the Mercury the following day questioned whether rape should be a capital offence or whether Tasmania should not follow England’s example and find another punishment for that crime. Smith was the last person to hang for rape in Tasmania.

Job Smith aka Wm Campbell was photographed by Thomas Nevin either when Smith was one of sixty prisoners who had transferred back to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur before July 1873 (see W.R. Giblin's and the Inspector of Police's report of convicts tabled in the Parliament on July 17th, 1873), or just before Smith as William Campbell was returned to Port Arthur on May 8th, 1874 to complete his 8 year sentence, accompanied by Thomas Nevin in his role as police agent and photographer. Both were listed as passengers on the schooner Harriet's way bill:



Above: William Campbell accompanied by Thomas Nevin to Port Arthur
Passengers aboard the government schooner
Harriet, May 8th, 1874.
Source: Tasmanian Papers Ref: 320, Mitchell SLNSW. Photo &copy KLW NFC 2009 ARR


Thomas Nevin would have carried at least two copies on his person of the prisoner's photograph, one loose and one pasted to the prisoner's record sheet, in the event of attempted escape in transit. Other copies remained at the Office of Inspector of Police, Town Hall, Hobart. Dr Coverdale, the Surgeon-Commandant at Port Arthur who had replaced A.H. Boyd by January 1874 deemed this procedure sufficient for security as a dozen or so prisoners were evacuated every week back to Hobart by schooner as soon as he assumed office. Clearly, Dr Coverdale's predecessor A. H. Boyd had nothing to do with this photograph of Job Smith, nor indeed with any other of these 1870s prisoner mugshots for the simple and very obvious facts that (a) Boyd was not a photographer and no photographs in any genre supposedly taken by him have been found extant nor ever will be found unless they have been faked, as for example, the image of the Port Arthur prison printed by the Anson Bros in 1889 (Kerr, Stilwell 1992); and (b) the commission awarded to Thomas Nevin to photograph prisoners was given in 1872 by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin after the visit by senior prison official and politicians from Victoria to the Port Arthur prison. Just one image, reprinted many times, of Job Smith aka William Campbell is extant. Thomas Nevin photographed him once and once only, although at least three duplicates and copies are currently extant in State and National collections.

When Smith was returned once more to the Hobart Gaol to be arraigned in the Supreme Court, Hobart, his case was a cause celebre. The Mercury ran editorial commentary and letters from the public throughout May and early June 1875 concerning his innocence or guilt, questioning the mess of evidence, and Tasmania's continued application of capital punishment laws.

The last hours of Job Smith were reported in the Mercury on June 1st, 1875, and not without a note of pathos (some words from the NLA original on microfilm are illegible):

EXECUTION AT THE HOBART TOWN GAOL

The condemned criminal, Job Smith, recently tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death for a criminal assault, under brutal circumstances, on the girl Margaret Ayres, at Port Arthur,forfeited his life inside the Hobart Town Gaol yesterday morning.

At 8 o'clock , Smith, accompanied by Father D. F. X. Beechinor (the clergyman who attended him since his condemnation) and Mr Rothwell (Under-Sheriff) left the condemned cell, and proceeded to the place of execution, Father Beechinor being engaged in prayer along the way. Besides Mr. Atkins (the governor of the gaol), representatives of the Press, and a body of police, there were only two other individuals present.

From the cell to the gallows, Smith betrayed no physical emotion, his step being steady, and his demeanour apparently composed. On arriving at the drop ,the Under-Sheriff asked the unfortunate man if he had anything to say. Smith replied, " I am not guilty ; I am an innocent man."The Under-Sheriff then read the following written statement : -" I was born at Bristol on the 23rd of November, 1819, and was a Protestant all my life. Became a Roman Catholic upon receiving sentence of death. I have left with my [spiritual] director a statement, which, in his discretion, I request him to publish wholly or in part."

The usual preliminaries having been arranged, ... a g... signal from the Under-Sheriff, performed his duty, and the malefactor died without any apparent physical pain.It may be mentioned that Smith left a written document with Father Beechinor, which contains a statement in direct contradiction to his dying words.

During portions of Sunday night, Smith manifested much mental uneasiness, but as night wore on he became calmer. At an early hour of the morning, Smith requested to be served with some bread, cheese, and beer. The request was complied with, but at the time he left his cell for execution his refreshment remained untouched.
[end of transcript from the Mercury June 1st, 1875]

Thomas Nevin's original capture would have been reprinted and offered on sale as an image of infamy to remind the population of the swift course of justice. Given that photographs were not printed in newspapers in 1875, the Press in attendance may have used this photograph of Job Smith as an adjunct to sales.

The handwriting on the verso of Smith's carte is similar to the handwriting on dozens of Nevin's photographs held at the TMAG - for example, the landscape of Melville Street under snow, inscribed "W. Hobart, July 1868" .

Like so many of these cdvs of Tasmanian prisoners taken in the 1870s which bear numbers from one to more than 300 either on verso or mount, some with the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" on verso, the provenance of all these prints is from the QVMAG's Beattie collection of government estrays acquired from his estate there in 1930, from which the exhibition held in 1977 at the QVMAG was sourced and correctly exhibited as the work of Thomas Nevin's photographic portraits of 1870s "Port Arthur convicts".

Despite the attribution to T. J. Nevin in 1977, by the time about 120 cdvs had been removed from the QVMAG in order to be displayed at an exhibition at Port Arthur in 1983, at least 50 were subsequently returned instead to the TMAG (E. Wishart et al), where they were wrongly attributed to A.H. Boyd, apparently based on a whimsical rumour spread by a Boyd descendant and certain gullible Port Arthur employees. Job Smith's image was one of several cdvs of Tasmanian convicts displayed online at the TMAG until November 2006 and taken offline by 2007. The TMAG fortunately reserved the attribution to Thomas J. Nevin of all of their holdings of Tasmanian photographs of convicts and cast this Boyd misattribution as a misjudgment which was paraded as a "belief" rather than as a substantiated fact by the writer of their publication, Chris Long, in Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (Gillian Winter, ed: TMAG 1995).

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