Saturday, August 8, 2009

First son and second child, Thomas 'Sonny' Nevin

Thomas James Nevin jnr, or 'Tom', known to descendants as 'Uncle Sonny' Nevin ...

Thomas Sonny Nevin, son of Thomas J. Nevin

Thomas James Nevin jnr, his wife Gertrude Nevin nee Tennyson Bates, and their son Athol Nevin travelled to and from California on board the steamers, S.S. Ventura and S.S. Sonoma, in the years 1920-1922.

Source: Huntington Digital Library
S. S. Ventura for Honolulu, Pago Pago, and Sydney. Front cover

Known to the family as 'Sonny', when Thomas James Nevin jnr was born in Hobart on 16 April, 1874 (d. Hobart 17 January 1948), he was given the same first and second names as his father, photographer Thomas James Nevin (1842-1923). He was born at his father's photographic studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, the second child born to be born there after his elder sister May (Mary Florence, d. Hobart 1955) in 1872.

May Nevin and younger brother Tom, who had just turned 18 yrs old, won prizes at the Union Chapel flower show, reported in the Mercury, 4 May 1892,Tom a prize for six chrysanthemums, and May a prize for collection of flowers.

Although Tom's father, Thomas James Nevin, was born in Northern Ireland in 1842 and had arrived in Tasmania as a ten year old child from Plymouth in July 1852 with his mother Mary, father John Nevin, a former Royal Scots 1st Regiment soldier, Chelsea out-pensioner and guard on board the convict transport Fairlie 1852) with three younger siblings as free settlers, Thomas or Tom or 'Sonny' Nevin was locally-born or "native-born" in Tasmania 22 years after their arrival. He was technically, therefore, an Australian national by the time he sought travel documents to leave Australia in the 1920s. His mother Elizabeth Rachel Day, who married his father Thomas James Nevin senior in July 1871, was born and baptised at St Marys (the 'Mayflower' church), Rotherhithe, London in 1847; her father, and Tom or Sonny's maternal grandfather, master mariner Captain James Day, was born in Yorkshire in 1806 and died in Hobart in 1882.

Above: Thomas James Nevin jnr (1874-1948), first-born son of Thomas James and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, known to descendants as 'Sonny', pictured here shortly before his death in 1948 in Salvation Army uniform.
Taken by a Nevin family member at 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart Tasmania
Copyright ©  KLW NFC 2009-2014 ARR.

Thomas or 'Tom', known to descendants as 'Sonny' Nevin (1874-1948) married Gertrude Jane Tennyson Bates (1883-1958) at the Wesleyan Church, Hobart, on February 6th, 1907. Her father, Walter Tennyson Bates, a renowned bandmaster, had died in 1905. By July 1907, Gertrude's mother, Elizabeth Jane Bates nee Jones, had left Hobart and arrived in Sydney with six of her seven children - Gertrude remaining in Hobart with husband Thomas or Tom or 'Sonny' Nevin. Her mother and siblings migrated first to Vancouver, and eventually to California in 1910.

Thomas or Tom or 'Sonny' Nevin and Gertrude Nevin nee Gertrude Tennyson Bates had a son ca. 1911 named Athol Clarence Nevin. On enlistment into the armed forces during WWII, Athol changed his middle name from "Clarence" to "Tennyson", his maternal grandfather's middle name.

On the 20th November, 1920, Athol Clarence Nevin, student, aged 9, left Sydney on board the SS Ventura bound for California, accompanied by his parents, Thomas James Nevin jnr, furniture carrier, aged 46 yrs, and mother, Gertrude T. Nevin, domestic duties, aged 31 yrs. They arrived at their destination, Oakland, California, on 14th December, 1920. Their friend (USA contact) was R. Brown. The USA Alien Entry documentation listed them as citizens of England, ethnicity as "English", and Athol's birthplace as Hobart, Tasmania.

Source: Huntington Digital Library
Plan of the S.S. Sonoma, S.S. Ventura.

They returned to Sydney from San Francisco on board the S.S. Sonoma, on 5th September 1922.

1922 shipping record SS Sonoma

Above: Immigration Act 1901-1912 Report of Passengers, detail (see full page below).
Thomas, wife Gurtrude [sic] and son Athol Nevin were listed as British nationals travelling to Sydney 1922 from San Francisco.

The decision to retain British nationality may have been a personal choice when Thomas James 'Sonny' Nevin jnr travelled to and from California in the 1920s with his wife and son Athol, or an official requirement for children born of British-born parents, since both his parents - Elizabeth Rachel Day and Thomas James Nevin snr were born in England and Northern Ireland respectively. The USA and Australian (i.e. Commonwealth) Immigration authorities listed Sonny's nationality as "British". His wife Gertrude and son Athol accompanying him were also listed as "British" nationals despite the fact that Gertrude was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1883. Two other passengers, however, on the same ship returning to Sydney from San Franscisco in 1922 were listed as "Australian", so it would seem that the Nevin family descendants of the original immigrant families (Day-Nevin, 1850s) to Tasmania retained their "British" nationality as recently as the 1920s due to official perceptions of patrilineage, unless of course, there was some sort of government legislation which specifically precluded Tasmanian-born citizens from easily obtaining "Australian" passports as Australian nationals (US descendants' research of the Bates family shows that they did enter the US with passports).

shipping record SS Sonoma 1922

Click on images for large view
Above: Immigration Act 1901-1912 Report of Passengers:Thomas, wife Gurtrude [sic] and son Athol Nevin were listed as British nationals travelling to Sydney 1922 from San Francisco.yet Hilda S. Williams, actress, also on board, and Arthur Stanley, steam fitter, were listed as "Australian" nationals.

Source: Huntington Digital Library
Plan of the S.S. Sonoma, S.S. Ventura.

The Electoral Roll for Denison (Southern Tasmania) in 1936 listed Athol Clarence Nevin as a pastry cook and resident of 85 Queen St. Queensborough (Sandy Bay), together with his mother Gertrude T. Nevin, domestic duties. He was about 25 years old in 1936. By 1940, he was already married and had enlisted with the 2/8 Field Regiment, serving in the Middle East and Borneo. He had changed his middle name to "Tennyson", his mother's father's middle name, as in Athol Tennyson Nevin on enlistment. On his return, Athol and his wife Winifred moved to Melbourne (Electoral Rolls 1949-54).

Above: The Electoral Roll for Mitcham, Victoria 1949
Athol Tennyson Nevin, storeman
Winifred Aird Nevin, home duties

Athol's parents may have separated by the late 1930s. His father Thomas 'Sonny' Nevin's address in 1948, the date of his death, was 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart where three of the five other adult children of parents Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin were resident (May, George, and Albert: William, who also lived there, had died in an accident in 1927). Thomas 'Sonny' Nevin wore the uniform of the Salvation Army from the 1930s until his death, shown in this earlier photograph taken in the mid 1930s at Newdegate St. North Hobart.

Above: Mid 1930s: first-born son Thomas James 'Sonny' Nevin (1874 - 1948) of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin.
Taken by a Nevin family member at 23 Newdegate St. North Hobart
Copyright © KLW NFC 2009-2014 ARR

When Thomas James Nevin jnr, known as Tom or 'Sonny,' died in January 1948 (born 1874), he was officially Sergeant T. Nevin of the Salvation Army. A service was held for him, per this notice in the Mercury, dated 24 January 24, 1948.

Salvation Army
THE CITADEL Liverpool St., Tonight at 8. Open Air Meeting, Collins St. Sunday, 11 a.m., Holiness unto the Lord, 3 p.m. Praise Meeting., 7 p.m. Memorial Service to the late Sergeant T. Nevin ...

"Tea and sugar Tommy" Chapman