Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the road with Sam Clifford and Thomas Nevin 1874


Courtesy State Library of Tasmania
Countryside surrounding Melton Mowbray showing hotel and Midland Highway
Photographer Thomas Nevin 1874
Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: ADRI: PH30-1-896

Tasmanian professional photographers Thomas J. Nevin and Samuel Clifford were close friends and business partners from the 1860s until Samuel Clifford's death in 1890. On this tour, they travelled on the main road north from Hobart to Launceston via Bothwell. In the final week of September 1874, while passing through Bothwell, 45 miles north of Hobart, they were enjoined to photograph the procession of Templars attending a large meeting. The Mercury reported their arrival in the town in a long account of the meeting, published on 26 September, 1874:

Clifford and Nevin in Bothwell 26 Sept 1874

Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin in Bothwell
The Mercury 26 Sept 1874

The members of the Order, according to their respective lodges then formed in procession outside the building, where a capital photograph was taken by Messrs Clifford and Nevin, photographers of Hobart Town, who were located in the township on a travelling tour. The township was then paraded, the band striking up some lively airs, but a smart shower coming down, the procession was speedily dispersed in every directions in quest of shelter.
Thomas Nevin photographed one of these Templars around the same time. This CDV features a senior member surrounded by the usual items of Nevin's studio decor, plus his big tabletop stereoscopic viewer.

Above: Freemason with Thomas Nevin's tabletop stereo viewer ca 1874
Courtesy The Lucy Batchelor Collection

The Templar procession caught in the rain
T. Nevin stereograph, Bothwell, September 1874
State Library of Tasmania Ref: LPIC147_1_126

Purposes of the Tour
1. Advertising for Samuel Page's Coachline between Hobart, Oatlands and Launceston.
Both photographers and their boxes of photographic equipment travelled on Samuel Page's coaches on this tour. Thomas Nevin had a commercial commission to produce advertisements for Samuel Page (an example is held at the QVMAG, Launceston). Samuel Page ran a service for the Colonial Government, carrying both the Royal Mail and prisoners from rural lock-ups who were destined for the Hobart Gaol.

Sam Page's license published in the police gazette
Tasmania Reports of Crime, James Barnard Gov't Printer 1874

2. Police photographs
Thomas Nevin had police business to attend to at the Bothwell Court House which included the delivery of duplicates of his photographs of habitual offenders for men wanted on warrants and believed to be in the region. He took this photograph of the court house exterior before departure.

Bothwell Court House
Courtesy Archives Tasmania

See this article: Working with police and prisoners

3. Scenic views for commercial sale
Clifford and Nevin produced stereographs of the River Derwent at New Norfolk, the Salmon Ponds at Plenty, and general scenic landscapes along the main route.

Images courtesy State Library of Tasmania
Refs: AUTAS001124850256; AUTAS001124075771

TMAG Catalogue notes (online until 2006)
Ref: Q1994.56.7
ITEM NAME: Photograph:
MEDIUM: sepia stereoscope salt paper print ,
MAKER: T Nevin [Artist];
DATE: 1870c
DESCRIPTION : Salmon Ponds at Plenty near New Norfolk
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: Impressed on front: T Nevin/ photo

Read more in these posts:
4. Preparations for the Transit of Venus
Samuel Clifford had arranged a meeting with Alfred Biggs at Campbell Town who was preparing for the visit of an American expedition to photograph the Transit of Venus in December, headed by Charles Raymond . With William Valentine who had made his home The Grange available to the expedition, school master, bank officer, astronomer and inventor Alfred Biggs would assist with the construction of the brick pier for the transit instrument and the wooden hut.

Source: New York Times

This photograph of fellow Wesleyan Alfred Biggs was taken during their visit, probably by Nevin.

Courtesy Archives Tasmania
Carte of Alfred Biggs
Ref: 30-2892c

Verso inscription on several cartes held in public and private collections, possibly an example of either Nevin's or Clifford's handwriting.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

The case of prisoner Francis SHEARAN

An eventful week .... June 26, 1879

Francis Shearan Tasmanian prisoner by Nevin

Francis Shearan,
Photo by T.J. Nevin 1878

The Hobart newspaper The Mercury of June 26, 1879 was a special edition in many ways for Thomas Nevin. It contained a dramatic account of the riot at the Town Hall the previous evening, details of which may well have been supplied to the reporter by Nevin himself who was not mentioned as the Town Hall Keeper probably because he was upstairs keeping the source of the trouble, the Canadian renegade Catholic Pastor Chiniquy, hidden from view of riot leader O'Shea downstairs in the "Irish Corner" of the Hall. Chiniquy did not deliver his scheduled lecture that evening, nor the next.

The Mercury, 26 June 1879

In the very next column of the newspaper appeared a report on an inquest conducted into the death of prisoner Francis Shearan, together with an eye-witness account of his death by another prisoner Ephraim Booth. Francis Shearan and Ephraim Booth were both photographed as prisoners by T.J. Nevin at various junctures of their careers as habitual offenders. Younger brother Jack Nevin, employed on salary at the Hobart Gaol, assisted Thomas Nevin in producing these photographs for the Gaol records plus duplicates for circulation to regional police and for the central registry of criminals held in the Town Hall at the Municipal Police Office.


Two different photographs of Francis Shearan are held at the State Library of NSW in the David Scott Mitchell Collection. These two are among the nine catalogued photographs by T.J. Nevin of Tasmanian prisoners at PXB 274.

Prisoner photos by T.J. Nevin 1870s
© KLW NFC 2009

The earlier one (left) is posed in similar fashion to another by Nevin of convict William Harrison (QVMAG; AOT; Kerr 1992) in which the prisoner is facing the camera with arms crossed. The darkened background of the oval vignette (on left) was used by Nevin more often than the softened edges and clear background (on right) for producing the final carte-de-visite print to be pasted to the criminal's record sheet, although both formats are common and evident in the portraits of his family members and private patrons.

The earlier photograph is a "booking photograph", the classic mugshot of today, taken on Shearan's arrest. He was still dressed in his own clothes, unshaven and in need of a haircut. He was "F.S" - free in servitude - serving an employer in the North West Bay area of the island prison which was Tasmania. Remanded and then sentenced, he was photographed again at the Hobart Gaol (aka the Campbell Street House of Correction) wearing the standard issue blue diamond patterned prison scarf. But which photograph was really taken when? The date transcribed on the verso of the booking photograph merely gives the year "1877". The date on the verso of the photograph on the right documents the date of the sentence handed down. The exact dates on which the photographs were taken cannot therefore be taken as necessarily those on the versos. The date of the sentence was transcribed from a police register or gazette, such as the police gazette records below, and probably by an archivist decades later (1900s).

Neither photograph is tinted, and neither bears any wording about "Port Arthur", a clear indication that Nevin's other cartes of prisoners which bear the inscription ""Taken at Port Arthur" on verso (QVMAG and NLA collections) were incorrectly labelled by someone in Tasmania after 1907, the year David Scott Mitchell acquired these photographs (among other items by Thomas Nevin's family) and bequeathed them to the State Library of NSW.

The photograph of Francis Shearan on the left is documented verso with the inscription:

" Francis Shearan, 'North Briton' Murder of Lawrence Fallon, 1877".

The photograph of Francis Shearan on the right is documented verso with the inscription:

" Francis Shearan, 'Murder, 8 years, 25-7-78".

Francis Shearan was transported as Francis Sheagan from Dublin, departing 20 December 1842, arriving Hobart on the convict ship North Briton, 4th April 1843, according to the convict shipping records held at the Archives Office of Tasmania:

04 Apr 1843
North Briton
20 Dec 1842

It may be a coicidence that quite a few of his fellow transportees on that ship also died of "natural causes". Between 1870 and 1878, the police records show a number of inquests due to "natural causes" for North Briton convicts.

POLICE RECORDS: The Crime, The Warrant and The Sentence

Notice in the weekly police gazette, 15 February 1877.

Warrant for the arrest of Francis Shearan, 11th November 1877.

The warrant notice described Shearan much as he appeared in the booking photograph on left when arrested on 17th November 1877.

Francis Shearan was arrested on 17th November 1877. He was transferred from Kingston (a few miles south of Hobart) to the Hobart Gaol and photographed on being "received", the usual procedure for sentences longer than three months.

The police suspected Shearan aka Sheagan of deliberately setting fire to the huts with the intent of covering the death, possibly by shooting, of Lawrence Fallon, a felon with criminal records pertaining to illicit distillery. Yet Shearan had buried the body, and shooting was not established, so he was sentenced to only 8 years on a charge of manslaughter. It was Fallon who came to haunt Shearan in his dying days at the Campbell Street House of Correction 16 months later, looking at him and talking to him.

These notices appeared in the weekly police gazettes. On 15 May 1878, or thereabouts, Shearan was remanded for murder.He was 66 yrs old when sentenced for the manslaughter of Fallon.

Notice in the weekly police gazette, 2 August 1878.

Source of police records:
Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard Government Printer.


From The Mercury, June 26, 1879:

"An inquiry was held yesterday at noon at the Bird in-Hand Hotel, Argyle-street, before the coroner, Mr. W. Tarleton, and a jury, of which Mr. William Dove was foreman, into the circumstances attending the death of Francis Shearan, who was a prisoner serving a sentence in the Campbell-street House of Correction, and who expired in the institution on Sunday last, Shearan was sentenced In July last to eight years' imprisonment for the wilful murder of Laurence Fallon, [illegible] ... was known as the North West Bay murder. He was twice previously tried for the murder, but the juries were unable to agree.

Dr. E. O. Giblin, visiting Surgeon at the gaol, deposed to having been called in to see the deceased some six weeks since. He found him suffering from great weakness and debility, and ordered his removal to the hospital ward, where he had since remained in bed, only occasionally rising for an hour or so. He was suffering from no disease, except melancholy, being under the impression that the man he had been sentenced for killing was in the habit of coming to look and talking to him. Deceased gradually got weaker and weaker, and died on Sunday morning, the 22nd instant, from debility and old age, having had every attention and comfort that the case demanded. Deceased had only performed light work previous to his illness, and his death was from natural causes.

Ephraim Booth, a prisoner in the gaol, who waited on the deceased, also gave evidence as to his having died in his presence early on Sunday morning. Deceased was well treated, and made no complaint of any kind, though he often refused to take his food.

The Coroner said, addressing the jury, that there was one special purpose in the holding of these inquests on persons who died in gaol. It was expressed by an old author in the following terms :-" It is observable that this statute being wholly directory, and in affirmance of the common law, doth neither restrain the coroner from any branch of his power nor excuse him from the execution of any part of his duty not mentioned in it, which was incident to his office before ; and from hence it follows, that though the statute mention only his taking enquiries of the deaths of persons slain or drowned, or suddenly dead, yet he may and ought to enquire of the death of all persons whatsoever who die in prison, to the end that the public may be satisfied whether such persons came to their end by the common course of nature, or by some unlawful violence, or unreasonable hardships put on them by those under whose power they were confined." The Coroner was from this reason compelled to hold an enquiry, and had no discretionary power at all. There was in all probability not much danger now of such violence or hardships being inflicted, and the law was most likely but the remains of an ancient statute, absolutely necessary in olden times when gaols were conducted, as they knew, in a very different manner to the present custom. Although it might appear unnecessary to the jury that they should be called together in such instances, still there was the law, and it must be carried out. In this case the man's death was apparently caused by extreme old age and debility, and from the evidence it was shown that he was treated with every kindness, and furnished with due and proper nourishment. Therefore, he thought there was only one verdict he could direct them to return-that death arose from natural causes, and that there was no ground for attributing blame to anyone.

The jury then returned a verdict to that effect."

[end of newspaper article, The Mercury, June 26, 1879]


Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923)

Constable Jack (William John) Nevin (1852-1891)

Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection ARR.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apprentices: The Good, The Bad and The Careless

APPROPRIATION and THEFT: Frank Miller at Alfred Winter's studio
DANGEROUS DRIVING: William Ross at Thomas J. Nevin's studio
MAJOR THEFT: Joshua Anson at H. H. Baily's studio

A copycat theft: Frank Miller
One of these two photographs, both taken by Alfred Winter in 1870 and framed and mounted here as album views probably ca. 1880, was produced in evidence as theft by Winter's apprentice, Frank Miller, in 1877.

Photograph - Glenorchy - Elwick Race Track - Grandstand
Item Number: PH5/1/18
Start Date: 01 Jan 1870 End Date: 31 Dec 1870
View online:
Archives Office Tasmania

Photograph - Glenorchy - Elwick Race Course
Item Number: PH5/1/12
Start Date: 01 Jan 1870
End Date: 31 Dec 1870
View online:
Archives Office Tasmania

Commercial photographer Alfred Winter (1837-1911) was fond of fashionable society and grand landscapes. On Saturdays and Sundays he would travel to beauty spots with his apprentice, Frank Miller, who had a prison record, and who ended up in Detective Connor's custody for the appropriation of Winter's photographs, valued at 6 shillings:

Alfred Winter's apprentice arrested for appropriation of goods
Mercury 19 October 1877

LARCENY.- A young man named Frank Miller. who was in the employment of Mr. Alfred Winter, photographer, was arrested yesterday by Detective Connor, on a charge of appropriating photographic goods belonging to his employer. Miller will be brought before the Police Court this morning.
Undoubtedly, this was a copycat theft of the very serious theft by Joshua Anson from his employer Henry Hall Baily earlier in the same year, 1877 (see below, and this article here).

One of the photographs in question was a view taken at the Elwick Racecourse. The case of theft was dismissed by the judge because there was no positive evidence that Alfred Winter had lost any photographic views that had not been gifts to his apprentice. With the exception of Mr Needham at the Government Printing Office where the apprentice had presented some of Winter's landscapes - Alfred Winter held a commission with the Land and Works Department and was favoured in later years "By Appointment to His Excellency The Governor" according to his studio stamp - no other witness deposed in Winter's favour, despite claims that the apprentice had obliterated his employer's mark from the versos. In the months following,  the press reported continual harassment of Alfred Winter as he walked about the streets of Hobart by gangs of boys who knew of the charge. The Mercury reported the case in detail:

The case against Winter's apprentice was dismissed
Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Thursday 25 October 1877, page 2

Wednesday, October 24, 1877.
Before the Police Magistrate, and Captain Cowan and Mr. Henry Cook, Js.P.
ABSENT SEAMAN.-William Curtis, charged with absconding from the whaling barque Marie Laure, was remanded until Friday next.
LARCENY.-Francis Miller was charged by Detective Connor with having stolen a quantity of photographic views, valued at 6s., from Alfred Winter. Mr. J. S. Dodds appeared for the prisoner. William Fowler deposed that he had known the prisoner for some three or four years, and remembered his asking him to sell some views for him in August last, which he stated Mr. Winter had given to him. Witness sold the views to various persons, and handed the money to the prisoner. The views produced in Court were those witness had sold.
To Mr. Dodds : It was upwards of two months ago since witness sold some photographs to Mr. Needham. He asked no questions as to where the where the photographs came from. Prisoner was in the habit of taking views himself. The initials A.W. were not on the back of the views at the time they were sold.
Frederick Needham, messenger in the Government Printing Office, deposed to purchasing some of the views produced from the boy Fowler. The ones produced in Court were the same.
To Mr. Dodds : Witness had a conversation with Mr. Winter about the views a fortnight ago. Did not give information to Mr. Winter about the photographs. Witness received no consideration or promise of any from Mr. Winter for finding the matter out.
Alfred Winter deposed that he was a photographer, carrying on business in Elizabeth-street.
The prisoner was in his employ, and had access to the goods in the establishment. Witness had given prisoner some views a long time ago. The views produced in court were taken by witness; some only a few months ago. The views produced were the property of witness. He initialled the backs of the views at the time he was in company with Detective Connor. Found them in prisoner's house. Witness' stamp had been obliterated from some of the cards produced.
To Mr. Dodds : It had been witness's custom to take views upon Sundays and holidays, when the prisoner accompanied him. Would not swear that he had not given the prisoner the view of the Elwick Racecourse produced.
Detective Connor deposed to finding five photographic views in the messenger's room, Government Printing Office, on the 18th instant, the arrest of prisoner, and subsequent receipt of other photographs from various offices connected with the Lands and Works Office. Some of the photographs were claimed by A. Winter as being his property, while he could not identify others.
Mr. Dodds, having addressed the Bench on behalf of the accused, called three witnesses, all of whom deposed to hearing Winter state in the presence of the accused that, in consideration of him rendering assistance in taking views on Sundays and holidays, he could have copies of the views when they were printed. One witness also stated that Winter gave the accused two damaged photographs.
The Police Magistrates referred to the perplexing character of the case, owing to the discrepancies in the evidence, alluded to the admission of Mr. Winter that he gave the accused some photographs some time ago, but did not know what they were, and said that, from the evidence, it appeared that about two years ago Mr. Winter gave the accused permission to take some photographs. The accused may have exercised that right some time subsequently to receiving the permission. There was no positive evidence that Mr. Winter ever lost any views out of his shop. Upon the whole, the magistrates had come to the conclusion that there was a serious doubt about the case, which the prisoner would have the benefit of, and be discharged.
Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Thursday 25 October 1877, page 2

Dangerous driving: William Ross
Photographer Thomas Nevin's young apprentice William Ross was 15 years old when he was arrested in Glenorchy for driving a vehicle without lights, tried at Glenorchy on 24th April 1873 and incarcerated for seven (7) days:

William Ross was discharged after seven days in gaol, 30 April 1873
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police

Fifteen year old apprentice William Ross had no previous conviction, was Tasmanian born and "Free", yet his carelessness in driving (a horse and buggy, presumably) one night without carriage lights earned him a criminal record.

A hand coloured vignetted portrait of a bearded man in semi-profile which is printed verso with the rare Nevin & Smith stamp bearing the Duke of Edinburgh's feathered insignia (1868). Copyright © The Liam Peters Collection 2010. All right reserved.

Studio portrait by Thomas J. Nevin ca, 1870-1875
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection TMAG Ref: Q1984.294
Verso with the handwritten inscription in Samuel Clifford's orthography: "Clifford & Nevin Hobart Town".
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015

The original cdv of this young woman with a frank stare direct to camera was taken by Thomas Nevin before 1876, and reprinted by Samuel Clifford until 1878, per this advertisement in the Mercury, 17th January 1876:
Mr T. J. Nevin's friends may depend that I will endeavour to satisfy them with any prints they may require from his negatives. S. CLIFFORD
While Thomas J. Nevin's earliest experiences in apprenticeship may have been at the studios of Douglas Kilburn or Charles A. Woolley, his associations with the highly commercial photographers Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford in the years 1862-1867 were his most formative. From Alfred Bock he learnt studio portraiture and hand-tinting techniques. From Samuel Clifford, whose friendship endured for the next 30 years, he learnt stereography. On Alfred Bock's insolvency and departure for Victoria in 1867, Thomas J. Nevin formed a partnership with fellow photographer Robert Smith at Bock's former studio, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, operating with the business name Nevin & SmithThe City Photographic Establishment. When the partnership with Robert Smith was dissolved in early 1868, Thomas Nevin apprenticed his younger brother Jack (Constable John or W. J. Nevin, 1851-1891) who acted as his assistant at the Hobart Gaol during Thomas's commission for the photographic documentation of prisoner records in the 1870s-1880s. While their father John Nevin snr (1808-1887) was still alive, the brothers maintained their New Town studio which they had first set up in early 1864, Thomas resuming professional photography there in 1881 on leaving the civil service with the Hobart City Corporation. This stereograph of Sim's coal mine, one of a dozen or so extant photographs taken in the district of New Town and Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley, Hobart) is one of many Thomas Nevin advertised for sale from the New Town Post Office in the mid 1860s:

Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim's Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
"Thos Nevin New Town" studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Verso: Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim's Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
"Thos Nevin New Town" studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Less than a year after his marriage to Elizabeth Rachel Day in 1871 and with the birth of their first child, daughter Mary Florence Elizabeth (known as May Nevin) in 1872, Thomas J. Nevin and his young family had taken up residence at 138 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, next door to the studio. Between the residence at 138 and the studio at 140 Elizabeth Street was the glass house. It was listed in The Hobart Town Gazette of 1872 with the address 138½ Elizabeth Street, and tenanted by Nevin's young apprentice William Ross. The glass house was built by Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin in the 1860s, and was eventually sold to photographer Stephen Spurling elder at the end of 1874 while Nevin concentrated on working in situ with the police. Spurling auctioned it when declared bankrupt one year later in November 1875:

Stephen Spurling elder, bankrupt, sale of photographer's glass house
Mercury 29 November 1875

A view of Thomas Nevin's studio and shop, extreme right of frame, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867-70 of the City Photographic Establishment
The dark building next door at 138 Elizabeth St., Nevin's residence, was leased from A. E. Biggs
T. Nevin impress on lower centre of mount.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.12

Another view of Thomas Nevin's studio and shop, extreme right of frame, at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
The dark building next door at 138 Elizabeth St., Nevin's residence, was leased from A. E. Biggs
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867-1870 of the City Photographic Establishment
TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-33

Thomas J. Nevin's commission with the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart Town Hall, the Hobart Gaol and the New Town Territorial Police became central to his successful operation as a commercial photographer granted a Colonial Warrant with government contracts extending into the 1880s. His appointment to full-time civil service in the position of Hall and Office Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall in 1875 entailed the relocation of his young family to the Town Hall Keeper's apartment. The studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart was formerly leased from James Spence, proprietor of the Royal Standard Hotel next door at 142 Elizabeth St. on the corner of Elizabeth and Patrick Streets. The residence and glass house tenanted by William Ross which Thomas Nevin had leased from Abraham Edwin Biggs at 138 -138½ Elizabeth St. Hobart Town were offered for sale in December 1874. The lease was taken up in 1875 by shoe maker William Chandler and retained as a bootmaker's business well into the 1940s. Thomas J. Nevin's successor to professional photography, his cousin-in-law, James Chandler, was born to William and Mary Chandler there at the old studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, in 1877.

Advertisement: for sale of lease, properties of A. E. Biggs: the house at Burville Place, New Town, and the studio and residence(s) at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart.
Mercury, 16 December 1874

That valuable city property, situate in Elizabeth-street, between Brisbane and Patrick-streets, and tenanted by Messrs. Ross and Nevin. This is also in capital repair.
The attention of persons seeking investments, residences, or places of business, is called to the sale of these properties.
Title guaranteed.
Terms - Liberal, at sale.
Major theft: Joshua Anson sentenced to 14 years.
Among photographers' apprentices in 1870s Hobart was the notable Joshua Anson. He stole cameras, photographic equipment, mounts, chemicals and albums from his employer Henry Hall Baily over five years between 1872 and 1877. He ordered the importation of glass negatives and mounts from London and Paris on H. H. Baily's account and without Baily's consent. He also reprinted albums by Samuel Clifford as his own work. The value placed on the goods far exceeded the court valuation of £180. Chief Justice Francis Smith informed the jury that theft on this scale warranted a sentence of 14 years. The Law Digest (1897) recorded the event with the normative 14 year sentence, and the refusal of bail. Joshua Anson was sentenced to just two years because he was young, 22 years old at the time of the trial in June 1877, and pleaded to be kept apart from the others prisoners on incarceration because he felt he was above them. He was photographed on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol in 1877 by the Nevin brothers (see below):

Joshua Anson, 22 years old, arraigned at the Supreme Court, Hobart on 10th July 1877  for the offence of larceny as a servant, was sentenced to two years.

Joshua Anson was discharged from H. M. Gaol on 15 January 1879, the residue of sentence remitted.
Source: Tasmania Report of Crime Information for Police, Gov's printer J. Barnard

Further details of the case are here on this site.

Bail - where allowed - on what considerations
Whether the Court will admit a prisoner to bail depends on the seriousness of the charge, the strength of the evidence, and the punishment for the offence. So bail refused in a case of larceny by a servant, where the depositions disclosed a strong case against the prisoner, and the possible punishment was 14 years.
In re ANSON, June 29, '77 (1.189).
Digest of cases decided in Tasmania, 1856-1896 (1897)
Author: Hore, Leslie Fraser Standish, 1870-;
Southern Law society of Tasmania,
Hobart; Tasmania. Supreme Court
Subject: Law reports, digests, etc
Publisher: Hobart, Tasmania, Cox & co., printers
Year: 1897

Another theft by Joshua Anson was reported in the Launceston Examineron 30 May, 1896.

HOBART, Friday
At the City Court to-day Joshua Anson, photographer, was charged with having robbed Charles Perkins of £32 12s5d. Accused, who was not represented by counsel, stated he had had two epileptic fits since he was arrested, and his head was not now clear. He asked for a remand. After the evidence of the prosecution had been taken, the accused was remanded till Tuesday.
Beautiful spring-like weather is prevailing.

Detail of Joshua Anson's Hobart Gaol record with photos taken 1877 (Nevin) & 1897 (unkown)
Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Zoological Curiosity at the Town Hall 1877

"The head and body and voice are decidedly pussy's; but there the relationship with that useful domestic animal ceases..."

john Gould's Tasmanian kangaroo rat 1863

Courtesy of Museum Victoria
John Gould print image of the Long-nosed Potoroo
Potorous tridactylus(formerly known as Hypsiprymnus apicalis)
Photo from Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 68
Part of the 3 Volumes by John Gould, F.R.S.
Published by the author, 26 Charlotte Street, Bedford Square, London, 1863

The Waywardness of Nature
Photographer Thomas J. Nevin began exhibiting stereoscopic views and carte-de-visite portraits at Hobart Town Hall shows in the late 1860s. Once he became the Town Hall Keeper in 1876, and Office-Keeper in 1877, he not only managed a busy calendar of show events, he staged a few of his own. This newspaper article, published on 8 May 1877, invited the public to visit the Town Hall where he was displaying a mutant kangaroo rat, the only one in a litter of kittens bred from a domestic cat by Thomas' father John Nevin at Kangaroo Valley (near New Town, Hobart Tasmania).

A Zoological Curiosity at the Hobart Town Hall
Thomas Nevin's mutant kangaroo rat
Report in
The Mercury 8 May 1877

"A ZOOLOGICAL CURIOSITY. -- Mr. Nevin, Town Hall keeper, yesterday brought to our office what Artemus Ward would undoubtedly have christened "an interesting little cus." It is of the feline order, and has a perfect black coat. The head and body and voice are decidedly pussy's; but there the relationship with that useful domestic animal ceases. The legs belong to the order of kangaroo rat, and it is quite amusing to see the little stranger perch himself up on his haunches, or drag himself slowly along by the aid of the fore part of the fore legs, which instead of being erect, as in the cat, falls flat on the ground, and so produces that roundness of the body which is the marked feature in the kangaroo. The animal is one of a litter of kittens bred by Mr. Nevin's father, at Kangaroo Valley, and strange to say it is the only one in which are present the singular malformations which we have attempted to describe. Mr. Nevin will gladly show his curiosity to anyone who may call upon him during the next two or three days, and if there are many people in Hobart Town who take an interest in the waywardness of nature, he may expect to have quite an influx of visitors before he closes his show. " (The Mercury, 8 May 1877)
Artemus Ward
John Nevin would have been familiar with the writings of American humorist Artemus Ward  from his time spent in the Californian gold mines ca. 1854-1858, a lonely episode in his life which he remembered with bitterness in his poem, "My Cottage in the Wilderness" published in 1868. Read the full version of the poem in this article here.

"A. Ward and his grate show" (from the original sketch by George Hoyt
Source: Non Solus blog

John Nevin probably owned a copy of the works of American humorist Charles Farrar Browne (aka Artemus Ward), with this passage in mind when he spoke to the Mercury reporter:


To the Editor of the——
Sir—I'm movin along—slowly along—down tords your place. I want you should rite me a letter, sayin how is the show bizniss in your place. My show at present consists of three moral Bares, a Kangaroo (a amoozin little Raskal—t'would make you larf yerself to deth to see the little cuss jump up and squeal) wax figgers of G. Washington Gen. Tayler John Bunyan Capt Kidd and Dr. Webster in the act of killin Dr. Parkman, besides several miscellanyus moral wax statoots of celebrated piruts & murderers, &c., ekalled by few & exceld by none. Now Mr. Editor, scratch orf a few lines sayin how is the show bizniss down to your place. I shall hav my hanbills dun at your offiss. Depend upon it. I want you should git my hanbills up in flamin stile. Also git up a tremenjus excitemunt in yr. paper 'bowt my onparaleld Show. We must fetch the public sumhow. We must wurk on their feelins. Cum the moral on 'em strong. If it's a temperancecommunity tell 'em I sined the pledge fifteen minits arter Ise born, but on the contery ef your peple take their tods, say Mister Ward is as Jenial a feller as we ever met, full of conwiviality, &the life an sole of the Soshul Bored. Take, don't you? If you say anythin abowt my show say my snaiks is as harmliss as the new-born Babe. What a interestin study it is to see a zewological animil like a snaik under perfeck subjecshun! My kangaroo is the most larfable little cuss I ever saw. All for 15 cents. I am anxyus to skewer your infloounce. I repeet in regard to them hanbills that I shall git 'em struck orf up to your printin office. My perlitercal sentiments agree with yourn exackly. I know thay do, becawz I never saw a man whoos didn't.
Respectively yures,
A. Ward.
P.S.—You scratch my back &Ile scratch your back.
ARTEMUS WARD (1834-1867)Title: The Complete Works of Artemus WardAuthor: Charles Farrar Browne (AKA Artemus Ward)

Thomas Nevin and his father brought another specimen from Kangaroo Valley into the newspaper offices six months after putting on display their mutant kangaroo rat. This time it was a wounded white Tasmanian goshawk which The Mercury duly noted in an article of 22 January 1878. The detailed references in that article to John Gould's Handbook of Australian Birds (1865) would indicate the family's keen interest in native fauna and ownership of several volumes of Gould's handsome books on birds and mammals. The Public Library housed in the upstairs rooms of the Town Hall was also part of Nevin's purview as Keeper, giving him ready access to such gloriously illustrated tomes. And out the back of the Town Hall was a paddock where he kept an emu, possibly a rare native specimen which died in 1878, also reported by The Mercury on 22 July 1878 as an Ornithological Disaster , another zoological item belonging to Mr. Nevin.

Tasmanian Rat-Kangaroo (Potorous tridactylis apicalis)

The Red List
The Chromosomes of the Tasmanian Rat-Kangaroo (Potorous tridactylis apicalis)
Margery W. Shaw, R.S. Krooth
Department of Human Genetics, The University of Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan
Cytogenetics 1964;3:19-33 (DOI: 10.1159/000129795)

The Kangaroo Rat, 1790
Creator Stone, Sarah, ca. 1760 - 1844
Poto Roo or Kangaroo Rat ca. 1790
State Library of NSW Call no. PXA 909/27

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