Friday, July 30, 2010

Prisoners Sutherland and Stock: photos and death warrants 1883-1884

DEATH WARRANTS Tasmania Supreme Court 1883-1884
EXECUTIONS at the Hobart Gaol, Tasmania 1880s
T. J. NEVIN POLICE MUGSHOTS hand tinted cdvs

The prisoner photographs
This carte-de-visite in an oval mount is a booking shot of Henry Stock still wearing his fine street clothes. It was taken by government contractor T. J. Nevin when Stock was incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol in July 1883. Even as late as the mid 1880s, Thomas Nevin, assisted by his brother Constable John Nevin who was armed in sessions involving violent prisoners, continued to compose and print mugshots of prisoners for police and prison records within the conventions and techniques of 1870s commercial studio portraiture. This cdv may have been taken soon after Henry Stock's arraignment at the Supreme Court, Hobart, 24 July 1883, charged with forgery, and reprised a year later to accompany his death warrant when he was arrested for the murder of his wife in September 1884. Bequeathed from collector David Scott Mitchell's estate in 1907, both the photograph and death warrant were certainly the property of the Tasmanian government when collated in Volume 2, Tasmania Supreme Court Death warrants and related papers, 1818-1884 (C 203), held at the State Library of NSW.

Henry Stock: carte-de-visite photograph by T. J. Nevin in buff mount pasted opposite death warrant dated 13 September 1884
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203.
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

Thomas Nevin photographed James Sutherland immediately prior to his execution on 4th June, 1883 at the Hobart Gaol. The carte was hand-tinted in a similar fashion to the cdv mugshots taken by Thomas Nevin of prisoners Bramall aka Johnstone and Job Smith aka Campbell, held at the National Library of Australia and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The colouring of these mugshots served two purposes: to render a more accurate image reflective of reality, i.e. blue for blue eyes, blue for the prison issue scarf, especially when the man was wanted on warrant; and to profit from the sale of the hanged man's image to the press and the public. These were called "ornaments of colour", a term used in reference to Thomas Nevin's tinting of prisoner photographs in the Mercury newspaper's account of Nevin's incident with the "ghost" (December 4, 1880).

Detail: hand-tinting on photograph by T. J. Nevin of James Sutherland, June 1883
Carte-de-visite in buff mount pasted on page opposite of Sutherland's death warrant
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203.
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

The death warrants

Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library SLNSW C203.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

Catalogue Notes: State Library of NSW
Tasmania. Supreme Court - Death warrants and related papers, 1818-1884
Creator: Tasmania. Supreme Court
Call Number: C 202 - C 203
Date: 1818 - 1884
Contents: 1818-1884; Death warrants for the execution of prisoners in Tasmania; with related papers including receipts for bodies received at hospitals, orders for sentences to be commuted to penal servitude for life, and for transportation to Macquarie Harbour. There are two photographs in volume 2 (C 203) which may be of James Sutherland in 1883 and Henry Stock in 1884. (Call No.: ML C 202 - C 203) Arrangement: The warrants and papers are not in chronological order within the two volumes; volume 1 contains documents dated between 1818-1855 and volume 2 between 1827-1884.
Source: Mitchell Bequest, 1907. State Library of NSW, Sydney.
Death Warrant for Henry Stock

Henry Stock: carte-de-visite photograph in buff mount pasted opposite death warrant, 13 September 1884
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library Z/C203.
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of Her Majesty's Gaol at Hobart in Tasmania, jointly and severally.
Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Thursday the Twenty third day of September instant Henry Stock was convicted before me of the murder of Elizabeth Stock and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead - NOW IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that executing of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said Henry Stock on Monday the Thirteenth day of October next at the usual Hour and Place of Execution, and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this Thirteenth day of September in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty four.
[signed by W. L. Dobson and stamped with the Royal Arms colonial seal ]

John Swan Sheriff, 10 October 1884: his authorisation for the execution of prisoner Henry Stock.
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library Z/C203.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

To all to whom those present shall come Greeting. I John Swan of Hobart in Tasmania Esquire, Sheriff of Tasmania and its Dependencies hereby appoint, authorize depute Philip Samuel Seager of Hobart aforesaid Gentleman for me and in my stead to execute on the Thirteenth day of October instant the sentence of the Law passed on the prisoner Henry Stock at the last Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery held at Hobart aforesaid before the Honorable William Lambert Dobson Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania aforesaid, and to do and execute and perform all things that may be necessary in or about the premises.
Given under my hand and Seal of Office this Tenth day of October One thousand eight hundred and eighty four. John Swan Sheriff.
[signed by John Swan and stamped with the Royal Arms colonial seal]
The use of the word "execute" in this warrant, given the circumstances, is misleading. At a glance, it might appear that Sheriff John Swan was authorising his deputy Philip Samuel Seager to perform the hangman's duty, to carry out the actual execution of the prisoner. His use of the word "execute" twice in this document, though unfortunate given the context, is correct idiomatic English, meaning to put a plan or order into action. John Swan had only deputised Seager to carry out the order - to "execute ... the sentence of the law", and to "to execute and perform all things that may be necessary in or about the premises" in preparation for the execution of Henry Stock; the actual hangman for this and several other executions at the Hobart Gaol was the socially shunned Solomon Bray (Breay, var. spelling of father's name). He pinioned the prisoner. i.e. tied his hands and legs with leather straps, according to this summary from the Daily Telegraph (Launceston):

EXECUTION OF STOCK. The execution of Henry Stock, who was convicted at the last Criminal Sessions of the murder of his wife and child, took place at 8 o'clock this morning, in the presence of Messrs. Seager, the Deputy Sheriff; Quodling, the Governor of the Gaol ; Hedberg, Sub Inspector of the Territorial Police ; Smith, the Under Gaoler : Rev. Geo. W. Shoobridge, Chaplain to the Gaol ; Rev. T. M. O'Callaghan ; the members of the Press, and the gaol officials. On Mr Seager asking Stock whether he had anything to say, he replied, 'All I have to say is that I am innocent.' When asked whether he had any message he would like taken to anybody, he replied ' .No.' He was then pinioned by Solomon Blay, and he followed Mr Shoobridge to the drop. The condemned man appeared somewhat faint, but his step was firm, and he walked on to the platform bravely and exhibited no signs of breaking down. In his right hand he carried a little bunch of flowers with the following text attached : ' He shall speak peace unto the heathen.' He then mounted the platform, the white cap was placed over his head, the bolt drawn, and the unfortunate man launched into eternity. The operation took over three minutes, Mr Shoobridge continuing the prayer during the whole time. Whilst in gaol Stock was respectful to all the officials. Up to the time of his death he made no confession. On Sunday night his rest was partially disturbed, but this morning he eat [sic - ate] a hearty breakfast of fish. The body was cut down after an hour's time and examined by Dr. Turnley, who pronounced the body to be dead. His remains were conveyed at 11 o'clock to Cornelian Bay. Mr A. J. Taylor took cast of his head.
Execution of Stock. Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 - 1928), Tuesday 14 October 1884, page 2

Death Warrant for James Sutherland

Death warrant and photograph of James Sutherland
Mitchell Library SLNSW Vol 2, C203
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of her Majesty's Gaol at Hobarton jointly and severally.
Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Tuesday the fifteenth day of May James Sutherland was convicted before the [blank] of the murder of William Wilson and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead - NOW IT IS ORDERED that execution of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said James Sutherland on Monday the fourth day of June at the Usual Hour and Place of Execution and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff -
Given under my Hand and Seal at - Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this twenty third day of May in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty three.
[Signature of Francis Smith CJ (Chief Justice) and black seal of Royal Arms colonial warrant].

Justice Sir Francis Smith's and the Deputy Sheriff Philip S. Seager's signed confirmation of Sutherland's execution.
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library SLNSW C203
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

Press report of the execution
Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899), Tuesday 5 June 1883, page 3

THE LAST SCENE IN THE EPPING TRAGEDY. (BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.) HOBART, June 4. The prisoners James Sutherland and James Ogden, convicted of the murder of William Wilson and Alfred Holman at Epping Forest in April last, were executed this morning at the Campbell-street Gaol. The Rev. J. C. Mace had been with Sutherland from early morn, and the Rev. G. W. Shoobridge with Ogden. Neither of the prisoners had slept dur-ing the night, saying that they would see as much as they could of the world that was so soon to be left, and both softened in their demeanour during the night. This morning Sutherland requested Mr. Mace to send to Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Holman and ask them to forgive him, and he also spoke bitterly of the treatment he had received during his lifetime, saying the world had not been a pleasant one to him, that he had had no parents to look after him, but had been kicked about by those who got as much work as possible out of him without caring in the least about him. He also said he had thought a good deal more about his position than people had given him credit for. Both prisoners seemed to realise their position. Only three spectators, exclusive of the officials, police, and representatives of the Press, were present at the final scene this morning. Before leaving their cells both prisoners were asked by the Deputy Sheriff, Mr. Seager, if they had anything to say, but both replied in the negative. There was little change in the appearance of Sutherland, but Ogden's features were heavy and swollen. At 8.5 a.m. they left their cells, after having been pinioned by Solomon Blay, the hangman ; and preceded by the Rev. Mr. Shoobridge, reading a portion of the Church of England burial service, both men walked calmly along the bridge leading to the scaffold, Sutherland's step being as firm as ordinarily, while Ogden, who carried in his right hand a bunch of flowers sent to him through the Rev. Mr. Shoobridge by a little girl attending Trinity Church Sunday-school, trembled violently, but otherwise made no sign. When the hangman placed the noose round Sutherland's neck he pulled himself together, never flinching, Ogden also keeping firm, and the muscles of neither of their faces moved as the fatal cap was drawn over their heads. The bolt was drawn at 8.10 a.m., and side by side the unfortunate lads were launched into eternity. Standing on the scaffold they looked more boyish than ever, making it difficult to believe them the perpetrators of the deeds for which they justly suffered death. Mrs. Ogden states that it was reading the history of the Kelly gang caused the boys to commit these crimes. After hanging an hour the bodies were out down, the little bouquet sent to Ogden being found tightly clenched in his hand, and Dr. Graham certified that both were dead. Casts of their heads were then taken by Mr. A. J. Taylor, and at 12.30 p.m. the bodies were placed in a hearse by Mr. W. F. Potterd, the Government contracting undertaker, and conveyed to the Cornelian Bay Cemetery, where they were interred by the gaol officials without any religious ceremony. The execution of these two prisoners makes over a hundred persons executed by Solomon Blay. The last execution at Hobart was that of Richard Copping, for murder at Sorell, on 21st October, 1878.
Librarian and collector Andrew Taylor took casts of heads for inclusion in his private museum. Solomon Blay was the hangman who was universally shunned by Hobart society. Both men repeated these actions a year latter when Henry Stock was hanged for the murder of his wife and her child.

The black seal attached to these Supreme Court of Tasmania warrants is the Royal Arms insignia used by the colonial government on all their judicial documents. It was also designated for use as Thomas J. Nevin's government contractor studio stamp which was printed on the versos of prisoner photographs (one per batch of 100 was submitted for his commission while still operating as a commercial photographer), and on the versos of photographs taken of government officials and their families. For more detail on Sutherland's crime, see this article on this site: Execution of Sutherland and Ogden

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Warwick Reeder: in search of an "author"

ATTRIBUTION issues re photographer T. J. NEVIN
WARWICK REEDER valuer at the NLA
QVMAG collection of prisoner mugshots 1870s

In his Masters thesis The Democratic Image (ANU 1995), Warwick Reeder assumed that the Commandant of the Port Arthur prison, A. H. Boyd was the photographer of all the Tasmanian prisoner identification photographs taken in the 1870s. Of the 300 plus "convict portraits" (the term used in tourism discourse) to survive which are held in public institutions, Reeder cites this photograph of prisoner Thomas Fleming (Fig. 84, on page 71, QVMAG collection) as an example. His argument, that none of the convicts in the QVMAG collection (72 cdvs) and the TMAG collection (59 cdvs) were released prior to 1874, is substantially incorrect, whatever he might mean by the notion of  "release". A simple reliance on the vagaries which Chris Long published in 1995 regarding A. H. Boyd and T. J. Nevin ultimately led Warwick Reeder into making very dubious assertions in A. H. Boyd's favour founded on little more than rumour and belief.

The Prints
Despite the labelling to enhance their sale prospects by Beattie in 1916, these prisoners were not supported by Imperial funds; their trial and incarceration were funded by the colonial government of Tasmania from 1871 onwards. They were photographed on contract by T. J. Nevin who was commissioned out of Treasury funds from 1872 when the systematic photography of prisoners was implemented in Victoria and NSW.

One of three panels holding forty prints of Tasmania prisoners from negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Offered for sale by John Watt  Beattie ca. 1916
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

These forty photographs in three frames were listed in Beattie's Port Arthur Museum Catalogue (1916), as item no. 69:
68. Glass Case containing -
  • 1. Skull of the Macquarie Harbour Cannibal, Alex Pearce (Marcus Clarke's "Gabbet.")
  • 2. Two Sketches made of Pearce after execution.
  • 3. The Axe Pearce Carried, and with which the murders were committed.
  • 4. Bolts and Lock Taken from the Cell where Pearce was confined, Old Gaol, Murray street.
  • 5. "Sling Shot" taken from Matthew Brady, the celebrated Tasmanian Bushranger, when captured by John Batman in 1820. 
69. Three Frames containing 40 photographs taken at Port Arthur, showing types of Imperial Prisoners there.
The originals of these forty (40) individual prints of Tasmanian prisoners photographed at the Hobart Gaol by the commissioned photographer Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s, were intended to be pasted to the criminal record sheet of each prisoner. It was customary to photograph a person before conviction and after it, and again on discharge, by order of the Tasmanian Attorney-General from 1872 onwards, and since the men whom Nevin photographed were repeat and habitual offenders, the same glass negative was used again and again. The plates were handled repeatedly to produce duplicates for distribution to regional prisons and police stations, and for the many administrative copies required by the central Municipal Police Office at the Town Hall, the Supreme Court and the Hobart Gaol.

Photographs from the glass negatives were produced in various formats, first as uncut and unmounted prints as in these 40 prints, and again in carte-de-visite format within an oval mount, a practice which persisted in Tasmania through the 1870s, 1880s and into the1890s. The same cdv was sometimes overlayed again in an oblong mount when the glass plate became too damaged for further use. All three photographic formats appear on the criminal record sheets of prisoners bound together as the Hobart Gaol record books dating from the late 1880s onwards, held at the Archives Office Tasmania. Some of the earlier gaol record books of the 1870s have survived, now mysteriously missing the prisoners' photographs. One possible explanation is that convictaria collector John Watt Beattie and his assistant Edward Searle removed the photographs or even destroyed the sheets in the early 1900s while trying to save the photographs, the bulk of which ended up at the QueenVictoria Museum and Art Gallery from their acquisition in 1930 of John Watt Beattie's estate.

The unmounted print of prisoner Thomas Fleming is on the top row, last image. Thomas Nevin produced at least four to six duplicates; one was printed in an oval mount and pasted to the prisoner's rap sheet.

Unmounted print of prisoner Thomas Fleming
Taken at the Police Office Hobart by T. J. Nevin 1874
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Thomas Nevin's photograph of Thomas Fleming
Recto and verso: the same image printed in an oval mount.
QVMAG ref: QVM: 1985: P: 67

Above: recto and verso of a mounted cdv taken originally by Thomas J. Nevin of prisoner Thomas Fleming, January 1874 at the Hobart Gaol on Fleming's discharge. This black and white copy was created at the QVMAG in 1985 by Chris Long for reasons best known only to himself, since it serves no purpose.

Thomas Fleming per St Vincent was tried at the Supreme Court Hobart on 9 Sept 1867 for housebreaking and larceny, sentenced to seven years. He was born in Yorkshire , aged 38 yrs, 5ft 6ins, black hair, Free in Servitude. Two moles on left cheek. He was discharged from the Hobart Gaol on 7 January 1874, and photographed on discharge by police photographer Thomas J. Nevin. There was no photographer of prisoners by the name of A. H. Boyd in Tasmania. Boyd was briefly a Commandant at the Port Arthur prison (1871-73). He had nothing to do with the police mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin for the colonial government's Attorney-General's Department.

Thomas Fleming per St Vincent discharge, 7 January 1874.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, J. Barnard, Gov't printer

Fictions not Facts
Warwick Reeder's use of these Tasmanian prisoner mugshots is through the gaze of the fine art dealer. Inevitably, he sees the extant examples as an "artist's" personalised portfolio, even using the literary term "author" to mask the subjective preoccupation with "artist". Had he started with the vocational term "police photographer" his focus would not have veered from Thomas J. Nevin.


1. wrong biographical data on photographer T. J. Nevin's family and career;

2. citations and quotations from unread sources, such as Margaret Glover's article (1979) which does NOT mention the unpublished children's fiction by E.M. Hall (1930/;1942)

Hall's fiction in turn does NOT mention, A.H. Boyd, nor prisoner photography, nor a "darkroom" although Chris Long does, turning "room" from E.M. Hall's story into a "darkroom" , Reeder's source for this fantasy, (TMAG 1995:82)

3. unseen description and reference to the so-called ONE photograph at the Mitchell, SLNSW, supposedly by Boyd which is unattributed, dated 1894, and not a photograph of a prisoner; this photograph of a building - not a man in prisoner clothing - is supposed to represent evidence of A.H. Boyd's relationship to photography.

4. the assumption that a cargo of negative plates supposedly arriving at Port Arthur in 1873 were for the personal use of its Commandant A.H. Boyd, and that the same plates were used for the same prisoners whose mugshots survive, when in fact the extant examples of more than 300 are random estrays from a corpus taken by the Nevin brothers between 1872 and 1888.

5. repeated reference to the Assistant Colonial Secretary's Travers Solly's requests for prisoner photographs. The request was for those prisoners' photographs taken by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol before the date of prisoners' transfer to Port Arthur after 1871, copies of which had been sent to Boyd at Port Arthur, eg. the cited examples of the Gregson brothers, who absconded from Hobart and not Port Arthur, were photographed at the Police Office Hobart on February 18th 1874 after arrival from Launceston when arrested (see TAHO: CON37-1-1000498 and 9).

6. no understanding of police practices or prisoner documentation and relevant legislation by 1873, and no reference to the police records of the "convicts" who were just ordinary criminals, habitual re-offenders when photographed - not at the Port Arthur prison - but by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol, in the city's courts, and at the central Town Hall Municipal Police Office.
etc etc

Reeder's statement that Chris Long was the originator of the "belief" about A.H. Boyd, however, is correct and the most important statement made by Reeder in these few pages.

Although Warwick Reeder's thesis is now decades old, these errors are still being circulated as currency in publications written by his supporters (e.g. Clark, JACHS 2010), so in a sense, Reeder has found the sort of "author" he was hoping would arise from the oblivion of his thesis. It's unfortunate for his own reputation that he has to encourage acolytes to maintain the non-photographer A. H. Boyd as central to the "mystery" of the "author" of these prisoner photographs when the facts about Thomas J. Nevin's work have always been so readily available. That Warwick Reeder was a valuer for the National Library of Australia explains in no small part who was responsible for their holdings of 84 "Portraits, Port Arthur convicts 1874" suddenly catalogued with a photographic attribution to A. H. Boyd in 2007.  It's a cover-up of an error made by Reeder in his poorly researched Masters thesis, a cover-up which puts into question his credibility as a fine arts dealer.

Warwick Reeder's thesis re T. J. Nevin:

Reeder, page 68: Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 68. There is a deception here: the prisoners were photographed before being sent to Port Arthur and after arrival back at Hobart, and not en masse at Port Arthur; although Nevin attended the site during 1873 and 1874 on police business, he worked at the Hobart Gaol where these men were photographed, if a second offender sentenced for 3 months or longer and at the Town Hall police central registry where he photographed men discharged and released, all with various conditions (FS,TOL,CP etc).

Reeder, page 69: Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 69.
Reeder cites Glover (1979) who does NOT cite E.M. Hall’s children’s fiction about Port Arthur (1930/1942) which does NOT mention prisoner photography, obviously having read neither. Details about Thomas J. Nevin are incorrect: his seventh and sixth child to survive was born in 1888. Nevin was the police and prisons photographer in the 1870s-80s (with his brother Constable John Nevin), his government contractor Royal Arms stamp showing joint copyright with the government was used under tender (one photograph stamped per batch of 100) until he gained full-time civil service at the Town Hall in 1876, and he was still working as a City and Supreme Courts bailiff serving warrants and taking offenders’ photographs in 1886. There is no “mystery” about the “author” of the prisoner mugshots, just poor research as Reeder musters the cliched art historian’s essentialist notion of “artistic” creativity.

Reeder, page 70: Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 70.
ERROR: There is information about Milner at the State Library Tas.
FACTS: Chris Long was indeed the originator of this fantasy about A. H. Boyd (ca. 1984, published 1995). Reeder doesn’t understand that the men photographed as prisoners were in and out of prison on TOL and probation from the end of their first sentence in England prior to 1853 – usually 7 to 14 years. They were photographed by Nevin for the police in Hobart only as RE-OFFENDERS – and many had long criminal careers – as offenders are today, and for no other reason.

Reeder, page 71: Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 71.
The extensive copying and numbering of the QVMAG collection bears no weight to his argument about either Boyd or Nevin (Reeder was a museum employee, hence the fascination). None of the numbers are police or prison registration numbers: they are accessioning file numbers by museum and library archivists in the 20th century, as well as curatorial numbering used when more than 50 were removed from the QVMAG, taken to Port Arthur for an exhibition in 1983, and deposited instead at the TMAG. The inscription “Taken at Port Arthur 1874″ on dozens of the versos is a confabulation of facts by Beattie et al to excite intercolonial tourism when dozens of these cdvs were exhibited in 1916 at Hobart, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in association with the fake convict hulk Success.

Reeder, page 72:Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 72:
This is where Reeder creates an artist photographer of A. H. Boyd, and the real photographer, Thomas J. Nevin, as just a copyist. He also assumes he has broken the numbering code, without reference to any actual criminal register or police gazette of the day. Note the pathos mustered around Boyd’s untimely death: what Warwick Reeder fails to document is that A. H. Boyd was much despised in his day, and that no authentic public records associate him with personally taking prisoner photographs. Reeder’s logic goes something like this: Very Important Person requests his Subordinate one chain down in rank for a photograph of a lowly criminal in his care, therefore the Subordinate is the “author”: applying the analogy would be akin to saying that the Governor General requested from the NSW Premier a photograph of a known criminal in prison, therefore the NSW Premier was the “author” of the photograph, etc etc. It’s a managerial delusion about POWER that knowingly confuses ownership with authorship

Reeder, page 73:Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 73:
There is no understanding here that several hundred photographs including duplicates were in circulation in the 1870s, and that the extant 300 plus are just central police office estrays, not some ethnographic archive or portfolio of an amateur whom Reeder would like to believe was A. H. Boyd.

Reeder, page 74:Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 74:
Here lies reasons for the creation of A. H. Boyd as an “artist”: the homosocial identification of Reeder with Boyd is all about managerial POWER. It is subjective wishful thinking about the writer’s self projected onto his subject, with the concomitant dejection of the REAL artist/photographer Nevin (of course).

Reeder, footnotes, page 108:Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), footnotes 51-64, page 108:
The ONE photograph at the SLNSW is unattributed, dated 1894, and not a photograph of a prisoner. It is a photo of a building. It was NOT taken by A. H. Boyd, it was taken by the Anson brothers. It has been doctored with a pencilled note to give him an attribution of ONE photo, probably by Chris Long in 1984! No other photos exist because Boyd was not a photographer.

Reeder, footnotes, page 109: Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), footnotes 65-79, page 109: Glover’s article does not cite the fictional tale by E.M. Hall (1942) which was not a factual reminiscence. T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp also appears on prisoner mugshots at the SLNSW: why does Nevin have to be “author’? Why not just “police photographer”? Because this writer Reeder is an ART historian.

Above: print from T. J. Nevin’s original glass negative, taken on 7th January 1874 at the Mayor's Court for the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall on the discharge of the prisoner Thomas Fleming (Police Gazette), referred to by Reeder on page 71. The QVMAG reproduced it in 1985 as a black and white copy cleaned of scratches and marks, using -
Camera: Canon
Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark II
File: 1985_p_0169
Last update: June 2020

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aliases, Copies and Misattribution


... numbered copies ... 1.2,3, ...

George White as Nutt, George Nutt alias White ...

Above: The database image of George NUTT with verso at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery: note that the verso is inscribed with the conventional date of Nevin's photographic registration (1874), the alias, and the ship on which Nutt was originally transported before 1853, but the transcription which appears on many other versos of convicts' cartes - "Taken at Port Arthur" - is absent. Nevin may have photographed Nutt at Port Arthur prison between 23rd February and 8th May 1874; the former date being another sentence for Nutt for breaking the cell while trying to escape, the latter being one of the dates on which Nevin attended the penal site on police business with prisoner Job Smith whom he had photographed with the alias William Campbell (see details of Nutt's serial offenses on the large Fairlie ship transportation record below.)

The transcriber of the notes on the verso of the carte has collated the prisoner's record with the photograph, and assumed the date "1874" was the date of Nevin's photograph. Nevin would have taken another photograph of Nutt in any event as a re-offender in 1875 when Nutt was arrested for absconding, and this is the image.

Webshot AOT of Thomas Nevin's carte of George Nutt alias White 1875
Click on image for large view

The vignette of convict George Nutt alias White, which is also online at the Archives Office of Tasmania was taken by Thomas Nevin soon after Nutt was arrested on September 3rd, 1875. Nutt escaped while under sentence on 24th August, 1875 from the Port Arthur settlement, and was considered desperate enough that a reward was offered which was posted in the weekly police gazettes (Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875) during the fortnight of the convict's freedom.

Above: The notice in the gazette on 27th August, 1875.

Some details about his height were amended in the following week's description for police information:

The notice appeared again on the eve of Nutt's capture:

And the notice of his arrest appeared in the same issue, September 3rd, 1875.

Sources: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875.
James Barnard, Govt printer.

Thomas Nevin was able to recognize and describe George Nutt from their common experience as passengers travelling to Australia on board the Fairlie, which arrived in Hobart on July 3rd, 1852. Thomas Nevin was still a child in 1852, the ten year old son of a Fairlie guard, John Nevin, accompanying his mother Mary and three siblings, William John (Jack) , Rebecca and Mary Ann. George Nutt was a Parkhurst boy, a transported exile from the prison of the Isle of Wight. He would have been about 18 years old in 1852, if he was 42 years old when he fled the Port Arthur prison in 1875.

Above: Nutt's convict record at AOT
Ref: CON33-1-107_00197_L

Unlike many of these transportation records, this one contains some information of Nutt's work record and serial criminal offenses upto his discharge in 1884.

The Archives Office of Tasmania & the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery copies of this prisoner's vignette both bear the number "1" on the mount, recto. An ink stain of a square stamp partially covering the convict's face is evident on this one, the AOT copy.

AOT: PH30/1/3222
Caption by AOT: Possibly George White alias Nutt convict transported per Fairlie 1852
Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania photographic database:
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits
Locality: not identified
Date: 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania Convicts' names database:
Database number:81329 Name: White, George
Arrived: 03 Jul 1852 Fairlie
Departed: 11 Mar 1852 Plymouth
Transported as George Nutt

The AOT has used Nutt's ship transportation record with details of his incarceration in 1870-71 at the Separate Model Prison Port Arthur where he was originally documented George White as Nut [sic]

White as Nutt in Separate Prison July 1870

White as Nutt Separate Prison April 1871 -

George White as Nutt,
Separate Model Prison 1870-1
Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

- but the police documented his escape as Nutt alias White. According to information detailing the Parkhurst Boys at Convict Central, a 13 year old boy called George Nutt was convicted of larceny on 15th May 1848, sentenced for 7yrs and transported on the Fairlie departing Plymouth on March 2nd, 1852, arriving in Tasmania on July 3rd, 1852. The ship transportation record (above) confirms these details, although his age by 1852 was given as 19 yrs. He was listed as a tailor or shoemaker. George Nutt would have been born ca 1834 if aged 13 at the time of conviction in 1848, and would have been around 42 in late 1875. The photograph by Nevin shows a man of that age.

Nevin took the one surviving image of Nutt as a police photograph at the Hobart Gaol where Nutt was incarcerated after arrest in 1875. The vignette was printed from the glass negative, as a standard police identification carte of the period, and pasted to Nutt's criminal record sheet. The number "1" on the mount may be Nevin's numbering, or one used by the police, and there would have existed at least two more duplicates circulated to police, but more likely it has been numbered by museum archivists on accession. Another indication on this carte that it was the first photograph in an album copied as a series at the QVM in 1958 is the ink impress left by the square QVM stamp across George Nutt's left cheek and collar from the verso of the second carte in the series in 1958 which was placed on top of it, that of convict carte No.2, Nevin's vignette  of Wm Yeomans.

For this reason, the square stamp ink is visible in the AOT image, but not in the QVMAG image, although identical in all other respects, which points to multiple copies made by the QVMAG archivist (in Launceston) for circulation to the AOT office and in some cases, to the TMAG in 1987 (in Hobart). The original from which 20th century copies were made may be the one held at the QVMAG but not necessarily the only duplicate which was first made by Nevin from his glass negative and used in criminal registers.

For example, there are three extant copies of the photograph taken once and once only by Nevin of prisoner William Yeomans: one at the QVMAG, one at the AOT, both numbered "2" on the front, and a third which is held at the National Library of Australia with no numbering on the front, rather, it is numbered "57" on the verso, testifying to further copying from a single original glass negative either by Nevin for the prison authorities' immediate use, or by later archivists again. The NLA copy of the Yeomans carte is an archival estray donated there by Dr Neil Gunson in 1962 and accessioned in Nevin's name.

NLA Catalogue notes:
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.; Title from inscription on reverse.; Inscription: "No 57"--On reverse.

Photograph of convict William Yeomans by Nevin at the QVMAG and AOT.

The recto on Yeomans' carte is numbered "2' and its verso was most likely placed on top of the front of Nutt's carte when the QVMAG archivist was in the process of copying them in 1958. The catalogue number for the job in 1958 was 1958:78:22, accompanied by the QVM stamp with more numbers.

The original transcription of the convict's name and ship and the date 1874 was added much earlier, probably ca. 1900-1927, given the calligraphic style. The most recent inscriptions by archivists date from 1985; e.g. QVM1985:P69, and are in a childish hand. Again, there is NO statement on this verso that the photograph was taken at Port Arthur, the probable explanation being that these first few cartes were transcribed verso and copied by one person, and the remainder at a later date by another. The third prisoner carte in the series, that of Bewley Tuck, with the number "3" on recto, similarly lacks the statement "Taken at Port Arthur":

Cataloguists, librarians, archivists, students, photo historians and others in public service have made a real mess of storing and recording the accession history, numbering, and data collation on these Tasmanian prisoners' identification photos: obliteration, reinvention, fads, guesses, fashions, and personal agendas have managed to obliterate valuable data and thus the traces of facts from their past.

George Nutt's ID photograph is one example. It was one of more than 70 exhibited at the Queen Victoria and Museum Gallery in 1977, with correct attribution to Thomas Nevin from the Beattie collection. But by 1984 a researcher on a very tiny budget, Chris Long, who had the job of putting together an A-Z directory of Tasmanian photographers (published in 1995) for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, indulged a speculation that photographic supplies supposedly sent to Port Arthur in August 1873 were used personally by the Civil Commandant to photograph the prison's inmates (letter to Nevin descendants 1984, letter to the authors Davies and Stanbury, The Mechanical Eye 1985). The Civil Commandant from 1871 to December 1873 was A.H. Boyd, with no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, no history of training or skills, and no extant works. No police or official documentation associates his name with prisoner photographic records and there has never surfaced any authentic evidence to support this "idea" or "belief", but because of the self-referential world of art history, photo historians such as Ennis, Crombie and Reeder have credited Chris Long and used his "idea" as a possible attribution, extending to the present as a "likely" attribution by the sycophantic Clark who has influenced the NLA's current revision of Nevin's attribution. Under the influence of the QVMAG employee Elspeth Wishart,now at the TMAG and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, the NLA has recently been co-opted  to apply the misattribution to Boyd of their 84 "convict portraits", further effectively suppressing Nevin's former sole attribution, for no reason other than to attempt to mask their collective foolishness in believing Chris Long's idle speculations (1984,1995). Their doggedness is tantamount to professional fraud.

This simple fallacy of judgment by Long and his unquestioning cohort has misled commentators, and more significantly, librarians and museum cataloguists into suppressing Nevin's attribution, foregrounding the name A.H. Boyd, ignoring the circumstances and contexts of police practices, and labelling the ID photos as "portraits" - aesthetic objects, in other words. Chris Long expressed regret at the confusion he caused (acknowledged 2005, email to these weblogs), but the misattribution in public institutions is still evident in their catalogues. George White aka Nutt's carte has gone from this record:

Archives Office of Tasmania (and current at June 2010)
Carte no. 1
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits Locality: not identified
Date: 1874  Possibly George White (alias Nutt) convict transported per Fairlie.

Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin

and this original record at the QVMAG (prior to 1985)
Nevin, Thomas J. 1874
QVMAG carte no. 1
George White, alias Nutt

to this now at the QVMAG from 1985 (until 2009) when Elspeth Wishart re-catalogued all these convict photographs for an Exhibition purely because of Long's idle and groundless hypothesis:

QVMAG from 1985-2009
Registration Number: QVM: 1985:P :0070
Type: carte de visite
Producer/Photographer: Boyd, Adolarious Humphrey
Content: Portrait of George White alias Nutt at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1874.

Notice that the data about ship, date of transportation, and former catalogue numbers are all gone, and the aesthetic term "portrait" has subsumed the documentary facts. When asked why the QVMAG had obliterated Nevin's attribution, which was correctly assigned in 1977 by the same institution, the QVMAG, their reply was simply - "because of comments made by Chris Long, " without so much as a backwards glance at their own curatorial history (letter from Community History Technical Officer - see this article: The QVMAG, Chris Long and A. H. Boyd.)


The QVMAG has now brought online most (but not all) of their database holdings of these convict photographs, with a revised catalogue entry for Nutt (below). The first cataloguing of these photographs by the QVM was in 1958, evidenced by the stamp on versos, and the second database dates from 1985. A new database collation needs to be performed, going back to the original cartes and glass negatives to include the criminal records sheets with cartes attached, mentioned by Nevin's curator for the 1977 QVMAG exhibition, John McPhee, in correspondence with the Specialist Librarian G.T. Stilwell. Full color online images would also be appreciated; the current practice of displaying only  the b & w version is now a passe precaution.

Purely because of one idle comment by Chris Long that forced and foisted onto the Commandant A.H. Boyd an  association as the photographer of these "convict portraits" (i.e. police mugshots), the former employee at the QVMAG and now an historian at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Elspeth Wishart, has pushed onto the public the Boyd misattribution, both at the TMAG and per this entry online at the QVMAG website. A.H. Boyd has no entry in the mammoth publication, Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870 (ed. Joan Kerr 1992), while Nevin does, complete with attribution as the photographer of these convict images (p.568), yet Boyd has an entry as THE photographer of these prisoner cartes in the DAA online version, probably because Wishart and Clark were actively involved as the contributors who authored the fatuously illogical comment -"not surprising given his job as penal officer".

The entire misattribution problem has its genesis in a belief that a single sentence in an unpublished children's fictional tale about a holiday at Port Arthur, written in 1930 by a niece of A.H. Boyd, E.M. Hall, called "The Young Explorer" (SLTAS) which does NOT mention Boyd by name NOR does it refer to the photographing of prisoners at the Port Arthur prison, can be taken as FACT (an artful wish from Wishart!). Elspeth Wishart and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, are determined to promulgate the A.H. Boyd misattribution with appeals to impressionable staff at the National Library of Australia and other public institutions, not to mention the editors of academic journals (Clark, JACHS 2010) purely to mask their own gullibility in placing all their faith in Chris Long's assumption that a single sentence from children's fiction can function as historical fact. For further discussion on this issue see these articles:

Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Monday, July 5, 2010

Prisoner Phillip AYLWARD


QVMAG Collection
Ref: 1985:P129


Aylward was convicted at the Supreme Court Hobart and photographed by Nevin there on 13 February 1872.

Aylward discharged from the Hobart Gaol, photographed again by Nevin on 18th February 1874.

Aylward was discharged from Cascades as pauper 23 October 1874.

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