Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Albumen Process: examples by Thomas J Nevin ca. 1874

Eggbeater, Narryna Museum, Battery Point Tasmania
Photo Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Tasmanian photographer Thomas J. Nevin began his professional career in the 1860s within a cohort of amateur and commercial photographers who produced enduring images using the latest contemporary equipment, papers, and printing processes. Their sources of information were journals such as The Photographic News 1863 etc. imported from British and intercolonial photographers' societies. The albumen process was commonly used by Nevin in vignetted and upper torso studio portraiture in the 1870s for both his private clientele, and for his commission from the Colonial Government to supply prisoner identification photographs for police.

This how-to extract is from THE LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNAL. Vol. 1, 1857, p.213

MR. TUNNY has, in answer to an enquiry in Photographic Notes, given one of the best accounts of the preparation of albuminized paper that we have seen. He says, "I always prepare my albuminized paper with the pure white of eggs, which I believe to be preferable to all the cheaper compounds that have been substituted for it. Take any quantity of albumen with double the quantity of water, adding eight grains of chloride of ammonium to each ounce of the mixture. Whip up with a bunch of quills into a froth. The albumen will subside in an hour or two, then filter through a piece of fine linen cloth that has been previously slightly singed over a spirit lamp. Pour the albumen into a flat dish and float the paper for about three or four minutes, having previously folded back one of the corners of the sheet in order to keep it from coming into contact with the albumen. If the paper is pinned up by this unalbuminized corner, it will dry without the least streak or imperfection, but if the albumen conies into contact with the pin. a drip will begin which will end in innumerable streaks. By this precaution much paper may be saved.
"The albumen containing the above amount of chloride requires about sixty-five or seventy grains of silver to render it sensitive. I print in the usual way, a little deeper than the finished print.
"The print when taken from the printing frame is thoroughly washed from all free nitrate of silver. Make certain of this, to make the fixing process as economical as possible,, which should not be expensive if carefully done: The washed print is put into a chloride of gold bath, two grains to five ounces of water. In this bath the picture will readily change colour and slightly lower in tone. After it is reduced to the required tone it is passed through water, then placed into a new hypo-bath--four ounces to ten ounces of water. The print will be perfectly fixed in fifteen minutes. Taken from this bath it is repeatedly washed with cold water, then thoroughly with boiling water. The French and German papers get from fifteen to twenty waters, the English papers part more readily with the size, and consequently fewer washings are necessary to fix the prints on it.
"In order to secure perfect whiteness it is essential not to use the hypo bath when above a day old. The whole secret of retaining the clearness of the whites, being in always using a new strong pure hypo bath. By the above process I never fail in obtaining the whites pure.
"I may mention a curious circumstance of hyposulphite of soda. In some I got lately every picture that I fixed possessed that yellow old cheese-like appearance that has been so often complained of, while another sample of hypo gave me prints of absolute whiteness. In testing the solvent powers of these two I found that the first possessed only the half of the solvent power of the latter, viz.; it took double the quantity to dissolve twenty grains of chloride of silver in a given quantity of water. Whether the soda possessed other impurities I have been unable to detect."

This beautifully animated silent exposition of the albumen photo process (s.XIX) is from the Museu del Cinema (Spain) with subtitles.

Albumen is one of the earliest photographic processes that allowed to make prints from a negative, usually, on glass. This type of photography comes from the discoveries of Abel Niépce de Saint Victor and Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard and was used throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. This albumen méthod is the photographic procedure on paper most characteristic of the nineteenth century.

Photographed from Thomas J. Nevin's original.
Copyright © KLW NFC 2010 Private Collection ARR
Carte-de-visite of Elizabeth Rachel Day, ca. 1870-71.
Married on July 12, 1871 to photographer Thomas J. Nevin.

Laura McVilly (left) and Dick McVilly (centre), and unidentified toddler on right,
Children of William Thomas McVilly, albumen, cdvs  by T. J. Nevin ca. 18 December 1874.

Nevin, Thomas J, 1842-1923. Nevin, T J (Hobart) fl 1867-1875
Portrait of Laura Blanche McVilly. McVilly, Richard William, 1862?-1949 :
Photograph albums and a group portrait.
Ref: PA2-1198. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Read more in this article: T.J. Nevin's portraits of the McVilly children 1874
Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand

Albumen photographs of Tasmanian prisoners taken and printed by Thomas J. Nevin on carte-de-visite mount, 9.1 x 5.7 cm. National Library of Australia collection

Left: John F. Morris was originally transported to Tasmania before 1853 on the ship the P.Bomanjee 3. He was convicted at the Supreme Court , Hobart, on the 9th April 1861 for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was photographed by Nevin on discharge from the Hobart Gaol, 28th April, 1875, residue of sentence remitted.

Right: George Fisher was photographed by Nevin on discharge, 15th April 1874 at the Municipal Police, Hobart Town Hall, when Fisher was "enlarged" with a ticket-of-leave. On 2nd December 1874, he was arraigned and sentenced to 12 years for forgery and uttering at the Supreme Court, Hobart

Read more about these two photographs in this article: "In a New Light": NLA Exhibition with Boyd misattribution

Flat-irons, Narryna Museum, Battery Point Tasmania
Photo Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Flat-irons were used in several printing processes, from simple flattening of paper to radiating heat onto prints for faster drying. Flat-irons were also used to deepen the tones on albumen and salt paper prints and to render a high bright varnish quality to dry plates prints finished with tannin or gelatine.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Prisoner Henry SINGLETON aka Harry the Tinker who pinches books

Who was Henry Singleton aka Richard Pinches aka Harry the Tinker aka Henry Salterton, really? And who was his companion Elizabeth Wilder aka Mrs Poole or Singleton aka Elizabeth Singleton - his mistress, his wife or his daughter? And how old was he when Thomas Nevin photographed him twice in the 1870s?

The Photographs
According to the Tasmanian police gazette of 23 March, 1871, Henry Singleton absconded from the prison at Port Arthur, 23 March 1871, with two transport ships to his two names - as Henry Singleton per Lord Wm Bentinck, and as his alias Richard Pinches, per Lady Kennaway 2, also known with the moniker Harry the Tinker.

Thomas Nevin photographed this prisoner at least twice, in 1873 and again in 1875 producing a different image for each separate sitting. The questions posed by these two photographs centre on this man's age and name at the time of transportation, his name and age when photographed in the 1870s, and his and his female companion's literary tastes which warranted lengthy documentation when the police arrested him in a cave in May 1873 at Oatlands, Tasmania.

On Left: the NLA Catalogue notes (incorrect information
nla.pic-vn4270249 PIC P1029/42 LOC Album 935 Henry Singleton, alias Richard Pincers, per Ld. [Lord] Wm. [William] Bentinck, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874. 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm., on mount 10.4 x 6.4 cm. Gunson Collection file 203/​7/​54.
Title from inscription on reverse.
Inscription: "319"--On reverse

On the left, a copy or duplicate from  Nevin's negative and cdv of a prisoner, held at the National Library of Australia, called Henry Singleton, alias Richard Pincers, per Ld. [Lord] Wm. [William] Bentinck, with verso transcriptions almost identical to the information on the verso of the different photograph on the right of the same man. On the right, another photograph of Henry Singleton, one of several of him held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, with the same information about the same ship and the same name, which might be a phonetic spelling of the name "Pinches" , i.e. "Pincers" with the added date of "1838" and notes about additional photographs. This archivist recorded three copies extant at the time of the transcription: No's: 318, 319, & 320".  Photograph No. 319 was the NLA photograph, so the QVMAG photograph must be the last photograph, No. 320. Where is "318" and were there more photographs of this prisoner taken over the course of Singleton's long criminal career?

More important still is the question about the source of the information written on the versos of these photographs, since no transported convict by the name of Henry Singleton or Pincers appears on the arrival lists of the ship Lord William Bentinck, 1832 or 1838, the only two possible dates. If indeed this prisoner of the 1870s called Henry Singleton arrived in 1838, and the police in 1869 recorded his age as 35 yrs old, he would have been born in 1834, and only 4 yrs old when he arrived in VDL, not as a convict but as the child of a guard perhaps. The fact that the National Library's copy bears the same information as the copy at the QVMAG suggests strongly that the QVMAG was the source of the NLA's copy of this photograph (and many others), and that the written transcription on the versos was added from just the one 1871 police gazette notice by an archivist at the QVMAG back in the years of their accession of these records from Beattie ca. 1916 and Beattie's collection in 1930. .

 Verso of No. 155
No's: 318, 319, & 320".
QVMAG Ref: QM: 1985: P: 77.

The Archives Office of Tasmania holds a copy of the QVMAG photograph but recorded Singleton with the alias of "Pinches" and the ship on which he arrived as the Lady Kennaway 2, not the Ld. [Lord] Wm. [William] Bentinck. 

Caption: "Henry Singleton (alias Richard Pinches) convict, transported per Lady Kennaway. Photograph taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin." 
Archives Office of Tasmania (TAHO):
Ref: PH30/1/3248.

There are no transportation records for a convict called Henry Singleton transported later than 1842.  Who was copying what from where? The NLA and the QVMAG both document Singleton aka Pincers arriving on the Lord Wm Bentinck (1838), and the source of that inscription is probably from the police gazette of 1871 (see below), but the AOT and the Police gazettes both document Singleton aka Richard Pinches arriving on the Lady Kennaway 2 (1851). That too is unlikely, since the man described as Richard Pinches on the  Lady Kennaway 2  transportation records does not describe the younger man in these two photographs.

It is likely that the prisoner in these two photographs was neither Henry Singleton per Lady Kennaway 2 nor his alias Richard Pinches per Lord William Bentinck. The prisoner in these photographs may be Robert Bew, per Mayda , 1846, off Norfolk Island, or indeed the only recorded Henry Singleton to arrive as a transported convict - Henry Singleton, per Surry 4, aged 18, arrived 1842. Robert Bew was photographed by Nevin on 19 July 1873 when discharged with a TOL but no extant photograph carries his name and he was arrested and convicted with the Henry Singleton documented with the Richard Pinches alias in March 1870 (see police record below).The original convict transportation records for the name Pinches compound the confusion today (see more below); the police at the time were doubly confused by Henry Singleton's youthful appearance.

Singleton's Police Records 1869-1883

Henry Singleton aka Harry the Tinker, Index, police gazette called Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1869. The following records are all sourced from these police gazettes which were published weekly.


Warrant for Henry Singleton 19 November 1869 with alias of Harry the Tinker, for stealing flour. The following description accompanied the warrant.

Description of Henry Singleton, 19 November 1869 -" 35 years old, appears younger", 5 feet 6 inches, a tin-plate worker, hence the moniker "Tinker".  If 35 yrs old in 1869, his DOB would be ca. 1834 (1869-35=1834).

Henry Singleton was arrested three weeks later at Oatlands, 3 December 1869. Beneath this notice, a transgendered person was arrested the same week- William McCafferty, alias Annie Lowrie Scotty.

Tradesmen by inclination and intent, Henry Singleton and an accomplice called Robert Bew (or Berr) were committed for trial on 24 December 1869 for theft of carpenter's tools.


Robert Bew per Mayda and Henry Singleton alias Richard Pinches per Ly Kennaway 2 were convicted in the Supreme Court Hobart on 4 March 1870, sentenced to four and five years respectively for the offence of breaking and entering within curtilage, i.e. within the boundary of a private property. They were sent to the Port Arthur prison where one year later, Henry Singleton absconded and headed towards Oatlands. This is the first mention in the police records of the ship and the alias, Richard Pinches per Lady Kennaway 2


Henry Singleton absconded from Port Arthur, 23 March 1871, with two transport ships to his two names - as Henry Singleton per Lord Wm Bentinck, and as alias Richard Pinches, per Lady Kennaway 2, known with the moniker Harry the Tinker.

1873: The Library in the Cave

Henry Singleton was arrested 30 May 1873. The police discovered quite a cache in his hideout, a cave in Oatlands,including -

The following is a list of articles found in a cave in the Municipality of Oatlands, recently occupied by Henry Singleton, alias Harry the Tinker (vide Crime Report, 1871, page 41), and a woman named Elizabeth Wilder, recently arrested by the Oatlands Municipal Police: - 7 vols Sir Walter Scott's novels, paper covers; 1 vol. East Lynne; 1 small vice and other small tools (carpenter's), since identified by Mr John Page, of Lemon Springs; 1 book on Electricity; 1 ditto Philosophy of Common Things; 1 vol. Popular Educator; 1 Church Lesson Book, bound in green velvet, brass edges, "Ohio Brown" written in the cover; 1 single-barreled gun, a crack in the stock where screw fastens lock; 1 small telescope, red barrel; 1 tomahawk; 3 small hammers; several files; 1 rasp; 2 dark lanterns; 8 dies; 2 tin billies; a quantity of note paper and envelopes; a revolver case; 1 bullet mould; 1 nipple-screw; a quantity of bullets; 1 blow-pipe; a quantity of flour; 23 door and drawer keys on steel ring; 14 small keys on a string; 15 ditto; 30 skeleton keys and door keys, some of them broken; 1 frying-pan; 1 pack of cards; 1 black wide-a-wake hat; 1 new Scotch twill shirt; 1 old dark moleskin trousers; 1 pair woman's stays, new; sugar, tea, caraway seeds &. The above articles with the exception of those claimed by Mr Page, are at Police Office, Oatlands, awaiting identification.
Henry Singleton's impressive stash of loot was discovered in a cave at Oatlands after his arrest, reported on 6 June 1873. He was held at the Oatlands Gaol in the Men -on-Routes room until taken on Page's coach to the Hobart Gaol. He was photographed soon after arrival by Thomas J. Nevin, the photograph (above, left) now held at the National Library of Australia. He may have been sent to the Port Arthur prison again but his name IS NOT on the lists of those 109 men who were sent there from the Hobart Gaol, and then relocated back to the Hobart Gaol by July 1873 at the request of the Parliament.

Title: [Oatlands Gaol]
Publisher: [Tasmania : s.n., 18--?]
Description: 1 photographic print on card : sepia toned ; 197 x 340 mm
Format: Photograph
ADRI: AUTAS001131821738
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

Men -on-Routes room
Title: Plan - Oatlands - Plan and elevation of intended alterations in the 'Men-on-Routes' room at the Oatlands New Gaol
Description: 1 photographic print
Format: Photograph
ADRI: CSO1-1-937
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania


Henry Singleton was discharged with a ticket of leave from Hobart on 21 July 1875. The police continue to document his ship as the Ly Kennaway 2.

Henry Singleton's discharge was reported again on 23 July 1875. When he was discharged with a Ticket of Leave from Hobart per this notice of 23 Juy 1875, his name was listed twice: the Port Arthur information listed his sentence as 10 years, i.e. dating from his Supreme Court conviction of 1 March 1870, but omits any physical description; the second entry lists his sentence as 5yrs, giving a physical description, and his age - 60 yrs old. If he was 35 yrs old in in November 1869, by July 1875, he would have been about 41 yrs old, not 60 yrs old. The second photograph of Singleton, held at the QVMAG, was taken by Nevin at the Hobart Municipal Police Office in July 1875 on the TOL discharge.


Henry Singleton was discharged 23 May 1883, sentenced to three months in February 1883 for larceny. Here his age is listed 68 yrs old in 1883, but if he was 35 yrs old in 1869, he would have been 49 yrs old, not 68 yrs old. Was he Singleton or was he Pinches? The age discrepancy points not to aliases, but two entirely different men. Little wonder the police commented that he looked young for his age!

Warrant for the arrest of Henry Singleton 5 September 1883

Warrant for Henry Singleton on suspicion of stealing 20 yards of Crimean shirting etc, 28 September 1883

Henry Singleton and a woman called Mrs Singleton or Poole, accused of stealing a green skirt etc, was also arrested on 26 October 1883.

Henry Singleton, alias Richard Pinches, still documented with the ship the Lady Kennaway 2, now aged 71 years - and now with a new alias - "Henry Salterton" - was arraigned in the Supreme Court Launceston on 7 November 1883 with a 14 year sentence, along with Elizabeth Singleton, aged 27, a native or local, who was arrested on a count of burglary and disposed of with a Proclamation. But if he was 35 yrs old in 1869, and looked even younger to police in that year (!), by November 1883, he would have been 49 yrs old, not 71 yrs old.  Or, if he was the prisoner transported to Norfolk Island in 1851 as Pinches on the Lady Kellaway 2, aged 32 yrs, by 1883 he would be 64 yrs old, not 71 yrs old, (1851-32 = born ca.1819; 1883-1819=64). And if indeed he was transported at all, and in 1869 he was 35 yrs old, in 1851 he would have been born in 1834, transported as a child if transported at all. None of these recorded ages are consistent with the names associated, and none concord with the looks of the prisoner in Nevin's mugshots taken in the 1870s.

And so on ... more offences appear in the police gazettes for both names - Singleton and Pinches - throughout this decade.

On left, the NLA image (1873), flipped and color-corrected to compare with the QVMAG image (1875) on right. The prisoner on right looks a little older by 1875, but he does not look like a man who was supposedly born in 1819 and transported in 1851 to Norfolk Island, aged 32 yrs. He was described by the police gazettes as "35 years old, appears younger" in 1869, so in 1873, per police records, he would have been 39 yrs old, and by 1875, he would have been 41 yrs old. These look like correct ages for the man photographed, so why was he associated with the following transportation records?

Too old: a man named Richard Pinches from Birmingham (UK), a glazier and plumber, was tried at the Oxford Q.S. in 1844. He was 32 years old when he arrived on Norfolk Island on 4th July 1851, so by 1873 this man would have been 54 yrs old. He was then sent to Hobart (Port Arthur) as a convict on board the Lady Kennaway 2,on 29 September 1852 per these records:

Richard Pinches per Lady Kennaway 2, 1851

TAHO Ref: CON14-1-42_00322_L;  CON14-1-42_00322_L

TAHO Ref: CON33-1-102_00185_L
Convict Details
Pinches, Richard
Convict No: 56424
Extra Identifier:
SEE Surname:
SEE Given Names:
Voyage Ship: Lady Kennaway (2)
Voyage No: 337
Arrival Date: 28 May 1851
Departure Date: 05 Feb 1851
Departure Port: Portsmouth
Conduct Record: CON33/1/102, CON37/1/ p5138
Muster Roll:
Appropriation List:
Other Records:
Indent: CON14/1/42
Description List: CON18/1/52
Remarks: Reconvicted as Henry Singleton

Robert Bew per Mayda, 1842

TAHO Ref: CON33-1-79_00018_L

Robert Bew per Mayda and Henry Singleton alias Richard Pinches per Ly Kennaway 2 were convicted in the Supreme Court Hobart on 4 March 1870, sentenced to four and five years respectively for the offence of breaking and entering within curtilage, i.e. within the boundary of a private property.

Henry Singleton per Surrey 4, 1842

TAHO Ref: CON33-1-27_00216_L

This prisoner called Henry Singleton was 18yrs old, literate and 5 ft 6 ins tall when he arrrived at Hobart, VDL in 1842 on board the Surrey 4, but was this prisoner a different man with the same name, or the same man whose alias was Richard Pinches? This man would have been 50 yrs old in 1874,

Henry Pinches per Candahar, 1842

Information is requested respecting Henry Pinches, per ship Candahar, whether living or dead; if the latter, the date and place of death. Communicate with this Office.
Illiterate, too short and too old: someone was looking for a man by the name of Henry Pinches, per this missing friends notice published in the police gazette of 19 September 1879.  Henry Pinches, aged 25 years old, was illiterate and under five feet tall when he was transported on the Candahar in 1842, per this record which shows he was discharged from the Police Office Hobart Town Hall in August 1874 where he would have been photographed on discharge by Thomas Nevin, so where is his photograph? If he was born ca. 1817 (1842-1825=1817) he would have been 57 yrs old by 1874.

TAHO Ref: CON33-1-23_00168_L

Why the Infamy?
The Tasmanian tourist destination, the Port Arthur Historic Site (PAHS) (accessed April 2014) on the Tasman Peninsula, makes a great deal of this prisoner for visitors, casting him as a bad character -
... constantly in trouble for refusing to work, being dirty and disobedient, talking and having money improperly in his possession, insubordination and using threatening language. He received many short sentences of hard labour or solitary confinement. Sent to Port Arthur in 1853, he continued to refuse to work, and to be disobedient and insolent, and received more spells in solitary for his pains.

Webshot on Singleton file

The PAHS insisted (up to April 2014)  he be called Richard Pinches and not Henry Singleton, despite all the police records over decades stating clearly that the name Richard Pinches, per Ly Kennaway 2, was an alias, and despite these transportation records for Richard Pinches showing no correlation to the youngish prisoner called Henry Singleton whom Nevin photographed in the 1870s.

This is the information greeting visitors to their website up to April 2014 until their update and after viewing our post here with a thousand clicks:

PAHS publication: People of Port Arthur

Richard Pinches a.k.a Henry Singleton was a 27 year old plumber and glazier when he was transported. He was a single Roman Catholic from Birmingham who could read and write.
Pinches had made a habit out of minor crime; he had four previous convictions for stealing and housebreaking and had served short sentences. Finally the court decided that it had seen enough of him, and he was transported for 14 years for stealing linen. He arrived in mid 1851.
He was first sent to Norfolk Island and in a year he served nine and a half months hard labour in chains for being disobedient, dirty, disorderly and having money improperly in his possession.
Transferred to Port Arthur in early 1853, Pinches continued his campaign of disobedience, earning himself more time in solitary and hard labour in chains. In May 1854 he gained a pass but it seemed that he still had not developed a taste for work; three months later he absconded from his master. He was caught after some weeks and returned to Port Arthur for 18 months hard labour. This was not to his liking and two months later he bolted; he was recaptured and after serving 12 months he was again assigned to a master.
This time Pinches completed his sentence without incident. His next appearance was in Oatlands Goal under a new name, Henry Singleton, but he was still up to his old tricks. He was sentenced to four years at Port Arthur for stealing five pigs. There he got another three months hard labour for being drunk. In early 1864 Richard gained his freedom but only seven months later he was back in goal in Hobart, charged with bigamy. Marriage records cannot even verify that he was married once.
He was acquitted, so the charge against him may have been fabricated.
He kept out of trouble until 1870, when he was returned to Port Arthur for five years for breaking and entering an outbuilding and stealing. He must have misbehaved at Port Arthur because four years later he was in the Separate Prison, although his offence was not recorded. Then he received another three years with hard labour, including a year in the Separate Prison, for attempting to escape.
In July 1875 and again in 1879 he was in the Prisoners’ Barracks, but we do not know why. 1883 was a bad year for Richard. He was arrested twice, once in February when he was sentenced to three months hard labour for larceny and then in November he received 14 years for burglary. We have no further records for Richard.
He was then 65 years old and had spent almost half his life in the convict system.
Note the vernacular phrasing and attitudinal markers, the intimate use of the prisoner's first name "Richard", and the closing down of the topic by affirming there are no further records for the prisoner because "we" don't have any.  The information used by the Port Arthur site was most likely sourced from Thomas Keneally's book, Australians from Eureka to the Diggers (2011, Allen & Unwin), page 2, (or vice versa) though no sources are cited.

This is the PAHS update (accessed 6 October 2014) which denies ever having insisted on the name Pinches instead of Singleton:

But the PAHS still insists on captioning the QVMAG copy of Nevin's photograph of Singleton with the A. H. Boyd misattribution on their fact sheet. Attributed by whom? Again, no source, no concession to the simple fact that not one photograph of a prisoner or landscape or anything else purported to be taken by the Commandant A. H. Boyd has ever existed except in the febrile minds of vested interests at the Port Arthur historic Site:

[sic] "Henry Singleton circa 1873-4, photograph attributed to Boyd
Reproduced courtesy of Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery"

Relatively speaking, compared with the murderers, child rapists, and the thousands of blood-thirsty felons who populated the prisons of Tasmania in Singleton's time, he was neither especially dangerous to people's physical safety, nor ignorant or malicious. The loot found in his cave hideout at Oatlands in 1873 gives a very clear idea of what aspirations he held, despite his circumstances. He was a tradesmen who stole tools in the hope of building himself and his female companion Elizabeth a house; he was literate with educated tastes who stole novels to read for their amusement, and religious volumes for their enlightenment, and above all, he cared and shared all this with a young woman called Elizabeth, probably his daughter, whom police disposed of with a Proclamation in 1883 rather than imprison. Why the infamy?

One of the books found in Henry Singleton's possession ...

Mrs. Henry Wood, 1814-1887
East Lynne, or, The Earl's Daughter.
Richmond: West & Johnston, 1864.

Print by Alfred Winter
Title: Photograph - View of the township of Oatlands, shown in picture are the sails on Callington Mill
Description: 1 photographic print
Format: Photograph
ADRI: PH30-1-2969
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Miss Nevin and Morton Allport

Mary Ann Nevin (1844-1878), sister of Thomas J. Nevin, 
dipping a glass at New Town rivulet, Kangaroo Valley Hobart Tasmania, ca. 1870.
Salt paper stereograph taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Photo  © KLW NFC Imprint  Private Collection 2012

When the Nevin family of Kangaroo Valley, Hobart, sat down to read the Mercury on the 4th October 1865, they must have despaired at the notice it contained about their application for aid of £25 p.a. to open a school at Kangaroo Valley, especially Mary Ann Nevin, 21 years old, and determined to start her working life as a teacher. The reporter had mispelt the family name - McNevis instead of Nevin. A week later, when The Mercury reported that Mary Ann's application was rejected, the reporter again mispelt her name as NEVEN.

Source: BOARD OF EDUCATION. (1865, October 4). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from

An application was received for the establishment of a school at Kangaroo'Valley.
Dr. BUTLER said that the school was proposed by a family named McNevis [sic], and Miss McNevis [sic] was willing to teach. They proposed undertaking the school on receiving aid to the amount of £25 a year.
Mr. MACDOWELL said he thought children from Kangaroo Valley could very well attend the New Town school.
Dr. OFFICER said the road was very bad. He thought the application reasonable.
After discussion, the matter was put aside for the report of the Inspector.

Source: The Mercury, 11 October 1865
BOARD OF EDUCATION. (1865, October 11). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from

TUESDAY, l0th OCTOBER, 1865.
The Board met at 2.30 p.m. yesterday afternoon.
Present.- Mr. Macdowell in the chair, Dr.Officer, Mr. Tarleton, Mr. T. Westbrook, and Mr. Watkins. -
Mr. Stephens, Inspector of Schools, and Mr. Burgess, Secretary to the Board.were also present.
The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.
Considered, the Inspector's report on an application for aid to a school at Kangaroo Valley, New Town, conducted by Miss Neven,[sic] together with a memorial from Mr. Morton Allport and others in support of application.
It appeared from Mr. Stephens' report, that all the children named in the application resided within an easy distance of the Public School at New Town ; it was decided that aid could not be given.
Family friend and amateur photographer Morton Allport was included among her supporters in her application, but to no avail. The application was rejected on the grounds that the children named as prospective students resided closer to the Public School at New Town, and that the road to Kangaroo Valley was bad. The Nevins were not asking for a building to be constructed; in all likelihood, the proposed school would utilise the Wesleyan Chapel and its Sunday School room constructed at Kangaroo Valley in 1859. Despite the setback, Mary Ann and her father John Nevin proceeded with the school on their own account. On the 28 May 1875, The Mercury reported that the Department of Education had approved John Nevin's application to operate a night school for adult males.

The Mercury, 28 May 1875. John Nevin's night school for males.
A letter was received from Mr. John Nevin, applying for th establishment of a night school, at Kangaroo Valley, under the regulations of the Board. There was a schoolroom there, which he offered for that purpose.
It was agreed to accede to the request, the school to be for males only.
The spelling errors regarding her family name made by the newspaper in 1865 must have irritated Mary Ann Nevin, as she was not only a teacher, she won a Spelling Bee held at the Oddfellows Hall which was reported in The Mercury on 25 September 1875. Some of words the contestants were required to spell were difficult indeed and some are archaic today.

Thomas Nevin's portraits printed as cartes-de-visite in different oval mounts portraits 
of himself and his sister Mary Ann Nevin, 1873.
From © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections Arr

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds several stereographs taken by Thomas Nevin of the New Town Public School. This one of Mary Nevin, accompanied by a man and five children, with the roof a building visible, was identified by the TMAG as the school house at Kangaroo Valley:

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870
Verso blank. Inscription "School House Kangaroo Valley"
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.1.2

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870 of the New Town Public School
Verso stamp "Thos Nevin New Town"
Inscriptions "New Town Public School 1870s per G. Stilwell"
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.27

Thos Nevin  New Town studio stamp

TMAG Catalogue online 2005
  • Q16826.28 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School 
  • Q16826.27 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T J Nevin [Photographer]; DATE: 1870s DESCRIPTION : New Town Public School 
  • Q16826.1.2 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: 'School House Kangaroo Valley' DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder  
  • Q16826.1.1 ITEM NAME: photograph: MEDIUM: salted paper print stereoscope, MAKER: T Nevin ? [Artist]; TITLE: 'School House Kangaroo Valley' DATE: 1860s DESCRIPTION : This photo depicts three adults and four children at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: A Pedder 

Morton Allport and the Memorial

Title: [Self portrait of Morton Allport]
Creator: Allport, Morton, 1830-1878, photographer
Publisher: [1854]
Description: 1 photograph : silver albumen print; 10 x 7 cm
Format: Photograph
ADRI: AUTAS001139593974
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

The rejection of Mary Ann Nevin's application for school aid, published by the Mercury on 11th October 1865, mentioned support from photographer and naturalist Morton Allport with an offer of a memorial, without specifying details or purpose. A memorial to what or whom? There are at least four possibilities:

1. A very personal memorial for Rebecca Jane Nevin (1847-1865), youngest sister of Thomas James, Mary Ann and William John (Jack), whose death was imminent and died only weeks later on November 10th, 1865 after a long illness. A terrible blow to this pioneer family, no-one could have paid a better tribute than her father in this exquisite poem, written and printed just six weeks after her death.

On the much lamented Death of
R E B E C C A   J A N E   N E V I N
Who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley,
On the 10th NOVEMBER, 1865, in the 19th year of her age.


In early childhood's joyous hour,
We brought her from her native soil,
To seek some calm and peaceful bower
Far on Tasmania's sea-girt Isle;
While yet a gentle, fragile thing,
Her infant steps were tottering.

Here, by a mountain streamlet's side,
Its soothing murmurs lov'd to hear,
Or watch its limpid waters glide,
And cull the flow'rs were blooming near;
And tho' her life was mark'd with pain,
Was seldom heard for to complain.

Death early chose her for his prey,
For slow disease with stealthy tread,
Had swept the hues of health away,
And left a sallow cheek instead;
Like some young flow'ret, sickly pale , -
She droop'd and wither'd in the vale.

Full eighteen summer suns have shed,
Refulgent beams on that pale brow,
Ere she was number'd with the dead;
Beyond the reach of anguish now.
The wint'ry blast of death has come,
To lay her in the dark lone tomb.

Cut off in girlhood's hopeful morn,
She pass'd without a murm'ring sigh,
From friends and weeping parents torn,
To higher, fairer worlds on high.
She's gone to join the blood-wash'd throng,
And mingle with the seraphs' song.

The struggle's o'er - loved shade adieu! -
No more shall grief or pain molest;
The wint'ry storms may howl o'er you,
But cannot break thy dreamless rest:
Pluck'd like a rose from parent stem,
To deck a royal diadem.

Her life was guileless as a child,
Nor pride, nor passion ever knew;
A book, a flower - her hour beguiled,
Nor breath'd a heart more kind or true;
No longer kneels with us in prayer: -
Now I behold her vacant chair!

That head in pain shall throb no more,
Nor weary night of restless sleep;
The Jordan pass'd, thy journey's o'er,
And thou shalt never wake to weep;
When the last trumpet loud will sound,
Thou'lt rise triumphant from the ground!

Kangaroo Valley,
27th January, 1866.

2. A memorial to Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), a Governor of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) who disappeared on his last expedition, attempting to chart and navigate a section of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic, and husband of Jane, Lady Franklin (1791-1875), whose Museum at Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley by 1865 was much neglected, despite the efforts of John Nevin to care for its grounds which bordered his cottage, farm, and the Wesleyan Chapel.

Title: Sir John Franklin, Capt. R.N / Derby ; Thomson
Creator:Thomson, James, 1789-1850, engraver
Publisher:London : Fisher Son & Co., 1830, 1840
Description:1 print : stipple engraving ; sheet 21.4 x 13 cm
Format: Print
ADRI: AUTAS001124071473
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

Lady Franklin Museum at Ancanthe, Lenah Valley (Kangaroo Valley)
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014

3. A memorial to Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865),Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew who had died a few months earlier, on 12 August 1865. His son Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker had spent six months in Hobart on the voyage to the Antarctic 1839–1843, published Flora Tasmaniae in 1859, and undoubtedly provided Morton Allport with rare specimens. Morton Allport was an authority on the zoology and botany of Tasmania, in addition to being an accomplished photographer. Kangaroo Valley, initially named Sassafras gully, was a haven of native plants and was described in some detail by Ronald Gunn,  a trustee for the Ancanthe botanical reserve, in correspondence to William Hooker. This account is reproduced from Gwenda Sheridan's article (minus the footnotes), January 9, 2012:

"In 1840 two ships docked in Hobart, the Erebus and the Terror en route to Antarctic waters. On board was Joseph Hooker, as surgeon-botanist, whose father William Hooker, was then Regius Professor at Glasgow. By 1841, William had become the new Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Gunn already communicated with Hooker, and it is clear from the letter correspondence between Gunn and Hooker that a botanical indigenous garden was projected in the vicinity of Ancanthe as early as February, 1840. Gunn in writing noted that there was a dense grove of fern trees, ‘fagus, pomaderris, Crytocarya, ’ a splendid collection of Crytogamia and that he was looking forward to meeting up with William’s son, Joseph upon his arrival to help in laying out the ‘garden’ to advantage.
Already the area was known as Sassafras gully. It would appear to have been a valley rich with the type of flora that grows as ‘wet’ and/or mixed forest in Tasmania. Sir John Franklin’s designated ‘big’ tree was located just downstream.
When Joseph did arrive, there were a number of excursions to Lady Jane’s projected ‘mountain’ garden area. A particular one in October 1840 gives some flavour of expectation, anticipation, excitement, even joy at this wild landscape and its offerings. The party had lunched on sandwiches and wine. Here is Lady Jane post lunch,

[They] ascended a new path which Mr. Gunn has made to go to the summit of the garden from the upper end and proceeding along a groundsel covered path ascended to the prospect hill. The distant scenery however was somewhat overcast, the sunny morning having ended in a misty and somewhat sultry afternoon. While descending this hill and just after enquiring of Mr Gunn whether he had ever found any snakes here, I hear a scream and found him and Mr Hooker bending over the ground; I thought to be sure it was a snake but it was only a new orchis’ which Dr. Hooker had not seen before and which he had come upon on the newly made pathway… and a real snake however I found had been killed by them a little while before and Mr Hooker visited my garden on this occasion for the seventh time. I begged him to gather for me a little of his father’s moss as I called it, the Hookeri piñata which abounds in every direction…

It seems highly likely that the ‘prospect’ hill that the party climbed was one directly above the Ancanthe site, (Fossil Hill, Brushy Hill, a twin hill not named) these hills at heights between 320-400 metres. They form a part of the Mount Wellington foothills and separate Brushy Creek from the New Town Rivulet. They are important because it is likely that they were part of a very early route to the summit of Mount Wellington.
In choosing the area for the temple and its associated garden, Lady Jane Franklin had picked out her location very carefully ..."

Author and source: Gwenda Sheridan,  Ancanthe ... all that will be lost
January 9, 2012 as cited in Tasmanian Times

The full text (1859) is available at:

Left:[Native orchid, Dipodium punctatum] / W B Gould
Right: Melaleuca squammata [Scented paper bark]
Creator: Gould, William Buelow, 1803-1853
Publisher: [ca. 1830-1840]
ADRI: AUTAS001139592968
ADRI: AUTAS001139593008
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

State Library of NSW
Call Number: DG 471
Digital Order No.: a2450001
Caption: [Ronald Gunn], 1848 / Thomas Bock

Tasmanian Flora: The Botanists, Backhouse, Hooker, Rodway, Curtis & Morris
Royal Botanical Gardens, Hobart
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014

4. A memorial to the two children George and Sarah Johnson murdered in September 1865 who, had they been in school (they lived nearby on the Tolosa Estate), might have avoided the man called William Griffiths who entered their house, stole a clock, and allegedly murdered them as witnesses to his theft. Griffiths was executed at the Hobart Gaol on December 2, 1865. This account was reported on 25 September,1865:

In the Hobart Town Advertiser the following appears:---A report reached town yesterday afternoon that a murder of a most revolting and brutal character had been committed at Glenorchy the victims being a boy and a girl, the children of a man named Michael Johnson, who with his wife and family resided in a bark hut near Mr. Hull's residence at Tolosa. The father and mother are hard-working people; the former a carrier, who conveys loading and timber for piles to Hobart Town. It would seem they were in the habit of leaving the hut in the charge of the girl aged about ten years, and the boy eight years. During the absence of the parents the girl was murdered and the boy so injured as to be insensible. The shocking intelligence having reached the ears of the mother, she hastened to the hut, and found the girl quite dead, with three severe wounds on the head, which had evidently fractured the skull. The boy was still living, but quite insensible. Information was conveyed to the Glenorchy police, and superintendent Hunter lost no time in putting all his available force in motion, if possible to discover the perpetrator of that fearful murder. No one was seen lurking about the premises, and the perpetrator of this shocking murder is for the present at large and undiscovered. The Mercury of the following day adds : --- "The supposed murderer of the two unfortunate children at Glenorchy, on Tuesday, for both of the victims of the fearful crime are now dead, was apprehended in Hobart Town, yesterday morning, at about half-past 11, by superintendent Hunter, rural police, and C. D. C. Jones; but before detailing any of the few particulars accompanying the arrest, we must state that the poor boy died about 11 o'clock on Tuesday night, and, sad to say, without having previously to death recovered consciousness sufficient to enable him to give, evidence, as to the barbarian by whom his sister and himself had been so foully and so fatally dealt with. With respect to the apprehension of the person charged with the commission of these horrible crimes, we are informed that the police had their suspicion directed towards a farm labourer named William Griffiths, lately in the employ of Mr. McDermott, of Glenorchy. Griffiths was tracked to town, and yesterday morning C. D. C. Jones, accompanied by superintend Hunter, went to the King's Arms public-house Murray-street, and inquired for Griffiths, who it was stated was not there.
Source: HORRIBLE MURDER IN TASMANIA. (1865, September 25). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 2. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from

Alfred Bock sketch of William Griffiths
Supreme Court Hobart October 1865

Photographers M. Allport, S. Clifford & T. Nevin
Although Morton Allport was an amateur and not a commercial photographer, he assisted a young Thomas J. Nevin at the beginning of his professional career, and no doubt on account of his friendship with Thomas' sister Mary Ann and their father John Nevin at Kangaroo Valley. When Thomas Nevin joined prolific professional photographer Samuel Clifford, their work became indistinguishable, especially in the production of hundreds of stereoscopic views. The difference, however, between some of Allport's stereos and Clifford & Nevin's, visible more so today because of the fuzziness resulting from the porous salt paper which the latter often (but not always) used, is evident in this example. The first is a dry plate photograph by Morton Allport, 1863, the second is a reprint of the same image from the partnership of Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin, 1865.

Boviak Beach, Excursion to Lake St. Clair February 1863 by Morton Allport
Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
AUTAS001136194164 Also on TAHO at Flickr page

Title: Lake St Clair
Publisher: ca. 1865
ADRI: AUTAS001124851494
Source: W.L. Crowther Library
Series: Views in Tasmania
Notes: On verso: title inscribed in ink on centre of label ; printed above title: Views in Tasmania ; printed below title: S. Clifford, photographer, Hobart Town

Title: Orphan Schools, New Town / Clifford photo
Creator: Clifford, Samuel, 1827-1890
ADRI: AUTAS001136189297
Source: W.L. Crowther Library

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