Saturday, March 26, 2016

The photographer's tent at Port Arthur: 1872 or 1874?

Professional photographers Alfred Bock, Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin visited the prison at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula on several occasions between 1866 and 1874. Bock photographed the prison's officers, Clifford photographed visiting dignitaries and the scenery, and Nevin photographed day-trippers, buildings and the handful of prisoners still located there between 1872-74 before they were transferred back to the city prison in Hobart. The bulk of the extant 300+ police photographs in public collections of prisoners taken in the 1870s he took at the Hobart Gaol and Mayor's Court, Hobart Town Hall. At Port Arthur, these three photographers Alfred Bock, Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin made use of makeshift arrangements in the Officers' Library and the Police Court washroom. On day trips they used a photographer's tent.

The A. H. Boyd furphy
Locally-born A.H. Boyd (1829-1891) was an accountant at the Port Arthur prison in 1853, superintendent of the Queen’s Orphan School (July 1862-October 1864) where he was dismissed for misogyny, a stipendiary magistrate at Huon (1866-1870), and Civil Commandant of Port Arthur (June 1871-December 1873), a position he was forced to resign because of allegations of corruption and nepotism implicating his brother-in-law, Attorney-General W. R. Giblin. He was not a photographer by any definition. A. H. Boyd had no reputation during his life time as a photographer, and no photographic work exists by A. H. Boyd. His “amateur photographer” status originated as a rumour spread by descendants, which was published as "likely" by an uniformed and gullible Chris Long (1985, 1995) from the singular circumstance of Boyd’s presence at the Port Arthur site in 1873, a date which only approximates the date “1874” written on the verso of several extant convict cartes (Davies & Stanbury, 1985; Kerr & Stilwell, 1992; Long, 1995; Reeder, 1995). Their assumption was that a cargo of photographic plates sent to Port Arthur in July 1873 was used by Boyd to take photographs of the prisoners there; research, however, has shown the plates were accompanied by T. J. Nevin’s partner Samuel Clifford and used to photograph the site’s buildings, visiting dignitaries, and the surrounding landscape (Tasmanian Papers Mitchell Library Ref: 320). It was assumed that the wet plate process was used by the photographer at Port Arthur, but Clifford was known for his proficiency in dry plate photography (Kerr, 1992). It was also assumed that other photographic equipment returned to Hobart in April 1874 – a tent and stand – was Boyd’s personal property, but the only property that was listed as Boyd’s were “1 child’s carriage, 1 package Deer Horns, 1 Hat Box, Leather, 1 package of Buttons [?]” accompanied by his wife who was a passenger. Because these assumptions were published as a “belief” in the A-Z reference, Tasmanian Photographers 18401-940: A Directory (1995: TMAG, Gillian Winter ed), several publishers and curators in the past decade have mistaken the “belief” about Boyd to be an attribution as photographer of convicts. The surviving photographs of Tasmanian convicts in public holdings from the 1870s to the early 1880s were taken by the commercial photographer Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on contract to the Lands and Survey Dept and Municipal Police Office of the Hobart City Council and Hobart Gaol.

Contrary to these postulations by apologists promoting the prison's Commandant Adolarious Humphrey Boyd as the photographer of the extant 300+ police mugshots of prisoners taken in the 1870s (eg. Julia Clark 2010 and Warwick Reeder 1995, citing Chris Long 1995 after Edith Hall 1930), there was no "dark room" at Port Arthur specifically designated for the photographing of prisoners. If the same apologists wish to claim that Boyd possessed the photographic tent and headstand which were returned from Port Arthur to Hobart on the government schooner, the Harriet, on 2nd April 1874, listed on the way bill as goods destined for government stores, (Tasmanian Papers 320, Mitchell Library SLNSW), then Boyd had no building housing a "dark room". Those items could not have belonged to A. H. Boyd, because he would have had no need of a tent: according to his apologists, he had this so-called "dark room" in the garden, the "existence" of which they say is proof enough he photographed prisoners. Yet A. H. Boyd had no reputation as a photographer in his own life-time. No photographs ostensibly taken by him have ever surfaced, none have been profferred by either his descendants or their apologists who have rushed into print, and no document testifies to his training, skills, or official mandate. The "belief" in A. H. Boyd from these apologists is simply tourism spin originating from the Port Arthur Historic site and maintained there to this day to justify the fish-bowl furphy of  Port Arthur as a model of insular self-sufficiency.

The name of A. H. Boyd appears twice on the schooner Harriet's way bill list dated 2nd April 1874, four months after Boyd was forced to resign under allegations of corruption and replaced by Dr Coverdale as Commandant of Port Arthur. His name appears against cargo designated as “private”, some of which is identified by the owner’s name, eg. “1 Umbrella … Mr G. B. Walker”. The photograph stand and tent are NOT identified by the owner’s name. The second appearance of Boyd’s name specifically brackets four items which included “1 child’s carriage, 1 package Deer Horns, 1 Hat Box, Leather, 1 package of Buttons [?]”. These FOUR items were bracketed as Boyd’s personal property, but the photograph stand and tent DO NOT appear here. Therefore, the stand and tent cannot said to be Boyd’s personal property: to argue for attribution to Boyd as the photographer of Tasmanian prisoners, reduxed as "convicts" by the tourism industry, on the basis of unproven ownership of two pieces of photographic equipment, demonstrates the absurdity of such a claim. A cursory glance at the Tasmanian Names Index (AOT) shows hundreds of Boyds alive in Tasmania in the 1870s, and not one of those Boyds has ever been documented as a photographer in their own lifetime or subsequently. Even A.H. Boyd’s predecessor in the position of Commandant at Port Arthur, another but unrelated Boyd, James Boyd, who was the owner of stereoscopic equipment auctioned from his house in Battery Point in 1873, has never been documented as either an amateur or skilled professional photographer.

The Port Arthur prison was well and truly closed by 1877. It was not until the tourist boom of the 1890s-1910s,when the prison was little more than a desolate ruin, renamed Carnavon and heavily promoted to intercolonial visitors as central to Tasmania's history, that a "dark room" mentioned in Edith Hall's children's story The Young Explorer might have existed in reality. Edith Hall (nee Giblin) claimed to be the niece of A. H. Boyd who visited him at Port Arthur while he was Commandant (1871-83), and her "story" - although generically fiction - has been interpreted as documentary proof of Boyd taking photographs of prisoners. In all probability, Edith Hall saw a copy of this stereograph of the Government cottage with the little girl (below), and gazing upon it among the dozens taken at Port Arthur by Bock, Clifford and Nevin held in the Tasmanian State Archives, took up her pen and wrote a story for children in the 1930s to give them a happier version of old Port Arthur. She may even have imagined herself as the young girl in the stereograph (below) as she gazed upon it, immersing herself with no small degree of narcissicism in the photograph's narrative possibilities. Her story, The Young Explorer,  (typescript deposited at Tas Archives 1942)written in the 1930s when she was in her sixties is indeed an imaginative children's fiction about pretty girls in pretty frocks visiting the site. She does not identify anyone by name in the story; she fabricates a character called the Chief who was always "on the lookout for sitters." Her description of a room where the child protagonist, the young explorer, was photographed (and rewarded for it) hardly accords with a set-up for police photography. The photographing of prisoners is not mentioned in either the story or the accompanying letter forwarded to the Archives. In the context of the whole story, only three pages in length, the reference to photography is just another in a long list of fictions (many about clothes and servants) intended to situate the child reader in a place where the convict stain so central to the legacy of Port Arthur has been cleansed. Edith Hall's story is a composite of general details that concord more with the imagery in the postcards sold by Albert Sergeant in the late 1880s, and Port Arthur as the premium tourist destination of the 1920s, than with the site during its operation in 1873. In short, it is a piece of historical FICTION.

E.M. Hall. The Young Explorer, typed script courtesy SLTAS
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

Photographers producing postcards and mementos of Tasmania's penal heritage might have had at their disposal a "dark room" at Port Arthur in the last decade of the 19th century, but in the late 1860s and early 1870s, photographers at the site made do with makeshift studios and what they could transport with them by schooner.

The Tent
This stereograph (below) of a tent pitched on the lawn in front of the Government Cottage, with one gentleman in a top hat standing at a short distance, facing a young girl and another gentleman in a top hat outside the tent's entrance, bears traces of multiple printings in different formats. The darkened round corners of the print suggest it was printed first in a double oval or binocular stereoscopic mount, and reprinted with squared corners. The dress fashion of the men and girl suggests day trippers in their Sunday best rather than the work-a-day dress of prison officials or local employees. If Nevin had taken this photograph in early 1874, the tent listed on the government schooner's way bill definitely belonged to him, because he was away at Port Arthur and not in Hobart when the birth of his son Thomas James Nevin jnr in April 1874 was registered by his father-in-law Captain James Day, the only birth registration of his children he did not personally sign.If the photograph was taken in April 1874, the man standing next to the girl could be identified as G.B. Walker, brother of historian James Backhouse Walker (1821-1899), who appears on the way bill of 2nd April 1874 as a passenger, accompanied by his cargo of one umbrella. The girl could then be identified as G. B Walker's daughter, and the man facing them, possibly Dr John Coverdale, by then incumbent of the Cottage behind them. However, if Nevin photographed this group two years earlier, on 1st February 1872, the more likely date, the girl and bearded man standing in front of the tent could be identified as Jean Porthouse Graves, the man as barrister Byron Miller (her future father-in-law), and the clean-shaven man facing them, solicitor John Woodcock Graves, Jean's father. This stereograph is currently held at the antiquarian booksellers, Douglas Stewart Fine Books, who also held Jean Porthouse  Graves' family album containing several Nevin stereographs, now part of the KLW NFC Imprint collection.

The verso of this stereograph bears no studio stamp. The inscription "Government Cottage Port Arthur Tasmania" was possibly written by a contemporary of the photographer, either the purchaser or subsequently by a collector. If it was sourced from the personal or family collections of Edith Hall, or any related member of the Boyd family, it would carry personal names, but it doesn't, although something pencilled along the roof-line of the cottage appears to have been erased. To the original inscriber, the subject of this photograph was the building, and not the people or even the tent. The intended purchaser was probably an intercolonial visitor to Hobart, who needed the reminder that the photograph was taken in Tasmania.

The catalogue entry for this stereograph online at Douglas Stewart Fine Books - "Government Cottage, Port Arthur, Tasmania CLIFFORD, Samuel (1827-1890) (attributed)" - highlights another problem of attribution regarding Thomas Nevin's work. It seems that any Tasmanian stereograph of the 1870s which bears no identifying photographer stamp is assumed to be the work of Samuel Clifford, whether by state archivists, museum workers or dealers. Photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin travelled around the island in partnership during the 1860s-1870s, producing prodigious numbers of commercial stereographs. One of their visits on passing through Bothwell was reported at length in The Mercury 26th September 1874. Many of their stereographs of identical views carry Clifford's stamp on one, Nevin's on the other. Dozens of Nevin's stereographs were not stamped at all if they were printed in quantity for the Lands and Survey Dept. Some of his stereographs held at the TMAG feature the same groups of people taken on the same day in the same place, where one stereograph carries his studio stamp, and the other carries no identifier. Whoever reproduced this particular stereograph of the tent at Government Cottage, Port Arthur with squared corners from the original, leaving the double oval mount visible, not only produced a less than appealing copy, they may have taken pains to disguise the original photographer's name; one can safely assume, however, that such an amateur reprint would not have issued from Thomas J. Nevin's studio.

Source: These are scans of the copy currently displayed online at Douglas Stewart Fine Books. A black and white copy of the single image, undated and unattributed, is held at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office.

Photograph - Port Arthur - Government Cottage (copy of photo)
Description:1 photographic print
ADRI: PH30-1-8672
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

No-one other than Thomas J. Nevin could have taken the original of this stereograph. If he did not photograph these day-trippers at Port Arthur in April 1874, he most certainly photographed them on Thursday, 1st February 1872, when he was enjoined by the Tasmanian Attorney-General who was also his family solicitor, W. R. Giblin, to proceed to Port Arthur with local and intercolonial VIPS accompanying British author Anthony Trollope.  Giblin had issued Nevin with rolling government commissions  and contracts in 1868 for the Lands and Survey Dept. The negatives he used would have been prepared with the tannin dry plate process, supplied in quantity by Samuel Clifford to his cohort, so a source of continuous flowing water was not the urgent necessity it was for using wet collodion plates. The day before, on 31st January 1872, Thomas Nevin had photographed several members of the same visiting VIP group on a day-trip to Adventure Bay. He printed those dozen or so negatives in different mounts, in some instances the same negative as variously a cdv, a stereograph and a plain unmounted print according to the wishes of the trippers. This one (below) was printed in the same double oval stereograph mount as the original of the stereograph (above) featuring his tent. John Woodcock Graves, Jean Porthouse Graves and Byron Miller appear on the extreme left of each single image.

Stereograph in double oval buff mount with T. Nevin blindstamp impress in centre
Verso is blank. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
Taken at the TMAG November 2014 (TMAG Collection Ref:Q1994.56.5

Above: Group photograph of the colonists at Adventure Bay 31st January 1872
Figures on lower left, recumbent: John Woodcock Graves jnr and Sir John O’Shanassy
Between them: John Graves’ teenage daughter, Jean Porthouse Graves
Above her in topper: Robert Byron Miller
On right: sitting with stick, Hon. Alfred Kennerley, Mayor of Hobart
Head in topper only on extreme right: Sir James Erskine Calder.

This portable photographer's darkroom is held at the Museum of New Zealand:

Name Portable Darkroom - main piece
Production 1870-1880
Classification photographic equipment
Materials wood
Dimensions Overall: 480mm (width), 755mm (length), 115mm (depth)
Registration Number GH007796

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Why shave? Thomas Nevin and the pogonophiles


Young bearded man in check-pattern summer jacket
Nevin & Smith 1868 Hobart Town
Courtesy of © The Liam Peters Collection 2010.

This deft and lightly hand-tinted photograph of a bearded young man wearing a check-pattern summer jacket was taken by Thomas J. Nevin in early 1868 while operating with partner Robert Smith as the firm "Nevin & Smith" at Alfred Bock's former studio, the City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (Tasmania). The photograph was taken no later than February 1868 because Nevin's partnership with Robert Smith was dissolved by solicitor W. R. Giblin per the Mercury notice of 26th February . The occasion for both photographers and their sitter, as indicated by the Royal feathered insignia incorporated into the studio stamp on verso, was the visit to Hobart of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in command of his yacht the Galatea, arriving on 6th January and departing for NSW on 18th January 1868. At his final reception, he was presented with an album containing "eighty-three photographs illustrative of the scenery of Tasmania, forty-eight portraits of children born in the colony, and nine plates immediately connected with the Prince's visit" according to the account largely derived from local newspaper articles, Narrative of the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to the colony of Victoria, Australia, pp 200-210, published in 1868 by John George Knight. The Prince's photograph prefacing this edition shows a Royal preference for a style lightly whiskered around the chin and cheeks.

The Bearded Movement 1870s
Rapid progress from the shaved face of the 1850s to a bearded appearance, which started during the Crimean War, reached its peak in the 1870s. Designated by Victorian Britons as the"beard movement", it promoted an ideology which contended that a beard represented elemental masculinity. Potential health benefits were touted for the beard: it acted as a filter against disease, capturing germs and protecting teeth, especially where men employed in mining and industry were assaulted daily with dust and rubbish. The beard also provided other benefits such as a healthy skin, protection from sunburn, and a means to keep warm in winter. Those who adopted this love of beards were labelled "pogonophiles".

When Thomas J. Nevin married his fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day in July 1871, his three male wedding guests posing for this photograph (below)  preferred neatly trimmed beards and thin moustaches in similar fashion to Prince Alfred. Younger brother Jack Nevin, standing on extreme right, and still a teenager, had grown a moustache by 1871, and kept the style when photographed ca. 1880, by then Constable John Nevin, and still beardless. Thomas Nevin, seated with Elizabeth, wore mutton chops and no beard for the wedding in 1871 but photographs taken of him in the late 1860s and again in 1874 show his preference for the beard, reddish to the last, as remembered by his grandchildren in the 1920s.

Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin with wedding guests 1871
Jack Nevin, top right, Thomas Nevin seated
Copyright © KLW NFC  Imprint 2009 ARR

A cursory glance through dozens of commercial portraits taken by Thomas J. Nevin of his male clientele in the 1870s gives the impression that eight out of ten men - 80% no less - preferred some sort of facial hair, from a simple moustache, as was the case with his solicitor, later Tasmanian Attorney-General W. R. Giblin, to degrees between the moustache complimented with mutton chops to the massive full beard, the possession of life-timers.

The life-timer: this young man has a full beard and looks likely to keep it. A wave at the spot in front of  his top button suggests he customarily either tied it in a tail or tucked it into his jacket. Although unidentified, he may have been John Hamilton, who worked in Askin Morrison's shipping firm in 1871 and later established  the firm of John Hamilton & Co., merchants, shipping, commission and insurance agents. See this photograph of John Hamilton taken in later life with remarkably similar eyes and beard pattern.

Unidentified bearded man in top hat, well-worn coat, and umbrella under left arm
Photo taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Verso bears his most common commercial stamp
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & Private Collection 2016

Among free men, that is, apart from those prisoners Thomas Nevin photographed when they had shaved and dressed in prison issue on being incarcerated, factors such as class or age do not seem to differentiate those with beards and those without. For example, the two clean-shaven men in this photograph are the former Premier Sir John O'Shanassy in a white top hat on the viewer's extreme left, and a working class man in a narrow brim floppy white summer hat on extreme right. Thomas Nevin took this photograph of intercolonial and local VIPs in the company of colonists on board the City of Hobart, January 31st 1872 during an excursion to Adventure Bay, at Bruny Island. The bearded men in the foreground included barrister Byron Miller standing next to O'Shannasy, Captain Clinch with pipe behind him, the Premier of Tasmania the Hon. Alfred Kennerley, front centre, arms crossed, the Hon. James Erskine Calder (face next to the Capstan wheel), and the Rev. Henry Dresser Atkinson at extreme lower right. The calm young woman in this hirsute crowd remains unidentified, although in all likelihood she was Sarah Ann Ward, Rev. Atkinson's fiancée.

Stereograph of the VIPS by Nevin on board the City of Hobart 31st January 1872
T. Nevin Photo blindstamp impress recto on right hand side
Verso with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor’s stamp with Royal Arms insignia.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection Ref: Q1994.56.2

The Colonists’ Trip to Adventure Bay [callouts]
VIPs on board The City of Hobart, 31st January 1872
Stereograph in buff arched mount by Thomas J. Nevin
Private Collection KLW NFC Group copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Above is another photograph of the VIPS and colonists taken by Thomas Nevin on board the City of Hobart, 31st January 1872. The same bearded VIPS appear in this photograph. Two exceptions are pictured here, both clean-shaven and socially advantaged, both wealthy and powerful - Sir John O'Shanassy and solicitor John Woodcock Graves, reclining in this photograph also taken by Thomas Nevin on the Adventure Bay excursion.

Detail of group photograph of the colonists at Adventure Bay 31st January 1872
Figures on lower left, recumbent: John Woodcock Graves jnr and Sir John O’Shanassy
Between them: John Graves’ teenage daughter, Jean Porthouse Graves
Above her in topper: Robert Byron Miller
On right: sitting with stick, Hon. Alfred Kennerley, Mayor of Hobart
Head in topper only on extreme right: Sir James Erskine Calder.

Stereograph in double oval buff mount with T. Nevin blindstamp impress in centre
Verso is blank. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
Taken at the TMAG November 2014 (TMAG Collection Ref:Q1994.56.5

Captain William Langdon, R.N. and later Member of  Parliament also preferred the clean-shaven look for this unattributed photograph dated no later than 1870, but his parliamentary colleague the Hon. W. R. Giblin, A-G and later Premier, photographed by Nevin ca. 1874, preferred the beardless look complimented with a midly assertive moustache.

Above: Captain W. Langdon (on left) and Hon. W. R. Giblin (right). Below is another photograph of W. R. Giblin, top row, second from left, surrounded by lawyers, politicians and administrators, probably members of the LOYAL UNITED BROTHERS LODGE, A. & I.O.O.F. (Australian and International Order of Odd Fellows) for whom Thomas Nevin was the official photographer when he photographed the new Odd Fellows Hall and members who attended the opening in 1871, among various other functions. All except Giblin in this photograph favour the beard.

Group of men, including W. R. Giblin, Morton Allport, J. B. Walker and Henry Dobson]
Undated, unattributed
Record ID: SD_ILS:612220
Archives Office Tasmania

Facial hair fashions in the Nevin family
Thomas Nevin's father, John Nevin snr photographed here by his son Thomas. By 1879 he preferred a rounded beard covering the cheeks but sitting clear of the lips and minus a moustache.

John Nevin senior (1808-1887), photographed in 1879, aged 71 years, on the occasion of his marriage to his second wife, Martha Genge (aged 46 yrs).
TAHO Ref: NS434/1/155 .
Photo by Thomas J. New Town studio 1879

Thomas Nevin's brother, Jack Nevin developed his beardless style in his teens, and stuck to it.

A simple moustache, no beard or cheek hair from teen age to adulthood
Younger brother Constable John (William John, aka Jack) Nevin
Photo taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1880
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2009

The young stereographer: Thomas Nevin's self-portrait, ca. 1868

Bearded, with mutton chops and moustache
Thomas J. Nevin, mid 1860s in white gloves holding a stereoscopic viewer
Carte-de-visite on buff mount. Verso is blank.
Copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR Private Collection

Married: groom Thomas Nevin with his bride Elizabeth Rachel Day, wedding photo1871

Wispy fly-away mutton chops, moustache and no beard
Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel Day, July 12, 1871.
Wedding photograph, carte-de-visite. Verso is blank.
Copyright © KLW NFC 2005-2009 ARR.

Thomas Nevin, self-portrait, government contractor

Work-a-day dress with prisoners.
Bearded, with moustache and minus the mutton chops
Photographer T. J. Nevin ca. 1873
Self-portrait, in oval mount
Copyright © KLW NFC 2005 ARR Private Collection

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Captain Edward Goldsmith: Falkland Islands 1839


Settlement at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands May 1849
Ref: PAI4610
Artist: Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

In March 1839, when Captain Edward Goldsmith penned the letter (below) in support of British colonization of the Falkland Islands as a penal colony, he had arrived back in London from the Australian colonies in command of the barque Wave, having satisfied himself that -

"...the Falklands, from their position and internal resources, and being free from natives, will, under a company, thrive much faster than Van Dieman's Land....".

The Port Officer's Log (Archives Tasmania)
Arrival at the Port of Hobart Town the barque Wave, 17 July 1838

Captain Edward Goldsmith arrived at Hobart, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the barque Wave, on 7th July 1838 via the Cape with general cargo, 16 crew, and 17 passengers who disembarked at Hobart. The Wave was a 343 tons vessel carrying 4 guns. The voyage from Portsmouth, departing on 30th March 1838 to arrival at Hobart took just under four months. Captain Goldsmith departed Hobart in command of the Wave on the return journey for London on 10th October 1838 with six passengers, an experienced surgeon Dr Wilson, and cargo of oil and bone.

The Wave having nearly completed her cargo, will positively clear at the Custom House on the 6th, and sail early on the 7th October. Has room for a few bales of Wool, and can accommodate a few passengers. Carries an experienced surgeon.
For further particulars, apply to Captain Goldsmith, on board, or to
Old Wharf, Sept. 24, 1838

Oct. 10 - Sailed the barque Wave, 343 tons, Goldsmith, master, for London, with a cargo of oil and bone. Passengers, Captain Mackenzie and Lady, Mrs. Stewart, Miss Spurling, Mr. Henry Archer, Dr. Wilson.
Departure of the Wave. Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) Tue 16 Oct 1838 Page 4 Shipping Intelligence.

Captain Goldsmith's opinion 1839
Arriving back in London on 12th February 1839 just in time to attend the funeral of his father Richard Goldsmith snr, Captain Edward Goldsmith wrote this letter, dated 25th March, in support of colonisation of the Falklands.

Source: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Saturday 27 July 1839 p 2 Article ADVANCE AUSTRALIA SYDNEY GAZETTE.

A project for the colonization of the Falkland Islands is again set afloat, and an Association for that purpose formed. A correspondence on the subject appears in The Colonial Gazette of the 6th April. A Mr. WHITINGTON claims for himself and Lieut. LANGDON, R. N., now in Van Dieman's Land, the credit of having been the first to direct the attention of the Government and of the public to the eligibility of the Falkland Islands for a Penal Settlement. A letter from Capt GOLDSMITH, of the Wave, addressed to some parties connected with the Association, gives the following account of the Falkland Islands :-

"Captain Langdon's opinion I fully confirm ; the only obstacle in my mind is the want of timber, which may be overcome. On the 25th of November last, I anchored in Berkeley Sound, a very safe harbour, with plenty of excellent fresh water close to the beach, and abundance of bullocks, horses, and rabbits. One of the latter I brought home, and presented it to Mr. Whitington ; there are about eight sheep on the island, some of which brought lambs during my stay of five days. The soil and climate I consider capable of producing everything that is grown here. I saw peas, potatoes, turnips, &c, all thriving. I cannot imagine how our Government could, for so long a time, have overlooked so valuable and important a place not only as a naval depot, but as a Colony and resort for our numberless merchantmen requiring supplies in that quarter.

I have made many voyages to New South Wales, and have been compelled to put into Bahia, Pernambuco, and Rio Janeiro for supplies, on which occasions I have always been delayed from three to four weeks. Now the Falkland Isles are in almost a direct line, and about half way between England and the Australian Colonies, and I do not hesitate to assert that a vessel might there be supplied, and get away in twenty-four hours, without any risk or inconvenience. Could they be sure of getting what they might require, I feel assured that they would, on no account, go to any of the ports on the neighbouring coast. I am satisfied that the Falklands, from their position and internal resources, and being free from natives, will, under a company, thrive much faster than Van Dieman's Land. Sheep will do well, and may be easily imported from New South Wales.

One or two good entire horses would be very valuable out there, the present tame ones not being fleet of foot enough to catch the wild horses. I will attend your meeting, and shall be glad to give all the information in my power. It is my intention to call there again on my next voyage, and I should recommend all vessels to do so, that may require beef and water. That the settlement may be speedily formed is the wish of, gentlemen, your obedient servant,

Master of the barque Wave London, March 25, 1839".

Mr. Whitington says " a matured " plan of colonization for these important 44 islands will very shortly appear, supported by merchants and shipowners of eminence, which will insure the confidence of the public.

Source: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Saturday 27 July 1839 p 2 Article ADVANCE AUSTRALIA SYDNEY GAZETTE.

The local press in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) published Mr. Whitington's claim, penned on 28th March 1839, just three days after Captain Goldsmith's letter, that he - Whitington and partner Captain William Langdon - were the sole originators of the scheme to colonize the Falklands as a penal colony:

[A paragraph amongst the extracts from English journals, given to-day in our columns, will inform the reader that a Mr. Whitington had had an interview with the Colonial Minister, on the subject of colonising the Falkland Islands. In the Colonial Gazette of the 6th of April, we find letters from Mr. Whltington and Capt. Goldsmith, the well-known and highly respected commander of the barque Wave, upon the subject, and insert them below.]

"To the Editor of the Colonial Gazette. Sir,— In the appendix to Mr. Montgomery Martin's work on the 'Colonies of the British Empire,' under head of the Falkland Islands, he says-"These documents relating to the subject, have been placed in my hands by Henry Moreing, Esq., a gentleman well qualified for carrying into effect his sound views as to the eligibility of the Falkland Islands for a penal settlement." The paragraph calls for my comment, not with any ill feeling towards Mr. Moreing, but as a matter of justice to myself and co-partner, Lieutenant W. Langdon, R. N., now in Van Diemen's Land. Mr. Moreing has not, and never had any original views on the subject of the eligibility of the Falkland Islands for a Penal Settlement, &. All the information he has relative thereto, be derived from me, and from my documents. Lieutenant Langdon and myself were the originators of the scheme of Colonisation in question so early as 1830. We placed our views before the Colonial Office in 1831. Since which period I have been most indefatigably engaged on bringing the question to the notice of Government and the public, and making such arrangements as would justify a colony and naval nation being formed there. In 1835, with the aid and suggestions of Lieutenant Rea, of the Royal Marines, after he had visited the islands, an improved plan for a Penal Settlement was proposed by me; copies of these papers, and many others collected during a period of eight years, with draft, prospectus, and chart, I placed in Mr. Moreing's hands. Ere long, I will hand for your perusal and comment a matured plan of colonization for these important islands, which will very shortly appear, supported by merchants and ship owners of eminence, and which will insure the confidence of the public. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, G T. WHITINGTON. 13. Sise Lane, City, 28th March, 1839."
Source: Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 - 1846), Thursday 29 August 1839, page 4

Captain Goldsmith and the tree seeds 1840
The suggestion that the Falklands become a penal colony similar to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) was put forward to the Colonial Office by Captain William Langdon R.N. as early as 1830. For merchant traders such as Captain Edward Goldsmith, the Falkland islands were of primary importance as a naval depot and resort for merchantmen needing supplies. With probate matters on his father's estates at Rotherhithe, Surrey and Chalk, Kent left in the hands of his brother John Goldsmith and sister Deborah Goldsmith, Captain Goldsmith arrived back in Hobart, VDL, once more in command of the Wave, on 26th September 1839, where he attended a dinner held at Government House by his close friend, Sir John Franklin (23 October 1839). He departed Hobart on 11th January 1840 bound for London with wool and passengers, intending to anchor at Berkeley Sound East Falkland en route, as stated in his letter. The Wave arrived at Port Louis in late February 1840, the first vessel to do so in the new Crown Colony. According to this optimistic report from Lieut. John Tyssen dated 29th February 1840 (a valid leap year), which Captain Goldsmith duly conveyed on his behalf to the Admiralty, London, one hundred different tree seeds were sourced from a Hobart gardener by Captain Goldsmith as a gift to the settlement where the only other trees " upon the Island" were one American pine and a few Silver fir.

Captain Goldsmith's gift of tree seeds to the Falklands
Source: Sessional Papers printed for the House of Lords ... 1841

Enclosure in No.6.
Settlement House, port Louis, 29th February 1840
By the Wave Merchant Barque, Mr. Goldsmith Master, I take the opportunity of communicating direct to inform you, for the Information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, of my Proceedings since I took charge of the Falkland Islands.... Mr. Goldsmith, the master of the Wave, has just given me 100 different Sorts of Tree Seeds, which I intend to sow at a favourable Season; they are from a very good Gardener at Hobart Town.... The Wave is the first Vessel that has touched here since I arrived, but I have every Reason to believe more Vessels will frequent this Harbour.
Nothing of any Importance has occurred since I took Charge,
I have, & (Signed) JOHN TYSSEN, Lieut. R.N.
The Falklands did not become a penal colony, as it happened. In 1840, the Falklands became a Crown colony and Scottish settlers subsequently established an official pastoral community. Four years later, nearly everyone relocated to Port Jackson, considered a better location for government. Stanley, as Port Jackson was soon renamed, officially became the seat of government in 1845. Early in its history, Stanley had a negative reputation due to cargo-shipping losses; only in emergencies would ships rounding Cape Horn stop at the port. Nevertheless, the Falklands' geographic location proved ideal for ship repairs and the "Wrecking Trade", the business of selling and buying shipwrecks and their cargoes. Aside from this trade, commercial interest in the archipelago was minimal due to the low-value hides of the feral cattle roaming the pastures.

Disputes between the US and Argentina continued until 1844 when the US, supporting Britain, questioned the claim that all Spanish possessions had been transferred to the Government of Buenos Aires. The US and Britain declared that Spain had exercised no sovereignty over several coasts to which Buenos Aires claimed to be heir, including Patagonia. An interim Commander to the Islands, Commander Mestivier, appointed by the Buenos Aires government was murdered during a mutiny by his own men, which prompted Captain Onslow of the warship ‘Clio’ to take command, placing the Falklands under British administration. The administration was memorably challenged during Argentina's ten week occupation in 1982.

Economic growth began only after the Falkland Islands Company successfully introduced Cheviot sheep for wool farming, spurring other farms to follow suit. The high cost of importing materials, combined with the shortage of labour and consequent high wages, meant the ship repair trade became uncompetitive. After 1870, it declined as the replacement of sail ships by steamships was accelerated by the low cost of coal in South America; by 1914, with the opening of the Panama Canal, the trade effectively ended. In 1881, the Falkland Islands became financially independent of Britain.

The port of Bahia, mentioned in Captain Edward Goldsmith's letter, was the scene of considerable drama on one of his earliest voyages to Perth, Western Australia as the very young commander of the James, 1830. Seven weeks out on the voyage, he was "compelled" as he says, to berth the James at Bahia on 23 February 1830 for several reasons; the ship was so poorly built its bows needed urgent repairs, was one reason but more significant was the trouble caused by an Irish soldier, Captain Theophilius Ellis of the 1st Royal Infantry (Ireland) Regiment, who complained so emphatically over accommodation arrangements in leaky cabins that on arrival he promptly requested the vessel be condemned, the passengers refunded their money, and another vessel to carry them to W.A, demands which the Consul refused. Goldsmith in turn suggested Ellis pay for the expensive delay, and when they all re-embarked, relations between Ellis and Goldsmith only worsened. Five people had died on the voyage by 4 March, 1830: the cook, only one week out from Ireland; a woman Mrs Stewart who told Goldsmith she blamed the crowded state of the vessel for her poor health; a Mr Smith, employed by the owners of the James, who went ashore at Bahia and refused to return until Goldsmith plied him with alcohol and brought him back on board, only to die a week later; and the wife and child of a Mr Entwhistle. Rations on board were at their minimum. The day after the James arrived finally at the Swan River on 8th May 1830, it was blown ashore and wrecked, along with the brig the Emily Taylor.. Captain Goldsmith's wife Elizabeth, who was three months' pregnant when they departed Britain, gave birth twelve days later, on 20 May 1830, to their son Richard Sydney Goldsmith.

Read Laughlan Bellingham Mackinnon's contemporary account which comprehensively covers the physical, historical and biotic features of the Falklands, written during his visit with Captain Sullivan. The map shows the coastline of East Falkland with Berkeley Sound as it was known in 1839. Some of Mackinnon's observations are remarkably similar to those of Captain Goldsmith's.

Some Account of the Falkland Islands: From a Six Months' Residence in 1838

Captain William Langdon R.N.
On his early voyages to Van Diemen's Land, and later, he introduced blackbirds, thrushes, goldfinches, pheasants and partridges to the colony. (see ADB extract below)

Title: Captain Langdon (1790–1879)
Description:1 photographic print [unattributed, ca 1870]
Source:Archives Office of Tasmania

Captain William Langdon (1790–1879)
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography

William Langdon (1790-1879), naval officer and landowner, was born on 6 November 1790 at Montacute vicarage, Somerset, England, the fifth son of Rev. William Langdon. When 13, while at school at Beaminster, Dorset, he became inspired by the career of Admiral Hood (Viscount Bridport), obtained an interview with him and asked for an appointment as a midshipman. A few weeks later Bridport wrote to him directing him to join H.M.S. Weymouth, in which he became a first-class volunteer in April 1804. He sailed in her to Madras escorting East Indiamen. In September 1806 he was present at the capture of a French frigate off Rochefort; in 1806 he was transferred to the Monarch and in August 1807 to the Champion; he saw much action and when only 17 was sent to Plymouth in command of a French prize; in 1810 he joined the Badger and in August 1811 became acting lieutenant in the Ringdove in the West Indies, the promotion being confirmed in November. He was invalided from May 1812 to September 1814.
After the peace of Paris, seeing no prospect of speedy promotion, he retired, bought the Lusitania, 245 tons, and took her on a trading voyage to Sydney and Hobart Town, where he first landed in October 1821. On a second voyage he reached Sydney in May 1823. He exchanged the Lusitania for the Hugh Crawford, which reached Sydney in April 1825. In 1828 he bought the Wanstead and in 1829 the Thomas Lawrie. In November 1822 he was fined £800 for breaking the port regulations by giving a passage from Hobart to England to Thomas Kent.
While still engaged in trading between England and the Australian colonies Langdon in 1823 received a grant of 1500 acres (607 ha) on the Clyde River near Bothwell. He added to this property, which he called Montacute, by purchase. In September 1834 Langdon arrived in Van Diemen's Land with his wife Anne, née Elliott, of Somerset, and their daughter Anne, to settle on his colonial estate. On his early voyages to Van Diemen's Land, and later, he introduced blackbirds, thrushes, goldfinches, pheasants and partridges to the colony. In September 1837 Langdon let his properties, totalling 6000 acres (2428 ha) with 2000 sheep, for £1300 a year and in March 1838 returned to England, where he lived at Inwood Lodge, near Sherborne, Dorset. There he entertained friends from Van Diemen's Land and encouraged many people to emigrate; then and later he paid the fares of some who emigrated and even had some educated at his own expense. On 14 June 1842 his only daughter Anne became the second wife of Sir Thomas Howland Roberts, third baronet, of Glassenbury, Kent...
Citation details
'Langdon, William (1790–1879)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 March 2016.

John Glover's 1833 painting of Captain Langdon's property, Montacute, Bothwell, Tasmania
National Gallery of Australia {?}
Ref: 43130839

Captain Edward Goldsmith was the paternal uncle of Thomas J. Nevin's wife, Elizabeth Rachel Day, having married her father's sister and namesake Elizabeth Day at Liverpool (UK) in 1829. Her father, Captain James Day had served as Captain Goldsmith's navigator and first mate on several voyages dating back to the 1830s. Most likely she knew of her uncle's friendship with Captain Langdon, and may have visited Montacute around the time these photographs were taken.

Two stereo views ca. 1870-74 at Montacute, Bothwell Tasmania
No photographer studio stamp
Private Collection © G.Harrisson 2014 {?}

The versos are inscribed in handwriting, with "Tasmania" along the edge of one, which also appears on Thomas Nevin's photograph of Mary Morrison stamped recto with Nevin's impress. Photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin travelled around the island in partnership during the 1860s-1870s, producing prodigious numbers of commercial stereographs. One of their visits on passing through Bothwell was reported at length in The Mercury 26th September 1874.

Top of Cpt Langdon's trunk, Norfolk ship
"Not to be used on voyage"
Narryna Museum Battery Point Hobart Tasmania
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2013 ARR


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