Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thomas Nevin and Alfred Barrett Biggs 1872-1876

ALFRED BARRETT BIGGS Transit of Venus 1874

The Biggs family
Abraham Biggs (1799-1875) was a builder and contractor from Bedford, England who arrived in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1833 as a free settler with his wife Eliza Biggs née Coleman (1801-1891) and three sons aboard the Sir John Rae Reid. In Tasmania, Abraham and Eliza Biggs had a several more children up to and including the last, Laura Elizabeth Turner Biggs born in October 1845. Their daughter, Elizabeth Susannah Biggs who was born on 6th April 1838 at Jerusalem - a town in the central highlands region of Tasmania, one of several with Biblical place names, eg. River Jordan, Bagdad, Jericho - was baptised at the Wesleyan Church, Hobart on 25th December 1838. Her father's "trade or occupation" was registered as "catechist" (Baptisms in Tasmania, 1803-1862 (to no. 5364) RGD 32/1-32/4).

Both Abraham Biggs senior and his sons Alfred Barrett and Abraham Edwin alternated periods of residence at their properties in Victoria and Tasmania from the 1850s. With the death of Abraham Biggs senior in Melbourne in 1875, the lease on the studio and residence held by photographer Thomas J. Nevin since 1865 with his eldest son Abraham Edwin Biggs and operated as The City Photographic Establishment, 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, was advertised at auction. A few portraits and stereographs taken for the Biggs family by Thomas J. Nevin are held in public collections.

On left: Abraham Biggs ca. 1870
Photographer: Paterson Brothers, East Melbourne
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online: LMSS754-1-12

On right: Mrs Eliza Biggs, wife of Abraham Biggs early 1870s
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, Hobart
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online:LMSS754-1-10

On 20th December 1852, three years before his marriage to Harriet Burville in 1855, Alfred Barrett Biggs left Launceston on the Yarra Yarra bound for Melbourne where he continued working as a bank clerk. He arrived just a few weeks after the quarantine of the female emigrant ship Bombay on which 24 deaths had occurred during the voyage, four from typhus fever.

Left page: Biggs, A: Record Type:Departures
Title: Mr: Rank: Cabin
Departure date: 20 Dec 1852 Departure port: Launceston
Ship: Yarra Yarra Ship to colony: Sir John Rae Reid
Bound to: Melbourne Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:523302
Resource:POL220/1/2 p282

Deaths on the ship Bombay, Melbourne, December 1852.

Deaths on the ship Bombay, Melbourne December 1852
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Wed 15 Dec 1852 Page 4 SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE.

The Bombay, ship, 1270 tons, Capt. Flamant, from London, 114 days out, with 706 Government Emigrants, anchored at the Heads on Saturday evening; from information received yesterday morn-ing it appears that 24 deaths had occurred on the voyage, two from drowning, four from typhus fever, (one of which occurred just on entering the Heads), the others from general diseases. This vessel came up off Gellibrand's Point, yesterday afternoon, with the quarantine flag flying at the main, and at the time the Health Officer left Williams Town, it was supposed she would be either sent to the quarantine anchorage off Brighton, or back to the sanitary station at Point Nepean.
By whatever means, Alfred Biggs managed to obtain a gruesome relic from the death of a woman on the Bombay who was buried at sea. It is not at all clear in his note bearing a fragment of muslin with polka dots from her dress whether it was thrown overboard at the time of her burial, to be retrieved two weeks later when a shark attended another burial and was caught and cut open open to reveal the piece of dress material, or whether she was wearing the dress when she was consumed two weeks' earlier by the same shark. In any event, according to Alfred Biggs' note, the shark was cooked and eaten - by whom he doesn't say - except to say it tasted like eel. Alfred's barely disguised innuendo here is to suggest second-hand cannibalism.

Note from Alfred Biggs and piece of muslin dress. Cloth piece was thrown overboard and later retrieved from shark caught during funeral on the ship Bombay in 1852.
Item Number: NS5467/1/3
Archives Office Tasmania

"Piece cut from a length of Muslin (a width cut from a young persons dress, & thrown overboard) after an interval of a fortnight, taken out of a Shark, caught during a funeral at sea, on board the ship Bombay coming from England to Australia end of 1852.
Portion of said Shark, cooked, tasted very much like eel.
A.B. Biggs"

Triple Wedding, 22nd February 1855
The three sons of Abraham and Eliza Biggs née Coleman -

Alfred Barrett Biggs (1825–1900)
Abraham Edwin Biggs (1829-1899)
Isaac Henry Biggs (1831-1906)

- each married their respective brides all on the same day, February 22nd, 1855 in a triple wedding held at the Wesleyan Centenary Chapel, Melville-street, Hobart:-

Eldest son Alfred Barrett Biggs, bank clerk, married 20 yrs old Harriet Burvill (1834-1894).
Second son, Abraham Edwin Biggs, builder, married Eliza Burvill (1833-1881?)
Third son, Isaac Henry Biggs, draper, married Annie Hodgins (1832-1904)

Triple wedding; Biggs family
Source; Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857), Tuesday 27 February 1855, page 2

BY special license, on Thursday last, the 22nd instant, at the Wesleyan Centenary Chapel, Melville-street, by the Rev. J. A Manton, Mr. ALFRED BARRETT BIGGS, eldest son of Mr. A. Biggs, Builder, of Melbourne, to HARRIET, second daughter of Mr. J. Burvill, of Elizabeth-street ; and at the same time and place, Mr. ABRAHAM EDWIN BIGGS, Builder, second son of Mr. A. Biggs, to ELIZA, eldest daughter of Mr. J. Burvill. and Mr. ISAAC HENRY BIGGS, third son of Mr. A. Biggs, to ANNIE, eldest daughter of Mrs. Hodgins, of Macquarie-street.

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) Tue 27 Feb 1855 Page 2 Family Notices

Three certificates, three marriages, details of the first are:
Name: Biggs, Alfred Barrett
Record Type: Marriages
Gender: Male
Age: Adult
Spouse: Burville, Harriett
Gender: Female
Age: Minor
Date of marriage: 22 Feb 1855
Registered: Hobart
Registration year: 1855
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:851923
Resource: RGD37/1/14 no 714 Archives Office Tasmania

The Burville sisters and their respective husbands - eldest daughter of Mr. J. Burville, Harriet who married Alfred Barrett Biggs, and second eldest daughter Eliza who married his brother Abraham Edwin Biggs - lived in a commodious two storey house in Burville Place, near the Toll-gate on New Town Road, Hobart, until mid 1857 when renovations on the kitchens and other improvements were completed. The house was then advertised to let;

Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) Thu 12 Mar 1857 Page 3 Advertising

WANTED a RESPECTABLE TENANT for "Burville Place," near the Toll-gate, New Town Road. Possession as soon as the new kitchens and other improvements are completed. Enquire of Mr. A. E. Biggs, on the premises or to Messrs. Mather and Son, Liverpool street.

Stereograph - Burville Place, New Town, Tasmania, bridal home of Alfred and Harriet Biggs and Edwin and Eliza Biggs, married on the same day in 1855.
Photographer: ?
Start Date: 01 Jan 1850
End Date: 31 Dec 1859
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online LPIC147-3-171

Thomas Nevin at Bothwell and Campbell Town 1874
Eldest son Alfred Barrett Biggs with wife Harriet moved to Victoria in 1858 where he became headmaster of the Hoddle Street School, Melbourne but by 1864 they were back in Tasmania where Alfred took a teaching position at Bothwell. Their first five children were born in Melbourne.

By 1872 they had moved again to Campbell Town (Tasmania) where Alfred took another teaching post. There he met Dr William Valentine whose interest in astronomy resulted in a collaboration with a visiting American expedition headed by Charles Raymond to photograph the Transit of Venus from The Grange, Valentine's home, during December 1874. Alfred Biggs was given the building used by the Americans for the assistance he gave in the construction of the brick pier for the transit instrument and the wooden hut.

The New York Times published an account on 9th February, 1875, of the American expedition's visit to Tasmania to photograph the Transit of Venus in 1874. Read the full article here.

Photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin met up with Alfred Biggs at Bothwell and Campbell Town on their travelling tour from Hobart to Launceston during the last stages of preparation for the visit by the American expedition, no doubt to inspect the impressive array of photographic instruments. This stereograph of the Templar's procession outside the school house at Bothwell was taken by Thomas J. Nevin while travelling with Samuel Clifford through the town on 26th September 1874. The notes accompanying this photograph now held at the Archives Office of Tasmania indicate the house, noted on Calder's map of 1847, was formerly occupied by Alfred Barrett Biggs, his wife and children, from 1864 to 1872.

Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, Bothwell, September 1874
Source: State Library of Tasmania and TAHO
View online LPIC147-1-126

The members of the Order, according to their respective lodges then formed in procession outside the building, where a capital photograph was taken by Messrs Clifford and Nevin, photographers of Hobart Town, who were located in the township on a travelling tour. The township was then paraded, the band striking up some lively airs, but a smart shower coming down, the procession was speedily dispersed in every directions in quest of shelter.
Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin in Bothwell
Source: Mercury 26 Sept 1874

Thomas Nevin at The City Photographic Establishment
Alfred Barrett Biggs' brother, Abraham Edwin Biggs, resident of Victoria, was the proprietor of the premises at 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart which Alfred Bock first operated as a photographer's studio with his (step) brother William Bock from 1857-1865. On Alfred Bock's departure to Victoria, commercial photographer and government contractor Thomas J. Nevin continued the business with the firm's name, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town until his appointment in 1876 to full-time civil service with residency at the Hobart Town Hall. By 1874 he had installed his wife Elizabeth Rachel Nevin née Day and their two children (Mary Florence Elizabeth aka "May" b. 1872 and Thomas James jnr aka "Sonny" b. 1874) in the residence next to the studio. Elizabeth's father, master mariner Captain James Day, also resided there with the family while on shore in 1874. Thomas Nevin maintained his New Town studio where he had first opened his professional practice in 1864 concurrently with operating The City Photographic Establishment, Elizabeth St. and working for the HCC at the Hobart Town Hall in residence, returning to professional photography at New Town in 1881 until retirement in 1886-88.

Alfred Bock's studio stamp design and Thomas Nevin's adaptation after 1865
City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town
Copyright © Private Collections ARR 2007-2013

Alfred Bock was declared insolvent in 1865 and abruptly departed Tasmania, financially bruised by a dispute with photographer Henry Frith about the origins and rights to the sennotype process, His (half) brother William Bock departed for NSW, arriving in New Zealand in 1868. On 2nd August 1865 the stock-in-trade of Alfred Bock at the City Photographic Establishment was advertised for auction. The sale included a glass house which Bock and Nevin had installed at the end of the laneway adjacent to the studio

This Day
WEDNESDAY, 2nd August
at 11 o'clock
On the premises, 140 Elizabeth-street, nearly opposite the town residence of Henry Hopkins, Esq.
Stock-in-Trade of a Photographer
Large Glass Studio, Shop Fittings, Oil Paintings, &c.
Have received instructions from John Milward, Esq, Assignee to the estate of Mr. Alfred Bock, to sell by auction, on the premises, Elizabeth-street, on THIS DAY, 2nd August, at 11 o'clock
THE STOCK-IN-TRADE of a Photographer, comprising -
Instruments, Chemicals, Background, accessories, chairs, tables, pedestals, vases, and many other necessary articles for taking photographic portraits, &c., &c.,
A large and exceedingly well furnished glass house, 22 feet by 8 feet, with dark room attached,
A few choice oil paintings in gilt frames, show cases, and photographs, an a small collection of books.
Terms - Cash
Source: Notice of auction of Alfred Bock's stock in trade, Mercury, 2 August 1865.

A view of Thomas Nevin's studio, third door down on right side at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867 of the City Photographic Establishment
T. Nevin impress on lower centre of mount.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.12

Another view of Thomas Nevin's studio, third door down on right side at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867 of the City Photographic Establishment
TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-33

This full-length portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs (below) was taken by Thomas Nevin in the early 1870s at the City Photographic Establishment. The same decor of a backdrop sheet painted with a vista of tiles on a patio terrace, an Italianate balcony, and a cart path or river meandering through a valley in the distance, partially obscured by a damask drape foregrounded to the left of the client, all feature in dozens of Nevin's full-length portraits. That particular dining chair appears in his portrait of a woman with bonnet and pink ribbons held at the National Gallery of Victoria, and in another of Mrs Elizabeth Bayley, second wife of Captain James Bayley, held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The carpet pattern of lozenges and chain links, darker in some portraits or heavily tinted in others with green or red, is also present in many of these full-length portraits.

Posing with an upturned walking cane in his right hand, his left hand resting on the chair where someone decorously placed a book and top hat as signifiers of class and literacy, Alfred Barrett Biggs was anything but relaxed at the point of capture, despite the casual stance with right leg bent at the knee crossing the left. Although his gaze fell slightly to the left of where Thomas Nevin stood while composing the shot, the exchanges of dialogue between the two men at that point would not explain why Alfred's eyes fairly burn, they are so bright. Very light or pale blue eyes can cause this sort of look and while pin pricks or black dots were sometimes used by studio assistants to accentuate the client's eyes when they do appear too pale, in this case Alfred's eyes appear untouched, a sign he might be experiencing an acute and very real state of mental anguish, sadness, exhaustion or even anger. On printing and mounting the photograph, Thomas Nevin or one of his studio colourists such as his wife Elizabeth Rachael nee Day who used yellow on her own portraits (ca. 1870), added a touch of yellow to Alfred's fob chain. The same yellow tint appears in Nevin's portrait of young Richard McVilly dated 18th December 1874, taken at the City Photographic Establishment for the father, William McVilly, a colleague at the Municipal Police Office.

Alfred Barrett Biggs ca, 1872-4 (ca. 45 yrs)
Photographer : Thomas J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, Hobart
Source:Archives Office of Tasmania
View online: LMSS754-1-9

Another studio portrait by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870-75, taken at The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, with decor featuring a painted wall hanging with Italianate tiling and balcony giving onto a river scene.
Scans courtesy © The Private Collection of Marcel Safier 2005 ARR

The same distinctive dining chair in Alfred Barrett Biggs' portrait provided support for these two clients.

National Gallery of Victoria Catalogue Notes
No title (woman wearing a bonnet with a pink bow), carte-de-visite (1865-1867)
T. NEVIN, Hobart
Medium albumen silver photograph, watercolour
Measurements 9.5 × 5.8 cm (image and support) Place/s of Execution Hobart, Tasmania
Inscription printed in ink on support on reverse c. AD ALTIORA / CITY PHOTOGRAPHIC ESTABLISHMENT / T. NEVIN. / LATE / A. BOCK. / 140 ELIZABETH ST / HOBART TOWN. / Further copies / can be obtained at / any time.
Accession Number 2003.395 Department Australian Photography Credit Line National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through the NGV Foundation by John McPhee, Member, 2003

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q2012.28.28
Full length cdv on plain mount:
Elizabeth Bayley, second wife of Captain James Bayley of Runnymede, New Town, Tasmania,
Studio portrait by Thomas Nevin late December 1874.
Verso with studio stamp: “Ad Altiora” above Kangaroo emblem, T. Nevin late A. Bock encircled by belt printed with “City Photographic Establishment” and address below, “140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town”. In italics below: “Further Copies can be obtained at any time”.

This portrait of Alfred Barnett Biggs' mother, Eliza Biggs née Coleman (1801-1891) was taken in late 1875 by Thomas Nevin at the City photographic Establishment. The unusual feature of the decor in this portrait is the platform behind her, covered with Nevin's more commonly used lighter coloured tapis. The chair and lower darker floor covering is the same as the mat and chair in the portrait of her son Alfred Barrett and Harriet Biggs playing chess.

Mrs Eliza Coleman Biggs, wife of Abraham Biggs 1870s
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, Hobart
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online:LMSS754-1-10

A rare pose, this photograph of Alfred Barrett Biggs, his head down contemplating his next move in a game of chess with his wife Harriet née Burville who observes the photographer almost obliquely under her lashes, was taken about the same time as the full-length portrait of Alfred's mother Eliza Biggs. Harriet chose to wear a voluminous dress of the sheerest ribbed silk, pin-tucked at the bodice and overlain with a transparent gauze shawl across her shoulders. The tall chess pieces were commonly made from ivory.

Alfred Barrett Biggs and his wife Harriet Burville Biggs early 1870s
Photographer; Thomas J. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, Hobart
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online LMSS754-1-11

When Abraham Biggs senior died on the 22nd June 1875 at Hawthorn, Melbourne, his second eldest son Abraham Edwin Biggs was the lessor of the premises at 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town occupied by Thomas J. Nevin since Alfred Bock's departure to Victoria in 1865. The studio lease was to be sold separately from the glass house which Bock and Nevin had maintained as a gallery at the rear of the side cart entrance adjacent to the residence.

Right page:
136-138 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
Name and residence of the occupier of the property: Thomas J. Nevin
Names and residence of the proprietor of the property: Abraham E. Biggs, Victoria.
Rateable value: £42
Source; Australia, Tasmania, Government Gazette, 1833-1925 SLTX/AO/NP/182: 9 Dec 1873-21 Oct 1874. Image 99

Between the studio and the residence at 140 Elizabeth Street was the glass house with a residence attached, listed in The Hobart Town Gazettes of 1872-4 with the address 138-and-a-half - 138½ Elizabeth Street, and tenanted by Nevin's young apprentice William Ross. In mid 1875, Thomas Nevin advertised the lease of the shop, studio and glass house as he prepared his family to take up residence at the Hobart Town Hall with his appointment as Hall and Office Keeper to the Hobart City Corporation in January 1876.

Thomas J. Nevin's shop and glass house TO LET,
The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.)Thu 24 Jun 1875 Page 1 Advertising

TO LET, those eligible BUSINESS PREMISES in Elizabeth-street, presently occupied by Mr. Nevin, photographer. It is a double-windowed shop, has a large glass-house or gallery at the back, and has a side cart entrance. Apply to G.S. CROUCH, Auctioneer.
The glass house was eventually sold to photographer Stephen Spurling elder who auctioned it when he was declared bankrupt in November 1875.

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

When Abraham Edwin Biggs died in Victoria in 1899, the Hobart premises formerly occupied by photographer Thomas J. Nevin at 138-140 Elizabeth St. may have been sold on or prior to his death. The rooms were advertised for meetings of phrenology demonstrations in the 1890s, but by 1904 the "cowkeepers and purveyors of milk" in the row of houses and shops next to the old studio, including 136 Elizabeth St, were on notice by the Board of Health to control the unsanitary practice of keeping cowsheds out the back and storing milk and utensils in the shop (Mercury Tue 14 Jun 1904 Page 2).

Addenda 1: Biography of Alfred Barrett BIGGS (1825–1900)
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography

Life Summary [details]
Alfred Barrett BIGGS
Birth 10 April 1825
London, Middlesex, England
Death 19 December 1900
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Cultural Heritage English
Religious Influence Methodist Presbyterian
Occupation astronomer inventor school principal schoolteacher scientific instrument maker

Alfred Barrett Biggs (1825-1900), teacher, bank officer, astronomer and inventor, was born on 10 April 1825 in London, eldest son of Abraham Biggs, carpenter, and his wife Eliza, née Coleman. In 1833 the family moved to Van Diemen's Land. Abraham's involvement in Methodism and eventually in the teaching profession was to have a strong influence on Alfred, who took up a tutoring position at Bothwell in 1845. Three years later he became a bank clerk in Hobart Town, but left for Melbourne in 1852, continuing in banking then returning to teaching. On 22 February 1855 at Melville Street Wesleyan Chapel, Hobart, Biggs married Harriet Burville. In 1858 he became headmaster of the Hoddle Street School, Melbourne. The family returned in 1864 to Tasmania, where Biggs again took a teaching post at Bothwell. In 1872 they moved to Campbell Town. There he taught in the public school and befriended Dr William Valentine. Both men were fascinated by astronomy and in 1874 a rare astronomical event occurred: the transit of Venus. Valentine had invited an American expedition to view the transit from his home. Biggs assisted with the observations and the Americans gave him a building they had used in making their observations.

In 1877 Biggs learned of the invention of the telephone. He then constructed a pair of telephones and had them connected between Launceston and Campbell Town, successfully transmitting sounds between the two locations. It has been claimed that this was the first telephone connection in Australia. About 1879 he moved to Launceston and took a position as accountant and ledger-keeper with the Launceston Bank for Savings. His continuing interest in astronomy led to the construction of an observatory in the western part of the city. Despite the small size of his telescopes—his instruments were then a 2-inch (51-mm) and a 3-inch (76-mm) refractor—Biggs was a diligent and pedantic observer, becoming known as Launceston's 'Astronomer Royal'. He contributed reports to the local newspaper and from 1884 papers to the Royal Society of Tasmania, of which he was that year elected a fellow. He made observations and measurements of comets, double stars, eclipses and transits of Mercury and Venus (another transit of Venus occurred in 1882). In 1885 he came into possession of an 8½ inch (216-mm) diameter reflecting telescope, originally owned by Valentine.

Biggs had a reputation as an inventor and instrument maker. He constructed a microscope—grinding the lenses himself—and both a vertical and a horizontal seismometer; his interest in seismology was likely to have been aroused by Launceston's small earth tremors about 1880. Other devices he made included an observatory clock driven by a float and micrometers to measure angular separations, such as the apparent distance between double stars, through the telescope. For the detection of counterfeit coins he invented a coin tester.

His devotion to religious activities was lifelong. At St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Launceston, Biggs played the organ and conducted the choir; he composed at least three hymns. He saw no conflict between religion and science. When he was a teacher, he had some difficult times with the Board of Education. However, his thin, bearded face was suggestive of a man with a sense of humour. A frequent writer of letters to the press, he was a committee member and sometime president and treasurer of the Launceston Mechanics' Institute. Predeceased by his wife, Biggs died on 19 December 1900 at his residence above the bank and was buried in the general cemetery. Six of his eight children survived him. A 1935 memorial to Biggs stands in Royal Park, Launceston, near the former site of his observatory.

Select Bibliography
M. Giordano, Watcher of the Skies (Launc, Tas, 1995)
Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 1933
Records of the Queen Victoria Museum Launceston, no 89, 1985
Examiner (Launceston), 29 Sept 1886, p 2, 20 Dec 1900, p 7
Biggs family papers (Archives Office of Tasmania)
private information.
Citation details:
Martin George, 'Biggs, Alfred Barrett (1825–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 6 September 2019.

Addenda 2: Writings of Alfred Barrett Biggs
Source: University of Tasmania Open Access Repository

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1887 , 'Alpha Centauri, with a graphic projection of its orbit from its apparent curve' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 79-82 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1885 , 'Eclipse of March 30-31, 1885' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , p. 309 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1886 , 'Is Jupiter self-luminous?' , Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 33-38 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1884 , 'Notes of spectroscopic observations of comet “pons," 27th January to 2nd February, 1884' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 200-201 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1889 , 'Observations of comet of July and August, 1889, taken at Launceston, Tasmania, Lat. 41 degrees 26' 01" : Long. 9 degrees 48'31" East.' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , p. 105 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1884 , 'Observations on Mr. R. M. Johnston's vital statistics' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 276-280 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1866 , 'The Occulation of Jupiter' , Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1889 , 'Recent measures of " A. Centauri."' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , p. 106 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1892 , 'Remarks on Sir Robert Ball's paper (Read at the Hobart meeting of the Australasian Science Association), entitled : " The astronomical explanation of a glacial period."' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 21-25 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1884 , 'Report of spectroscopic observation of the twilight glows during February and March, 1884' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 202-203 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1885 , 'Tasmanian earth tremors, 1883-4-5' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 325-334 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1891 , 'Total eclipse of the moon, 24th May, 1891, observed at Launceston' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 44-45 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1887 , 'The comets of February, 1880 and January, 1887' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 38-39 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1889 , 'A new dark-field micrometer for double-star measurement' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 98-101 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1891 , 'The possibility of the telescope' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 18-24 .

Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1891 , 'The transit of Mercury, May 10, 1891' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 46-48 .

Addenda 3: later portraits of Alfred Barrett Biggs

Photographic portrait of BIGGS, Alfred Barett
Start Date: 01 Jan 1880 (age ca. 55 yrs)
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online:PH30-1-2892

This portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs was taken in 1891, duplicated and mounted on each of his season tickets as a "passport" for admission to the events of The Tasmanian Exhibition of 1891-92 held at Launceston.

Alfred Barrett Biggs 1891 (ca. 66 yrs old)
Source: Launceston Family Album

This portrait and several more appear in the comprehensive historical account of the Biggs family over five generations by John Biggs, published in 2011.

John B Biggs (2011) Tasmania over five generations: Return to Van Diemen's Land ?, Forty Degrees South Pty Ltd.

Portrait of Alfred Barrett Biggs 1894 (age ca. 70 yrs)
Photographer: Stephen Spurling, Launceston]
Item Number: LMSS754/1/13
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
View online: LMSS754-1-13


Monday, July 29, 2019

Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN's mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

Private Collection of JEAN PORTHOUSE GRAVES
Photographer THOMAS J. NEVIN
Exhibition at HOBART July 2019 PHOTOGRAPHS of Australian and British Convicts

Prisoner James Blanchfied
Photographed on discharge from the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin, April 1875.

"The prisoner, a most unfavorable specimen of the genus homo, seemed to take his trial in good part, and on leaving the dock favored his victims and Mr. Scarr in particular, with a low bow." The Tasmanian (Launceston) Sat 26 Oct 1872 Page 11
Prisoner James William Blanchfield
Prisoner James W. Blanchfield was charged on 23rd September 1872 with obtaining goods by false pretenses. In the dock he implicated barrister Robert Byron Miller in his crime by telling the judge that he had paid Mr. Byron Miller a sum of seven guineas to transfer a very large amount of money, which he claimed was an inheritance, from a bank in Melbourne to a bank in Hobart where he said he had an account. The inheritance did not exist, of course, and it was not the first time James Blanchfield had tried unlawfully gaining goods by pretending he had credit. Robert Byron Miller (1825 - 1902) was a barrister who served the colony of Tasmania as Attorney-General for four years (1863-1866 - see Addendum below). He was photographed on several occasions by Thomas J. Nevin, as indeed were the prisoners he represented in court, including James Blanchfield who suggested at trial in his defense that Mr. Byron Miller was to blame for the confusion which led to his crime (see newspaper report below):


James Blanchfield charged with false pretences
The Tasmanian (Launceston, Tas.) Sat 26 Oct 1872 Page 11 TORQUAY.

James William Blanchfield was charged by Mr. C.D.C. Reynolds with having, on 23rd September, obtained from Mr. G. Scarr, of the River Leven, goods to the amount of £16.9s.8d through false pretences.
C. Scarr deposed - I am a storekeeper and reside at the Leven; I know the prisoner; he was at my place on the 18th of last month; he wanted to know about some goods; he told me, that he had had £4,500 left him in cash and an estate with a yearly rental of £350; he had two females named Davidson with him, and he told me to let them have whatever they wanted and he would pay for them; on the faith of his representations I let him have goods to the amount of £16.9s.8d; the goods were calico, blankets, dresses; boots; trousers, &; he gave me a cheque on the Union Bank as payment; that is the cheque (produced), it is dated 18th September, is drawn in my favor and signed by the prisoner in the name of James W. Blanchfield; he had a cheque book with him which he said he got from the Union Bank, Launceston; he said he had a large amount of money sent to the Savings Bank and that Mr. Pullen had written to him saying the amount was too great to be there and requesting him to come to town and that Mr. White, of Melbourne, had written to Mr. Byron Miller to withdraw the money from the Savings Bank, and deposit it in the Union Bank, and that Mr. Miller had done so; he also said that he had signed his name in the book at the Union Bank and that he had a bank-book which with his other papers were in the hands of Mr. Miller, to whom he had paid seven guineas for transacting his business; I ... the bank at the Union Bank and sent the cheque there, it was dishonored and marked "no account"; I swear that the prisoner defrauded me of my goods by his false representations and valueless cheque ...
The Cornwall Advertiser (Launceston) Fri 10 Jan 1873 Page 2 reprinted most of the article from the Tasmanian newspaper of 26 October 1872 when James Blanchfield appeared again, this time in the Hobart Supreme Court when he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
See also:The Tasmanian (Launceston) Sat 4 Jan 1873 Page 2.

PRISON and POLICE RECORDS for James Blanchfield
James Blanchfield was a British Army Corporal in the 70th Regiment. He was tried for striking his superior officer and court martialled at Leeds on 10th June 1844, sentenced to 14 years. He was transported to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), arriving at Hobart on the Cornwall, 11th June 1851.

Detail, right column last entry, return to Hobart H.C. 20 April 1873. James Blanchfield's transportation record
Source: CON33/1/103, James Blanchfield, Names Index, Archives Office Tasmania)
This record includes details of the crime for which the prisoner was transported to VDL on the Cornwall, 1851 and subsequent misdemeanours before imprisonment in January 1873.

James W. Blanchfield was charged on 23rd September 1872 at Launceston (Tas) with obtaining goods by false pretenses. He was sent to the Port Arthur prison, 60 kms south of Hobart on 21st February 1873 and within eight weeks was removed back to the Hobart Gaol, arriving on 20th April 1873. As a result, his name does not appear in the Port Arthur Conduct register of prisoners' earnings 1868-1876 (CON94-1-2 TAHO). He was among the sixty prisoners already returned to the Hobart Gaol when the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin in Parliament, July 1873, tabled a  list of 109 prisoners' names to be returned to Hobart by October 1873. Blanchfield was already back at the city gaol in Hobart when photographic materials allegedly arrived at Port Arthur in August 1873 to be used by visiting photographers Clifford and Nevin for documenting the dilapidated state of the prison buildings. James Blanchfield petitioned the Attorney-General on 13th March 1875. His transportation record (last entry in right column in the transportation record above) indicated he was to be discharged on 8th April -
"... if conduct continues good. Discharge accordingly." (Source: CON33/1/103, James Blanchfield, Names Index, Archives Office Tasmania)
James Blanchfield's name appears on page 2 (below) in the list of a total of 109 prisoners who were sent to the Port Arthur prison from 1871 and tabled in Parliament to return by October 1873 as the process of closing Port Arthur gained momentum . The complete list was prepared by Thomas Reidy, Inspector for H.M. Gaols etc for Males, Hobart, 9th June, 1873 and was published in July 1873. The Attorney-General W. R. Giblin stated in Parliament that sixty prisoners had already been removed back to the Hobart Gaol in Campbell St. and the remainder on the list would also be removed from Port Arthur back to Hobart -
"... as soon as arrangements for the proper custody and control of the Prisoners can be made on the Main Land"[i.e. Hobart].

Above: Parliament of Tasmania: NOMINAL RETURN of all Prisoners sent to PORT ARTHUR since its transfer to the Colonial Government, showing their Ages, dates of Conviction, where Convicted, Crimes, and Sentences. Memo from the Hon F. M. Innes June 10th 1873 to J. Forster, Inspector of Police, June 11th, 1873.

This record shows James Blanchfield's name was entered three times against a trial date of 23rd October 1872, with a pencilled superscript note "put up" inserted into the plea "Not put up guilty"

Blanchfield, James
Record Type: Court
Status: Free by servitude
Trial date: 23 Oct 1872
Offense: False pretences
Verdict: Guilty
Prosecutions Project ID: 112598
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1520867
Resource: AB693-1-1 1872
Archives Office Tasmania

James Blanchfield was discharged from the Hobart House of Corrections (the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St.) during the week ending 14th April 1875. He was 48 years old on discharge, originally from Waterford (Ireland), 5 ft 5 ins tall, with dark brown hair and a tattoo of a mermaid on his left arm. He was tried at the Supreme Court, Launceston (northern Tasmania) on 9th January 1873 for obtaining goods by false pretences, to serve a 3 year sentence but he served just over two years. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin in early April 1875 during the fortnight preceding discharge together with another prisoner, James Merchant.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, J. Barnard Gov't printer

Prisoner MERCHANT, James
TMAG Ref: Q15587
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Taken on James Merchant's discharge from the Hobart Gaol, April 1875

The verso of this cdv of James Blanchfield (below) - and at least 200 more which were acquired by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston, Tas) from convictarian John Watt Beattie's estate in the 1930s - was inscribed by Beattie and his assistant Edward Searle in the early 1900s with the wording "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" to encourage the sale of postcards bearing these prisoner photographs as part of a concerted campaign by the Tasmanian government to promote the ruins of the Port Arthur prison as a key tourist destination. It is a fake claim, a lie, which the current management of the Port Arthur prison theme park (PAHSMA) has opportunistically upscaled with a lightbox wall displaying dozens of these 1870s mugshots, claiming they were all photographed at the Port Arthur prison and by none other than its Commandant A. H. Boyd. The suppression of Thomas Nevin's work and name as the real photographer arose as a whim and fantasy by A. H. Boyd's descendants in the 1980s, viz. Kim Simpson who were - and still are - most anxious to propel their ancestor into the history books as some sort of gifted photographic artist. But while Boyd's reputation for corruption and misogyny has persisted and is easily measured from authentic historical records, no photographs by him have ever surfaced for the very simple reasons that he never photographed a single prisoner or any other person in the known universe. He was NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. Those Chinese tourists currently pouring off cruise liners at the Port Arthur prison heritage site might be none the wiser, nor even care when they read the lies about A. H. Boyd taking these mugshots - that is, today they might not, but the future is another country as the past will prove.

Prisoner James Blanchfield
Photographed on discharge from the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin, April 1875.

Verso: Prisoner James Blanchfield
Photographed on discharge from the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin, April 1875.
Inscriptions: Numbered 186.
J. W. Blanchfield per Cornwall 1851
Taken at Port Arthur 1874 [incorrect information]
QVMAG Ref:1985:P:117

The Archives Office of Tasmania in Hobart has a black and white paper copy of the same cdv. Thomas Nevin printed at least four duplicates, both uncut and mounted as a cdv from the glass plate negative produced at this, the one and only sitting with the prisoner James William Blanchfield.

Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2005

The cdv of James Blanchfield, number 57, appears in this list because it was not removed from the QVMAG in 1983 when fifty and more were taken to the Port Arthur heritage site for an exhibition, i.e. those bearing the numbers shown as missing in pencil. Those fifty and more were not returned to the QVMAG, deposited instead at the TMAG. This is the first page of three pages showing that only 72 Tasmanian prisoner "portraits" in the Beattie Collection (QVMAG) remained when this list was drawn up in the 1990s.

Exhibition at the old Hobart Penitentiary, July 2019
In case the reason for our emphasis on just the incarceration and discharge records of prisoners here in our research is not self-evident, we underscore again the need to expose the deliberate falsification in recent decades of the photographer attribution of those prisoners' mugshots to an official at the Port Arthur prison by the name of A. H. Boyd who was not a photographer by any definition of the term, nor are there any extant works by him in any genre.

If Thomas Nevin's official involvement in providing mugshots for the police, the judiciary and the government has not been demonstrated clearly enough by our inclusion in this research of primary sources and extensive historical documentation - as distinct from the endless obfuscations and attitudinal interpretations in chatty prose posing as research in recent publications, theses, and exhibitions - the point of not providing lengthy bleeding heart biographies of these prisoners is simply this: with the accretion of fact upon fact, we are consolidating the evidence again and again as to when the mugshot was taken, who took it, how it was taken, and why was it taken because Thomas J. Nevin's legacy as the photographer of prisoners in Hobart in the 1870s has been violated by a confederacy of fools and fraudsters currently spurred on by the laissez-faire politics of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (Sharon Sullivan), in collusion with the University of Tasmania's History Department (Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Stefan Petrow and student acolyte Julia Clark) and a gaggle of apparently dyslexic librarians and their advisers at the National Library of Australia, the latter appearing to have delighted in playing a political game of collusion with the former, regardless of the long-term parasitic effect on this unique national heritage collection (Helen Ennis, Margy Burn, Sylvia Carr et al).

With so much vested in the careers and reputations of these hard-bitten civil servants, it is no surprise that the last sentence accompanying the mugshot and biography of James Blanchfield on this large poster (at right) fixed to the wall of the old Hobart Penitentiary, Campbell St. Hobart Tasmania for the current exhibition (July 2019), states that the photograph of the prisoner was taken at the Port Arthur prison. This is incorrect. Whether a deliberate lie or the result of lazy research, it is used today just as effectively as spin for the tourist trade as when it was first devised in the 1900s by Beattie et al for the government's campaign. James Blanchfield was not photographed at Port Arthur: government contractor Thomas J. Nevin photographed him for police and prison administration records on discharge from this same building, the Hobart Gaol, in the fortnight preceding 14th April 1875.

Above: the large wall poster at right displayed at the exhibition titled "Photographs of Australian and British Convicts" which opened at the Hobart Penitentiary (the former Hobart Gaol and House of Corrections, Campbell St.) featuring the mugshot of James Blanchfield taken by Thomas Nevin in 1875, together with a jolly japes biography of the prisoner, finishing with the sentence:
" the age of fifty he found himself sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and was packed off to Port Arthur where this photograph was taken."
Actually, no: as the police gazette states, James Blanchfield was 48 years old on discharge in 1875, not 50 years old on sentencing in 1873 and he spent less than two months at the Port Arthur prison, from 21st February 1873 to 20th April 1873. He served just twenty-six months of a three year sentence, not a five year sentence when he was discharged in April 1875. Additionally, he was photographed, not at the Port Arthur prison as claimed by the exhibition poster but at the Hobart Gaol, the very same site where Thomas Nevin's photograph of him taken for police in 1875 now looms over visitors to the current exhibition, exactly 144 years later.

According to the Hobart Penitentiary Facebook page, July 23, 2019, the exhibition "Photographs of Australian and British Convicts" was launched by professors Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (University of Tasmania) and Barry Godfrey (University of Liverpool, UK);
This Exhibition has been organised by the AHRC Digital Panopticon, the University of Liverpool, Face Lab, Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Tasmania and National Trust Tasmania.
Funded by AHRC as part of their Digital Transformation programme in 2014 the project explores the lives of 90,000 men and women sentenced at the Old Bailey between 1750 and 1925.

All the money financing this and other ventures where Hamish Maxwell-Stewart is involved would better serve the local population if spent wisely, but this exhibition appears to be another project where misinformation abounds and where Tasmanian history is compromised yet again. For example, the website Founders and Survivors, funded in a grant sought by Maxwell-Stewart to an astounding amount ($800,000 - see screenshot below), lies in digital ruins. That site actually encouraged visitors to create a face for a prisoner regardless of the existence of a real photograph.

Screenshot: the ruins of convictism, Founders and Survivors website.

What is it about these mugshots taken by the very real photographer Thomas J. Nevin - as distinct from the fantasy photographer-artist the PAHSMA has constructed for their A.H. Boyd prison official - that Hamish Maxwell-Stewart appears consistently to feel the need to undermine and violate the photographer Thomas J. Nevin (e.g. by proxy via his student Julia Clark), or to modify, re-invent and re-create the photographs that result in fake visual images and disidentification of the subject? Or indeed, why the need even to medicalise them which Maxwell-Stewart is proposing in another project whereby he will use these mugshots to inject a reading of maternal foetal alcohol syndrome into the prisoners' adult faces?

As noted already, Maxwell-Stewart is too disengaged to contribute value to this area of Tasmanian history. He is causing harm by playing with these mugshots, despite his several collaborations with British academics to justify the enormous grants. Incorporating Caroline Wilkinson's work on forensic facial reconstruction, included in the current exhibition Photographs of Australian and British Convicts, just isn't logical. There is no need to play old Lombrosian games with these mugshots: they are unique, leave them alone as testimony to the skills of T. J. Nevin, the real photographer of the day. Anyone who wishes to mutilate them and disparage not only the original photographer Thomas J. Nevin but his family and descendants as well, has to be viewed as unfit for the academic position he holds in the first instance, and in the second instance, as mentally disturbed by whatever it is about these 1870s mugshots that triggers his need to subjugate them. No doubt our post on the criminal type and anthropometry in 2008 and the paragraph below which we quoted in this post in 2007 from a section by Jens Jaeger on “Police and forensic photography” published in The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (2005) woke up the History Department at the University of Tasmania regarding our ancestor Thomas J. Nevin; the response, though, has diminished all involved.
Research on ‘criminal physiognomy’
Scientific examination of picture collections from an anthropological or physiognomical perspective was not actually done by the police themselves. Significantly, the two best-known users of criminal portraits, the Italian Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909) and the Englishman Francis, began their work before Bertillon’s reform of police photography. Lombroso, a doctor and eventually professor of forensic medicine and hygiene in Turin, attempted in his book L’uomo delinquente (1876) to prove both that criminal tendencies were hereditary and that they could be identified from particular physical characteristics. To this end he had visited prisons, made body measurements of prisoners, and collected pictures of criminals. After the appearance of his book he continued to work on the subject, and by the turn of the century had a large collection of criminal portraits obtained from governments in Europe and overseas. Although his theory was heavily criticized, and was never accepted by experts, it became popular. So too with Galton, who began his research a few years after Lombroso. He too believed in the heritability of mental traits, grappled with the phenomenon of criminality, and used official pictures. His method was to make composite copies of portraits of different people in order to arrive at an ‘average’ deviant physiognomy. His major work, Inquiries into Human Faculty, containing papers written since 1869, appeared in 1883. But his theories also failed to convince his peers, and there were no further attempts to examine criminals or criminality on the basis of police portraits. Undeniably, however, a certain image of ‘the’ delinquent did emerge in the popular imagination, and persists as a visual code identifying certain characters as criminals in literature, comics, films, and tabloid newspapers.
Source: “Police and forensic photography.”
The Oxford Companion to the Photograph.
Oxford University Press, 2005.

Addendum: Robert Byron Miller (1825 - 1902)
Robert Byron Miller was a barrister who served the colony of Tasmania as Attorney-General for four years (1863-1866). He was photographed on several occasions by Thomas J. Nevin, as indeed were the prisoners he represented, including James Blanchfield who implicated Byron Miller as complicit in his crime at trial in his defense (see newspaper report above):

Barrister R. Byron Miller (1825 - 1902)
Photographer George Cherry (1820 - 1878) taken in late 1860s
Inscribed verso by Miller family member "My Father ... Judge in Chambers Essex St ..."
Photo © copyright KLW NFC Imprint KLW NFC Private Collection

The wording "My father ..." was inscribed on the verso of this photograph of Robert Byron Miller by his daughter-in-law, Jean Porthouse Graves (1858-1951) probably in 1947 when she compiled an album of photographs taken of herself and family members, now in our private collection. As her own father John Woodcock Graves the younger had died in 1876, she regarded her father-in-law as "father". The earliest photographs in her album date from the late 1860s such as this one taken by George Cherry of R. Byron Miller. A series of stereographs with Jean Porthouse Graves as a teenager were taken by Thomas J. Nevin on the excursion by boat of VIPs to Adventure Bay in January 1872. The most recent photos in the album were taken of herself and her apartment in London in the late 1940s. Jean Porthouse Graves married solicitor Francis Knowles Miller, son of Robert Byron Miller, at Melbourne, Victoria in 1885. She was extensively involved with betterment and welfare organisations in the Emu Bay area (Burnie, Tasmania) from her marriage through to the 1920s. She was 91 yrs old when she died at Rembrandt Square, London on 30 July 1951.

This carte-de-visite of Robert Byron Miller was just one of several cdvs and stereographs housed in Jean Porthouse Graves' album which Thomas J. Nevin had taken of her with her father John Woodcock Graves (the younger), her future father-in-law Robert Byron Byron Miller, the Graves' family friend Lukin Boyes, and her three sisters Mathinna, Trucaninni and Mimi between 1872 and 1876. For example, the series photographed with Jean in her mid-teens on the VIP excursion to Adventure Bay in 1872 included the Hon. Alfred Kennerley, Mayor of Hobart and Police Magistrate, R. Byron Miller, barrister, Sir John O'Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria, Hugh Munro Hull, Parliamentary librarian, her father John Woodcock Graves the younger who organised the excursion, James Erskine Calder, former Surveyor-General, Lukin Boyes, Customs Officer, Hon. Mr. James Milne Wilson (Premier of Tasmania), and the Rev. Henry Dresser Atkinson.

One of four extant photographs taken on 31st January 1872 and printed in various formats from Thomas J. Nevin's series advertised in the Mercury, 2nd February, 1872, as "The Colonists' Trip to Adventure Bay" (Bruny Island, Tasmania).

[From lower left]: John Woodcock Graves jnr, solicitor; his daughter Jean Porthouse Graves; above her, R. Byron Miller, barrister; on her left, Sir John O'Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria;
[Centre top]: Lukin Boyes, son of auditor and artist G. T. W. Boyes, leaning on stone structure
[Extreme lower right]: James Erskine Calder, former Surveyor-General, Tasmania

Single unmounted carte-de-visite photograph of large group
From the Miller and Graves family album
Photos recto and verso: copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015 Private Collection
Verso: One of four extant photographs taken on 31st January 1872 and printed in various formats from Thomas J. Nevin's series advertised in The Mercury, 2nd February, 1872, as the Colonists' Trip to Adventure Bay (Bruny Island).
Verso with T. Nevin late A. Bock , 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town commercial stamp
Verso inscriptions include these identifiable figures at the "Picnic":
Father = John Woodcock Graves jnr,
Sir John O'Shanassy = former Premier of Victoria,
Self = Jean Porthouse Graves, daughter of John W. Graves,
L. Boyes = Lukin Boyes (?), son of G.T. W. Boyes
From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

The men in the series taken on the Adventure Bay trip in January 1872 were the lawyers and the legislators who were T. J. Nevin's patrons and employers throughout his engagement as photographer in Hobart's prisons and courts from 1872 into the 1880s. Commercial photographer Thomas J. Nevin worked on government contract with the judiciary for the police and colonial government during the years when Robert Byron Miller served the colony briefly as Attorney-General in the Whyte administration, succeeded by Nevin's patron, William Robert Giblin who served as Attorney-General under (Sir) James Wilson in 1870-72 and in Alfred Kennerley's ministry in 1873-76.

The Colonists' Trip to Adventure Bay
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

From left to right:
Sir John O'Shanassy (seated), John Woodcock Graves the younger, Captain John Clinch, the Hon. Alfred Kennerley and the Hon. James Erskine Calder (seated). Standing behind Captain Clinch and Alfred Kennerley is R. Byron Miller.

The square royal blue label with T. Nevin's modified design of Alfred Bock's stamp from the mid-1860s and the wording in gold lettering, framed on a cartouche within gold curlicues, is unique to this item, not (yet) seen on the verso of any of his other photographs. Similar wording appeared on Nevin's most common commercial stamp from 1867 with and without Bock's name but always with the addition of a kangaroo sitting atop the Latin motto "Ad Altiora". Here, Bock's name is still included within the design although Nevin acquired Bock's studio five years earlier, in 1867: "T. Nevin late A.Bock" encircled by a buckled belt stating the firm's name within the strap, "City Photographic Establishment". The address "140 Elizabeth Street Hobarton" appears below the belt buckle and inside the badge motif.

The name "Graves" with a half-scroll underneath in black ink was most likely written by Thomas Nevin himself as a reminder of the client's name for the order. The handwriting is similar to his signatures on the birth registrations of his children in the 1870s.

The pencilled inscription "On board City of Hobart, Cap Clinch, Visitors Trip Jay 1872" and the deduction of the years "1947-1872=75 ago" was written by Jean Porthouse Graves who wrote "My Father" above the right hand frame on the front of the stereograph and a partial arrow pointing to John Woodcock Graves (the younger), She had pasted this photograph, and others taken by Thomas J. Nevin of the same group, into a family album (KLW NFC Private Collections 2015).

OBITUARY: Robert Byron Miller (1825 - 1902)

Mr Robert Byron Miller, one of the oldest members of the legal profession in Tasmania, died at his residence, Elphin-road, at 9.30 yesterday morning. He has been in failing health for some months past, and the end did not come unexpectedly, he passing away surrounded by members of the family, who had been summoned to his bedside. Perhaps no one was more widely known in the State or more respected than the deceased, who was a member of the Executive Council and an ex-Attorney-General, and a colonist of over 50 years' standing. Born in London on April 19, 1825, he had thus reached his 76th year. . He was the son of the late Sergeant Miller, a London barrister of high repute, who had a large practice in common law, and was afterwards judge in the County Courts of Leicester, and who numbered among his personal friends the leading lawyers, literary men, and artists of the day, including Judge Talfourd, Dickens, Thackeray, Landseer, and Leslie. Educated at private schools and at King's College, London, deceased was a pupil in his father's chambers, and was admitted at the Middle Temple in 1848. After being in practice in London for several years he decided to come to Tasmania, and arriving in Hobart in January, 1855, he at once commenced the practice of his profession, and soon earned a name for himself as the leading criminal lawyer of the day. Coming straight from England, where he had been in constant practice, he found that some primitive customs prevailed in regard to the conduct of the business of the courts, and it was only after a stem struggle and facing the risk of displeasing those who held power at the time that he succeeded in bringing about changes more in accordance with justice and freedom. After a short stay in Hobart the deceased removed to Launceston, and, with the exception of three years spent in Melbourne, he resided in the northern city till his death. He entered political life in 1861, being elected as a member for Launceston. He accepted the Solicitor-Generalship in Chapman-Henty administration, which he held till 1863, when the feeling in Launceston being very strong against the proposed ad valorem duties, he resigned. The Government were shortly afterwards defeated. In the Whyte Ministry deceased occupied the post of Attorney-General, which he filled for a period of nearly four years, and during his tenure of office he was responsible for many important measures being placed on the Statute Book of the colony, while his administration of the department under his control was marked by vigor, honesty, and determination to do the right, resulting in changes not less marked than they were appreciated by the public. On the defeat of the Government on the income tax question, deceased resigned from Parliament and went to Melbourne, where he practised as a barrister for some three years. Returning to Launceston in 1871 he once more entered into partnership. He was in partnership with Mr Josiah Powell for four years, and later on his son, Mr Ernest Granville Miller, joined him under the style of Miller and Miller. The subject of this notice was an alderman of Launceston for three years, during which he war a strong supporter of improved drainage and local improvements; and he was for some years president of the Mechanics' Institute. He took an interest in ecclesiastical matters in the early days of his residence in Tasmania He was the senior member of the Executive Council, with the exception of Sir Francis Smith, who is absent from the colony. The deceased gave up Parliamentary life when in the height of his reputation, and since carefully eschewed politics, devoting .himself to his profession, of which though advanced in years and suffering slightly from the infirmity of deafness, he was, until his health gave way a few months ago an active and distinguished member. Deceased was associated with nearly all the prominent cases dealt with in the courts in Tasmania during the tame he was practising his profession, and of late years principally conducted prosecutions on behalf of the Government. He leaves a widow and two sons and two daughters, the sons being Mr Ernest Granville Miller, who was in partnership with deceased, and Mr F. Knowles Miller, who is also a member of the legal profession residing at Burnie. The funeral is appointed to leave his late residence at 4.30 this afternoon for the Church of England Cemetery.
Source: Source: Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. Monday 6 October 1902, page 3
See also entry in the ADB

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