Babette Smith on Australia's Birthstain

pp304-5 Click on images for readable version

These two prisoners were not incarcerated at Port Arthur in 1874 when they were photographed. They were both discharged from the Hobart Gaol on the same day, January 7th, 1874 and were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin during the preceding fortnight up to that date.

Fleming and Baker discharge 7Jan 1874

Discharge of Fleming and Baker, January 7th, 1874

Fleming was arrested several times over the next twelve months for theft, larceny, escape and absconding:

Fleming convicted July 1874

Fleming absconded on August 4th, 1874, etc etc etc

Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1875

The source of these two identification cartes included in Babette Smith's book on the legacy of the convict era is the Archives Office of Tasmania.

from page 41

page 42

However, Babette Smith's caption for these two photographs - "... at Port Arthur, ca. 1874" is misleading. She omits the Tasmanian State Archives' online catalogue wording "Taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin 1874".

The sources of the Archives Office information, photograph originals and copies were -

1. the materials donated from the Port Arthur kiosk (see extract above for details),
2. the collections of photographs taken by Nevin donated by the Allport Law firm as the Pretyman Collection,
3. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, where many more prisoner cartes were located amongst the Beattie Collection's convict memorabilia, and exhibited there in 1977.

Most of the AOT's convict carte collection by Thomas Nevin is now also catalogued at the State Library of Tasmania, indicating provenance from the Pretyman Collection dating from the 1900-1930s. See also Miscellaneous Collection of Photographs - 1900 - 1920 (PH30)

An original carte by Nevin ca 1874 of the Attorney-General W.R. Giblin who commissioned Nevin as prisons photographer was also originally an item in the Pretyman Collection at the AOT.

W.R. Giblin - AOT Ref: NS1013-1971c
Taken by Thomas Nevin ca 1872-1874

See also the Archives Office of Tasmania digitised records of the original registers of convict names for each ship.

Convict records AOTConvict records AOT

AOT REF: CON14-1-14_00001_L


Australia's first MUGSHOTS


Below each image held at the National Library of Australia is their catalogue batch edit which gives the false impression that all these "convict portraits" were taken because these men were transported convicts per se (i.e before cessation in 1853), and that they might have been photographed as a one-off amateur portfolio by a prison official at the Port Arthur prison in 1874, which they were not. Any reference to the Port Arthur prison official A. H. Boyd on the NLA catalogue records is an error, a PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION with no basis in fact. The men in these images were photographed in the 1870s-1880s because they were repeatedly sentenced as habitual offenders whose mugshots were taken on arrest, trial, arraignment, incarceration and/or discharge by government contractor, police and prisons photographer T. J. Nevin at the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol with his brother Constable John Nevin, and at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall when appearing at The Mayor's Court. The Nevin brothers photographed more than 2000 prisoners, the bulk now lost or destroyed. These extant mugshots were the random estrays salvaged - and reproduced in many instances- for sale at Beattie's local convictaria museum in Hobart and at interstate exhibitions associated with the fake convict ship Success in the early 1900s. The mugshots were selected on the basis of the prisoner's notoriety from the Supreme Court trial registers (Rough Calendar), the Habitual Criminals Registers (Gaol Photo Books), warrant forms, and police gazettes records of the 1870s-1880s. The earliest taken on government contract by T. J. Nevin date from 1872. The police records sourced here are from the weekly police gazettes which were called (until 1884) Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1885. J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.