Prisoner William HARRISON 1873


Prisoner HARRISON, William
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Ref: Q15579
Verso transcription: William Harrison "Native" Taken at Port Arthur 1874
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, taken at the Hobart Gaol, August 1873

This prisoner was locally born, designated "native" meaning he was not a felon convicted before 1853 when transportation to Tasmania ceased. He was not in prison in 1874. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin on discharge from the Hobart Gaol in August 1873 . The transcription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" was applied universally across the versos of dozens of these 1870s mugshots in the early 1900s for exhibition and sale to tourists in the collection of convictarian John Watt Beattie at his "Port Arthur Museum" located in Hobart. His collection was donated to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston in 1930 from where copies such as the two below were distributed to other state and national collections.

Press Reports 1870

The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870) Thu 26 May 1870 Page 2 No Title

Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899) Sat 28 May 1870 Page 3 FRIDAY, 27TH MAY.

Convicted on his own confession ...
William Harrison, alias Taylor, pleaded guilty to uttering a forged cheque at Alveston, near Deloraine, with intent to defraud. He was remanded for sentence....
William Harrison, convicted on his own confession of uttering a forged cheque, four years' imprisonment.
The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880) Sat 4 Jun 1870 Page 13 RECORDER'S COURT LAUNCESTON.

Police Records 1873-1875

William Harrison as Taylor, was tried at the Recorder's Court Launceston and charged on 26 May 1870 with uttering a forged cheque on his own confession. He was sentenced to four years. He may have served time at the Port Arthur prison although his name was not listed among the 109 prisoners on short term who were tabled in Parliament to be returned to the Hobart Gaol by July 1873. William Harrison was discharged from Hobart and photographed by Thomas J. Nevin on 27 August 1873.

On the 8th January 1875, a warrant was issued for William Harrison's arrest for failure to join the whaling vessel Marie Laurie. The name "Taylor" was included in the warrant, which may have been an alias, as was the name "Forster" which may have been Charles Brown's alias. William Forster and/or Charles Brown was also photographed by Thomas J. Nevin when Forster/Brown surrendered himself at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street.

Warrant for the arrest of Wm Harrison, 8th January 1875
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police J. Barnard Gov't printer

HOBART TOWN, - On the 6th instant, by William Tarleton, Esquire, J. P., for the arrest of John Taylor, William Forster, Charles Brown, and William Harrison, charged with having , on the 26th ultimo, at Hobart Town, neglected to join the whaling vessel Marie Laurie, Description not furnished.
The National library of Australia holds this print, a copy of the same image held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art, with the same information transcribed verso.

NLA Catalogue
nla.pic-vn4269993 PIC P1029/24 LOC Album 935 William Harrison, native, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874. 1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm. on mount 10.5 x 6.3 cm.

A torn black & white copy of the original taken by T. J. Nevin (the TMAG and NLA collections) is held at the Port Arthur Historic Site with incomplete details.

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.