Prisoner Nathan HUNT 1870s-1890s

Nathan Hunt, Tasmanian prisoner and habitual offender, transported to Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) as a teenager (b. ca. 1822) in 1842 on board the "Elphinstone", was sentenced with multiple convictions for larceny thereafter and was still serving a sentence in prison in 1890, aged 68 yrs. He was photographed here at discharge by Thomas J. Nevin on 28 February 1879 at the Hobart Gaol.

Print from Thomas Nevin's negative of prisoner Nathan Hunt, photographed 1879.

Source: QVMAG 1985_p_0073

Recto and verso of print of Tasmanian prisoner Nathan Hunt, aged 57 yrs old, photographed by Thomas Nevin at the Municipal Police, Hobart Town, on Hunt's discharge, 1879.


Nathan Hunt was discharged on 12 April 1871.

Nathan Hunt was discharged on 7 August 1872.

Nathan Hunt was discharged on 28 February 1877.

Nathan Hunt was convicted on 18 January 1879.

Nathan Hunt was discharged on 16 July 1879.

Nathan Hunt was discharged on 15 October 1879.

Nathan Hunt was convicted on 17 January 1880, sentenced to two years for larceny, with eleven prior convictions.

Nathan Hunt was discharged on 13 February 1884, sentence remitted.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime: Information for Police, Gov't Printer (police gazettes)

Hobart Gaol Record of Nathan Hunt
Convicted at the Police Office (P.O.) Hobart, sentenced to 12 months for larceny on 28 October 1890.
TAHO Ref: GD6719, page 167, conviction

This later photograph of Nathan Hunt taken by Constable John Nevin was printed in the earlier format of a mounted carte-de-visite portrait typical of his brother Thomas' commercial method of printing his 1870s mugshots for the Municipal Police Office and Hobart Gaol. Nathan Hunt's age given on the criminal record sheet is 57 yrs old, yet by 1890, Nathan Hunt would have been much older. His age was listed as 65 yrs old when he was discharged on 13 February 1884, and this later photograph certainly shows a man of about that age who has spent a lifetime in and out of prison. He was 57 years old in 1879 (see police gazette notice above), so it can be assumed that an earlier photograph had been pasted to the blue criminal sheet and then removed, to be replaced with the cdv of Nathan Hunt aged, photographed in 1890, aged around 68 years old.

The first and much earlier photograph, therefore, of Nathan Hunt, was taken in the mid to late 1870s, when he was in his fifties and when he was frequently in and out of prison serving sentences for up to two years for his favorite past time - larceny.

This last photograph is only the third of four mugshots to surface of a Tasmanian prisoner wearing a prison issue cap; the earlier mugshots taken by Thomas Nevin of prisoners James Mullins and William Smith at the Hobart Gaol in 1875 show both men wearing the "black leathern cap" manufactured by prisoners at Port Arthur in 1873.

Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2009 and 2013 ARR
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)

A prison issue woollen cap also made by prisoners at Port Arthur in 1873, is shown here.

Convict clothing: woollen hat
Source: Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
REF: QVM_2003_H_0571_cap

But Nathan Hunt, and another prisoner, Ernest Parker, also convicted in 1890, were photographed at the Hobart Gaol wearing a third type of prison cap made of canvas with a small visor, and with numbers stamped on the front, viz:

Convict Ernest Parker, Hobart Gaol photograph and record dated 11 August 1890
TAHO file: GD6719, page 199


TAHO REF: con33-1-25_00103_l
TAHO REF: con14-1-16_00038_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.