The Anson Bros photo of ex-convict James CRONIN

Studio portrait of ex-convict James Cronin ca. 1880
Anson Brothers 1880s, TMAG Collection

This is the only extant  image of former convict James Cronin (1824-1885). It was either reprinted from an earlier photograph, or it was taken by the Anson brothers, photographers, as a portrait in their studios in the 1880s, i.e. it was therefore a privately commissioned portrait, and this is evident from both the street clothes, the pose of the sitter, and of course, his age (late 50's). It is not a police photograph, ie. a mugshot pasted to a criminal record sheet, unlike those taken by Thomas Nevin for the express use of police authorities, because James Cronin was not an habitual offender, at least, he was never convicted and sentenced under his own name in the decades 1860s-1880s or up to his death in 1885 at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane, Hobart. The Tasmanian Police Gazettes of those decades registered no offence for James Cronin, nor even an inquest when he died of pulmonary apoplexy on July 16, 1885.

Criminal and Transportation History: James Cronin (1824-1885)
James Cronin may have offended at Limerick for theft prior to his major felony of shooting at Jas. Hogan with intent to kill in 1847. He was transported to Bermuda on HMS Medway in the same year to serve eight years.  It was at Bermuda that he attempted to murder Mrs Elleanor Howes, wife of James Howes, mate in charge of the prison hulk, the Coromandel.  Despatches from Charles Elliot, governor of Bermuda (CO 37/135) requested James Cronin be returned to England on HMS Wellesley to be convicted and transported to Tasmania (VDL) in correspondence dated January and April 1851. James Cronin arrived at Norfolk Island on board the Aboukir in March 1852, and thence to the Port Arthur prison Tasmania  in December where he was "detained" until 1857 and assigned on probation to Major Lloyd at New Norfolk, Hobart on 27th November.

The National Archives UK has two entries for James Cronin detailing his attempt to murder Mrs Howes in Bermuda:
1. Reference:CO 37/135/4 Description:
Reports that a convict named James Cronin had attempted to murder Mrs Elleanor Howes, the wife of James Howes, mate in charge of the Coromandel hulk. Considers the existing laws inadequate to punish such cases. Recommends that a law should be passed to bring such cases to Courts Martial. Adds that in Cronin's case a convict named Edwin Smith intervened and saved Mrs Howes. Recommends Smith for a free pardon. Encloses a memorandum and correspondence concerning the matter.

Convict Establishment No. 4, folios 15-38
Date: 1851 Jan 18 Held by: The National Archives, Kew

2. Reference:CO 37/135/35 Description:
Reports that the convict James Cronin would be returned to England in HMS Wellesley. Encloses the requisite documents.

Convict Establishment No. 29, folios 224-230
Date: 1851 Apr 17 Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Source: Tasmanian Archives
Cronin, James
Convict No: 16007
Extra Identifier:
SEE Surname:
SEE Given Names:
Voyage Ship: Aboukir
Voyage No: 347
Arrival Date: 20 Mar 1852
Departure Date: 07 Dec 1851
Departure Port: London
Conduct Record: CON33/1/106
Muster Roll:
Appropriation List:
Other Records:
Indent: CON14/1/31
Description List: CON18/1/56

Indent: CON14/1/31

Title: James Cronin, one of 280 convicts transported on the Aboukir, 24 December 1851.
Details: Sentence details: Convicted at Ireland, Limerick for a term of life on 08 March 1847.
Vessel: Aboukir.
Date of Departure: 24 December 1851.
Place of Arrival: Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island. [These convicts appear to have all landed in Van Diemen's Land].
Source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 92, Class and Piece Number HO11/17, Page Number 323 (164)
Author/Creator: Great Britain. Home Office. ; State Library of Queensland.
Subjects: Cronin, James ;
Aboukir (Ship) ;
Convicts -- Australia -- Registers ;
Australia -- Genealogy
Publisher: Canberra A.C.T. : Australian Joint Copying Project
Is Part Of: Criminal : Convict transportation registers [HO 11]
Record number: 1029434

The death of James Cronin, labourer, was registered at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane on 16 July 1885. His cause of death was pulmonary apoplexy, unlike several other deaths of asylum inmates which were registered in the same month, e.g. "brain softening".

Archives Office Tasmania
Deaths Hobart 1885 Image 315

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.