A glaring fraud: Joseph James COOPER aka the "Artful Dodger" 1875-1889

PRISON CLOTHING Hobart Gaol 1870s-1880s
JOSEPH JAMES COOPER prisoner

Fashions in prison uniforms at the Hobart Gaol in the 1870's varied according to the class of criminal, his trade or job, and the season. Thomas J. Nevin photographed prisoners William Smith and James Mullins at the Hobart Gaol in July 1875 wearing the grey uniform and leathern caps for police records. A visitor to the gaol in July 1882 noted the grey jacket and leather caps of the old hands, and the yellow and black uniforms worn by prisoners working in gangs at large in the community. The prisoner in these three photographs, Joseph James Cooper, wore three different uniforms on the three different occasions while under sentence: in 1875 for burglary; in 1879 for forgery and uttering; and in 1889 for arson.



Above: three mugshots of prisoner Joseph James Cooper 1875-1889.

Extreme left: photographed by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on 5th August 1875 on Cooper's assignment to the work gang at the Royal Botanical Gardens, wearing the distinct uniform of yellow and grey which easily identified prisoners under sentence working in the community.

Middle: photographed by T. J. Nevin on Cooper's arrest, unshaven, in the grey uniform he wore when brought up from the gaol for his arraignment at the Supreme Court on 4th March 1879, on the charge of forgery.

Extreme right: photographed by Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on 13th June 1889-1890 when Cooper was sentenced to life imprisonment for arson at Launceston, and returned to the Hobart Gaol.



Front and verso of Joseph James Cooper's prisoner rap sheet with three mugshots 1875-1889
Source: KLW NFC Group 2015 and the Port Arthur Historic Site Resource Centre.

NB: Although the Port Arthur Historic Site holds this record,and even displayed it online as a banner on their Resource Centre page at one point (2015), this prisoner Joseph James Cooper spent less than four months at Port Arthur from May to August 1875. He was never photographed at Port Arthur at any time from his first conviction in 1875. The same can be said of the many prisoners whose photographs were recently mounted on a lightbox wall there, and with the doubly misleading photographic attribution to their former Commandant at the prison, A. H. Boyd (1871-1873) who was not a photographer by any definition of the term. As a closed, insulated and fictive narrative of Tasmanian criminal history presented to tourists, this sort of deliberate falsification only serves to magnify the several deceptions of dark tourism played out at the Port Arthur penal heritage theme park, and at the expense of ordinary facts: that most if not all the photographs of those prisoners displayed on the wall were taken at the Hobart Gaol in Campbell St. Hobart and not at Port Arthur in the 1870s, and they were taken by the government contractor, commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin.

1875: Burglary & feloniously receiving
Joseph James Cooper was working as a porter at Mr Bidencope's shop and clothing factory when he was arrested for burglary at the factory in 1875. He was born to carpenter Elijah Cooper and wife Susannah in Hobart on 6th November 1853 and had no prior convictions, He was arraigned at the Supreme Court, Hobart, on 11th May, sentenced to five years, imprisoned at the Hobart Gaol until the 29th May 1875 when he was sent to the Port Arthur prison, 60 kms south of Hobart. Within four months, he was sent back to the Hobart Gaol, on 5th August 1875,  and photographed in the parti-coloured prison uniform of yellow and grey by Thomas J. Nevin prior to assignment in a work gang at the Royal Botanical Gardens on the Queen's Domain.




Above: police gazette notice of Joseph James Cooper's arraignment, 11th May 1875.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, J. Barnard, Gov't printer

Below: Cooper's record of earnings May -August 1875 and transfer from Port Arthur to the Hobart Gaol on 5th August 1875.
Source: Archives Office Tasmania NAME_INDEXES:1383204



Name: Cooper, James Joseph
Record Type: Convicts
Remarks: Born Tasmania. Tried Hobart
Index number: 14757
Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1383204
http://search.archives.tas.gov.au/ImageViewer/image_viewer.htm?CON94-1-2,133,101,F,60



Convict uniform and two caps 1830–1849
leather cap 15.0 x 10.8 x 27.5cm
knitted woollen cap 19.0 x 20.5 x 20.5cm
woollen trousers 107.0 x 51.0cm
woollen jacket 76.0cm (length)
Pictures Collection, nla.pic-an6393471
National Library of Australia

1879: Absconding and forgery



James Joseph Cooper, absconded, and arrested by Constable Mitchell
Police gazette notice of 21 January 1879.

TRANSCRIPT
ABSCONDED: -
On the 29th instant, from the Gang employed at the Royal Society's Gardens, Queen's Domain, whilst undergoing a sentence of 5 years passed on him at Hobart Town on 11th May, 1875, for feloniously receiving.
James Joseph Cooper, native of Tasmania, 25 years of age, 5 feet 5 inches high, fresh complexion, medium head, brown hair, no whiskers, round visage, low forehead, light brown eyebrows, light hazel eyes (small), long thin nose, medium mouth, small chin, a labourer.
Since arrested by Constable Mitchell, Government House, and charged with uttering a forged order for £58 16s 8d., with intent to defraud James Robb of Hobart Town.

When Cooper was arrested, he had grown a beard. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the watch house on arrest, still unshaven, dressed now in the plain summer prison uniform.

FORGERY and UTTERING: 20th February 1879
Joseph James Cooper and his accomplice, compositor Charles Fyshe whose handwriting was identified on the forged cheques presented by Cooper at Messrs Sadler's and Walch's shops, were brought into the court from the Hobart Gaol wearing prison grey.



Joseph James Cooper in court in grey uniform (see the report of 30th January 1879)
The Mercury 20th February 1879

TRANSCRIPT
FORGING AND UTTERING. - Joseph James Cooper and Charles Fyshe, were brought from the gaol in the Government clothing, the former charged with having on the 29th day of January, uttered a forged order for £58 16s, with intent to defraud, and the latter with having forged an order for £65 10s 6d with a similar intent. The facts of this case have already been made public, the prisoner Cooper, who was employed in the Botanical Gardens, having taken an expedition to town in the afternoon of the day mentioned, and passed the forged order on Mr. Robb, the sadler, of Elizabeth-street. He also endeavoured to pass the other order at Mr. Walch's shop. The greater part of the evidence against the prisoners was taken on Friday last. Cooper yesterday again cross-examined the witnesses as to matters of detail, and incautiously evinced a knowledge of the interior of Colonel St. Hill's house, that was startling.
The following additional evidence was taken. Thomas Harper, a fellow prisoner of Cooper's who lent him the pair of spectacles, on the day he went to town; Constable Waller of the Rural Police, who found the spectacles in the same place as the clothes, but on the next day, and Richard Long, a servant of Colonel St. Hill's, from whom the clothes were stolen on 22nd January, and who identified them as his property in Court.
Mr. Superintendent Propsting was sworn, and deposed that a message had been sent to him from the gaol that morning that Fyshe wanted to speak to him. Fyshe was brought to the watch-house, and there owned to having filled up the bodies of the cheques at the suggestion of Cooper, who told him that Mr. George Guest was his uncle and had monies belonging to him, more than would cover the amounts of the cheques. This statement was not made in the hearing or presence of Cooper. Fyshe further stated that he did not know he was doing wrong, and only wrote the cheques to oblige Cooper. No inducement or threat was held out to Fyshe to elicit this statement.
The prisoners were then committed to take their trial at the next Criminal Sessions.

A GLARING FRAUD 30th January 1879
The Mercury reporters had a field day with this case. In this article of 30th January 1879, every detail of the the case was recounted, mostly of the events from accounts by Cooper's victims. Praise was given to Detective John Connor's mental agility in unravelling the clues which led to Cooper's eventual arrest by Constable Mitchell at Government House.



etc etc etc. finishing with this accolade to Det. John Connor:
The greatest credit is due to Detective Connor and Constable Anderson for their exertions in endeavouring to arrest the man, and for their sakes it is to be regretted that they were not successful. It is very probable that Cooper will be brought up at the Police Court this morning.


Source: A Glaring Fraud. (1879, January 30).
Tribune (Hobart, Tas. : 1876 - 1879), p. 2.
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201728444

THE ARTFUL DODGER 31st January 1879
For reason best known to the writer of this short notice, Joseph James Cooper was likened to Charles Dickens' character, the Artful Dodger, from his greatly loved novel, Oliver Twist, although Cooper was no juvenile pickpocket. The press persisted with the nickname "the Artful Dodger" until March when the excitement finally abated on Cooper's sentence of a further ten years.



Joseph James Cooper was brought from the Hobart Gaol to court wearing the grey prison uniform.
The Mercury, 31st January 1879

TRANSCRIPT
THE ARTFUL DODGER. - James Joseph Cooper, who said he was a native of the colony, was brought up in prison grey, charge pro forma, with having on the 29th instant, feloniously uttered a forged order for payment of £58 16s 8d., with intent to defraud, and remanded till February 7.



These later photographs of Joseph James Cooper, one pictured with a beard, and the third, pictured completely shaved of hair and whiskers, were reprinted several times from the original negatives produced at the Hobart Gaol by the Nevin brothers per police regulations. The portable fold-up rap sheet with copies currently held at the Port Arthur Historic Site Resource Centre was acquired there most probably as an historic artefact from Ratcliffe's convictaria shop and museum at Port Arthur in the 1920s-30s, where it was displayed purely in the interests of tourism. The other two copies of the same photographs on the black and white rap sheet were pasted onto the document and bound into book-form at the Sheriff's Office, Hobart Gaol, now held at the Archives Office, Tasmania. The central police records registry, the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart Town Hall also kept additional compilations of numbered prisoner mugshots in PHOTO BOOKS, referenced sometimes as such on the prisoner's rap sheet. The first of these three mugshots of Joseph James Cooper wearing the yellow and grey prison uniform, which is attached with a rusty pin to the Port Arthur document, was sourced as an estray from the Municipal Police Office, Town Hall. It was taken in 1875 by Thomas J. Nevin on commission and mounted as a carte-de-visite within the conventions of commercial studio portraiture. It too was probably sourced from Ratcliffe who bought such items at auctions, eg. see Beattie's catalogue 1916.

POLICE GAZETTE: 4th March 1879



Police gazette notice: James Joseph Cooper was arraigned in the Supreme Court Hobart on 4th March 1879. Described as 25 years old, native (locally born), under sentence for forgery and uttering, sentenced to ten years.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL GIBLIN prevaricates 6th March 1879
Attorney-General W. R. GIBLIN acted for Cooper's defence, attempting to shift blame to the overseer of the gang in charge of Cooper and the other prisoners under sentence, for which His Honor admonished him to confine the defence to the facts.



Joseph James Cooper and Chas Fyshe plead in court.
The Mercury 6th March 1879

TRANSCRIPT
FORGERY. Joseph Jno. Cooper and Chas. Fyshe were charged with having forged, on the 29th January, a cheque for the payment of money. In a second count Cooper was charged with uttering. Plea, not guilty.
Jury-Messrs. G. Morgan (foreman), E. Ramberg, B. W. Barber, W. A. Weymouth, Chas. Harris, the younger, Jas, Genge, Thos. Goldsmith, J. M. Hammett, J. W. Reynolds, A. Nicholls, Jno. Keogh, W. Webster.
C. H. T. Marzetti, and A. Pearse, were challenged by the Crown, and H. J. Marsh, and Lewis Luckman were challenged by the prisoners.
The ATTORNEY-GENERAL detailed the circumstances of the case, and spoke of it as a cunningly devised scheme for fraud. The learned gentleman was proceeding to refer to the question of blame of the authorities for permitting the state of things revealed by this case, but said, on enquiry into the circumstances, it was found that no blame could be attached except to the overseer, who had charge of the prisoners who were under sentence at the gaol and were employed in a gang at the Royal Society's Gardens, Queen's Domain.
His Honor said that was not the question here, and the learned counsel had better confine himself to the facts of the information.
The ATTORNEY-GENERAL then proceeded with the evidence, the principal part of which has already been published in The Mercury.
James Robb proved that on the day in question, the prisoner Cooper (dressed as a civilian and wearing spectacles) made some purchases of saddlery at his shop in Elizabeth streeet, in the name of Joseph St. James, of Sorell, and paid him a cheque on the Bank of Van Diemen's Land for £58 16s. 8d., purporting to be drawn by George Guest, on which Mr. Robb gave him in change the difference of £19. Charles Wood, cabdriver, proved that Cooper hired his cab, and told him to drive him out to the further end of the Royal Society's Gardens .... [etc]



1889: Arson & life imprisonment
Joseph James Cooper committed numerous offences and misdemeanours while in prison. He was released to freedom in 1886 and thereafter used aliases, whether as James Cooper rather than Joseph Cooper, as Keith Cooper and as Keith Roydon until arrested as Roydon on charges of arson. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Supreme Court, Launceston on 13th June 1889. Returned once more to the Hobart Gaol in 1890, he was shaved and photographed by Thomas Nevin's brother Constable John Nevin. His trade was listed as "tailor". Cooper committed further offences every year until sent to the Hospital for the Insane at New Norfolk on 19th February 1898 where he most likely died.



Source: "Australia, Tasmania, Miscellaneous Records, 1829-1961," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVBD-SFKS , James Joseph Or Keith Cooper Or Roydon, 13 Jun 1889; citing Imprisonment, Tasmania, Australia, p. 3, Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, Hobart.



Hospital of the Insane New Norfolk
W. Little Photo ca. 1900
Archives Office Tasmania Ref: PH30-1-5093

This sad progression from a young man with a future to degradation of a life in the prison system and eventual hospitalisation in the New Norfolk asylum began here for Joseph James Cooper as a porter at Bidencope's hat factory in 1875:



"WHERE THE GOOD HATS ARE"
J. Bidencope & Son, Murray St Hobart
Post card 1911
Copyright Aussie Mobs at Flickr

Prisoner James BRADY 1873-1874

James Brady was photographed at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin on two different occasions. Three extant images from those two sittings in 1873 and 1874 are held in three public collections, viz. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Library of Australia. James Brady was a former soldier of the 2/14 Regiment, 31 years old, when he arrived in Tasmania on board the Haversham in 1868.



Detail: print of James Brady from T. J. Nevin's negative 1874
From forty prints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners in three panels
Original prints of negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprints by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

The photograph taken in 1874
The photograph (above) is an unmounted sepia print from the negative of Thomas Nevin's sitting with James Brady taken on discharge in the week ending 21st January 1874. It is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.  In 1916, John Watt Beattie salvaged this unounted print from the Hobart Gaol records for display at his "Port Arthur Museum", located in Hobart, and for inclusion in exhibitions of convictaria associated with the hulk, Success, in Hobart and Sydney. Beattie pasted this print on one of three panels displaying forty prisoners in total.



The print of James Brady is bottom row, second from right.
Panel 1 of forty prints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners in three panels
Original prints of negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprints by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Thomas Nevin also printed this photograph of prisoner James Brady as a carte-de-visite in a buff mount, now held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The mounted cdv was held at the QVMAG until it was removed in 1983-4 for an exhibition at the Port Arthur prison heritage site, returned instead to the TMAG. Both formats - the unmounted print and the mounted cdv - were pasted to the prisoner's criminal record sheets over the course of his criminal career, held originally at the Hobart Gaol and in Photo Books at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall which issued Thomas Nevin with this commission to provide police identification photographs from 1872.



Prisoner James BRADY
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Taken at the Hobart Gaol, January 1874
TMAG Ref: Q15604



Verso of cdv: Prisoner James BRADY
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin
Taken at the Hobart Gaol, January 1874
TMAG Ref: Q15604

The verso of this cdv shows evidence of removal from thick grey paper or board. Transcribed subsequently over the grey scraps with "James Brady per Haversham Taken at Port Arthur 1874" is incorrect information, written in 1916 after this cdv of Brady was exhibited by Beattie, using the terms "Types of Imperial Convicts", "Port Arthur" and the date "1874" to appeal to local and interstate tourists by association with Marcus Clarke's novel of 1874, For the Term of His Natural Life, which was filmed at the prison site at Port Arthur. Renamed as Carnarvon,  it was promoted as Tasmania's premier tourist destination. In short, the transcription of the verso of this prisoner mugshot, as with hundreds more from Beattie's estate acquired by the QVMAG on his death in 1930, is tourism propaganda which reflects neither the actual place and date of the photographic capture nor the prisoner's criminal history.

Aliases 1871-1873
When Thomas Nevin took this earlier photograph at the Hobart Gaol of a younger James Brady, 34 years old, with a full head of curly hair on Brady's petition for discharge to the Attorney-General in August 1873, his photographer's headrest was visible. James Brady's aliases were Edward James and James James. This prisoner was not sent to Port Arthur at any time in his criminal career. The Conduct Register records  (CON94/1/1  p44) show Port Arthur offences struck through because he was only ever incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol from where he lodged three petitions for discharge between 1871 and 1873 . This prisoner photograph by T. J. Nevin of James Brady is now held at the National Library of Australia.



This is an earlier photograph of James Brady, alias Edward James and James James, taken in August 1873 by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol.

NLA Catalogue Ref: nla.obj-142920868
Title James Brady, per Haversham, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]. NB: incorrect information.
1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm. on mount 10.5 x 6.3 cm.
Inscription: "107 & 171 ; James Brady, per Haversham, taken at Port Arthur, 1874"--In ink on verso.

Police Records for James Brady
James Brady was a former soldier of the 2/14 Regiment, 31 years old, when he arrived in Tasmania on board the Haversham in 1868.
Brady, James
Convict No: 6647
Voyage Ship: Haversham
Arrival Date: 01 Jan 1868
Conduct Record:  CON37/1/10 p5765,  CON94/1/1  p44
Remarks: Soldier 2/14th Regiment. Tried Hobart July 1868\
Source: Archives Office Tasmania



James Brady record 1868-1873
His place of departure is not recorded. 
Brady lodged three petitions between 1871 and 1873 which were declined
TAHO Ref: CON94/1/1  p44



TAHO Ref: CON37/1/10 p5765

Within months of arrival [from?] in Tasmania in January 1868, James Brady was convicted of uttering a forged cheque on 7th July 1868, and sentenced to eight years at the Supreme Court, Hobart.



James Brady, Free to Colony [FC] , was convicted at the Supreme Court Hobart in the July 1868 sitting, sentenced to eight years for uttering a forged cheque. He was described as 34 years old,



James Brady had been discharged from sentence in July 1869. A warrant for his arrest with the alias James James was issued on 26 August 1870, charged with stealing one cotton rug and two blankets.



James Brady, alias Edward James and James James was arrested on 26 April 1871.



James Brady alias Edward James and James James was convicted of larceny at Oatlands in the week ending 29 April 1871. His sentence being longer than three months, he was incarcerated once again at the Hobart Gaol. He had given a false name, age and ship of arrival when convicted in Oatlands. The Hobart Gaol corrected his record per the police gazette notice when he was discharged in 1874.

Between 1871 and 1873, James Brady lodged petitions to the Executive Council and the Attorney-General (W. R. Giblin) for freedom, but all three requests were declined. Once Giblin's refusal was on record, Thomas Nevin was required to photograph this prisoner (among the many others with similar declined petitions) by  the A-G, W. R. Giblin who had issued the police photographer commission to Nevin in February 1872 after the visit to Hobart by the judiciary and senior officials of the colony of Victoria (former Premier O'Shanassy and A-G Spensley). Thomas Nevin took and printed this photograph at the Hobart Gaol in August 1873, and not at Port Arthur, because James Brady was never incarcerated there (item held at the NLA).





Detail: James Brady convict record Hobart Gaol 1868-1873 
Brady lodged three petitions between April 1871 and August 1873 which were declined
TAHO Ref: CON94/1/1  p44



Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, J. Barnard, Government Printer



T. J. Nevin's second photograph of James Brady was taken on discharge from the Hobart Gaol in the week ending 21st January, 1874. TMAG collection.


Sideshow Alley: Thomas Nevin at the NPG exhibition 2015



Ten Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by T. J. Nevin, 1870s
Exhibited at the NPG, Canberra, Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait,
4th December 2015 – 28th February 2016.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Prisoners' names per the NPG card on left:
TOP ROW (l to r):
William Walker per Asia 4, James Calhoun native, James Geary native, Charles Dawnes [sic] per Rodney 2, William Hayes per Asia
BOTTOM ROW (l to r):
George Willis per Neptune 2, John F. Morris per Pestonjee Bomanjee 2, George Fisher per Stratheden, Samuel Evans native, Leonard Hand native.

The National Portrait Gallery (Australia) at Canberra is currently displaying this wooden frame containing ten "convict portraits" under glass at the exhibition, Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait, 4th December 2015 – 28th February 2016.The NPG web page for this exhibition is: http://www.portrait.gov.au/exhibitions/sideshow-alley-2015.

Misattribution
When the decision arose to borrow a handful of carte-de-visite mugshots of Tasmanian prisoners from the National Library of Australia's collection of 84 "Convict portraits, Port Arthur 1874", it was for reasons to do with cronyism, specifically involving the NLA's reliance on the negligent errors in print of its paid advisers and valuers (eg. Warwick Reeder, 1995; Helen Ennis, 2000 et al) that the NPG curator of this exhibition, Sideshow Alley ensured their inclusion of the irrelevant name "A. H. Boyd" in the credits as a photographer. On the blue card on the wall at left (in photo above), Adolarious Humphrey Boyd's name is printed above and before the name of the real photographer, government contractor Thomas J. Nevin, whose historically correct accreditation at the NLA was intact (Sprod papers NLA MS 2320, 1964) until staff there were bullied into colluding with the sycophantic Julia Clark at the Port Arthur Heritage Site in an abrasive attack on Thomas J. Nevin (and his descendants) to suppress Nevin's name in order to promote A. H. Boyd into the annals of photo-history as some sort of gifted point-and-shoot amateur snapping shots of convicts on a Sunday for personal pleasure.

Read the "essay" Julia Clark sent to the NLA in 2007: click here.

The "essay" by Julia Clark (2007) bears no evidence that Boyd ever took a photograph of a man in prison clothing at any time in his sad, chequered career as a prison official. No photographs by this individual A. H. Boyd were extant in the 19th century, nor in the 20th century, nor now in the present. Not one photograph has ever been published or proferred by Clark or Boyd's descendants to claim his talent as a photographer in any genre. Julia Clark's efforts at personal abuse and plagiarisation of our extensive research from these Thomas J. Nevin weblogs evince a shabby game of playing the Port-Arthur-1996-events sympathy card in tandem with her parasitic aspiration of getting a PhD on the back of Nevin's extensive photographic works (held at the SLNSW, TMAG. QVMAG, NZLIB, TAHO etc). The term currently used to describe the modus operandi of the NLA advertising Clark's insistence that Nevin's name be suppressed (against every catalogue entry for their convict portrait collection), an insistence which affects all users of the NLA collection including the NPG in the Sideshow Alley exhibition - is "apprehended bias". Given the force which Julia Clark has mustered to legitimate her toxic attitude towards the descendants of not just one but the two police photographers, brothers Thomas Nevin and Constable John Nevin jnr who produced these mugshots for the Tasmanian government from 1872-1888 - we can readily add "academic fraud".

Because Adolarious Humphrey Boyd was a much-despised public administrator, sacked from the position of Superintendent at the Queen's Orphan School, New Town for misogyny in 1856, and sacked again from the position of Commandant at the Port Arthur prison for graft, corruption and bullying in 1873, the PAHS decided in their commercial interests and quest to gain World Heritage status in 2007 that they should claim all these "convict portraits" as the work of their own disgraced Commandant A. H. Boyd with the intention of bringing him up from history smelling like roses. Of course they knew the attribution to be a baseless rumour; that A. H. Boyd was not a photographer by any definition of the term; that no records, documents, or photographs exist of his involvement at any level or stage in the production of these extant police identification photographs taken in 1870s Tasmania; and that his name in relation to these prisoners' photographs had only surfaced as a rumour circulated by his pretentious descendants in the 1980s not long after the QVMAG's exhibition of similar photographs from their collection in Nevin's name in 1977. So the decision to make the NLA believe in A. H. Boyd had to be mounted with considerable aggression, and Clark - like one of those dogs tethered at the isthmus guarding Port Arthur back in the day - was their barker. This inclusion in the current exhibition, Sideshow Alley, of a photographer attribution to A. H. Boyd at yet one more Canberra exhibition (e.g.Mirror with a Memory, Heads of the People, Opening of the new NPG 2008) is best termed acquiescent corporate psychopathy, from and by those who readily promulgate misinformation to protect commercial interests.

Place and date of each photographic capture
The National Library of Australia has repeatedly chosen the same set of photographs from their collection of 85 Tasmanian prisoners' mugshots (catalogued as "convicts") for loan to the National Portrait Gallery because they are clean examples of the professional photographer's use of the albumen process. Other examples in the NLA's collection are damaged and dirty, and some are unmounted, e.g. Searle's album. Most of the NLA's collection is online, yet the versos of these photographs, which can provide researchers with valuable information. have not been digitised. The NLA believes that the absence of a photographer’s studio stamp on the versos – of police mugshots no less – is reason enough to engage in puerile political games of re-attribution, despite historical documentation, expert curatorial validation, and the presence of T. J. Nevin’s government contract stamp on several of these mugshots held in other national collections. The versos of the majority of these photographs were incorrectly transcribed in 1915-1916 with the wording “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” to promote penal heritage tourism to Tasmania when they were sent as exhibits to the Royal Hotel, Sydney, in conjunction with an exhibition of convictaria from the transport hulk, the Success. The majority of the 85 mugshots in the NLA collection consists of copies either duplicated from the originals – or missing from – the collections held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.



Prisoners' names per the NPG card on left:
TOP ROW (l to r):
William Walker per Asia 4, James Calhoun native, James Geary native, Charles Dawnes [sic] per Rodney 2, William Hayes per Asia
BOTTOM ROW (l to r):
George Willis per Neptune 2, John F. Morris per Pestonjee Bomanjee 2, George Fisher per Stratheden, Samuel Evans native, Leonard Hand native.

1. Prisoner William Walker



William Walker was photographed at the Mayor’s Court, Hobart Town Hall by Thomas Nevin on discharge, 22 July 1874, having served 7 yrs of a 10 year sentence. He was convicted again 23 October, 1875, sentenced to 6 months for larceny, and incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol. His age was listed as 68 yrs; his occupation as “painter”.See these original records for prisoner William Walker

2. Prisoner James Calhoun



James Calhoun, aged 21, native, (.i.e. locally born) was photographed by Thomas Nevin on discharge from the Hobart Gaol, 21st November 1874, having served a sentence of 6 years for sheep-stealing. See these original records for James Calhoun.

3. Prisoner James Geary



James Geary served a short sentence of less than two years at the Port Arthur prison, arriving there on the 1 August 1868: he was “transferred to the House of Correction for Males Hobart Town to complete his sentence” on 28 March 1870, per record signed James Boyd Civil Commandant. He was photographed in the last weeks of incarceration at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin prior to discharge in February 1874. See these original records for James Geary; mugshots and rap sheet 1865-1896

4. Prisoner Charles Dawnes [sic] i.e Downes



Charles Downes was found guilty on a charge of feloniously assaulting Dorothy Smith, aged 9 years, in Stacey’s revolving circus in the Queen’s Domain, and remanded for sentence (15 Feb 1872). Charles Downes was photographed at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin before his death sentence was reprieved to life imprisonment, May 1875.See these original records for prisoner Charles Downes and this article:Carnal knowledge of children

5. Prisoner William Hayes



William Hayes’ prison ID photograph was among the first taken by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart House of Corrections when William Hayes was discharged from a 2 year sentence for indecent assault in the week ending 24 April 1872. See these original records for prisoner William Hayes.

6. Prisoner George Willis



George Willis, aged 48 yrs, and originally transported in 1838, was convicted in the Supreme Court at Hobart on 10th September 1872, sentenced to six years for larceny, sent to the Port Arthur prison, and then relocated to the Hobart Gaol in October 1873 where he was photographed by T.J. Nevin on incarceration. See these original records 1872-1880 for prisoner George Willis.

This carte-de-visite of prisoner George Willis online at the NLA (above) appears to differ from the rest in this set only because of the different technology used in its digitisation. A photograph taken in situ at the NLA of Nevin’s cdv of George Willis shows the same portraiture and printing techniques applied by Nevin to the rest of the cdvs of prisoners in this set, e,g, Fisher, Evans etc etc, viz:





Recto and verso: George Willis, transported to VDL (Tasmania) on the Neptune 2
National Library of Australia Collection
NLA Identifier: nla.pic-vn5020355
Photographed by T. J. Nevin for the Municipal Police Office and Hobart Gaol 1873-4.
Photos taken at the National Library of Australia, 7th Feb 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR

7. Prisoner John F. Morris



John F. Morris was photographed by Nevin on discharge from the Hobart MPO Town Hall, 28th April, 1875 when his sentence of life for murder was remitted. See these original records for prisoner John F. Morris.; and this exhibition: In a New Light (NLA)

8. Prisoner George Fisher



T. J. Nevin took this photograph of George Fisher in December 1874 on Fisher’s incarceration at the Hobart Gaol Campbell St. for “forging an order to defraud J. E. Risby“. It was reprinted and re-issued for his re-arrest in 1877 for the burglary at Sir Francis Smith’s home. Fisher had been sentenced to 12 years in December 1874 by the Chief Justice Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith , and sent to Port Arthur, arriving there on Christmas Day. He was transferred back to the Hobart Gaol one year later in December 1875. In August 1877, he managed to abscond, broke into the Chief Justice’s home and stole several articles of clothing and other items of personal property. See these original records for prisoner George Fisher.

9. Prisoner Samuel Evans



Samuel Evans was photographed by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol, 9th December, 1874, on the prisoner’s discharge from an eight-year sentence for sheep-stealing. See these original records for prisoner Samuel Evans.

10. Prisoner Leonard Hand



Leonard Hand was convicted in the Supreme Court Launceston in April 1866 and sentenced to 15 years for the offence of “Attempting to commit sodomy". Thomas J. Nevin photographed Leonard Hand on or about the 5th August, 1875, on the occasion of Hand’s transfer to H.M. Gaol, Campbell Street Hobart from the Port Arthur prison. Leonard Hand died "from natural causes" in custody, aged 26 yrs at the Hobart Town Gaol Campbell Street on 20th March 1876. See these original records for prisoner Leonard Hand.


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Please note: 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 3000 prisoners, the bulk now lost or destroyed. These extant mugshots are random estrays salvaged for sale at local and interstate convictaria exhibitions in the early 1900s. They 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 date from 1872. The police records are sourced from the weekly police gazettes which were called (until 1884) Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1885. J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.