Prisoner William TURNER 1841-1879

T. J. NEVIN MUGSHOT of William Turner
EXHIBITIONS 1976 and 1977

Prisoner William TURNER
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985: P: 90 or 1985_p_0090
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
Taken at the Hobart Gaol and Municipal Police Office, Hobart, 1878-9
Exhibited at the Centenary of the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, 1976

This black and white copy of William Turner's prisoner identification mugshot was made at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1985 from Thomas Nevin's original sepia print, and placed online at the QVMAG in the early 2000s. The original 1870s print of the b&w copy was exhibited at the AGNSW in 1976 (listed on page 27 in the Exhibition Catalogue). The curator chose this one (and another two photographs) possibly because the full frontal pose and the frank stare captured more of the prisoner's "personality" than the conventional pose where the sitter's sightlines were deflected either left or right, the pose typical of Nevin's commercial studio practice and evident in the more than 200 (two hundred) prisoner cdvs held in the Beattie collection at the QVMAG. In addition, this print was possibly chosen because it had escaped the rebranding on the versos with the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" for Beattie's tourism trade of the 1900s and for the 1938 QVMAG exhibition which commemorated his death and bequest to the people of Launceston. A year after the 1976 AGNSW Centenary Exhibition, in 1977, many more of these "convict portraits" by T. J. Nevin from the Beattie collection were exhibited at the QVMAG, curated by John McPhee.

Verso: Prisoner William TURNER
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985: P: 90 or 1985_p_0090
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
Taken at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart, 1878
Exhibited at the Centenary of the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, 1976
See the Exhibition Catalogue here in this post

1859: Turner's shooting with intent to kill a Constable

Source:The Hobart Town Daily Mercury (Tas. : 1858 - 1860) Thu 3 Nov 1859 Page 2 POLICE COURT.

Remanded.-William Turner, Henry Townsend, and Thomas Morgan were brought up on remand, charged with feloniously shooting, at Swanton, Constable Wells, with intent to kill and murder him.
Upon the application of Mr. Sub - Inspector Weale the prisoners were further remanded until to-morrow (this day) when the evidence against them will be adduced.

1873: Turner discharged from H. M. Gaol with FP

Prisoner William Turner from Bristol. sentenced to 10 years for housebreaking and stealing was transported to VDL per the Lord Goderich, arriving on 18 November 1841 as an 18 year old. He was then sentenced at the Hobart Supreme Court on 6th December 1859 to life imprisonment for "shooting with intent etc". He was received at the Municipal Police Office, Town Hall from the Port Arthur prison and discharged in the week ending 4th June 1873, Free with Pardon (abbreviated as FP in the police gazette record above).

1878: Turner convicted of larceny from a tin mining site
William Turner may have committed further offences using aliases between his discharge in 1873 and his conviction in 1878 , as his name does not appear against any further convictions in the Tasmanian police gazettes until 1878. While working as a sawyer in the Scottsdale and Ringarooma area of northern Tasmania in 1878, Turner was convicted for the theft of a calico tent and fly from the Briseis Tin Mining Company, Cascade River.

Page 152, Tasmania Reports of Crime. 20 September 1878.
William Turner was suspected of theft of a calico tent and fly.

Above: Two notices published in the Tasmanian police gazettes issues of 6th and 20th September 1878 concerning thefts of four meershaum pipes and a calico tent and fly by William Turner.

Above: William Turner, conviction of larceny published 26 October 1878
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, Gov't printer.

During the week of 26th October 1878, William Turner, sawyer, 57 years old, 5ft 8½ inches tall, and Free by Servitude (FS) was convicted of larceny and sentenced to 6 months. His prior conviction - a life sentence in 1859 for shooting with intent from which he was discharged free with a pardon in 1873 - was not recorded. On incarceration at the Hobart Gaol in October 1878 and discharge from the Mayor's Court at the Hobart Town Hall in March 1879, T. J. Nevin photographed William Turner in full frontal pose for police and prison records. An archivist in the early 1900s, using the police gazette record, inscribed on the verso "FS" below the prisoner's name, William Turner, and the ship, Lord Goderich. A more recent inscription in a different hand - (Boys Ship) referring to the Lord Goderich and the date of his arrival in VDL (18/11/1841) - was probably added for the 1976 Centenary Exhibition of the Art Gallery of NSW and/or the 1977 QVMAG Exhibition of more than seventy "convict portraits" - i.e. mugshots of Tasmanian prisoners taken in the 1870s by Thomas J. Nevin - curated by John McPhee.

Verso: Prisoner William TURNER
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985: P: 90 or 1985_p_0090
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
Taken at the Hobart Gaol and Municipal Police Office, Hobart, 1878-9
Exhibited at the Centenary of the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, 1976
See the Exhibition Catalogue here in this post

"The work of T. J. Nevin..."
Source: the Mercury, March 3rd, 1977

Convict photos at Launceston
Historic photographs showing convicts at Port Arthur in 1874 will be exhibited at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Launceston from tomorrow to May 2.
The work of T. J. Nevin, the photos are being shown at Launceston for the first time.
Many of the men shown in the pictures had been transported to Port Arthur as young boys 40 years earlier.
The curator of fine art at the museum, Mr. John McPhee, said yesterday that the photos had "a quality far beyond that of records".
"Just once rascally, occasionally noble always pathetic, these photographs are among the most moving and powerful images of the human condition," he said.

Transportation Records  for William TURNER 1841
Archives Office of Tasmania Linc
Name:Turner, William
Record Type:Convicts
Departure date:14 Jul 1841
Departure port:Portsmouth
Ship:Lord Goderich
Voyage number:183
Index number:71924
Record ID:NAME_INDEXES:1441965

Source: Archives Office of Tasmania CON33 -1-14

William Turner, sentenced to 10 years for housebreaking and stealing was transported to VDL per the Lord Goderich, arriving on 18 November 1841 as an 18 year old. This record gives more detail about further offences until 1853.

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Prisoner mugshots by Constable John Nevin

Constable William John Nevin (1851-1891), younger brother of professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin, died suddenly of typhoid fever on 17th June, 1891. The earliest date on record of his service with the police is 1875 when he was stationed at the Cascades Prison for Males, Hobart. His service continued at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street, as "Gaol Messenger", a rank which covered his duties as photographer, until his untimely death while still in service, aged 39 yrs old. The registrar of his death gave his age as 43 yrs old; however, his burial records at Cornelian Bay Cemetery on 19th June 1891 listed his death at 39 yrs, i.e. born 1851, and this date is consistent with the Fairlie sick lists shipping records which recorded that he was a babe in arms, less than 9 months old, when he arrived in Hobart on 3rd July 1852 with his settler parents, John and Mary Nevin, and his three older siblings Thomas, Rebecca Jane, and Mary Ann.

Constable John (W. J.) Nevin ca. 1880.
Photo taken by his brother Thomas Nevin
Copyright © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections 2009 ARR. Watermarked.

The Electoral Roll of the Electoral District of North Hobart, year commencing 11th April, 1884:
NEVIN, William John
Place of Abode: H.M. Gaol
Nature of qualification: Salary
Particulars of Qualification: H.M. Government

Archives Office Tasmania
RGD 35/13
Death of John Nevin, Goal Messenger, of Typhoid Fever
17th June 1891

Older brother, commercial photographer Thomas J. Nevin was commissioned by the family solicitor W.R. Giblin, later Attorney-General and Premier from 1872 to 1876 to provide the colonial government of Tasmania with photographs of prisoners while he was still operating from his commercial studios in Elizabeth St and New Town, Hobart. And from 1876 to 1880, when employed in full-time civil service as Office and Hall keeper of the Hobart Town Hall, his photographic services for police continued at the Hobart Gaol with the Municipal Police Office and at the Mayor's Court, housed within the Town Hall. Thomas Nevin was assisted by his younger brother Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol in producing photographic records of prisoners until ca. 1886, his last record (to date) of service to police as assistant bailiff.

During the early to mid-1870s, Thomas Nevin deployed the conventional techniques of 19th century commercial studio portraiture in matters of posing, photographing and printing the final official prisoner identification photograph (mugshot) as mounted carte-de-visite portraits. The prisoner was usually posed with his upper torso turned 45 degrees from the photographer, with sightlines deflected to the edge of the oval mount, and backgrounded by a plain backcloth. The majority of Nevin’s prisoner photographs taken between 1872-75 evince his use of this commercial technique, for example:

State Library of NSW
James Ogden, photographed by T.J. Nevin 23 September 1875
Call Number DL PX 158

National Library of Australia
John F. Morris, photographed by T.J. Nevin 25th April 1875
nla.pic-an24612762 PIC P1029/36 LOC Album 935

Most prisoner photographs taken in the 1880s in Tasmania required the subject to face the camera, and in some instances, show the backs of the hands clearly. The full frontal gaze marked the transitional phase between Thomas Nevin's early to mid-1870s commercial mounted carte-de-visite portraits and the 1880s prisoner photographs, taken more often than not at the Hobart Gaol by his brother John Nevin.  No full profile photographs, in addition to the single full frontal shot, were taken until the late 1890s when the methods of Bertillon took hold.

Roland Hill, 23 yrs old, 20th February 1890.
Ref: TAHO GD 6719, p. 148. Gaol Register from the Sheriff's Office Hobart.

Remarkably, this prisoner identification photograph dated 1890 was printed in the commercial oval mount format, its sole difference from the earlier prisoner portraits taken by Thomas Nevin being the full frontal gaze of the prisoner. This photograph is not an old one, reprinted from an earlier photograph of the 1870s. It was taken of Roland Hill, 23 years old, a clerk and a first offender, sentenced to two years for larceny, and taken on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol by Constable John Nevin when Roland was transferred from Launceston.

Roland Hill, 23 yrs old, 20th February 1890.
Ref: TAHO GD 6719, detail mugshot from criminal sheet p. 148

Many of the photographs in this register GD 6719 dating to 1890 were reprinted from an earlier photograph of the prisoner, some quite visibly showing the original oval mount under the second printing within an oblong mount with rounded corners.

This photograph of Charles Dawson was taken by Constable John Nevin on 11 December 1888 at the Hobart Gaol adjacent to the Supreme Court where Dawson was sentenced to 4 years for uttering a forged cheque. The print from the negative was framed initially in an oval mount , and reprinted within an oblong mount, as an overlay, for reasons best known to the printers, whether at the gaol itself in Campbell Street or at the Municipal Police Office, Town Hall in Macquarie Street, or even at the government printing office and registrar in Davey Street. The duties of Constable John Nevin by 1888 was both photographer and gaol messenger. He would have conveyed copies of these prisoner photographs and criminal record sheets back and forth to any of these three authorities.

Charles Dawson, 33 yrs old, 11 December 1888.
Ref: TAHO GD 6719, detail mugshot printed with oblong overlay p. 101


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.