Thomas Bluett

BLUETT (BLEWETT), Thomas (1819?-1846) — Wellington, Sydney & Hobart

Lithographer. Produced Robert Park, Plan of Wades Town adjoining the city of Wellington, New Zealand, the property of Messrs. Watt & Wade, laid out in building lots 1841; Plan of the city of Wellington, Port Nicholson, New Zealand 1841; Edward Main Chaffers, Chart of Port Nicholson New Zealand 1841 — all with Jacob William Jones. For later work in partnership with Thomas Liley, see Liley. Also produced views, music, portraits, etc.

Said to have been born in Bath, in or about 1819, although other sources record him as Irish. He married Mary (Maria) Langley 4 Dec 1836 at St. Mary Lambeth in London. Worked for the well-known London firm of “Day & Haghe” before emigrating at the age of twenty-one — at first to New Zealand, sailing steerage from Gravesend on the Olympus 9 Dec 1840 with his wife and two small children, arriving at Port Nicholson 20 Apr 1841. Adam and Catherine Bluett, probably his father and stepmother, were also on board, as was a cabin passenger in W. Jones, who may probably be identified with Jacob William Jones. The local press was quick to notice and approve: “We are happy to find that a lithographer has arrived here in the Olympus, and that we shall now be able to publish charts of the harbour, of Cooks Straits, and plans of the town at a very moderate charge. A chart of the harbour has long been wanted for general distribution; and some means should be taken to get them on board of the numerous whalers on the coast. We hear that the Captain of the American whaler states that many of his countrymen would resort to this port if acquainted with it, which they will not be, unless steps are taken to circulate the necessary information” (New Zealand Gazette, 1 May 1841). By June 1841 plans of the port, lithographed by Bluett and Jones, were available — “a considerable number were purchased by a subscription, with a view to circulating them gratis. Already a large number has been forwarded to Akaroa and other places, with instructions to put them on board of whaling and other vessels not acquainted with our port” (New Zealand Gazette, 12 Jun 1841). A plan of Wade’s Town was already completed and one of Wellington imminent — and by 16 July 1841 plans of Wellington were available in three sizes. In November of that year Jones issued a warning against giving credit to Bluett on the basis of a partnership he claimed had never formally existed and Bluett moved on to Sydney to take up work with Raphael Clint, who announced him as “an artist from Day and Hague’s establishment [sic — William Day & Louis Haghe] under which facilities will be afforded for the economical conduct of business of which no house out of London but this can offer” (Sydney Herald, 28 Dec 1841). The arrangement only lasted a few weeks and after another short-lived arrangement with Thomas Liley, Bluett moved on to Hobart, advertising “Lithographic drawings, maps, plans, music, circulars, cards, bill-heads, &c., executed in the neatest manner and on reasonable terms. N.B. — Artists supplied with prepared stones, chalks, ink, and every article required in the trade” (Austral-Asiatic Review, 29 Sep 1843). By 11 Feb 1844 Thomas and Mary Bluett were back in Sydney, arriving on the Louisa, but were once more in Hobart in April of that year. They then migrated to Hong Kong, where in 1845, Mary claimed that Thomas had fled to Calcutta to escape his creditors, leaving her and the children destitute, compelling her to return to England on what became a nightmare voyage on the Tory. She subsequently became a key witness at the trial of the ship’s captain, George Johnstone, who had murdered three of his crew on the voyage but was subsequently found not guilty by reason of insanity. Bluett had also returned to London and was working for “Graf & Soret” [Charles Graf and James Lewis Soret] when on 25 April 1846 he was accidentally shot in the ribs on Drury Lane by a boy showing off with a loaded pistol. He died of gangrene on 11 May 1846 aged twenty-seven and was buried at St. Giles in the Fields 17 May 1846 (for names in bold see BME 2011).

50 St. Clements Lane, Strand, London — 1840
Wellington Terrace, Wellington — 1841
Brougham Terrace, Sydney — 1842-1843
28 Liverpool Street, Hobart — 1843-1844
18 White Horse Court, Drury Lane, London — 1845-1846

BNA. DAAO. NLA. NLNZ. Niedorf. OB. Trove.