Qld Faces of WWI: Jack Mathewson

This striking portrait is of John Trevallon Mathewson, son of the one of Queensland’s most famous photographers.

Portrait of Jack Mathewson ca. 1916. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image 77889

Portrait of Jack Mathewson ca. 1916.

In his book Thomas Mathewson, Father of Photography in Queensland. An Early Pioneer, Photographer, Historian, 1842 to 1934 Alan Reeve North says this of Jack: “Jack Mathewson worked in his father’s studio from about the year 1910 and later was a photographer with the Australian Flying Corp in World War I from 1916 to 1920.

It was hoped that Jack would carry on the family business which he did for a while, but like his father he possessed an adventurous spirit and instead became a missionary to China from 1924 to 1928.

taff of Thomas Mathewson & Co. on the occasion of his 80th birthday, 1922. Jack is standing at the centre in the back row. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image 22042

Staff of Thomas Mathewson & Co. on the occasion of his 80th birthday, 1922. Jack is standing at the centre in the back row.

When foreign missionaries were forced to leave China he chose to travel westward to the north of Tibet with the intention of reaching the coast at Bombay. It was reported in the Brisbane Courier  that he had been murdered by tribesmen near the boarder of China and Tibet.

"The Late Mr Mathewson" Brisbane Courier, 5 Sep 1927, p.17

A memorial service was held in Brisbane to commemorate his life, though subsequently a message was received to say that he was still alive. The history of his time in China is told in a separate series of articles which were published in the Brisbane Courier during that period.

 

"Hullo Jack, Hearty Welcome, Return of Jack Mathewson" Brisbane Courier, 6 Sep 1928, p.15

In subsequent years Jack did work in some Brisbane studios such as Cooper and Gillespie and the Regent Studios. His second name is unusual but it is believed to spring from a home in which the Mathewson family resided for a brief period and which was opposite the home of the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane ‘Bishopbourne’; the name of that residence was ‘Trevallon’. Born in 1891, his life came to a close in 1974. Jack married Leila Gwendolyn Davis in 1928.”

Simon Farley – Librarian, State Library of Queensland