Tag: Anglo-Chinese

An indecipherable name and Rev. Dr Fullerton’s marriage shop

Some recent research I’ve been doing into an Anglo-Chinese family living in Sydney in the 1870s–1880s led me to both an interesting problem and an interesting discovery. I undertook this research for someone else, so I won’t mention any names here – lets just call our couple ‘J’ (the husband) and ‘R’ (the wife).

The problem was thus: the copy of the couple’s marriage registration provided by NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages includes a Chinese signature for ‘J’ the groom, but it is completely indecipherable. So indecipherable, in fact, that it is even difficult to make an educated guess as to what the name might be. Finding a Chinese ancestor’s Chinese signature is one of those Eureka moments, so finding out that no one can make sense of it is rather disappointing.

I began to wonder, therefore, if the original parish marriage register might provide some clues. All the information on the marriage registration is in the same handwriting, so I thought it might be possible that the details, including the ‘signatures’, had been written in by someone else (who could not write Chinese). This had been the case with another later marriage in the same family – by checking a copy of the original church register I was able to see the (English) signatures of the bride and groom and witnesses.

Many early parish registers for Sydney and New South Wales have been microfilmed by the Society of Australian Genealogists – my local copies are in the National Library. Starting out with great hope, in the end I could not locate the appropriate register among the microfilms. This did, however, lead me to my interesting discovery.

My couple, ‘J’ and ‘R’, were married in 1874 by the Rev. Dr James Fullerton LLD, a Presbyterian minister in Sydney during the middle decades of the 19th century. Fullerton was a somewhat controversial figure who was reputed to run a ‘marriage shop’ out of his home – many of his marriages were performed there rather than in his church. In 1851, he was tried in the Supreme Court for ‘illegal solemnization of marriage’. Fullerton was known not to ask too many questions, and on the registrations of marriages he officiated, the personal details are often scanty and incorrect. For my couple, only minimal details are given and the bride’s age has been stated as being 21 (the age of consent) – she was actually only 17.

The original church registers maintained by Rev. James Fullerton up to 1873 are held by the Uniting Church Archives NSW/ACT, those from 1874 are held by the Presbyterian Church’s Ferguson Memorial Library in Surry Hills. Thanks to archivists at both those institutions, I now know that Fullerton’s original register can shine no more light on the Chinese name of my groom ‘J’. It just says that the groom signed ‘in Chinese’. Alas.

In my research into Fullerton, though, and in thinking about the circumstances in which my 17-year-old Irish-Australian bride came to marry her Chinese husband, I came across a fascinating article from 1873 with information about another marriage Fullerton performed between a young white woman and a Chinese man. It’s quite long, but I’ll copy it here because it is a rather cute account of how things might have been. From the Sydney Morning Herald, 11 April 1873, it details a case heard in the Court of Quarter Sessions in Sydney:

KEEPING A BROTHEL

A Chinaman from Canton, calling himself ‘Charles Tuckland,’ was charged with keeping a brothel.

The case was proved for the Crown by a Pagan Chinaman from Canton, names Lau Hawk, who deposed that the house was a brothel, and that he had married his wife Ellen Jones (a young woman aged 19 years, and a native of Sydney) out of his, prisoner’s disorderly house. Lau Hawk’s marriage was celebrated by the Rev. Dr. Fullerton, on the 23rd of January last. The marriage certificate was produced in Court. The witness, Lau Hawk, was sworn, at his own request, by blowing out a match, “not being a Christian.” Law Hawk [sic] swore that Tuckland’s house was a Chinese house of ill-fame, mostly frequented by Chinaman, but that degraded white men sometimes went there. Constable Michael H. Fox also gave evidence as to the extremely disreputable character of the house. A night-watchman, named Brennan, likewise gave similar evidence. This man had been complained to about Tuckland’s house by the people in the neighbourhood. The witness had seen Chinese men and white women – mostly very young – in couples in every room in the house – all smoking opium. The women were white women, and one of them was the woman Ellen Jones or Ellen Hawk. The white prostitutes and the Chinamen used to make a practice of smoking opium together. Brennan had seen the men smoking opium there, and passing on their opium pipes to the young women in whose company they were. Joe Hong, a Chinaman, gave the like evidence. For the defence, Mrs. Hawk (wife of Lau Hawk), gave the prisoner’s house a good character. She said she was drunk with spirits (not opium) when she was married to Lau Hawk. She went with Lau Hawk to Dr. Fullerton’s, to be married to Lau Hawk on an evening at twenty minuted to 10 o’clock. She swore that she was not then married to Lau Hawk, because they were told ‘it was then too late,’ but she did get married to him at the same place on the following morning, and was drunk at the time. Lau Hawk swore that they were married at night. Mrs. Lau Hawk’s bridesmaid was a girl called Emma Jones; one who passes as her sister, and who was living with Ellen Jones at Tuckland’s, but was not related to her. His Honor, in the course of his remarks said that the circumstances of this case were most extraordinary, and would, he trusted, be reported by the Press.

The prisoner’s defence was that his house was a ‘welly good house, and not bad at all.’ He sold opium for people to come and smoke it, and the young women waited on his customers.

The jury, without retiring, returned a verdict of guilty.

Sentence: To be imprisoned in Darlinghurst gaol and there kept to hard labour for six calendar months.

The opium merchant fluently expressed his astonishment at the result of the trial in Chinese, and was promptly removed from the Court in the midst of his disagreeable surprise.

(See the article online: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13321835.)

‘Race, service, citizenship’: talk by Alistair Kennedy

The next event from the Chinese Australian Historical Society is a talk from Alistair Kennedy, BA (Hons) MA Dip Ch (HK), MBE from the School of History, ANU.

Race, Service, Citizenship: White Australia’s attitudes to Chinese-Australians between the two World Wars

When: Saturday 31st July 2010
Time: 2pm
Where: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney (near Bathurst Street).

This paper represents work in progress on Alistair’s PhD thesis. It examines how the experience of war service in the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) affected the lives of Chinese-Australians. It covers the consequences of the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act, the Dictation Test and the white working class exclusion discrimination on Chinese workers. The Chinese-Australian population fell rapidly from more than 88,000 in the 1880s to 25,000 at the 1911 census. In 1914, there were fewer than 2,000 Chinese-Australian males of military age with British citizenship and, of these, the racially intolerant Defence Acts excluded many who could not prove they were of ‘substantially European origin or descent’. Yet many of these Chinese-Australians did enlist.

Apart from the indigenous peoples, Australian social historians have seldom examined White Australia’s treatment of ethnic minorities between the wars. This paper argues that for one such minority, Chinese-Australians, the experience of military service in World War 1 was a positive one.

Cost: $10 members; $15 non members
Bookings: Anna Lee, Treasurer. Pay at the door.
Email: annalee@workready.com.au
Phone: 9519 7436 or text 0412 334 398
Committee: Robert Ho, King Fong, Clifford To, Frederick Leung, Arthur Lock Chang, Anna Lee

Back to school

With school going back this week, here’s an article from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1911 about the Anglo-Chinese and Chinese pupils at the Waterloo public school in Sydney.

It mentions a recently arrived Chinese boy, son of a local butcher – one of hundreds of Chinese-born children of men living in Australia who came to Australia in the early decades of the 20th century to attend school. Most of the children who came were boys. Some, like the boy mentioned in the article, had no English at all. Others had already attended English school in China (this was a later requirement of their being allowed into Australia to study).

The National Archives of Australia holds files on the Chinese students in series A1. You can search for them in RecordSearch using a name, or keywords like ‘Chinese student’, ‘student passport’. A number of them are already digitised, so you can see what sorts of things are in them.

The files generally contain a Chinese student passport, which has a photograph and details in both Chinese and English – including name, date and place of birth, school attended, person responsible for the student. There are also usually school reports and other correspondence about the student’s time in Australia.

Willie Wahlook Lee's Chinese student passport, 1923

The image above is from the Chinese student passport of Willie Wahlook Lee, who attended the Crown Street Public School in Sydney between 1923 and 1926. It is found in NAA: A1, 1923/28341 and the whole file is digitised.

Sometimes the student was allowed to remain in Australia beyond the term of their studies, in which case the file will include more information. It may also then not appear in a search in A1 under ‘student passport’ – in such cases a search by name is more likely to get results. The National Archives might also hold other records, such as those created by the Collectors of Customs in the states, about the students.

The files can be a useful way of finding information about the Chinese name and origin (in characters) of people or families already living in Australia.

Chinese children – At public schools –Waterloo teachers’ troubles

During his visit to the Waterloo Public School on Friday Mr. Beeby (Minister for Education) was struck with the number of enrolled children who had English mothers and Chinese fathers. Surrounding the school are numerous Chinese dwellings. Some of the inhabitants have brought out their wives from China, but others are living with Englishwomen, and the offspring of the latter, the schoolmaster states, prove to be some of the brightest and most intelligent children in the school. In their home life and surroundings these children have a splendid opportunity of learning the Chinese as well as the English language, but in nearly every case they turn from the Chinese, and openly express a desire to become apt pupils in English.

The teachers in the same school have amongst their pupils one or two full-blooded Chinese children, and the headmaster has a problem to solve in trying to impart knowledge to these.

A Chinese boy of 14 years was presented to Mr. Beeby on Friday as an example of what the teaching staff had to content with. He is a fine sturdy boy, with intelligent features, and arrived from China two months ago. He is the son of a local Chinese butcher, and, like his mother and father, is unable to speak a word of English. But he proudly takes his place daily in the school among the infants of six and seven years, and the headmistress of the department is trying hard to impart to him the rudiments of English. The teacher told the Minister on Friday that the boy could not speak a word of English, ‘and of course, I can’t speak Chinese,’ she added. The Minister was interested, but puzzled. However, the headmistress of the infants is going to solve the problem herself. She writes words of two or three letters on the board, and the pupil copies them into his exercise book, and does it too in a very neat way: but he cannot read what he has written. The teachers hope that by mixing in with the other children the newcomer from China will gradually pick up the English language.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June 1911

Swings and roundabouts and SP11/6

This past Friday I escaped work and a very chilly Canberra to head north to do some research in the Sydney office of the National Archives. I had some particular things I hoped to discover from particular files, but I also decided to order up some records from series I hadn’t looked at before – or so I thought. Fossicking in one box, however, I found photocopy markers with my own name on them, so I guess I had seen them before, how long ago I’m not quite sure! For the most part I actually met with disappointment in the things I had set out to uncover from my visit, as files about Thomas Allen and Sing War were not about my Thomas Allen and my Sing War. Alas. But I had some nice unexpected discoveries, which are really the happiest kind.

Series SP11/6 is described in RecordSearch as being certificates of exemption from the dictation test, which indeed it mostly is. It contains material like what’s in SP115/1 – folders of documents of Chinese and other non-whites entering Australia, with each folder relating to a particular voyage. They date from 1926, 1927, 1928, one from 1912 and some from the mid-1940s. There are lots of CEDTs, with the occasional birth certitificate and passport thrown in for good measure.

I found a couple of new Anglo-Chinese families to add to my collection. There were documents (in Box 1) about Mrs TH Lee, nee Violette Dickson, and her two sons Tom Sam Lee and Thomas Henry Lee who were repatriated from China to Australia by the Commonwealth government in 1927. There was a passport for Tom Sam Lee and ’emergency certificates’ for Violette and Thomas Henry, which were issued by the British Consul-General in Canton. Here’s a photo.

In Box 5, I came across an Australian passport for Henry Lee Young, who was born in Ballarat in 1862. A very early Anglo-Chinese baby!

The final thing that got me all excited was a book of the first certificates of domicile issued in New South Wales, dating from February to September 1902. It is in SP11/6, Box 3. ST84/1 has later certificates of domicile, but the ones found in SP11/6 are the very earliest! The certificates have photos and some of the men have beautiful plaits coiled up around their heads. Others show signs of just beginning to grow their hair long, no doubt in preparation for the trip home. I was pleased to find a photo of a friend of mine from other files in the archives, George Quin Sing. There are photos of all the Quin Sing family members who travelled in 1902: Mr Quin Sing, Mrs Quin Sing (who is delightfully Chinese in her dress, jewellery and hair-do), their son George and two daughters Eliza and Lizzie (who are delightfully done up in Australian fashions of the day). Here’s the book and Mr Quin Sing’s certificate.

Catching up

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, trying to write other things and not distract myself with blog posts. I’m currently based at the Centre for Historical Studies at the National Museum, who are generously supporting me as an Early Career Summer Fellow to work on my book about Anglo-Chinese Australians and the Immigration Restriction Act (well, that’s one variation of how to describe the book…). It’s such a luxury to be able to spend my days working on the book, instead of trying to fit it in around my real job. If only writing my book were my real job. Sigh.

One of the delightful things of late has been that I have had the time to embark upon correspondence with people around Australia, New Zealand, indeed, the world. One of those correspondents is Natalia Hooker, who is working on a biography of her late grandfather, LJ Hooker. Hooker was born Leslie Joseph Tingyou in 1903 and changed his name by deedpoll in 1925. His Chinese background only came out publicly after his death in 1985.

By one of those strange but really not uncommon coincidences, when Natalia shared information about her extended family with me, I recognised the name of one of LJ’s cousins. As the son of a migrant Chinese father and Anglo-Chinese mother, he was someone I’d ‘met’ in the archives and it was interesting to hear a little more about him, including that he’d apparently fathered a child at a rather young age! It is also further proof that everyone is related to everyone else – well, at least as far as the NSW Chinese community was concerned.

Natalia is interested to hear from anyone with LJ Hooker related memories, information or photographs. Her website is www.nataliahooker.com.