While visiting Canberra in January 2021, I looked (again) at a collection of Tasmanian naturalization certificates held in the National Archives of Australia in series A804. Here’s one of the stories found in these records – which I tweeted at the time but have reproduced here for posterity.
Let’s have a look at one of the Tasmanian naturalization certificates from NAA: A804 to see what we can find out. This one caught my eye because it was witnessed by Andrew Inglis-Clark, and it has no annotations related to travel (NAA: A804, 706).
The certificate was issued to Ah One, a gardener from Hobart, on 21 September 1897. He was 38 years old, a native of Canton in the Empire of China, and had lived in Tasmania for seven years. He had applied for naturalization on 17 September 1897.
On the back of the certificate we can see that Ah One swore the required oath on 24 September 1897, before a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, and this was ‘enrolled and recorded’ the same day by the Supreme Court Registrar (No. 706, Bk 5, page 247).
The memorial gives more information about Ah One: he was born at Canton on 1 February 1859; he arrived at Hobart on the Southern Cross in 1890; he could sign his name in English; and his application was endorsed by JG Davies, JP and Mayor of Hobart.
The accompanying correspondence shows that Ah One was one of nine Hobart gardeners who applied for naturalization at the same time through Tinning & Propsting Solicitors, all endorsed by the Mayor of Hobart.
The nine gardeners were: Ah Doo, Ah Look, Ah Now, Ah One, Ah Koon, Hie Mane, Kie Sung, Sing Gin, and Sing None.
The approval process took four days and issuing their naturalization certificates cost the applicants 2s 6d each.
On the back of Ah One’s naturalization certificate in NAA: A804 is the annotation ‘No. 706, Bk 5, page 247’ – which refers to Tasmanian Supreme Court series SC415, which contains copies of denization and naturalization certificates. A copy of Ah One’s certificate is found on pp. 247–8 of Book 5 (SC415/1/5, https://stors.tas.gov.au/SC415-1-5-P247).
Under s 7 of the Aliens Act 1861 (Tas), a copy of each naturalization certificate had to ‘be enrolled for safe custody as of record in the Supreme Court’.
Almost 600 Chinese people were naturalised in Tasmania up to December 1903. Tasmania stopped naturalizing Chinese people after the new Commonwealth Naturalization Act 1903 came into force from 1 January 1904. By contrast, New South Wales and Victoria stopped naturalizing Chinese in the mid-1880s.
Earlier this year I was commissioned by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) to compile a bibliography on Tasmania’s Chinese history and heritage.
The bibliography is intended as a tool to help with the study of Tasmania’s Chinese communities across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It documents existing research relating to Chinese people in Tasmania, focusing on history, heritage and community, and provides a survey of publications and other research outputs.
The bibliography was funded as part of TMAG’s Contemporary Migrant Experiences project, with funding from the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations.
On Sunday, 5 June 2022, Kirstie Ross and Grace Williams from TMAG and I presented copies of the bibliography to the Chinese Community Association of Tasmania Inc 澳洲塔省華人聯誼會 at their monthly meeting in Hobart.
The bibliography will be made available in Libraries Tasmania and the National Library through the National edeposit service. I have also made a copy available online in Zenodo.
The compilation of the bibliography marks the beginning of my work on Chinese Tasmanian history and heritage, which I will be pursuing further through the new Everyday Heritage project. Everyday Heritage is an Australian Research Council Linkage project and is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Canberra (Tracy Ireland and Tim Sherratt), University of Western Australia (Jane Lydon), University of Tasmania (me) and GML Heritage in Sydney.
Note: Terms used in the following population tables reflect the original historical sources and are considered offensive today.
Chinese population of Tasmania, 1881–1947
Source: Compiled from the Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 18, 1925, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Melbourne, 1925, p. 955; Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1933 and 1947.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a strange and difficult year.
I started the year by moving from Canberra to Hobart, after three months of remote working in my new job at UTAS (as Senior Lecturer in Humanities and Course Coordinator of the Diploma of Family History). I was incredibly sad to be moving so far from Canberra, to be leaving our home of 20 years, to be uprooting my family and separating our kids from each other – the three big ones chose to remain, while the little one had to come with us. But it was also a relief to be leaving the thick smokey air and orange skies and anxiety and asthma that the bushfires had brought over December and January. Then, just as we were starting to feel a little bit settled in Hobart, COVID hit Australia. I had seen COVID come into the lives of friends in Guangdong and Macau, feeling very lucky that it wasn’t us who were in lockdown – but then we were too.
Of all the places in the world to spend 2020, Hobart has been pretty great. But being in a new job, in a new city, on an island cut off from family and friends on the mainland, in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, has been hard, so hard. And now, our plans of returning home to visit in the new year look unlikely due to the recent COVID outbreak in Sydney.
So, it’s with all that in mind that I’m writing this ‘year in review’ post – to help me see through my continually teary eyes that I’ve accomplished something at work this year. See the list below, if you want the details.
My biggest accomplishment this year hasn’t really been at work though. It’s been to get myself, my teenager and my tween through the year in more or less one piece, and to see them finally looking towards 2021 (and more particularly, 2021 in Hobart) with a sense of hope and perhaps even happiness. I couldn’t have achieved that without support from Tim, Sophie, Nicki and Molly the Labrador on the home front, and from my stellar colleague and font-of-Tasmanian-knowledge, Imogen, at work.
Things I’ve accomplished at work this year
Here’s my list of work things I’m happy to have accomplished this year, in no particular order:
my probation at UTAS going through early, after 12 months (yay me!)
our major course changes for R2H Diploma of Family History for 2021 being approved by Senate – and being complimented on the excellence of my course change paperwork
preparing a proposal and gaining approval for my new unit, HAA108 Migrant Families, to be introduced into the Diploma of Family History in 2021
concurrently coordinating two units (HAA003 and HAA107) between July and September with a combined enrolment of over 900 students, with 6 tutors to manage – note to self: never do this again; you literally had 3 days where you didn’t work between June and October
revising HAA003 Introduction to Family History and developing 3 weeks’ content for our new unit, HTA206 Australian History in a Global Context, all done from home and taught online
finalising Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia, forthcoming with HKU Press in early 2021 – included working on the cover and marketing materials, commissioning and checking the index, and checking three rounds of proofs
submitting an application for the ARC Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History and Culture with Julia Martínez and Sophie Couchman – we weren’t successful (only 7.1% of application were), but we were ranked between 10% to 25% of unsuccessful proposals within the scheme round (with three of the four selection criteria ranked at top 10%)
dealing with a plagiarism matter, where a PRC researcher had published an article, in Chinese in a PRC-based journal, that was largely based on my research
speaking via Zoom at the ‘Asia at the Crossroads: Ruptures and Hopes’ symposium, organised by the Melbourne-Monash Asia Studies Reading Group, on 31 July 2020
speaking with my UTAS colleague Imogen Wegman at Libraries Tasmania in Hobart for Family History Month on 13 August 2020
assisting/speaking to researchers/journalists: Kirsty Walsh (Who Do You Think You Are?), Ingrid Piper (commissioned by Australian Consulate, Hong Kong); Mell Chun (freelance journalist working on a project supported by a Judith Neilson and Walkley Fund grant)
being invited to participate in a three ARC applications (two I had to decline), including an ARC Linkage project with Tracy Ireland, Jane Lydon, Tim Sherratt and GML Heritage, which we submitted in December
being invited to contribute to two publications – an edited collection by Tony Ballantyne and a special journal issue on Chinese NZ/Australian history/heritage – in which I’ll write up more of my Chinese naturalisation research
progressing the Subjects and Aliens edited collection I’m working on with Peter Prince, with the aim of submitting it to a publisher in 2021
getting to work with some truly excellent colleagues at UTAS – with special mention to the professional staff who help me do my job better, in particular Carol, Melinda, Scott, and the wonderful young women in the Family History Contact Team this year, Maddy, Emma and Meredith
supervising my first Honours student, who achieved First Class Honours and also got herself a graduate job in the Department of Premier and Cabinet starting next year (yay Britt!)
beginning to think about and dig into Chinese Tasmanian history, particularly about Tasmanian Chinese family histories and how I might sneak Tasmania into my Chinese naturalisation book
Where my work has been cited, 2019–2020
For the record, here are some publications from 2019 and 2020 that have cited my work. I’ve included 2019 here because I didn’t manage to publish a ‘2019 in review’ post last year (too busy settling into new job, selling our house, packing, etc).
Barnwell, Ashley, ‘Keeping the Nation’s Secrets: “Colonial Storytelling” within Australian Families’, Journal of Family History, 46, no. 1 (January 2021), pp. 46–61, https://doi.org/10.1177/0363199020966920.
Berthon, Hilary, ‘A Treasure Trove of Community Language Newspapers’, in Catherine Dewhirst and Richard Scully (eds), The Transnational Voices of Australia’s Migrant and Minority Press, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-43639-1_11.
Charak, Sarah Edith, ‘Anglo-Jews and Eastern European Jews in a White Australia’, Honours Thesis, Department of History, University of Sydney, 2019, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/21137.
Cheng, Christopher, ‘Beacons of Modern Learning: Diaspora-Funded Schools in the China-Australia Corridor’, Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 29, no. 2 (June 2020), pp. 139–62, https://doi.org/10.1177/0117196820930309.
Chua, J.Y., ‘ “An Open and Public Scandal” in the Transvaal: The 1906 Bucknill Inquiry in a Global Context’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 29, no. 2 (2020), pp. 135–161.
Fitzpatrick, Matthew P. and Peter Monteath, ‘Amidst Empires: Colonialism, China and the Chinese’, in Peter Monteath and Matthew P. Fitzpatrick (eds), Colonialism, China and the Chinese, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019.
Gibson, Peter, and Simon Ville, ‘Australian Wool and Chinese Industrialization, 1901–1941’, Twentieth-Century China, 44, no. 3 (2019), pp. 265–287.
Kuo, Mei-fen, ‘The “Invisible Work” of Women: Gender and Philanthropic Sociability in the Evolution of Early Chinese Australian Voluntary Organisations’, in John Fitzgerald and Hon-ming Yip (eds), Chinese Diaspora Charity and the Cantonese Pacific, 1850–1949, Hong Kong University Press, 2020.
Kuo, Mei-fen and John Fitzgerald, ‘Colonial Pathways to International Education: Chinese Students in White Australia in the 1920s’, in Peter Monteath and Matthew P. Fitzpatrick (eds), Colonialism, China and the Chinese, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019.
Kwok, Juanita, ‘Waltzing the Dragon with Benjamin Law’, History Australia, 17, no. 1 (2020), pp. 192–194.
Kwok, Juanita, ‘Chinese Mining on the Turon: From Beginning to End’, Journal of Australasian Mining History, 17 (Oct 2019), pp. 75–95.
Rhook, Nadia,‘ “The Chinese Doctor James Lamsey”: Performing Medical Sovereignty and Property in Settler Colonial Bendigo, Postcolonial Studies, 23, no. 1 (2020), pp. 58–78.
Robson, Charmaine, ‘Doctors’ Dilemma: Appraising the Rights of New South Wales Leprosy Sufferers, 1890–1950′, Health & History: Journal of the Australian & New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine, 22, no. 1 (2020), pp. 126–49.
Sawaki, Tomoko, ‘Interacting Voices Structure a Text: A Quantitative Investigation of Dialogic Elements Across Structural Units in the Introductory Chapters of History Theses’, Functions of Language, 27, no. 2 (2020), pp. 174–206, https://doi.org/10.1075/fol.17037.saw.
Sayers, Jentery, ‘Bringing Trouvé to Light: Speculative Computer Vision and Media History’, in Kevin Kee and Timothy Compeau (eds), Seeing the Past with Computers: Experiments with Augmented Reality and Computer Vision for History, University of Michigan Press, 2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvnjbdr0.5.
See, Pamela M., ‘The Agency of Papercutting in the Post-Digital Era’, PhD Thesis, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, 2020.
Peter Cox’s local history of the former gold-mining town of Lefroy in north-eastern Tasmania, Lefroy: Tasmania’s Forgotten Gold Town (George Town and District Historical Society, 2016, p. 90), mentions a market gardener named Ah Hung, who with ‘his European wife Jemma’ had a large vegetable and fruit garden to the north of Lefroy, ‘on the old Douglas township site’.
Douglas was a town that never eventuated, about four kilometres east of Lefroy. By contrast, Lefroy was once a substantial town, reputed at one point to have been the fourth largest town in Tasmania. There was a notable Chinese community in Lefroy, including a temple. Today, there are only a few houses remaining.
Chinese miners occupy their own chapter of Cox’s study (Chapter 3, ‘Chinese and Slate’), but Jemma and Ah Hung receive only the one brief, unreferenced mention in Chapter 10 (‘The Peak of the Boom’). On a recent holiday in the East Tamar district, I set out to see what I could find out about them.
Jemima Cox and Ah Hung married in Launceston in 1875. She had come to Tasmania as a small child, after migrating with her family from Hertfordshire, England in 1856. Jemima and Ah Hung had three children, born in the early 1880s, Henry, James and Mary, and they lived on land owned by Jemima at Douglas, near Blanket Creek outside of Lefroy, where they ran a garden. Ah Hung died in 1904, after which time it seems that Jemima moved to Launceston with her eldest son, Henry. They lived in Forster Street, Inveresk, and Henry was a gardener like his father (and Jemima’s father, too). Jemima died in 1923, at age 74, in Broken Hill, New South Wales, where she was living with son Henry – she had been in Broken Hill for four months.
Below is a chronology of the information I uncovered through Trove Newspapers, the Tasmanian Names Index, the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Ancestry.com, General Register Office UK, Broken Hill Cemetery website, and maps from the National Library and Libraries Tasmania (thanks to Imogen Wegman for the latter reference). There are many leads that could be followed up about the life of Jemima and Ah Hung and their children, and I’ve noted some of these for future reference!
c. 1835–1846: Ah Hung was born.
1850: On 13 September 1850, Jemima Elizabeth Cox was born in at Nancy Bury, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, the daughter of Daniel Cox and Mary Gregory. Her father was a woodman and her mother signed with an ‘X’.
Birth of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, Oct-Nov-Dec 1850, Hertfordshire, Vol. 6, Page 547, FreeBMD, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database online], Ancestry.com.
Birth registration of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, December Quarter 1850, Hertford Union, Vol. 6, Page 547, General Register Office, United Kingdom.
1851: The family of Daniel and Mary Cox was listed in the 1851 England Census as living at Nancy Bury, Tewin, in Hertfordshire, England. The household consisted of Daniel (farmer labourer, age 32, born Tewin), Mary (housewife, age 26, born Codicote), Daniel (age 4) and Jemima (age 7 months).
Census record for Daniel Cox and household, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, Class HO107, Piece 1711, Folio 170, Page 26, 1851 England Census [database online], Ancestry.com.
1856: On 5 February, Daniel and Mary Cox and their children arrived in New South Wales as assisted immigrants on the James Fernie. The Cox children were 7-year-old Daniel, 5-year-old Jemima, 2-year-old Joseph and a male infant born on board.
Assisted immigrants records for Daniel Cox, Mary Cox and Daniel, Jemima and Joseph Cox, arrived on James Fernie, 1856, Assisted Immigrants Index 1839–1896, NSW State Archives and Records.
Passenger list for the James Fernie, arrived Sydney on 5 February 1856, New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 [database online], Ancestry.com.
1869: Jemima Cox gave evidence in a case about trespass on the land that her father, Daniel Cox, rented in Glen Dhu Street, Launceston.
1875: Jemima Cox and Ah Hung were married at the Wesleyan Church in Patterson Street, Launceston, by the Rev. E.W. Nye. Jemima was incorrectly said to be a native of Tasmania, aged about 25 years old, and she was still living with her parents at Cataract Hill. Ah Hung was described as a ‘middle aged man’.
They were married on 13 May 1875. He was recorded as being aged 29 and she was 25. He was a bachelor and she was a spinster. He was a miner and she was a gardener’s daughter.
c. 1880: Henry Charles Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
c. 1882: James Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
c. 1884: Mary Hung, daughter of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
1889: The premises of Ah Hung at Lefroy were robbed on Tuesday, 3 September 1889, and £75 in gold and silver was stolen. The theft was not discovered until 5 September. The main suspect was another Chinese man.
1910: Mrs J. Hung of Melbourne Street, South Launceston, won the ‘Robur’ Tea Ticket Collecting Competition for February 1910 and her name was listed in a Launceston newspaper (under ‘3/6 Rewards’ in the first column).
1913: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.
Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1913–14, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 154, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
1914: Mrs Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.
1915: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.
Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1915–16, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 152, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
1922: Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.
1947: ‘Half-caste Chinese’ James Hung, age 65, died. He was the brother of Henry Charles Hung of 53 Charles Street, Launceston. James Hung’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff in the Gorge on Saturday, 1 February 1947.
It’s the Year of the Tiger, and today’s my birthday. Four of us in my little family are tigers, born 1962, 1974, 1998 and 2010 (I’ll leave you to guess which year I was born).
With birthday thoughts in mind, here are a three stories celebrating the long lives of some early Chinese Australians.
George Moo-hong of Young
Market gardener George Moo-hong of Young celebrated his 104th birthday on 29 July 1954. He was born in around 1850 and arrived in Australia from China at the age of 25 (c.1875). In 1954 it was reported that he’d been living in the Young area for about 70 years.
Tasmanian patriarch James Chung Gon celebrated his 96th birthday on 23 July 1950; he was born c.1854. Chung Gon had started his life in Australia almost 70 years earlier, working as a tin miner then orchardist. He married in China, but his wife joined him in Tasmania and the couple had 11 children. The Tasmanian press noted the family’s celebration of the occasion, as it had each year since his 90th birthday.
Hobart resident Willie Chung Sing celebrated his 82nd birthday in late December 1945. Born in around 1863, he arrived in Tasmania as a young man in 1887, working for Ah Ham & Co. in Hobart, then running his own businesses in Launceston and Wellington (New Zealand), then once again returning to work as general manager at Ah Ham & Co. for 36 years. He made regular trips back to China, where his wife and children remained, and in 1946 was heading back again to rejoin his family.
It’s the week after Christmas, it’s stinking hot and the cricket’s on. As I write, Ricky Ponting has just made 50 batting against the South Africans. Yesterday Kerry O’Keefe dropped this comment about the Australian cricket captain into an article in the Daily Telegraph:
Ricky Pon Ting did his Chinese heritage proud with a clinical ton on the opening day. The Pon Tings have been mining tin in the north east of Tasmania for over a century and I’m certain they would have celebrated the achievement of one of their own with traditional oriental dignity.
A somewhat half-hearted Google search has brought up no other mention of Ponting’s Chinese heritage, except someone in a World of Warcraft forum saying that both Ponting and David Boon have ‘fairly old Chinese–Australian heritage’. Hmmm, can anyone else shed light any light on this?
The Sydney Morning Herald/Age China correspondent, Mary-Anne Toy, writes about her ancestral village in Taishan in the SMH and The Age on 24 November 2008. Read more from the SMH. Or if you prefer, from The Age.