Taishan County has produced many notable sons and daughters some of who have made their homes in Australia far from the earth of the "Flowery Country". It is to these that this page is dedicated.
If you know of or can write a biography that might properly be included here, please contact me.
Roll of Notable Taishanese Expatriates:
Ah Mouy, Louis (1826-1918) by Yong Ching Fatt in "Australian Dictionary of Biography: 1851-1890", Vol. 3 p.19-20, Melbourne University Press, 1969.
Ah Mouy, Louis (1826-1918), merchant and Chinese community leader, was born into a family of twelve in the district of Toi Shan, near Canton, China. He migrated to Singapore when young and learnt the trade of a carpenter. In 1851 he was brought to Melbourne under contract to Captain Glendinning, for whom he built six houses with Singapore oak in South Melbourne and Williamstown. His arrival coincided with the discovery of gold in Victoria. He broke the news to his brother at Canton and his letter was said to have prompted the migration of many thousands of Cantonese to the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s.
After Glendinning's contract ended Ah Mouy joined the gold rushes and made a fortune by discovering and digging rich finds in the Yea area. Later he became a speculator in mining not only in Victoria but also in Malaya. With the assistance of Chinese labourers he opened up gold mines at Yea, Ballarat, Elaine, Mount Buffalo, Bright and Walhalla. He also had various commercial ventures. He was credited with the establishment of a rice mill in Flinders Street, the first of its kind in Victoria. At Swanston Street in 1852 he was one of the first residents in Victoria to engage in the tea business; he later became an original director of the Commercial Bank of Australia in Melbourne. In addition Ah Mouy was a land speculator, acquiring sites in Armstrong Street, Middle Park. Through his trade, land and mining operations he amassed great wealth, but lost heavily in the economic depression of the 1890s.
Louis Ah Mouy was an undisputed leader of the Chinese community in Victoria. He was a founder of the See Yap (Four Districts) Society of Melbourne in 1854 and generously contributed land at South Melbourne for the building of the See Yap Joss House in 1866. As a leading member of the Yee Hing Society, which practised mutual help, protection and brotherhood, Ah Mouy often mediated and settled disputes among the Chinese in Victoria. He gave evidence to the royal commission on public education in 1867. He was a leading spokesman for the Chinese community against immigration restrictions and with the merchants, Lowe Kong Meng and Cheok Hong Cheong [qq.v.], wrote a pamphlett, published in Melbourne as The Chinese Question in Australia, 1878-79, which advanced the case for allowing Chinese immigrants to enter British colonial territories including Australia. In 1887 he helped to organize a petition to the visiting commissioners, General Wong Yung Ho and U Tsing, for the protection of Chinese interests in Victoria. Aged 92 Louis Ah Mouy died on 28 April 1918. By his wife Ung Chuck he had eleven children. He was survived by seven sons and three daughters, all well educated and well assimilated in the Australian society. Of his sons, Kum How became a Melbourne representative of several large timber firms, and the youngest, Mee How, a prominent architect.
As a successful migrant in Victoria, Ah Mouy presented some admirable qualities and images of a Chinese migrant: vitality, assimilability, charity, purpose and resourcefulness.
I. Selby, History of Melbourne (Melb, 1924); Herald (Melb), 30 Apr 1918; Sun (Syd), 12 May 1918; G.A. Oddie, The Chinese in Victoria, 1870-1890 (M.A. thesis, Univ Melb, 1959); C.F. Yong, The Chinese in New South Wales and Victoria, 1901-1921 (Ph.D. thesis, ANU, 1966); information from M.H. Ah Mouy, Surrey Hills, Vic.
Yong Ching Fatt
A Veteran Chinese: Death at Middle Park, The Herald, Melbourne 30 April 1918
In this country it is seldom indeed that the natural death of a Chinese is made the subject of special reference in the press, but exception is made in the instance recorded below, deceased being the first Chinese to land in Victoria, and being highly esteemed, as are his family, for his many outstanding good qualities.
At the age of 92 years, Mr. Louey Ah Mouey, who has been a colonist of Victoria for 67 years, died at his home at 16 Nimmo Street, Middle Park, on Sunday.
A builder by trade, Mr. Ah Mouey was the first Chinese to land in Victoria, coming out from Canton in 1851 under contract to erect some buildings for Captain Glendinning, the master of the sailing vessel by which he travelled. It is claimed that he built the first houses that existed in South Melbourne and Williamstown.
Soon after his arrival here, he wrote to his brother in Canton to come to Victoria. The letter was intercepted in China, and it is assumed that this initiated the immigration of Chinese to Victoria.
Mr. Ah Mouey was a great mining investor and speculator, and in the fifties with Chinese labour, he opened up many mines in the Yea district. After having been eight or ten years in Victoria, he could speak the English language fluently, and read and write excellently. As the result of his marriage in Victoria to a woman of his own nationality, Mr. Ah Mouey leaves seven sons, three daughters, and 12 grandchildren. The daughters and two sons are married. One son, Mr. Ling Ah Mouey, is a member of the legal profession in Melbourne, and another Mr. M.H. Ah Mouey, is an architect, living in Middle Park. Both were well known in local sporting circles as cricketers of more than average skill. A grandson is employed as an electrical engineer in the Postmaster-General's Department. Six of the sons are in Melbourne, while the seventh is a retired merchant living in Hong Kong. One daughter is living in Victoria, and the other two in Calcutta and America. A sister is living in China.
Mr. Ah Mouey was well known in business circles, he having been a tea merchant and an importer and exporter, of 200 Swanston Street.
His remains were interred in the Church of England portion of the Melbourne Cemetery on Monday afternoon.
A Part of History in "Inside Equity", Issue 1 p.4, Equity Trustees Ltd, Melbourne 2004.
Research into the people who have set up charitable trusts through Equity Trustees has revealed some remarkable stories.
Equity Trustees is trustee for 174 trusts that were created to provide valuable funds for charitable purposes. While the stories behind the people who created these trusts are fascinating, in most cases they are not widely known. One of these people was Fon Ah Mouy. Fon died in 1955 and in his Will established a trust to benefit two hospitals in Hong Kong and a school for orphans in China. In 1955 his fortune was nearly £322,000 and within 50 years the Trust had grown to more than $14,300,000.
Fon’s father, Louey, was the first Chinese migrant in Victoria 1, and research suggests he was responsible largely for the Chinese coming to Victoria for the gold rushes. Louey wrote to one of his brothers near Guangzhou about the discovery of gold in 1853. The letter was intercepted by the imperial authorities 2 and printed in newspapers. By May 1853 more than 500 Chinese migrants had arrived in Melbourne. Louey had arrived in Melbourne in 1853 and by 1860 he could read, write and speak English fluently, giving him a huge advantage in commerce. He established a shop at 260-262 Swanston Street in Melbourne and as a mining investor and speculator he purchased licences for many mine sites around Yea and paid for Chinese labourers to come to Victoria.
Louey settled on Nimmo Street, Middle Park and bought large amounts of surrounding land, from which he amassed great wealth by selling in the 1850s and 1860s. 3 Though he lost much of his wealth in the economic depression of the 1890s, he died a wealthy man in 1918 and passed his successful business at Swanston Street to his son Fon Ah Mouy.
Like his brothers and sisters, Fon received a good education, attending a private school in South Melbourne. He ran the store for nearly 50 years, purchased 10 properties and held many debentures and shares.
During the gold rush and in the years after as the Chinese population declined, many Chinese who died in Victoria wished for their remains to be buried in their homeland. As operators of an exporting business, both Louey and Fon would have been in a unique position to assist in transporting remains to China. The main organisation in China that received these remains and saw to the traditional burials was the Tung Wah Hospital in Hong Kong. Fon’s Will nominated two hospitals to receive annual donations in perpetuity; the Chung Wah and the Kwong Wah. Both hospitals now form the major part of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, which provides Western and Chinese health care free of charge to the needy.
A letter written by a member of the Chinese Masonic Society reveals more of Fon’s motivations:
|"After the end of the Chinese civil war, in the early 1950s Hong Kong was swamped with refugees from China who needed food and medications. In many instances, Tung Wah Hospital was their only source of help. Fon Ah Mouy during his later years on his visits to Hong Kong was very moved by the work of the hospital for the poor and the helpless and so he donated very generously to the hospital (as he had no children to inherit his wealth)."|
This year, the hospital received more than half a million dollars from the Trust.
In his Will, Fon also named the Madame Chiang Kai-Shek Orphanage in China 4 as one of his charities. Now known as the Hua Hsing Children’s Home, the school teaches students from kindergarten level to Grade Six. The children are refugees, orphans and children from disadvantaged circumstances. In 1982 it erected a new Assembly Hall and dedicated the building to the memory of Fon Ah Mouy, in conjunction with another large donator. Annual donations to the home from the Fon Ah Mouy Estate are currently more than $260,000.
Permission to reproduce the body of this article was requested from Equity Trustees, but no reply was forthcoming.
"Cheok Hong Cheong, supt Chinese Missionary"
Cheong Cheok Hong (1853?-1928) by Yong Ching Fatt in "Australian Dictionary of Biography: 1851-1890", Vol. 3 p.385-386, Melbourne University Press, 1969.
Cheong Cheok Hong (1853?-1928), missionary and social reformer, was born in the See Yap district, near Canton, China, son of Huh Cheong (Cheok Peng Nam), a Presbyterian missionary who went to Ballarat in the 1850s. Cheong arrived in Melbourne about 1863. He attended Scotch College and qualified for matriculation at the University of Melbourne. In 1873 he joined the Prebyterian congregation at Napier Street, Fitzroy; the minister, Dr Robert Hamilton, was convener of a mission committee for work among the Chinese and ran a training seminary for catechists. Cheong was his assistant for some time, probably as an interpreter, and with a friend made missionary tours on Sundays 'among their heathen countrymen'. The seminary closed in 1877 and Cheong appears to have begun study at the Presbyterian Theological Hall. In 1883 at the mission committee's request he was made an elder so that he could assume duty as superintendent at once. However, relations soon became strained; he returned to business life for a short time, probably for financial reasons.
In 1885 at the annual meeting of the Anglican Board of Missions Cheong gave such a remarkable address that his transfer from the Presbyterians was sought and approved; with the sanction of Bishop Moorhouse [q.v.] he was appointed missionary superintendent for twelve months. In addition to organizing the work of Chinese catechists throughout Victoria, he collected sufficient funds for building in Little Bourke Street a mission hall and training centre for Chinese evangelists. In 1897 control of this property was given to the Church Missionary Association of Victoria. Cheong continued as superintendent but, after some friction with the association, resigned voluntarily in August 1898. With help from dissatisfied supporters he started an unofficial Anglican mission at the Temperance Hall in Russell Street; more than eight hundred people attended its first annual meeting. Again Cheong raised funds successfully for another mission hall in Little Bourke Street, controlled by the Church Missionary Association Reformed. In 1904 it was fully recognized by the Church of England, and Cheong’s son, James, was appointed its ordained chaplain. Cheong remained superintendent of the mission until 1928. He was always known as Mr Cheong. Under a later archbishop the establishment was renamed the Church of England Chinese Mission of the Epiphany.
Cheong was outspoken against certain human weaknesses such as opium smoking. As early as August 1889 with William Anderson [q.v.], W.J.S. Gordon, M.L.A., W.H. Calder, W. Thi Geen, and a few other friends he initiated the anti-opium movement in Victoria. In 1891 he went to England where he delivered addresses on the opium traffic to influential audiences at Exeter Hall and in the parliamentary banqueting room at Westminster. Meanwhile in Melbourne a bill restricting and regulating the sale, use and importation of opium was passed in the Legislative Assembly, but rejected with strong opposition by the Legislative Council. In 1905 Cheong was active in launching a second anti-opium campaign which prompted parliament to pass an Act banning the sale and smoking of opium in Victoria.
Since 1879 Cheong had been a spokesman for the Chinese community in Victoria. He criticized the Victorian immigration Acts and became a champion for their relaxation. With two other merchants, Lowe Kong Meng and Louis Ah Mouy [qq.v.], he wrote a pamphlet, published as The Chinese Question in Australia, 1878-79 (Melbourne, 1879), arguing that the Australian governments should respect the Peking treaty of 1860 which allowed Chinese immigrants to enter British colonial territories without restrictions. At the height of the anti-Chinese movement in New South Wales and Victoria, Cheong as chairman of a Chinese committee published a second pamphlet, Chinese Remonstrance to the Parliament and People of Victoria, which challenged the colonial governments’ disregard of Chinese treaty rights, refuted the myth of any Chinese invasion and appealed for better treatment of Chinese citizens in Victoria. In 1901 when the immigration restriction bill was before the federal parliament Cheong wrote to the prime minister, Edmund Barton, pleading that the Chinese in Australia should be spared from a 'double yoke of national ignominy and dishonour'. In 1918 he was elected president of the Commonwealth Chinese Community’s Representative Committee founded by Chinese merchants in various Australian States for the relaxation of the Immigration Restriction Act, but success was slight.
By his education and command of English, his pleasant personality and varied connexions with church, business and political circles in Victoria, Cheong helped to bridge the gaps between the Chinese and Australian communities. Whatever remained to be done, he achieved much through his fearless spirit in voicing the grievances of the Chinese residents, through his unceasing efforts to establish cordial relations by talking to Australian audiences on affairs in China and problems of the Chinese in Victoria and through his missionary zeal to [sic] christianize the Victorian Chinese.
Cheong married Wong Toy Yen in 1869 at Ballarat; they had five sons and two daughters, all well educated and well assimilated in Australia. Aged 75 he died at Pine Lodge, Croydon, Victoria, on 20 June 1928 and was buried privately.
A.J. Campbell, Fifty Years of Presbyterianism in Victoria (Melb, 1889); E.W. Cole, Better side of the Chinese character (Melb, 1918); M. McGivern, A history of Croydon (Melb, 1961); Sel cttee on the immigration restriction bill, Evidence, V&P (LC Vic), 1898 (Dl); A'asian Missionary News 1 (1888); Chinese Aust Herald, 1894-1922; Tung Wah Times (Syd), 1902-22; Chinese Times (Syd), 1919-22; Cheong letters (held by Benjamin Cheong, Croydon, Victoria); information from Rev. George Anderson, Canterbury, and Canon W.G. Thomas, East Brighton, Vic.
Yong Ching Fatt
An Overview of the Life of Cheok Hong Cheong, by Ian Welch, Chinese History of Australian Federation, Melbourne 2001
Cheok Hong Cheong was a significant missionary, businessman, landowner and political lobbyist. He was born in 23 November 1851 in Guangdong Province, China. His family village was in the northern Taishan District of the Siyi (Four Districts or See Yup). He came to Australia in 1863 following the conversion of his father, Cheong Peng-nam at Beechworth in 1860. His father was employed the same year by the Presbyterian Church to act as a Cantonese interpreter in the Presbyterian Chinese Mission at Ballarat. He decided, unusually for the time, to bring his entire family to Australia as permanent settlers which he achieved by 1863.
Cheok Hong CHEONG (he changed his name order to the European style) studied at the Ballarat East Common School and at Scotch College Ballarat. In 1872 the family moved to Melbourne and Peng-nam became a fruit merchant. Cheok Hong was enrolled at Scotch College, Victoria Parade. He matriculated into the University of Melbourne in 1875. He passed the entrance examinations for the part-time Presbyterian Theological Hall and was also appointed part-time English teacher at the Presbyterian Missionary Institution, a short-lived attempt to provide training for Chinese catechists. After disagreements with the Presbyterian Chinese Mission Committee he withdrew from theological studies and worked in the family business.
In 1879 he joined the leading Chinese merchants, Lowe Kong Meng and Louis Ah Mouy in writing and publishing a Chinese response to anti-Chinese actions in the shipping industry. He became secretary of the Melbourne Chinese Residents Committee/Association and served for many years. In that role he wrote most of the English-language material dealing with anti-Chinese discrimination in immigration and employment. He was the founder of the Victorian Chinese Anti-Opium Society and Australian corresponding committee member of the British Anti-Opium Society, on whose behalf he visited Britain in 1892.
In 1882, he became a Presbyterian ruling elder at Napier St Church (now a Uniting church) in Fitzroy. During this period, he was consulted by the Anglican Chinese Mission and in 1885 was offered the post of Superintending Missionary of the Anglican Mission. A forced amalgamation brought the mission under the control of the Church Missionary Association. Following a series of disagreements Cheong and the majority of Chinese Anglicans rejected the amalgamation and 're-formed' the Anglican mission. A period of considerable difficulty followed with two Anglican missions but in the end it was 'Cheong's Mission' that survived and continues as the Anglican Chinese Mission of the Epiphany at 123 Little Bourke St, Melbourne.
Cheong owned a number of properties in inner Melbourne and in Croydon where he lived. In 1925 he was one of a number of Chinese who invested in Walter Burley Griffin's development of the suburb of Castlecrag in Sydney. He was one of five shareholders who commissioned Burley Griffin to design them a house in the development.
In June 1928 Cheong died at his home at 'Pine Lodge' in Croydon, Victoria. He was survived by his wife who he had married in an arranged marriage and nine children. Rev. James Cheong, one of his children became a well known public figure in his own right.
Summary of Cheok Hong Cheong's Activities
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
Anglican Church of Victoria
The Chinese Christian Union Victoria
(A fellowship of Chinese Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ and Baptist Churches).
The Victorian Chinese Residents Association
Permission to reproduce the body of this article was received from the author.
See also: Welch Ian, Alien Son: The Life and Times of Cheok Hong Cheong, (Zhang Zhuoxiong) 1851-1928, PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra 2003.
Chin Kaw (1865-1922) by K.S. Liew in "Australian Dictionary of Biography: 1891-1939", Vol. 7 p.637-638, Melbourne University Press, 1979.
Chin Kaw (1865-1922), popularly known as Ah Kaw, merchant and community leader, was born on 17 July 1865 at Shui-hu village, K'ai-p'ing district, T'ai-shan county, Kwangtung province, China, son of Chin Lang Lan, merchant, and his wife Yu Chin Lang Lan, nee Yugim. Many details of his career cannot be established with certainty. About 1879 he arrived at the Chinese tin-mining community of Thomas's Plains, near Weldborough in north-eastern Tasmania, where his uncle Chin Ah Heang owned a general grocery and herb store. Besides helping in this retail business and later taking up mineral leases in the area, the young Ah Kaw found his basic literacy a great help to his uneducated fellows. He returned to China in the mid-1880s and married Luey Fong, daughter of a well-respected Sunning-shan family, in 1887. He was back in Tasmania by 1890 and the subsequent arrival of his wife as a 'princess' from China stirred local imagination.
In 1899 Ah Kaw moved from Weldborough to Launceston where he established Sun Hung Ack & Co. in St John Street. He took over the general store and wholesale tobacconist business of James (formerly Chin) Ah Catt, another Cantonese who had already had business dealings with Ah Kaw and Ah Heang in the establishment in 1890 of the store Ah Catt & Co. at Thomas’s Plains. Ah Catt was a well-known and popular 'Christianized' Chinese whose funeral on 18 November 1907 was the largest in Launceston for some time and at which the hymn 'Rock of Ages' was sung first by the European mourners and then by the Chinese in their own language.
In subsequent years Ah Kaw took an extensive interest in mining and banking enterprises as well as local welfare, including the well-being of his own countrymen. He early identified his interests with those of his adopted land and was naturalized as a British subject. His shop became an important meeting-point for the Chinese migrants who used it for news of their native land, for remitting money home and as a place of rest and recreation.
Before Federation Chin Kaw was one of those who sought to circumvent the impending immigration restrictions by speeding up migration to Tasmania, where, although a poll-tax was exacted from each Chinese migrant, the limitation on numbers was less severe than in the other colonies. He was probably one of the four Launceston merchants who petitioned against the immigration restriction bill in August 1898. His efforts continued to be gratefully remembered by many Chinese families in various parts of Australia. In 1916, as the mining industry in north-eastern Tasmania was tapering off and the Chinese population dwindling, Ah Kaw moved to Melbourne as a herbalist. He died on 11 April 1922 at Hawthorn after a short illness, survived by his wife, four daughters and six sons, two of whom were to graduate in medicine and law respectively from the University of Melbourne. Following traditional custom, his remains were sent back to China to occupy a place of honour in his ancestral temple.
Cyclopedia of Tasmania (Hob, 1931); Examiner (Launc), 16, 18 Nov 1907; Weekly Courier (Launc), 27 Apr 1922; family information.
In 1901, Jin Jiang arrived in the mining town of Weldborough in northeast Tasmania to join his father, who had been lured there by the prospect of tin in the 1880s, but had turned to opium and never remitted any money to his family in China. Jin Jiang managed to buy passage in steerage for his father, so he could return home to Taishan County.
After three years in Weldborough, mining was on the decline, so Jin Jiang left for Launceston where he worked as a market gardener. Subsequently he moved to Hobart, where he established a laundry, from where he also sold tobacco and fancy goods. Later he established a wholesale and retail fruit and vegetable business, Henry & Co.
One family story says that when setting up shop, he had asked the sign writers to paint "Henli" meaning "doing well" or "showing a profit", but they thought he had said "Henry", so Henry he became. Together with his name in Cantonese, he was known as Gen Chung Henry.
Henry & Co was located at 139 Liverpool Street, and supplied all the hotels and hospitals, as well as Government House.
With his growing prosperity, he was able to return to China five times. On one of these occasions, he married Mary Lum Lee. Their first child, Joyce was born in China, but as only a boy could continue the lineage, or look after his parents in their old age, or conduct the ceremonies to honour the ancestors, a boy had to be adopted, and he was known as Fon.
Within a year of returning to Hobart, Mary gave birth to a son of her own - her precious Gordon. He was succeeded by another boy, Lester, and two daughters, Dorothy and Marie. Gordon was pampered and encouraged to excel at school, and eventually took over the shop and made the firm a success. By contrast, his sisters, especially the older ones, toiled in his shadow at the shop for little reward, being considered of little value compared to their brothers. However Dorothy was spoilt by her father, who even bought her a violin and paid for her lessons.
When Gen Chung Henry died of tuberculosis in 1941 at the age of 56, he was given a fitting farewell. City traffic was stopped to allow his cortege to pass while people lined the streets to pay their respects. The family even received a note of condolence from the governor, Sir Ernest Clark. According to an obituary in The Mercury: "A keen, energetic business man, Mr Henry was well-known for his kindness and charity. He was president of the Tasmanian branch of the Kuo Min Tang (Chinese Nationalist Party), and gained complete mastery of the English language by diligence and perseverance."
He was survived by his grieving wife and their six children. His estate included properties in "Canton" bought over five return visits, and a new home in Dragon Field village near Taicheng, the capital of Taishan County, which had been built when he took his family to Taishan for two years in the 1930s.
A family story says that when his mother was shown the new family home in Dragon Field village, and could see that her son had indeed prospered in Tasmania, she closed her eyes with joy, content to rejoin her husband in death.
Mary Lum Lee expected to return to China with her husband, so he could be buried with his ancestors. She had dressed him in his best suit and shoes, lined the pockets with crisp pound notes, and had his body placed in a specially-made metal casket which in turn was placed in a wooden coffin, to await the day when he could be repatriated to China.
However this never happen, and when she died, she was laid to rest alongside her husband in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery in Hobart.
This account was adapted from Tasmanian Tin Miners, Addicts and Merchants by Helene Chung Martin, Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation, Melbourne 2005. Permission to copy the artcile was declined by the author.
"Mei Quong Tart with Emissaries from the Chinese Imperial
Government, who came to Australia in 1887."
Australian Mandarin: The Life and Times of Quong Tart by Robert Travers, Kargaroo Press, Sydney 1981.
From the dust jacket of this volume (qv) ...
Quong Tart was one of the most fascinating and colourful characters of colonial Sydney. A Mandarin of the Blue Button, honoured by the Dragon Throne with the Peacock Feather, he was at the same time a fine cricketer, an all-round sportsman, a staunch Freemason, and a spirited singer of Highland ballads which he rendered in a fine Aberdonian brogue.
Quong Tart was a most unusual Chinese - often seen wearing a tartan kilt, delighting in all things Scottish and a devoted admirer of 'Rabbie' Burns. He defied tradition and his mother to marry a young English girl, who also challenged convention and her father.
As a wealthy tea merchant Quong Tart moved easily in the top social circles of Sydney while as a fun-loving sportsman he appealed to the ordinary people. In an age when the Chinese were feared as the 'Yellow Peril' Quong Tart was respected by the political leaders of the colony and beloved by the poor for his charitable feasts.
As a spokesman for his countrymen he was involved in early attempts to restrict Chinese immigration. He played an important part in conciliating the two races on the occasion of the notorious Afghan riot when the Mayor of Sydney led a wild mob on Parliament House. He also saved the city from a savage tong war. One of the first to draw attention to the drug menace, Quong Tart struggled for many years to stop the trade in opium.
During the Boer War this fifty year old patriot took the Queen's shilling - surely the only mandarin to don a trooper's scarlet jacket.
Quong Tart lived through stirring times on the gold diggings, survived the Afghan riot and a number of anti-Chinese campaigns, only to fall victim to a random act of senseless violence. He died at the height of his fame and with further honours in sight.
Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903) by E.J. Lea-Scarlett in "Australian Dictionary of Biography: 1851-1890", Vol. 5 p.234-235, Melbourne University Press, 1974.
Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903), merchant and philanthropist, was born at Hsin-ning (Sun-ning), Canton Province, China, son of Quong Tart, dealer in ornamental wares. At 9 he went to New South Wales with an uncle who had charge of a shipload of coolies for the Braidwood goldfields. He lived in Thomas Forsyth's store at Bell's Creek and soon joined the family of Robert Percy Simpson whose wife Alice, nee Want, taught him English and converted him to Christianity. Encouraged by his guardians to acquire shares in gold claims, he was wealthy at 18. After the Simpsons moved to Sydney he built a cottage at Bell's Creek and lived a gay and leisured life, friendly with both Chinese and Europeans. At Braidwood and Araluen he was prominent in sporting, cultural and religious affairs and organized a series of popular Chinese horse-races at Jembaicumbene. In 1871 he was naturalized on 11 July, joined a lodge of Oddfellows and in 1885 became a Freemason; in 1877 he had been appointed to the board of the public school at Bell's Creek.
Quong visited his family in China in 1881 and on his return opened in Sydney a tea and silk store, followed by a tea shop which was intended to provide customers with samples of China tea, but proved so successful that he began a chain of them. He also agitated for the suppression of opium imports and in 1883 accompanied Sub-Inspector Martin Brennan on an investigation of the Chinese camps in southern New South Wales. Their report revealed widespread opium addition and on 24 April 1884 Quong presented to Alexander Stuart [q.v.], colonial secretary, a petition seeking the ban of opium imports. On a visit to Victoria in June he tried to win support for his anti-opium crusade in Melbourne and Ballarat.
On 30 August 1886 Quong married a young Englishwoman, Margaret Scarlett. In 1885-88 he provided a series of free feasts for the inmates of destitute asylums. In 1887 he revived the anti-opium campaign with a second petition to parliament and published a pamphlet, A Plea for the Abolition of the Importation of Opium, but in that year anti-Chinese sentiment flared and he spent much time defending his countrymen and often acted as an interpreter. In January 1888 he was appointed a mandarin of the fifth degree by the Chinese Emperor and again visited China. On his third Chinese tour in 1894 he was advanced in rank to a mandarin of the fourth degree.
In December 1889 Quong opened an elaborate restaurant in King Street, it was followed in December 1898 by a dining hall in the new Queen Victoria Markets which became one of the most popular social centres in Sydney. His employees, mostly Europeans, benefited from his enlightened policy with time off for shopping and sick leave with pay. After August 1890 when he opened a bazaar at Jesmond near Newcastle he was in constant demand as a speaker at charitable and social functions; his Scottish songs and recitations mingled with quaint wit guaranteed full attendances. A zealous Anglican, he had his children baptized and educated in different Christian denominations to avoid charges of prejudice. On 19 August 1902 he was savagely assaulted by an intruder in his office in the Queen Victoria Markets. After a partial recovery he died from pleurisy at his home, Gallop House, Ashfield, on 26 July 1903 and was buried in the Rookwood cemetery. He was survived by his wife, two sons and four daughters.
Quong was the only Chinese who succeeded in being accepted fully by the New South Wales community, but the popular view of him as a Chinese leader was not that of the Chinese community which was split by factions and separated from him by a wide social and cultural gap.
M. Tart, Quong Tart, or how a foreigner succeeded in a British community (Syd, 1911); Quong Tart papers (Soc Aust Gen, Syd).
Fong, Sydney (Kong Shan [Sou] Kin) (1878 - 1955) by Anne Atkinson in "Australian Dictionary of Biography", Vol. 14 p.196, Melbourne University Press, 1996.
Fong, Sydney (Kong Shan [Sou] Kin) (1878 - 1955), merchant, was born on 24 November 1878 at Long Foon village, Toishan district, Kwangtung, China, son of Kong Gen Mi, farmer, and his wife Yu See. Details of his early life and first marriage are unknown. His wife remained in China when he emigrated to Western Australia, arriving in September 1896. He lived and worked at Broome for two years before shifting to Perth.
In 1901 he moved to Geraldton and was employed by his uncle Fong Lang who had established the Wing On Woo & Co. store. While working there, he learned to read and write in both Chinese and English, adopted the forename Sydney and eventually took over the business. Fong brought his daughter Irene (1907 - 1972) - who was born during his first visit to China - to Geraldton about 1909. After his wife died in February 1914, he married Ellen Louisa Ah Moy (1895 - 1939) at St Peter’s Anglican Church, East Melbourne, on 2 December that year. They were to have seven children. Two of his sons were educated at Scotch College, Perth, another learned woolclassing at Bradford, England, and the fourth studied in Hong Kong.
Located in Marine Terrace, Geraldton, by 1916 Sydney Fong & Co. consisted of a general store (which stocked groceries, fruit and vegetables, wine, spirits and tobacco), a fuel agency, a ship’s chandlery, an import and export agency, and a small market garden which provided the store with fresh produce. In the 1920s and 1930s the firm employed a staff of ten. Fong developed a reputation for good service and fair trading; on occasions, when customers were in difficult circumstances, he quietly cancelled their debt. He supplied the district's farmers and acted as an agent for the Geraldton fishing industry, provisioning boats and dealing with seafood buyers. Fong engaged in business with European and Chinese wholesalers in Perth and Fremantle, and kept meticulous accounts in English and Chinese. Progressive and far-sighted, he was reported to have held the first petrol agency in the town and was a foundation member of Geraldton Beach Camps Ltd which built small cottages for holiday-makers.
On 16 May 1944 Fong married Lucy Ann Chung Gon at the Presbyterian Church, Oatlands, Tasmania. A highly respected member of the Geraldton community, he was an elder of St John’s Presbyterian Church; he also served on the cemeteries’ board and belonged to the bowling club. He continued to give generous financial support to the Church and in the 1930s had been responsible for building a church in the village of his birth. Survived by his wife, by the daughter and adopted son of his first marriage, and by the four sons and three daughters of his second marriage, Fong died on 9 December 1955 at Geraldton. He was buried in Utakarra cemetery after a large funeral at which the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Western Australia officiated.
A. Atkinson (comp), Asian Immigrants to Western Australia 1829 - 1901 (Perth, 1988) and Chinese Labour and Capital in Western Australia, 1847 - 1947 (Ph.D. thesis, Murdoch Univ, 1991); Geraldton Guardian , 10, 13 Dec 1955; ts synopsis of interview by R. Jamieson with W. Moy, 1981 (BL); Sydney Fong, Geraldton, 1932 - 1940 (ts of interview by R. Jamieson with M. Limon, 15 Feb 1983, BL); S. Fong papers (BL); information from Mr L. Fong , Winthrop, and Ms L. Meredith, Noranda, Perth, Mr A. Fong, Geraldton, WA, and Ms D. Quay, Syd.
Permission to reproduce the photograph was received from the owner of the photograph.
Keep Fong was born in Taishan County and arrived in Sydney in 1940. He was co-founder and inaugural president of the Australian Chinese Community Association, which is a non-political, non-religious and non-profit making community organization. It was established on the 7 July 1974, registered as a charitable organization in January 1977 and incorporated in June 1993, and now has over 7000 members. In 1994 Keep Fong was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the Chinese community, and was a trustee of the Sze Yup Temple in Sydney from 1967 to 2000.
Permission to reproduce the photograph was received from the owner of the photograph.
William Lam Pan arrived on the Charters Towers Goldfield from Gilberton in 1873. An advertisement placed in the Northern Advocate on 11 April 1873 announced his arrival, and that he had set up shop opposite Tough's Machine, Millchester.
Lam Pan came to Charters Towers with something of a reputation. The Brisbane Courier of 15 February 1872 reported a mine explosion on the Chance Claim at Mount Hogan in 1872, in which a miner named Maldon fractured and severely lacerated one of his thighs. The Mining Warden, George Dalrymple called upon a Chinese doctor, presumably Lam Pan, to treat the man. He requested an exorbitant fee and would not treat the man until the money had been paid, so a Dr Brock was sent for from Etheridge. However when he arrived, he stated he need not have bothered to come, as Maldon’s leg had been saved by the care given by the Chinese doctor.
William Lam Pan probably came from a small village on the border of Toishan and Sunwei Counties in Guangdong Province China, where the name Lam seems to predominate. He was the son of Lam Chang, a Chinese doctor, and Annie Shoy.
William Lam Pan’s life is similar to that of many others who came in search of gold and good fortune in the north of Australia. He probably arrived through the port of Townsville in 1870 with 394 other Chinese who also disembarked at that time. He spent eight months on the Cape River Diggings before moving north to Gilberton in 1871. There he practised as a Chinese doctor and herbalist, and established a reputation.
Rather than move to the new burgeoning goldfield on the Palmer River, Lam Pan elected to re-establish himself at Charters Towers to the south. While this goldfield also lost a lot of its population to the Palmer River Goldfield, most held on and hoped for a revival of their fortunes. And besides here was a population of Chinese on the creeks around Millchester attending to their gardens.
He married an Irish woman named Mary Jane McDonnell from County Mayo at St Paul’s Church of England on 8 August 1876. Two months later he became a naturalised British subject on 10 October 1876. His life with Mary Jane Lam Pan ended, when she died prematurely on 5 July 1881.
Lam Pan then married Sarah Maloney on 8 July 1884, this time at his home in Millchester in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. He was 45, while she claimed to be 25. It was her first marriage.
The family prospered in the Chinese quarter of Millchester. He applied for a business lease there in 1886 where he erected his house. He was also the holder of two market garden leases on Dearies Creek for some of this time. In 1889 he applied for a lease on MHL 1452 on 26 April 1889, which was situated next to his business lease. Within six months, a Joss House, of which he was caretaker, was erected there and opened to public acclaim. When Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland, visited the town on 22 June 1899, Lam Pan was invited by the civic leaders of Charters Towers to be presented to him, which showed the esteem in which he was held by both the local European and Chinese communities.
In 1900, he returned to Australia after a visit to China.
William Lam Pan died on 8 October 1910, and without any public recognition. After dying from chronic Bright's disease and heart failure, he was buried in the town's new cemetery in an unmarked grave. Soon after, his sons and daughters left the town, with his youngest son, Arthur Francis leaving Millchester School in November 1910. The children principally moved to the Burdekin Delta around Ayr and Home Hill on the North Queensland coast, where sugar cane farming provided employment with the end of gold mining at the "Towers".
He had six known children:
This account was adapted from Doctor William Lam Pan and the Chinese Legacy of the Charters Towers Goldfield by Michael Brumby, Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Conference, Melbourne 1-2 July 2000. Permission was sought from the author, but no reply was received.
Lee Hang Gong was born in Sunning County in about 1836. He appears to have arrived in Melbourne Victoria on a ship called the Jupiter on the 22 February 1854, and probably spent the next ten years on the Ballarat and Creswick goldfields before settling in Creswick town itself.
Sarah Ann Bowman was born in Stepney London on the 23 April 1844. Her father Thomas Bowman was a brewer's servant. In December 1861, Sarah sailed to Melbourne Victoria with her younger sister Elizabeth on a ship called the Commodore Perry under their mother's maiden name of Hurst.
Somehow Lee Hang Gong and Sarah Ann Bowman met and resided as man and wife in Napier Street Creswick Victoria.
Three children were born at their home - Thomas George on the 30 November 1864, Arthur Edward on the 15 January 1867, and Jane Elizabeth on the 28 July 1869. On the 19 August 1869 the parents were married by the Wesleyan minister in Creswick. The family moved to Black Lead Creswick, the site of the Chinese camp. There a daughter, Selina Ellen, was born on the 23 June 1871. She was subsequently recorded as Selina Emma, but known in the family as "Cissie".
Also in 1871, Lee Hang Gong was naturalized as a British subject. Another son, Henry, was born on the 30 September 1873 in Creswick.
Lee Hang Gong worked in various occupations, including miner, cook, saloon keeper and merchant. His wife is noted as a storekeeper.
By 1874 their eldest boy, Thomas, attended the Creswick Grammar School. He appears to be the only "Chinese" child enrolled.
The Lee Hang Gong family left Creswick in about 1876. Family tradition suggests that their sixth child, Herbert Doral, was born just before they left Victoria, but has not been confirmed by documentary evidence.
Lee Hang Gong may have moved to the Northern Territory for a short time with some of his family to make business arrangements before leaving for Hong Kong.
Sarah accompanied her husband to Hong Kong, where she lived for three or four years.
Hang Gong returned to Sunning County to marry the Chinese woman to whom he had been betrothed as a child. She was about forty-one years old, when she gave birth to a daughter and, a year later, to a son. The son became a prominent member of the Kuomintang, and was executed after the Communist Revolution.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Sarah gave birth to their seventh and last child, Ernest Howard, in 1878.
Lee Hang Gong, Sarah and family eventually returned to the Northern Territory in the early 1880s.
In the Northern Territory, Lee Hang Gong became a prominent merchant. Over the next twenty years, he opened stores in Southport and in Cavenagh Street Palmerston, as Darwin was known in those days, established an importing business and a brick works, and owned and operated several gold mines. His business partner in several of these ventures was Yam Yan, and in later years his son Arthur was a great help.
In 1882 Lee Hang Gong was naturalised again, as his Victorian naturalisation was not valid outside of Victoria. He was one of a group of Chinese merchants who actively lobbied the South Australian Government on many issues, often putting his signature to official petitions and contracts. In 1891 Lee Hang Gong was among twenty Chinese merchants who gave an official banquet at the Town Hall in honour of the visiting South Australian Governor.
Sarah was also interested in politics, and in 1902 was listed as a supporter of Charles Herbert who was a candidate for the Territory seat of the South Australian Parliament.
In the 1880s the two oldest sons, Thomas and Arthur visited Hong Kong to find Chinese wives. Arthur and his wife, Louey Yat Tai (later known as Emily), returned to the Northern Territory in early 1887. Thomas and his wife, Lou See, returned a few years later.
In July 1882 Sarah and Hang Gong sent their daughter Cissie, at the tender age of eleven, back to Victoria because they were worried about her health. She stayed with her aunt Elizabeth Young in Ballarat. In 1887, when Cissie was almost sixteen, Sarah travelled from Palmerston for her daughter's marriage to Robert Harrison.
The business ventures of Lee Hang Gong and sons included importing opium. In 1888, Lee Hang Gong and his partner, Yam Yan, also applied for a permit to grow opium. Fortunately this was unsuccessful.
Early in 1888, Lee Hang Gong returned to China, but had difficulty returning to Australia, as the shipping companies feared their ships would be quarantined on arrival due to the epidemics that were raging in southern China at the time.
Lee Hang Gong died in January 1892 at the age of fifty-six. The Northern Territory Times and Gazette reported his death and noted the high respect in which he was held by the community. While he was buried in Palmerston, there is no actual grave or headstone today. It is probable that his remains were later repatriated to China.
Sarah and Hang Gong encouraged their children to be bilingual, and Sarah herself was apparently fluent in Chinese. She was 'stout, hale and hearty', and loved to smoke her clay pipe. She took pride in being Australian and a loyal British subject.
On the 6 April 1911, she died of alcoholism and associated illnesses, and was buried in the Goyder Road Cemetery in Darwin.
This account was adapted from Lee Hang Gong/Sarah Bowman Family History Research: A Progress Report by Valerie Lee with Jill Godwin and Allan O'Neil, Journal of Chinese Australia vol 1, Melbourne 2005.
Permission to copy this article was declined by the author.
Copyright: ©2001-9 Jon Kehrer, Canberra