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Chinese fathers and their
Australian families return to China,
1902–1940
Kate Bagnall
www.katebagnall.com



Visible Immigrants Seven
‘On the wing’: Mobility before and after emigration to Australia
14–15 December 2012
Flinders University in association with the Migration Museum, Adelaide
William Flood Sam
78-year-old gardener William
Flood Sam, 1915

NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058
A mobile migrant
who put down roots
Arrived in NSW in 1860, aged 23

Lived at:
 Tambaroora (near Hill End) 3 years
 Wagga Wagga 18 years
 Marsden 12 years
 Barmedman / Wyalong 22 years


Worked as:
 miner
 cook
 labourer
 grocer
 gardener

Lived in NSW for 55 years


NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058
Part of the
West Wyalong
community
William Flood Sam was
described as ‘a good
hardworking sober man’
and ‘a man of first-class
character’.

His wife, Jane Sam, was a
said to be a ‘highly
esteemed resident’ of the
district.


NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058
West Wyalong Advocate,
19 October 1944
Australian Town and Country
Journal, 1 January 1898
‘That famous
fighting family’

Four of the eight sons of
William and Jane Flood Sam
went to fight in World War I.

This image shows the seven
eldest boys.

In all Jane Sam gave birth to
16 children over 27 years.

Wyalong Advocate, 24 June 1919
Undated newspaper clipping, c. 1915
Percy Flood Sam
Fourteen-year-old Percy Flood
Sam before his departure for
China, 1915

NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4032
Paperwork
Percy’s handprint and
photograph were taken and
kept on file so he could be
identified on returning to
Australia.

William was granted a
Certificate Exempting from
Dictation Test.

NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4032
NAA: ST84/1, 1915/179/81-90
Immigration
Restriction Act
1901
‘An Act to place certain
restrictions on Immigration
and to provide for the removal
from the Commonwealth of
prohibited Immigrants.’

NAA: A1559, 1901/17
foundingdocs.gov.au/item-did-16.html
40,000 non-Europeans, mainly Chinese, were
resident in Australia in 1901 … The frequency of
their travel in and out of the country stimulated
the administration to develop elaborate
processes to monitor their movement. In the
absence of a definition of citizenship, or of a
definition of migration in legislative form, these
Australians, many of whom were British subjects
by birth or naturalisation, were of special interest
in the governance of the boundaries of migration
and domestic exclusionary policies.
Paul Jones, Alien Acts: The White Australia Policy, 1901 to 1939, p. 20
50,000 CEDTs
15,000 case files
90 shelf metres of records
Invisible Australians: ‘The real face of White Australia’
http://invisibleaustralians.org/faces/
Chinese men travelling from Sydney in 1903
Sample of 95 men granted Certificates of Domicile in NSW in 1903.

Age
 22 to 61 years old
 Most in their 30s and 40s

When did they arrive in Australia?
 Earliest 1858, latest 1900
 Most arrived in the 1880s

Occupation
 bookkeeper, scholar, missionary, cook, laundry proprietor, newspaper proprietor, clerk
 Cabinetmaker (6)
 Merchant (8)
 Storekeeper (17)
 Gardener (51)

Family
 70 had no family (given their ages, likely that some would have married on return to China)
 18 had wives and families in China
 5 had wives and families in NSW (3 white, 1 NSW-born Anglo-Chinese, 1NSW-born Chinese)
 2 had just children with them in NSW (1 boy was accompanying his father to China)

NAA: ST84/1, Chinese with certificates numbered between 03/1 and 03/110
Visits to China were occasions to:
  marry
  pay respects to elders and ancestors
  see wives and children
  enhance the family status by displays of
        material and financial wealth gained by
        work overseas
  organise the education of children
  seek traditional cures for ailments
  spend time in a world where language and
        customs were familiar.

Janis Wilton, Golden Threads: The Chinese in Regional NSW 1850–1950, p. 111.
Tung Wah Times, 17 February 1923
Eastern & Australian Steamship Company’s Illustrated Handbook
to the East, 1904, p. xvii
South China coast from the Pearl River Delta to Amoy
Most Chinese in Australia came from the Pearl River Delta region, south of Canton and inland from Hong Kong.
Gan family
NAA: B13, 1933/22224

Tart family in Hong Kong
Tart McEvoy papers, Society of Australian
Genealogists 6/16/4

Ah Yin family
NAA: SP42/1, C1916/7308 PART 1
Holidays and
visiting family
Hoe family
John Hoe and his NSW-born wife
Mary took their two children, aged
four and one, to China in 1905.

The stated purpose of the trip was
business, and to introduce Mary and
the children to John Hoe’s mother and
friends.

John Hoe returned to Sydney in 1906,
Mary and their son returned in 1909.
There is nothing on record to show
whether the daughter, Jessie, ever
returned to Australia.

NAA: ST84/1, 1905/331-340
NAA: SP42/1, B1905/1863
To provide care for
‘motherless’ children
William and
Charles Lumb Liu

This photo was taken in about 1900 before
the boys were sent to China by their father
to live with his extended family.

Their mother had been institutionalised.

Their younger sister was taken into state
care and was later adopted by a Chinese
family in NSW.

The elder boy, William, returned from
China eight years later. Charles also later
returned.

Reproduced in Neville Meaney (ed.), Under New
Heavens: Cultural Transmission and the Making of
Australia
To provide care for
 adopted children
Frederick Wong Yong
Born in Glen Innes, NSW, in 1897 to a
white mother and Chinese father.

Adopted by Yau Kong, a merchant and
commission agent who had been in
Australia since 1875.

Lived with Yau Kong at Chinese
Freemason’s Hall in Sydney.

Went to China at age 8 in 1905. No
record of his return.

NAA: SP42/1, B1905/1996; B1905/1997
NAA: ST84/1, 1905/331-340; 1905/341-350
Chinese education and
     upbringing
Charles Allen
Born in Sydney in 1896 and raised by his
white mother.

Taken to China by his Chinese father in
1909, aged 13.

His father returned to Australia and
Charles remained overseas with relatives
until 1915.

While away he learnt to speak what he
called ‘China talk’, but he was very
homesick and unhappy in China.

NAA: SP42/1, C1922/4449
NAA: ST84/1, 1909/22/41-50
Permanent return
    to China
Alfred Ernest Ablong, born in
                                                                  Waterloo in 1886.
Ablong family
                                                                  Married a Hong Kong English
                                                                  woman in 1915 and had 11
In 1902, John Ablong and his                                      children.
Anglo-Chinese wife Emma
took their family of six Sydney-                                  Was killed during the
                                                                  Japanese occupation of Hong
born children to Hong Kong to                                     Kong in World War II.
live.

John and Emma’s marriage fell
apart, but the family remained
in Hong Kong.

The children grew up and
were married there.

Some of the family returned to     Emma Ablong nee Ah Kin,
live in Australia after the        born in 1865 on the Delegate
1950s.                             Diggings.

NAA: SP42/1, 1914/64
Barbara Moore, Eurasian Roots
Returning to Australia
   as ‘immigrants’
Ruby Ping Fong,
Mrs George Cumines

Born in Sydney in July 1912.

Returned to China with her mother
in 1913.

Her father died soon after in NSW
and she remained in China.

Returned to Sydney in 1930, aged 18,
married to Sydney resident George
Cumines.

Had to pay a bond until she could be
identified and her stay was approved
by the minister.

NAA: SP42/1, C1930/1281
Ongoing connections
Ernest Sung Yee
   Went to China with his father
   and younger brother in 1909.

   Returned to Australia in 1921.

   Made return trips to China in
   the 1920s and 30s.

   Did not speak English and his
   wife and children remained in
   China.

   NAA: ST84/1, 1909/20/21-30
   NAA: J2483, 365/48
   NAA: J2483, 496/86




http://archive.org/details/1933-10-16_Anzac_In_Curious_Racial_Mix-Up
kate.bagnall@gmail.com
chineseaustralia.org
invisibleaustralians.org

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Chinese fathers and their Australian families return to China, 1902 to 1940

  • 1. Chinese fathers and their Australian families return to China, 1902–1940 Kate Bagnall www.katebagnall.com Visible Immigrants Seven ‘On the wing’: Mobility before and after emigration to Australia 14–15 December 2012 Flinders University in association with the Migration Museum, Adelaide
  • 2. William Flood Sam 78-year-old gardener William Flood Sam, 1915 NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058
  • 3. A mobile migrant who put down roots Arrived in NSW in 1860, aged 23 Lived at:  Tambaroora (near Hill End) 3 years  Wagga Wagga 18 years  Marsden 12 years  Barmedman / Wyalong 22 years Worked as:  miner  cook  labourer  grocer  gardener Lived in NSW for 55 years NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058
  • 4. Part of the West Wyalong community William Flood Sam was described as ‘a good hardworking sober man’ and ‘a man of first-class character’. His wife, Jane Sam, was a said to be a ‘highly esteemed resident’ of the district. NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4058 West Wyalong Advocate, 19 October 1944 Australian Town and Country Journal, 1 January 1898
  • 5. ‘That famous fighting family’ Four of the eight sons of William and Jane Flood Sam went to fight in World War I. This image shows the seven eldest boys. In all Jane Sam gave birth to 16 children over 27 years. Wyalong Advocate, 24 June 1919 Undated newspaper clipping, c. 1915
  • 6. Percy Flood Sam Fourteen-year-old Percy Flood Sam before his departure for China, 1915 NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4032
  • 7. Paperwork Percy’s handprint and photograph were taken and kept on file so he could be identified on returning to Australia. William was granted a Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test. NAA: SP42/1, C1915/4032 NAA: ST84/1, 1915/179/81-90
  • 8. Immigration Restriction Act 1901 ‘An Act to place certain restrictions on Immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited Immigrants.’ NAA: A1559, 1901/17 foundingdocs.gov.au/item-did-16.html
  • 9. 40,000 non-Europeans, mainly Chinese, were resident in Australia in 1901 … The frequency of their travel in and out of the country stimulated the administration to develop elaborate processes to monitor their movement. In the absence of a definition of citizenship, or of a definition of migration in legislative form, these Australians, many of whom were British subjects by birth or naturalisation, were of special interest in the governance of the boundaries of migration and domestic exclusionary policies. Paul Jones, Alien Acts: The White Australia Policy, 1901 to 1939, p. 20
  • 10. 50,000 CEDTs 15,000 case files 90 shelf metres of records Invisible Australians: ‘The real face of White Australia’ http://invisibleaustralians.org/faces/
  • 11. Chinese men travelling from Sydney in 1903 Sample of 95 men granted Certificates of Domicile in NSW in 1903. Age  22 to 61 years old  Most in their 30s and 40s When did they arrive in Australia?  Earliest 1858, latest 1900  Most arrived in the 1880s Occupation  bookkeeper, scholar, missionary, cook, laundry proprietor, newspaper proprietor, clerk  Cabinetmaker (6)  Merchant (8)  Storekeeper (17)  Gardener (51) Family  70 had no family (given their ages, likely that some would have married on return to China)  18 had wives and families in China  5 had wives and families in NSW (3 white, 1 NSW-born Anglo-Chinese, 1NSW-born Chinese)  2 had just children with them in NSW (1 boy was accompanying his father to China) NAA: ST84/1, Chinese with certificates numbered between 03/1 and 03/110
  • 12. Visits to China were occasions to:  marry  pay respects to elders and ancestors  see wives and children  enhance the family status by displays of material and financial wealth gained by work overseas  organise the education of children  seek traditional cures for ailments  spend time in a world where language and customs were familiar. Janis Wilton, Golden Threads: The Chinese in Regional NSW 1850–1950, p. 111.
  • 13. Tung Wah Times, 17 February 1923 Eastern & Australian Steamship Company’s Illustrated Handbook to the East, 1904, p. xvii
  • 14. South China coast from the Pearl River Delta to Amoy Most Chinese in Australia came from the Pearl River Delta region, south of Canton and inland from Hong Kong.
  • 15. Gan family NAA: B13, 1933/22224 Tart family in Hong Kong Tart McEvoy papers, Society of Australian Genealogists 6/16/4 Ah Yin family NAA: SP42/1, C1916/7308 PART 1
  • 17. Hoe family John Hoe and his NSW-born wife Mary took their two children, aged four and one, to China in 1905. The stated purpose of the trip was business, and to introduce Mary and the children to John Hoe’s mother and friends. John Hoe returned to Sydney in 1906, Mary and their son returned in 1909. There is nothing on record to show whether the daughter, Jessie, ever returned to Australia. NAA: ST84/1, 1905/331-340 NAA: SP42/1, B1905/1863
  • 18. To provide care for ‘motherless’ children
  • 19. William and Charles Lumb Liu This photo was taken in about 1900 before the boys were sent to China by their father to live with his extended family. Their mother had been institutionalised. Their younger sister was taken into state care and was later adopted by a Chinese family in NSW. The elder boy, William, returned from China eight years later. Charles also later returned. Reproduced in Neville Meaney (ed.), Under New Heavens: Cultural Transmission and the Making of Australia
  • 20. To provide care for adopted children
  • 21. Frederick Wong Yong Born in Glen Innes, NSW, in 1897 to a white mother and Chinese father. Adopted by Yau Kong, a merchant and commission agent who had been in Australia since 1875. Lived with Yau Kong at Chinese Freemason’s Hall in Sydney. Went to China at age 8 in 1905. No record of his return. NAA: SP42/1, B1905/1996; B1905/1997 NAA: ST84/1, 1905/331-340; 1905/341-350
  • 22. Chinese education and upbringing
  • 23. Charles Allen Born in Sydney in 1896 and raised by his white mother. Taken to China by his Chinese father in 1909, aged 13. His father returned to Australia and Charles remained overseas with relatives until 1915. While away he learnt to speak what he called ‘China talk’, but he was very homesick and unhappy in China. NAA: SP42/1, C1922/4449 NAA: ST84/1, 1909/22/41-50
  • 24. Permanent return to China
  • 25. Alfred Ernest Ablong, born in Waterloo in 1886. Ablong family Married a Hong Kong English woman in 1915 and had 11 In 1902, John Ablong and his children. Anglo-Chinese wife Emma took their family of six Sydney- Was killed during the Japanese occupation of Hong born children to Hong Kong to Kong in World War II. live. John and Emma’s marriage fell apart, but the family remained in Hong Kong. The children grew up and were married there. Some of the family returned to Emma Ablong nee Ah Kin, live in Australia after the born in 1865 on the Delegate 1950s. Diggings. NAA: SP42/1, 1914/64 Barbara Moore, Eurasian Roots
  • 26. Returning to Australia as ‘immigrants’
  • 27. Ruby Ping Fong, Mrs George Cumines Born in Sydney in July 1912. Returned to China with her mother in 1913. Her father died soon after in NSW and she remained in China. Returned to Sydney in 1930, aged 18, married to Sydney resident George Cumines. Had to pay a bond until she could be identified and her stay was approved by the minister. NAA: SP42/1, C1930/1281
  • 29. Ernest Sung Yee Went to China with his father and younger brother in 1909. Returned to Australia in 1921. Made return trips to China in the 1920s and 30s. Did not speak English and his wife and children remained in China. NAA: ST84/1, 1909/20/21-30 NAA: J2483, 365/48 NAA: J2483, 496/86 http://archive.org/details/1933-10-16_Anzac_In_Curious_Racial_Mix-Up

Editor's Notes

  1. ‘Owing to him having no mother here to care for him here the sergeant is of opinion that it would be a charity to let this boy go to China where he would have his relatives to look after him, as there is no women or children to associate with him here, and on his return to this state, he will then be old enough to work and look after himself.’ Sergeant George Jeffes, No. 2 Police Station, Sydney.