Wham/James Sing

[Obviously there is more that can be added about this family, but this is enough for the purposes of this blog.]

The first Europeans to commercially fish for abalone in Tasmania were a group of Irish shark fishermen at Southport. When the Jesuit priest Father Julian Tennison-Woods visited Southport and he found ten families fishing for shark there and in Recerche Bay. They boiled down the livers for oil, sold the fins and used the flesh for fertilizer on their cabbage fields. When the weather was too rough to catch shark they speared abalone. The fins and the abalone were boiled and then dried by Wham Sing and his brother Teck at Southport and shipped to Hobart for export to the goldfields. According to Tenison-Woods the Sydney merchant Chin Ateak was prepared to pay 9d a pound in 1880 for any quantity of the shellfish that was ‘much esteemed by the Chinese’. The priest found that although abalone were abundant ‘it was too troublesome a fishery to make it a pursuit, except when nothing else could be caught.’
The Tasmanian Abalone Fishery: A Personal History

MARRIAGES: Wham Sing & Eliza Palmer, Franklin district 1864 RGD37/1/23 p62

BIRTHS from RGD 33

An act of charity, deserving of record, has just been performed by some splitters from Southport, who arrived in town early yesterday morning. It appears that a man named John Fisher, and his daughter Mary Fisher, 16 years of age had for some days been suffering from severe illness and were unable to procure medical attendance, they being in extremely destitute circumstances, and there being no doctor resident nearer to their place of abode than Three Hut Point. Under these circumstances the men referred to, whose names are Edward Isaacson, James Warren, John Burgess, Henry Silvester, and George Asher, obtained the use of a whaleboat belonging to James Sing, a native of China, living at Southport, and volunteered to bring the invalids to town, free of charge. They accordingly started on their mission of mercy at about 3 p. m. on Thurs-day, but whilst on the voyage hither the girl died. As soon as the boat reached town the body was conveyed to the hospital dead-house by the police, and the girl’s father was also removed to the institution, where he still lies under treatment.
The Mercury, 10 April 1869

DEATH: Avis Aella Sing, Esperance district 1871 RGD 35/1/40 p63

BATES V. SING.-This was an action brought by Jos. Bates, of the barge Redwing, against James Sing, a Chinaman, residing at Southport, to recover £21 for breach of contract, for not loading plaintiff’s barge with certain staves as agreed. Defendant, by his plea, denied the contract.

Mr. Charles Ball appeared for the plaintiff ; Mr. P. Crisp for defendant.

The plaintiff, sworn, proved the defendant had sent for him in the middle of December last, to proceed to Southport to bring to town a cargo of staves for the defendant, and that on his arrival at Southport the defendant had stated he had only half the staves left, the other half having been washed away. The defendant declined sending the staves he had to town, but offered plaintiff 10s. for his trouble. Plaintiff estimated his damages at the amount claimed. Mr. Crisp addressed the jury, and called the defendant, who denied any knowledge of plaintiff, but admitted requesting a man named Geary to send some craft for the staves ; and further stated that the staves had been washed away, and that plaintiff required too much to bring the remaining staves to town. The respective counsel having replied, and His Honor summed up, the jury, without retiring, returned a verdict for plaintiff, damages £8 15s. Mr. Crisp applied for a new trial, as the verdict was against the weight of evidence.
The Mercury, 19 April 1876

MAINTENANCE.-Eliza Sing proceeded against Lee Hung for having failed to contribute to the support of his child.
Mr Miller appeared for the complainant, and Mr Powell for the defendant.
Eliza Sing stated she knew the defendant, and also his late wife ; she came to Launceston about two years ago and died, leaving behind her an infant, whom she bequeathed to her (witness’s) care; the defendant paid for the maintenance of his child regularly at first, but he had not contributed anything since last April ; owing to the delicate condition of the child’s health, witness charged him 10s per week for rearing it.
James Sing, husband of the last witness, asserted to having asked the defendant to contribute towards the support of his child, but he refused to do so ; he also told witness he could threw it into the streets.
Mr Powell stated that his client was a poor man and could not afford to pay 10s per week. The reason lie allowed the case to come before the Court was so that the Bench might fix a weekly sum, to be paid for his child’s support.
The Bench ordered the defendant to contribute 6s per week towards his child’s maintenance, and to enter into his own recognizance in the sum of £25, and also find one surety in the same amount, as a guarantee for payment of the amount.
Launceston Examiner, 20 August 1881

DISGRACEFUL CONDUCT-Information has been supplied to us of a very disgraceful affair that occurred yesterday afternoon in Wellington-street, and which illustrates the singular proneness of some persons to seek pleasure in molesting and annoying foreigners, particularly those hailing from the Flowery Land. The Sunday school in connection with the Mission Church had just been closed, when on reaching the street some of the scholars attacked three children of Mr. James Sing, of George-street-two boys and one girl. The assailants numbered some twenty, amongst them being youths of 17 and 18 years of age. The father of the persecuted children is a Chinaman, and has been living in Launceston five or six years ; whilst the mother is a respectable Englishwoman. The children, ‘who also attended the Mission Sunday-school, were assailed with bricks, stones, and anything which came to hand,’ and ‘sustained injuries. One of the lads was struck twice with a missile on the arm, which last night was swollen considerably; the other children also being hit several times. It is strange and humiliating that such things can be done in our midst, more especially by those who call themselves Christians, and attend a place where brotherly love is inculcated. Our readers will not be surprised to learn that it is the intention of the father, should similar treatment be experienced again, to take his wrongs to the Police Court for remedy. As the names of the offenders are known, they are indebted to the forbearance of those they so cowardly persecuted that they have not to answer for their conduct of yesterday.
Launceston Examiner, 13 August 1883

DEATH: Eliza Sing, Launceston district, 1887

Daily Telegraph, 10 November 1887

Daily Telegraph, 2 January 1888

Launceston Examiner, 19 November 1890

Lu Puh, a Chinese Burial (Charles Street, Launceston)

INTERMENT OF THE REMAINS OF LU PUH. —The conduct of the countrymen of the Chinese digger Lu Puh, whose murdered remains were discovered at Back Creek is highly creditable to them. They were discovered by Lee Hung, the leader of part of six men at work at Back Creek, and during the excitement which prevailed until after the inquest, all tho witnesses and other visitors at the inquest were treated with liberal hospitality by Lee Hung. He and his countrymen defrayal all expenses incurred in the removal of the body to town and its internment. The remains were covered with calico, over which were placed a shirt, hat, trousers, socks and pair of buff slippers, but no coat, the deceased having been killed when at work. What use the spirit of the deceased maybe make of his new suit, Confucius only knows, but the liberality of his friends is not lessened by the apparent, absurdity of supplying such a costume for use in another sphere. The coffin was conveyed to the cemetery, Mulgrave-square, four Chinese following in a car. After careful interment, but without any ceremony, a board was placed at the top of the grave bearing this inscription in Chinese characters :– La Puh, native of Canton, discovered murdered at Back Creek, or 29th October, 1873.” Lee Hung has since ordered a tombstone to be prepared to be substituted for the board, and he is at present at work at the stores of Messrs. Peters, Barnard and Co. making a substantial wooden fence to surround the grave of his countryman. We fear that few Europeans would be found acting so disinterestedly, and doing so much for the honor and comfort of a dead countryman as the much abused “Heathen Chinese”.
Cornwall Chronicle, 14 November 1873

Charles Street Cemetery Company Treasurer’s Register,


Presumably this is one of the carpenters who arrived on the Nimrod
Died 1846.

18 April 1837 married Sarah Fisher
1 March 1837 Henry born
23 May 1839 John born
17 October 1841 Harriet born
25 January 1852 Harriet died
26 January 1853 Inquest
6 April 1853 Trial for Manslaughter
30 December 1843 John (child) died
4 January 1846 John (adult) died

Marriages, Launceston1837 RGD 36/1/1

Arrivals Louisiana, en route to Victoria


Cornwall Chronicle, 6 December 1856

CELESTIAL VISITORS.–The streets of Launceston were enlivened yesterday by groups of Chinamen who have arrived here in the Louisiana, and are on their way to Melbourne. They were generally dressed in the costume of their country, though one or two wore trowsers of a more civilised sort. They are mostly young men, and are under the guidance of a sort of chief, who determines their disputes. This worthy might be seen yesterday bearing aloft a blue calico umbrella. One of the party, however, carried a fan, and from his self-satisfied air and carefully arranged dress, he was doubtless a Chinese dandy.
The Courier, 8 December 1856


Ayee Lowe

(Laon, Ayee)
Tried Hong Kong 1844. “Stealing 40 dollars from a house”
Native Place: China
Laborer & barber, aged 24

Conduct record

Married Matilda Mace (per Cadet) 1851. (Note one witness is Hannah Hong.)

Marriages, Launceston RGD37-1-10

Conditional Pardon 1852

“Low Ayee” departed for Melbourne, “Yarra Yarra”, 19 October 1853
Matilda Mace departed for Melbourne, “Yarra Yarra”, 20 November 1853

Osprey, from Hong Kong Supreme Court

The “Osprey.”-On Sunday morning, the three-masted schooner Osprey, arrived here from China, with ten Chinese prisoners, who have been sent here by the first sitting of the British Supreme Court, at Hong Kong ; we have received no papers, but we learn that Hong Kong is fast progressing as a British Colony ; and, we sincerely hope, that we may find a market there for some of our superfluous Produce, and even for our wool. The Osprey as a consignment of tea, &c, for, we believe, Messrs. Burns & White.
Colonial Times, 28 January 1845

The Chinese Convicts.- The ten Chinese convicts, recently arrived from Hong Kong, have been forwarded to Norfolk Island by the Sir John Franklin.
The Courier, 13 February 1845

Name/Native place
Acheong Chum, China
Atik Wong, China
Ayon Wong China
Fat Cephang, China
Akow Chaong, China
Ayee Low, China
Almas, China
Pono, ?
Piedro Soares/ Pedro Swareg, Portugal
John Brennan, Ireland

Conduct Records (images 104-113)

The first five are all from China (given as their Native Place). All five were laborers and had the same statement of offence.
“I broke into a brick house and took clothes from Captain Pedder the Harbour Master with 4 others”

Acheong Chum
Laborer, aged 40

From his conduct record, he died Norfolk Island, 9 March 1845, with the note “Report of Death, date 31/8/54”

Atik Wong
More here.
Labourer, aged 30

Conditional pardon 13 October 1863
Died 13 August 1865

Ayon Wong
Laborer, aged 27

Drowned Norfolk Island, 22 November 1845

Fat Cephing
Labourer, aged 34
After returning from NI, he was working in Launceston area, 1852-54.
Ticket of Leave granted 1854, revoked 1858
Also indexed in State Library records as Hing Fat Eep

Akow Chaong
Labourer, aged 19
After returning from NI, he was working in the north of the island (Paterson Plains, George Town, Longford)
Ticket of Leave granted 1854
Conditional Pardon 1856

There was one other in the group with China as the Native Place:

Aye Low
(More here.)
Laborer & barber, aged 24
“Stealing 40 dollars from a house”

Not sure he was sent to Norfolk Island, no mention on Conduct Records.

Tailor, aged 17
“Stealing a gold ring”
Native Place: Bombay.

Ticket of leave: 24 October 1848
Free Certificate: 25 November 1852
Might have been in the interior in 1848
There is a passenger “Almas” travelling to Melbourne on the Yarra Yarra 1852 & 1853 (on the second trip he is a “New Zealander”)

Seaman, aged 29
“I was working the Deck on Bd Ship a man struck me I stabbed him he was a black man a Lascar – he was killed – It was on Bd the Alice”
Lascar from “Saleh Bay”, which might be in Indonesia.
1856 working on Steamer Derwent
1852 working Colonial Marine Dept
Condtional Pardon: 1858

Pedro Suareg/Sorey also Peidro Soares
Med Attendent & Clerk, aged 20
“Stealing a Small Box at Hong Kong it was locked up & I do not know its contents.”
Native Place: Portugal

1850-51 New Norfolk area
Free Certificate 20 November 1852

John Brennan
Labourer, aged 21
“Bestiality with a Bitch. I was in the Hong Kong police at the time”
Native Place: Co. Roscommon (Ireland)

Working Fingal, Longford amongst other places.

John Ahong, Launceston (2)

Watchmaker in Wellington and Elizabeth Streets, Launceston
Married Jane Hamilton 1856, but marriage was short-lived.
Seems to disappear after 1860.
Not sure if this is the same person as Ahong who was sent from Mauritius.

Cornwall-Chronicle, 8 March 1851

ROBBING A CHINAMAN.- John McDonnel, a free man, has been committed to take his trial for stealing a watch belonging to Ahong, a Chinaman, who keeps a shop in Wellington-street. The prisoner went to the shop and said he wanted to buy a watch, and whilst Ahong was taking one down, the prisoner helped himself to another, and an being accused of it, abused the Chinaman and spat in his face, but as he was leaving the shop he dropped the watch on a bag.
Launceston Examiner, 17 December 1853

MAGISTRATE IN A Fix.—At the police office on Saturday last, thirteen emigrants from the celestial empire, arrayed in apparel peculiar to their country, and headed by Ahong the watchmaker, of Wellington-street, who assumed the character of interpreter for his less-learned countrymen; applied to the police magistrate under the following circumstances:–They stated that they had emigrated (?) in the Dutch schooner Melvine, under the agreement that the captain should land them in Melbourne from Canton for the sum of seventy dollars. The captain had received the passage money and brought them here, but refused to pay for their transmission across the Straits. This was the cause of complaint, and in substantiation of their claim, to amazement of the police magistrate, they placed in hand an agreement written in the Dutch language, and bespattered with Chinese hieroglyphics. Mr. Gunn said it was too much to expect a police magistrate to understand the Dutch and Chinese languages, and handed tile document to Dr. Dasey, who happened to be sitting on the bench at the time The doctor may have seen some “enigmatical prescriptions” during his professional career, but the one now placed before him appeared to mystical for him to decipher. The police bench declined to interfere in the matter.
Cornwall Chronicle, 22 June 1854

The Malvine. — This schooner (Dutch) from Canton is now discharging tea, She was 63 days on her passage, and spoke a schooner in the Straits of Sumla bound for this port or Melbourne. Thirteen Chinese emigrants came in the Malvine for the purpose of joining some of their countrymen at the diggings. They had not enough money to pay for their passage, but Along, a Chinese who keeps a watch-maker’s shop in Wellington-street, made up the deficiency out of his private puree.
Cornwall Chronicle, 17 June 1854

Launceston Examiner, 31 March 1855

Free Certificate, 5 October 1855 Launceston

Yesterday, Mr. John Ahong, watchmaker, of Wellington-street, was charged by Mr. Hughes, who follows the same business in Elizabeth-street, with receiving or buying a stolen watch which the latter had missed previously out of his case. Mr. Ahong said, he got it from a bushman, in exchange for cash and another watch. He was liberated to find the bush man, and the watch remains in the hands of the police.
Cornwall Chornicle, 10 November 1855

A STOLEN WATCH.—On Sunday, the 28th ult., a gold hunting watch was missed from the shop of Mr. Hughes, watchmaker, Elizabeth-street, and on the following day he gave information of his loss to the police. Nothing more was heard of the watch until Thursday, last, when, oddly enough, a man named Slater brought it to Mr. Hughes, to have a glass refitted to it. Mr. Hughes immediately recognizing the watch, handed it over to Detective Constable Rose, stating the circumstances under which it had returned to his possession. Slater on being questioned as to how he came by it, said he had given a person named Sturzaker, £2, in money, and two old watches for it. Sturzaker was at once sought out, and corroborated Slater’s statement, adding that he had bought the watch from Mr. A’ Hong, the watchmaker in Wellington-street, for £3 10s. A’Hong was next spoken with on the subject, and said he had bought the watch of a man for £2 10s., but was unable to say who the man was,-whether he was tall or short, stout or thin fair or dark, young or old, and in fact, he could give no information whatever respecting him. Under these. circumstances, A’Hong was given into custody, but was released on bail, to the amount of £500. On Friday morning, the police magistrate beard the statement of Mr. Hughes, who said the worth of the watch was about £7 ; and notwithstanding the low price at which A’Hong stated he had purchased it, and the fact of his inability to give any information respecting the seller, he was discharged from custody, the police magistrate cautioning him against appearing again, and desiring him to hold himself in readiness for any further, enquiry that might ensue.
People’s Advocate , 12 November 1855

23 January 1856 Married Jane Hamilton, at the Independent Chapel in Tamar St, Launceston

Cornwall Chronicle, 9 February 1856

Cornwall-Chronicle, 13 February 1856

A STORMY HONEYMOON. — On Wednesday last Captain Drew, with Messrs. Evans and Cleveland, were occupied for a long time at the Police-Office, investigating a claim made by Mrs. Ahong on her husband, Mr. John Ahong, of Wellington-street, for maintenance, stating, that she had been turned out of doors without cause. Mr. Byron Miller appeared for Mr. Ahong, and Mr. Rocher aided the claim of his better half. The case caused considerable amusement to a more than usually full audience. It appeared that the parties had only been married three weeks, and yet a great many rows had taken place among them ; that she occasionally stopped out all night, or returned at unseasonable hours, for which offences she had been forgiven ; but on the nights of Wednesday and Thursday, the 6th and 7th instants, having again remained from home, without cause, Mr. Ahong refused to admit her on Friday morning, and in consequence of this, she had made her claim for maintenance. Since her marriage she had charged a Mrs. Downs of robbing her of 10s. in a public-house, but did not prosecute. She had, on the other hand, been charged by Hr. Horatio Biddle, with chasing him through Wellington-street, for the purpose of stabbing him with a carving knife : this case was, however, dismissed. Mrs. Ahong contended that she slept at home both on Wednesday and Thursday nights; but this was refuted by Mr. William Townsend, who swore he slept with Mr. Ahong himself on those nights. Mrs. Ahong received permission to leave the office in search of witnesses to support her testimony, and returned with Mr. Shipley, who was not sworn, as the justices had heard enough about the case to understand its merits (if it possessed any), and were only puzzled about how to decide. Mr. Shipley said that he, when passing Mr. Ahong’s on the Thursday evening, saw Mr. and Mrs. Ahong standing inside their own door, and that they appeared to be on very good terms, he (Mr. Shipley) was of opinion that Mrs. Ahong would make a very excellent wife, if the neighbours didn’t interfere between them. The magistrates requested the husband to give complainant a small sum weekly, and let them live separate ; but John shook his head, saying, if she liked to return and live without drink, he would love her better than his mother, and he could make a good living for her. The justices and legal gentlemen both advised her to do so, and she consented, but with a very bad grace, saying, he had sold everything off the day before, and what sort of a home was that to go to, with nothing in it ? Mr. Miller elicited, in cross-examining Mrs. Ahong, that she was an immigrant, had arrived in the colony by the name of Jane Dougherty, her real name being Jane Hamilton: it was the doctor who made the mistake.
Cornwall Chronicle, 16 February 1856

Passenger list for Maid of Yarra, arrived Melbourne, 25 February 1856 lists “Ahong, Single Male, 30[?], Chinese” (but crossed out).

Launceston Examiner, 3 April 1856
List of Persons entitled to be placed on the Electoral Roll for the Return of Members of the House of Assembly for the Electoral District of Launceston.

Suing for Maintenance:. — Mr John A’Hong, Watchmaker of Elizabeth-street, appeared at the Police Office yesterday, before his Worship the Mayor, and Alderman Cohen, to answer the complaint, on information of his wife, Jane A’Hong who deposed that she had one child by her husband, who had deserted her in June, 1856, and refused to support her. The Bench directed the defendant to pay 10s per week into the hands of the Police Clerk, for the maintenance of his wife and child.
Cornwall Chronicle, 29 June 1859

John A Hong appealed against a decision arrived at by the Mayor and Alderman Cohen, by which appellant was ordered to pay 10s per week for the support of two of his wife’s children. Mr Rocher appeared on behalf of appellant, and stated that Jane A’Hong had deserted her husband on the day after she was married’ to appellant, and in consequence of her conduct or misconduct rather, appellant had to sell off, and leave the colony, and during his absence Jane A’Hong had managed by some means to get two children ; as the children were not those of defendant, he did not feel inclined to pay for their support, and he therefore made that application to the Court to quash order made by the bench in Petty Sessions. He believed that tho Magistrates who made the order had since come to the knowledge of certain facts which had altered their opinion, and they were disposed to agree with him that the order should be quashed.
Cornwall Chronicle, 20 August 1859

Wong Athek, a Chinese, was charged by Detective Senbridge with stealing during the present month one gold ring and a quantity of rice, the property of John A’Hong, of Launceston. A’Hong deposed that about three weeks since the ring now produced was stolen from his window. The prisoner was in the habit of coming into witness’s shop, and he was there on the day the ring was missing. Yesterday witness missed a quantity of rice from his shop.

Detective Seabridge deposed that on taking the prisoner into custody he found the articles claimed by A’Hong in the prisoner’s possession, and also a key which unlocked some of the doors in prosecutor’s house. The prisoner said that he bought the articles from A’Hong. A’Hong positively denied that the prisoner bought the ring from him; it was a smaller one. The Bench sentenced the prisoner to six months imprisonment with hard labor.
Launceston Examiner, 22 October 1859

One celestial Robbing Another.
Wong Atick, notwithstanding a very voluble defence he made, was convicted of stealing a gold finger ring, the property of John Ahong, watchmaker, of Elizabeth street. Other articles had been stolen as well but that was the only one Mr Ahong could identify. The prisoner had been apprehended by Detective Constable Seabridge with the ring and other articles in his possession, and amongst them a key which opened all Mr. Ahong’s doors. Wong Atick had formerly been residing with Mr Ahong, but had been expelled. The bench sentenced him to six months imprisonment with hard labor.

Cornwall Chronicle, 22 October 1859

Mechanics per Nimrod

Arrived Launceston 5 July 1830. List with links at bottom.

By the Ship Nimrod of Launceston from China, Manilla & Batavia
5 July 1830

J Franklin
D Dempey
J Carvel
Wm Williams
J Grant

(Libraries Tasmania Names Index, CUS30/1/1 , p.24)

The Captain of the barque Nimrod has brought us a new batch of Emigrants, of a novel character, in this Island. They are from the ancient Empire of China, and are of a very useful description, being all carpenters. It is understood that the Captain or Supercargo, wishes to keep them under their own charge, and employ them in making such work as they understand, and which may suit the people generally.
Many of our mechanics consider them as likely to injure the trade, – that is to say, that they will be very likely to reduce the prices of cabinet work: nine men in one branch certainly will effect some reduction in those branches upon which they are employed, and however displeasing such fall in price may prove to a few, it will prove of great benefit to the many. Take for instance chair making :- in Sydney, a good cane bottomed chair can be purchased for from 12s. to 15s ; here the very same article is sold after being brought from thence, for 27s. 6d. to 30s., and even the commonest cedar chair, with a wood bottom cannot be purchased for less than 20s. each, and most other furniture in like manner, while the material costs 4d. per foot from the merchant, add 1 1/2 per foot for sawing, amounts to 51/2d.
We are therefore of opinion that although it may hurt a few tradesmen by a reduction, such fall in price will still leave them a very handsome remuneration for their labour and may in the end prove beneficial, for enormous profits are not always put to the best of purposes.
The Captain or Importer of these Chinese has no doubt conferred a benefit upon us by thus bringing to the labour market, nine workmen, sober, industrious men, as we are given to understand, and as there is always plenty of employment for neat cabinet makers, we are certain that with proper management the benefit will be mutual to both workmen and employers.

Launceston Advertiser, 26 July 1830

Launceston Advertiser, 2 August 1830

A short time ago, a vessel (the Nimrod) which arrived at Launceston, brought some Chinese mechanics who were employed by the townspeople, and we believe have proved an acquisition to the place. Nevertheless the principle is to be entertained with caution. In the neighbouring colony of the Mauritius we find that these very Chinese are become vagabonds and burdens on the public.
Hobart Town Courier, 22 Janaury 1831

Awaan, joiner Launceston, 1837-46
John Aquie/Aquia, shopkeeper & cabinet maker, Launceston, 1830s
Maybe John Wife, shop keeper, Launceston, 1830s
Aiang, died October 1834, Launceston hospital RGD34/1/1 no 3683