- Alternative Names
- Chin Tong family
- Tong family
Chin Tong is believed to have married Sue Hoe in China in the 1890s and it seems he brought his wife to Melbourne shortly afterwards. It is not known whether he had already established himself in Melbourne before he married, though this seems likely. In pinyin his name is pronounced ‘Chen Song’ but in Taishan dialect, a closer approximation to how Chin Tong would have pronounced the name, it is ‘Chin Soong’. The family’s surname was therefore originally Chin rather than the Tong they adopted in Australia.
Chin Tong and his wife, Sue Hoe lived in a small home in Lacey Place, off Little Bourke Street. While living there Sue Hoe had eight children: Bou Youk/Alice (1900-), Bow Jun/Elsie (1902-c1912-16, Kay Sing/Willie (1903-), Boo Lan/Ethel (1906-1963), Bow Meu/Phyllis Edna (1910-c1912-1916), Chung Tee and two unnamed girls died at birth or as babies between 1900 and 1902.
After preparing his will the day before, Chin Tong died in 27 April 1912. His surviving wife and five children returned to China (possibly Hong Kong) shortly afterwards. While in China Sue Hoe and two of her daughters, Bow Jun/Elsie and Bow Meu/Phyllis Edna all died.
Left orphaned, Bou Youk/Alice, Kay Sing/Willie and Boo Lan/Ethel were placed under the guardianship of Chin Wah Moon. He appears to have been a close friend of the family as he was also appointed executer and Trustee of Chin Tong’s will and was a witness at Boo Lan’s wedding. Chin Wah Moon was a successful merchant and herbalist associated with the Sun Wah Chong firm at 183-185 Little Bourke Street and later 184-186 Little Bourke Street.
After their parents’ death Bou Youk/Alice, Kay Sing/Willie and Boo Lan/Ethel all eventually returned to Victoria to settle.
Bou Youk/Alice returned to Australia in 1916 to what is believed was an arranged marriage to Fee Lan O’Hoy. The O’Hoys were and remain a prominent Bendigo-Chinese family. Bou Youk and Fee’s marriage was remembered as a happy one. They raised six children in Bridge Street, Bendigo just near the O’Hoy family store.
Boo Lan/Ethel returned to Australia with Alice for a short period before she returning to China again. In 1922 she returned permanently to Australia. She met and married Tasmanian-born William (Bor Nam) Moy in Bendigo and they married in St Paul’s Church of England, Bendigo in 1927. Shortly afterwards they moved to Geraldton in Western Australia where they raised a family of six children.
Before returning to Victoria, sixteen year-old Kay Sing married a Chinese woman. In Australia he became a herbalist like his guardian Chin Wah Moon. Before establishing a practice in Exhibition Street, he travelled around rural Victoria visiting patients. He also made a number of trips back to China to visit his wife who raised their four children in China. Due to Australia’s restrictive immigration laws it was not until he was in his 50s or early 60s that he was able to bring his wife to join him in Australia.
Sources used to compile this entry: Victorian births, deaths and marriages; NAA(Vic), B13/0, 1918/14419; 1920/13667; 1920/13667; 1922/9836; 1922/10446; 1925/13404; Oral history interview with Marjorie Law, 24 August 1999; Brian and Noela Hassell unpublished brief biography, 1999; Sands and McDougall Street Directories.
Prepared by: Sophie Couchman, La Trobe University
S. Millard (private hands)
- Shirley Millard private collection, 1890s; S. Millard (private hands). Details
- Couchman, Sophie, 'Tong family networks revealed through the camera's lens', in Sophie Couchman (ed.), Secrets, Silences and Sources: Five Chinese-Australian Family Histories (La Trobe Asian Studies Papers), Asian Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 2005, pp. 47-53. Details
- Couchman, Sophie, ''Oh, I would like to see Maggie Moore again': Selected women of Melbourne's Chinatown', After the Rush: Regulation, Partcipation, and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860-1840 (Otherland Literary Journal), vol. 9, 2004, pp. 171-190. Details
- Couchman, Sophie, Mrs Tong and Her Family: A difficult time to raise a family, Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website, http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/mrs_tong.htm. Details
- Couchman, Sophie (compiler), Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database, 1900-1920, 2000. Also available at http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/chinatown.htm. Details
- Tong family
- c. 21 June 1912
- Australia - Victoria - Melbourne
- Wedding portrait of Bill Moy (Bor Nam) and Ethel Tong with Charles Moy and Rose Moy
- c. 26 February 1927
- Australia - Victoria - Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Created: 29 November 2004, Last modified: 4 November 2005