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Kay, Henry (c. 1828 - 1907)

c. 1828
Penang, Malaysia
16 October 1907
Bowenvale, Victoria, Australia
interpreter and miner
Alternative Names
  • Kay, Hannie (also used)
  • Kay, Hanny (also used)
  • Kay, Henry (also used)


Henry Kay was probably born around 1828 in Penang, near Singapore. No birth record for him has been located to date and there is also a discrepancy in information provided on his marriage and death certificates. They nevertheless indicate that his father was Han Wee Kay, a plantation farmer and his mother was Fateesno Kay. His activities up to the time he arrived in Australia are also unknown, but it is understood that he arrived aboard the Elby which he embarked in Singapore.

After arrival he is believed to have visited the Ararat and Stawell diggings, and then settled at Creswick as a miner. On 7 May 1854 he married Frances Cooper (born in Surrey, England) at Golden Point, in Ballarat East. He was working as an Interpreter in Creswick at this time. Five children born to them between 1865 and 1880 in Creswick were registered.

Between 1859 and 1865 he was the official Chinese Interpreter and probably did much more work for the courts during his time there. There are several articles on his work with the court in old newspapers and coronial inquests and magisterial inquiries.

In 1860 Kay applied to the then Attorney General to be appointed as Chinese Court Interpreter in Creswick. The petition letter states that he is a half caste who speaks Malay as well as several Chinese dialects and was already offering assistance to the police when required. In 1861 he penned a follow up letter requesting a response to his earlier application.

By around 1879 he was working in Tasmania and was involved in the tin mining industry in north east Tasmania. It is difficult to say how long he worked there, but one of his grandchildren was born in the District of Ringarooma, Tasmania in 1891.

It is also uncertain when he returned to Victoria, but it was prior to 1903. It was probably around 1900 because his son, who was with him in Tasmania, settled in Bowenvale and had more children while living there.

Hannie Kay died at his home in Bowenvale on 16 October 1907, aged 79 years. His occupation was listed as a miner. Henry 'Hannie' Kay is buried in the Bowenvale/Timor Cemetery.


7 May 1854
marriage - Frances Cooper. Location: Golden Point, Ballarat East

Sources used to compile this entry: Based on material compiled by Rhonda Davis. Marriage Registration for Henry Kay and Frances Cooper, Ballarat 1854. Dedication plaque on footbridge in Calabeen Park, Creswick. Petition letter dated 1860 from Index to Employment website (letter retrieved by Helen Harris). 19th Century Chinese Community of Creswick, Victoria Database, (accessed 25 March 2011). Chin, Ivy and Scott, Carol, Coronial inquests and magisterial inquiries: Creswick Chinese, 1856-1905, Blackburn South, Vic.: Chinese Heritage Interest Network, 2009. Letter to Attorney General dated 1861 from Index to Employment website. (letter retrieved by Helen Harris). Hobart Mercury, 24th October 1879, 11th August 1881. Birth Registration for Charles Kay, Ringarooma, Tasmania 1891. Maryborough Hospital Admissions Index to 1907. Record of Burial for Jessie Kay in 1896 - Timor Cemetery Record. Death Certificate for Hannie Kay. Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888. Bendigo Golden Dragon Museum, Hannie Kay family file (visited 25 October 2004).

Prepared by: Sophie Couchman, Chinese Museum

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Court house Creswick
c. 1859 - c. 1865
Australia - Victoria - Creswick
Henry Kay
c. 1855 - c. 1860
Australia - Victoria?