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Chin Tong ( - 1912)

27 April 1912
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
fancy goods dealer, merchant, storekeeper and tea merchant
Alternative Names
  • Chen Song (Mandarin)
  • Chin Soong (Taishanese)
  • Chin Tong (also used)
  • Ching Tong (also used)
  • 陈松 (Chinese characters)


On his eldest daughter’s birth certificate, Chin Tong, also signed his name in Chinese characters. His confident hand and use of simplified characters (not officially adopted in China till the 1950s) suggest he was well-educated. In pinyin his name is pronounced ‘Chen Song’ but in Taishan dialect it is ‘Chin Soong’. The family’s surname was therefore originally Chin rather than the Tong they adopted in Australia.

Family stories say Chin Tong 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.

He was described as both a storekeeper, merchant, tea merchant and fancy goods importer in various documents. It is assumed he ran a business in the Little Bourke Street area near where the family lived in Lacey Place.

On 26 April 1912 Chin Tong prepared his will with translation assistance from Harry Edward Hoyling. He must have been very ill at the time because he died the following day on 27 April 1912 leaving behind a widow and five children. He left his entire personal estate of 598 pounds and 16 shillings to his eldest son, Kay Sing. Chin Wah Moon, who later became the children’s guardian was executor of the will.

Sources used to compile this entry: PROV, 7591/P2, Unit 482, Chin Tong (126/21) and 28/P3, Unit 308, Chin Tong (126/21); NAA(Vic), B13/0, 1920/13667; Oral history interview with Marjorie Law, 24 August 1999; Victorian births, deaths and marriages. Assistance with translations provided by Dr Bao Qiang Gao (La Trobe University) and Lucy Tan (Chinese Museum).

Prepared by: Sophie Couchman, La Trobe University