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Born in Australia but travelling on a CEDT?: The O’Hoy and Tong families

By Sophie Couchman (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)

Sometimes you will find people who did not need a CEDT to travel but who nevertheless applied for one. In 1918 several members of the O’Hoy family of Bendigo made a trip to Hong Kong to celebrate Louey O’Hoy’s (Louey Duk Hoy 雷道海) birthday in Hong Kong.

O’Hoy and Tong family members travel to Hong Kong in July 1918
[PROV: VPRS 948/P1, Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K. and Foreign Ports]

Passenger lists show Mr and Mrs Louey O’Hoy (Louey Duk Hoy and Ah Kit), their daughter Melan (Meelan), their son Fee and Fee’s wife Alice O’Hoy (nee Tong) all left Melbourne on the Tango Maru for Japan via ports (including Hong Kong) on 19 July 1918. Alice’s younger sister Ethel Tong was also with them.

Meelan (born Bendigo 1904), Fee (born Bendigo 1890), Alice (born Melbourne 1900) and Ethel (born Melbourne 1906) were born in Australia and Louey Duk Hoy and Ah Kit in southern China. We would therefore expect to see CEDT applications for only the two senior O’Hoy family members.

A search of the Victoria CEDT registers, however, shows CEDT applications in 1918 for Mrs Louey O’Hoy, Fee O’Hoy, Alice O’Hoy and Meelan O’Hoy. So there are no applications for Louey Duk Hoy or Ethel Tong. We would expect Ah Kit (Mrs Louey O’Hoy) to travel on a CEDT and Australian-born Ethel Tong not to have one. But the rest?

Vic CEDT Index search results for O’Hoy

Given Louey O’Hoy was about 86 years old at the time, Duk Hoy perhaps did not intend to return to Australia and therefore did not need a CEDT to gain re-entry. As Fee, Alice, Meelan and Ethel were born in Australia they were British subjects and entitled to travel without restriction. Nevertheless this did not always occur in practice as Alice and Ethel had discovered a few years earlier.

After their father’s death in 1912, Alice and Ethel travelled with their mother, two sisters and brother, presumably to their father’s ancestral village. Tragically their mother and two sisters died leaving the remaining children orphaned. When Alice and Ethel returned to Melbourne in 1914 they were stopped by officials and had to prove their identities. They did this with the help of a family portrait and interviews with Alice and Melbourne-based friends of the Tong family. They were eventually permitted to land.

Portrait of Mrs Tong with her Melbourne-born children Alice, Ethel, Elsie, Willie and Phyllis prior to travelling to China in 1912 used to identify them when they returned to Melbourne in 1916.
[NAA: B13, 1920/13667]

The children were detained because they needed identification to prove they were Australian born. Under the Immigration Restriction Act officials could set a deliberately unpassable dictation test to any arrivals. If you failed the test you were declared in illegal immigrant. The administrative practice was to only give this test to ‘coloured’ arrivals.

Without official documents that included identification photographs or physical descriptions on them, it was not possible to know whether the person holding a birth certificate, or a naturalization certificate was actually the owner of the certificate. This is an era before the universal use of passports. You can therefore see why some Australian-born ‘coloured’ travellers may have decided that it was simply easier to apply for a CEDT than risk travelling on an identification document without photographic identification on it.

What is puzzling then, is why Ethel did not also apply for an exemption at this time. She was only 12 years old and was living with her sister in Bendigo and so was effectively part of the O’Hoy family group. We can see from the Victorian CEDT Register entries that the family’s CEDTs were only issued two days before they boarded the ship. Perhaps Ethel’s application was not processed in time or she decided to join the trip at the last minute.

In any case, rather than a CEDT, she left two lovely photographs of herself and Alice with officials to use to identify her on her return in 1920. This they duly did.

Photographs left by Ethel Tong with officials on their departure from Melbourne in July 1918
[NAA: B13, 1918/14419]

Further reading

Story of the Tong family features in the episode ‘Alien Nation’ of Claire Wright’s ABC Radio National podcast Shooting the Past, which first aired on 12 Feb 2019,

Couchman, Sophie, ‘Tong family networks revealed through the camera’s lens’ in Couchman, S. (ed), Secrets, Silences and Sources: Five Chinese-Australian family Histories, Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria, Melbourne, 2005.

Couchman, Sophie, ‘Oh I would like to see Maggie Moore again: Selected women of Melbourne’s Chinatown’ in S. Couchman, J. Fitzgerald, P. Macgregor (eds), After the Rush: Regulation, Participation and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860-1940, Special edition of Otherland, vol.9, Dec 2004.

McKinnon, Leigh and Jack, Anita, A Biographical Dictionary of Historic figures in Bendigo’s Chinese Community, Golden Dragon Museum: Bendigo, 2015.

Rasmussen, Amanda, ‘The Chinese in Nation and Community, Bendigo, 1870s-1920s’, PhD thesis, La Trobe University, 2009.

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Name variations of early Indians in Australia

By Len Kenna and Crystal Jordan (Australian Indian Historical Society Inc)

To have some understanding of the various names given to the people from the sub-continent it is necessary to understand that India was, and still is, a series of small nation states with their own distinctive culture and religious differences. That distinction has been blurred and made more complicated as a result of wars, foreign invasions, fluid borders and the passing of time.

In addition most early Indian arrivals to Australia were illiterate in English and their native tongue. Most in fact, when they arrived in Australia, could not speak English.

Australians who became acquainted with them, acted on their behalf,wrote letters and assisted in other ways, also had little knowledge of their religious or ethnic backgrounds and many Indian languages do not easily or accurately translate into English. As a result the spelling of names was left to the whim or discretion of the person recording the names.

The first migrants to arrive in Australia in the early nineteenth century were mainly deserters from ships or others who arrived by chance. These would have been mainly Muslims, as Hindus were restricted, although not banned, from travelling over water for religious reasons.  Sikhs came from the Punjab and the Punjab is landlocked which inhibited ocean-going voyages. 

The first major migration into Australia was the cameleers who arrived in the 1860s. They came to Australia as labourers under the archaic Masters and Servants Act, which bound them exclusively to their Master.   These Cameleers came from Punjab, Baluchistan, Sindh, the North West Provinces of India and Afghanistan. They were mainly Muslims but some were Sikhs. They were kept in subjugation, by their Masters: usually their own countrymen.

They were poorly paid, badly exploited and spent long periods in the bush. As a result they were unable to mix with mainstream Australia.  They became known as ‘Afghans’ regardless of their place of origin or their religious or ethnic backgrounds.

The next wave of Indians came arrived in the last decades of the twentieth century between 1880 and 1901. This was the largest migration of self-funded non-Europeans to arrive in Australia until the present time.  This group can be divided into three cohorts, Sikhs who appear to be the largest group, second Muslims and third Hindus. They were all mainly illiterate farmers who came to Australia to increase their family wealth. The exact number of people who arrived at this time is unknown as many landed in ports where there was little or no supervision of arrivals. In many coastal towns in Australia the local Police acted as Customs Officers and were not always present when ships landed with Indian migrants.

Indian arrivals came in three different ways:

  1. Their fares and accommodation was paid by family members or people from their village.
  2. They worked their way.
  3. They jumped ship and were assisted by friends, family members or Indians of the same religious or ethnic background. This group became labourers, farm workers, sugarcane cutters and hawkers etc.

Most Sikhs who came to Australia at this time used the name ‘Singh’ for men and ‘Kaur’ for women and most but not all came from the Punjab.  The name ‘Singh’ usually identifies a man of the Sikh religion regardless as to their place of birth. These men were mistakenly called ‘Hindoos’.

Muslims can also be identified by their names, names such as, Khan, Ali, Mahomed, Mahomet etc. They came from most places in India but in the main they were concentrated along the west coast of India and were called by Australians as ‘Mahommedans’. 

The third group to arrive were Hindus. They were fewer in number and to confuse the identification of Hindus and Sikhs a small number of Hindus also have the name ‘Singh’. Most Hindus who came to Australia in this period came from the Punjab, however, Hindus also came from other parts of India.

Much of the confusion regarding the spelling of names given to people from India was caused by the fact that most Australians had little understanding of India and Indian culture. They spelt Indian names phonetically and placed people into religious groups regardless of the accuracy or geographical place of birth.

For a list of the Indian names in the Victorian CEDT Register Index with their alternate names see the table below.

Here are three examples of how you need alternative names to track these men through the records.

Charlie Argent Singh of Bendigo and Nyah West

Charlie Argent Singh (Alternate names: Argen, Argin, Argent)
[Central Register of Male Prisoners VPRS 515/P1 ITEM 61, p. 3383]

The Victorian CEDT Register Index contains information about Charlie Argin Singh, a 61 year old farm labourer from Nyah West who applied for a CEDT in 1933 and this was extended in 1935, 1939 and 1941. Information he provided suggests he was born around 1872 and arrived in Australia around 1897-1898.

Search results for Charlie Argin Singh in Victorian CEDT Index

The name ‘Argin’ can also be spelt: Argent and Argen. Searching the Victorian Central Register of Males Prisoners held at the Public Records Office of Victoria (VPRS 515) we find Charlie Argent Singh, an Indian hawker born in 1871, who was convicted of assault in Bendigo and sentenced to six months hard labour in 1910. He was born in 1871 and arrived in Australia in 1897 on the ‘New Guinea’. According to his prison record he was a ‘Hindoo’ and had a wife in India.

Mahomed Gujar of Warrnambool

Mahomed Gujar (Alternate names: Googer, Goojer, Mahommed, Charlie Mahomed)
[NAA: B13, 1933/18203]

The Victorian CEDT Register Index contains information about ‘C Mahomed‘ and ‘Mahomed Gujar‘. Mohomed Gujar, a storekeeper and hawker in Warrnambool, was also known as Charlie Mahomed, Googer, Goojer, and Majommed. Further information about Mohamed Gujar can be found on the Australian Indian Historical Society blog here.

Bhugwan Singh and Cabel Singh of Quambatook

The Victorian CEDT Register Index contains information about ‘Bagwan Singh‘, a farmer in Quambatook who appied for a CEDT to travel in 1919 with his business partner, Cabel Singh. They both left in 1919 and returned in 1923 on the same ships. Further information about Bhugwan Singh and Cabel Singh can be found on the Australian Indian Historical Society blog here.

Bhugwan Singh (Alternate names: Bagwan, Bhagwan, Baguin, Bagwhan, Bugwan, Bhugwan, Bhugwana)

Indian names in the Victorian CEDT Register Index with alternate names

Name in Vic Register IndexAlternate Name
Abdool Curreem  Abdul Curram, Karam, Karem  
Acbar DeenAckbar Deen
Abdulah KhanAbdulla Khan, Adulat Khan, Adalat Khan  
Ahmed DeemAhmed Deen
Alah DadAlladad, Alla Daard  
Alf DeenAlf Deen, Alif Deen, Aluf Deen  
Ali AhamedAli Ahmed
Ali BuxAli Bux Kahn, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
Allie MahomedAli Mahomed  Khan Mahommed/Mahomet
Amad Ali KhanAhmed Ali Khan
Ameer Alie KhanAmir Allie Khan, Amir Ali  
Ameer BuxAmir Bux, Ameer Bakhsh, Ameer Baksch, Ameer Buksh  
Aran SinghAnan Singh, Anant Singh  
Argin SinghArgen Singh, Argent Singh, Charlie Argent Singh  
Ata MahomedAtta Mahomed/Mohamed
Barghallie KhanBarg Ali Khan, Bargh Ali, Bargallie, Bargally  
Barna KhanBunna Khan
Basant Singh Gill  Besanta Singh Gill, Besant Singh Gill, Besanta Singh, Charlie Besanta Singh  
Bashin SinghBashir Singh, Bhasin Singh  
Bhaq SinghBagh Singh
Bhagwan Singh  Bagwan, Bhagwan, Baguin, Bagwhan, Bugwan, Bhugwan, Bhugwana  
Bhola SinghBola, Bolah
BollaramBolla Ram, Bolah, Bola
Gudit Singh  Gurditt, Gurdit, Gordit, Gurdat, Gadet
Bishen SinghBishan
Boogar SingBooga Singh
Boota SinghBootah
Braham SinghBrahm, Brahma
Budda Niaz AllieBudh
Buden SinghBudin
Budh SinghBud
Buky KhomusBucksey Khomus, Buckshee Khomus, Khomu  
Burhan Allie KhanBarg Ali Khan, Bargh, Bargallie, Bargally
Buro RaymondBaroo, Baru, Beero  
Buttan SinghButton
C MahomedCharlie Mahomed, Mahomed Gujar, Gujar Mahomed  
Cabel SinghKabel, Kable, Cabel
Cahool SinghCabool, Cabel, Kabel
Calab DeenKaleb
Careem BuxKarem, Karam, Carram, Carrum, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
Carrum Deen Khuda BoxBux, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh
Cashem DeenKashem, Kassem, Kishen, Kishin
Cew Nary BuxNabby Bux, Naby Box, Navy, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
Chadu KhanCharlie Khan, Chedu Khan  
Chandah SinghChanda
Chere SinghCher, Chere, Sher  
Choodrew MongtorChowdree, Chowdhury, Mongta, Mongtah  
Choor SinghChoor, Chookra, Choora
Daleep SinghDalip
Dalumull RoopchandDulumal
Daulusaui Chaudass  Daulutzai Chaudas  
Devan SinghDivan, Dewan
Dewan Allie KhanDivan, Devan, Ali
Dhan SinghDhian
Dhera MallDheera
Doola SinghDoolah, Dulah
Doolah MohammadDoola, Mohamed, Mohamed
Easser SinghEssar, Esar, Eser
Ebrahim KhanIbrahim
EdooEdo, Edau
Eiser SinghIsar, Esse, Issey, Esser, Eser
Elem DeenEllum, Elam, Elim, Illum, Ilum
Esar DassIsar, Esser, Eser
Fakki AlliFatta, Fatah, Fateh, Ali, Allie
Farman AllieFar Ali Khan, Farman Ali
Feroze Allie KhanFerose, Feroz, Fayrouz
Fatta ShahFateh, Fatah
Fatta SinghFatah, Fateh,
Fazal DeenFazel, Din
Fiagi BuxFujja Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
Foja SinghFujja
Fulbage KhanPhool Bagh Khan
Galab JutGulab, Ghulab
Gallam MahomedGhulam, Gulam, Gholam, Mahamed, Mohammed
Garbutchan Singh  Garbuchan Singh  
GareebMark Gareeb, Gareeb Meer Bux, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
GeunGian, Gharne
Ghlum NabeeGulam, Ghulam, Golam, Nabie, Nabby, Naby
Gholam DeenGulam, Ghulam, Golam
Gidumull Topdass  Topandas, Topandass
Gindwadgen SinghGurdev Gian, Gurviay  
Goidetha SinghGordetta, Gordet, Gurdit, Gourdit
Goodya PauloGoodie Paulo
Goola Hassan  KhanGhulam, Gulam, Goolam
Gooalm Alli KhanGulum, Ghulam, Ali Kahn  
Gopal SinghGurpal Singh
Gorokl DasGorkal
Gulbage KhanGulbagh, Gulbag
Gunda SinghGundah, Gundar
Gungah BrahimGunga Brahm, Braham
Habbadan KhanHarbhajan
Hackummud Chitam  Hackumound Chihu, Hackmud Chikam  
Hardadd SinghHardit, Hardat
Hafiz Hoor AhmedHafiz Noor
Hakam KhanHakum, Hakim, Hakeem, Hukam, Hookem, Harkam
Harman SinghHarnam, Herman, Hermen, Hernam
Hassen DeenHassan
Hera SinghHira Singh
Hyatt BuxBakhsh, Baksch, Buksh
Illum MahomedEllum, Elam, Ilum, Mohamed, Mahommed
Indar SinghInder
India SinghIndra, Indar, Inder
Ishmael J MahomedIsmael John Mahomed, Ismail, Esmail, Mohamet, Mohammed
Jab SinghJabber, Jabbar, Jagger, Jag, Jager, Jagir
Jaffer AllieJaiffar, Jeffer, Jaffar, Ali
Jageer SinghJagir
Jamalla SinghJamail
Jeeman CashmereJeevan, Kasmiri, Kashmiri
Jearan KhanJevan, Jeevan
Jit SinghJetta, Jeet
Joalla SinghJoallah, Jowala
Juan KhanGian, Gharne, John
Juggah SinghJuggar, Jagir, Jager
Jumee KhanJumma, Jumna, Juma,
Jumma MutcheeJumma, Jumna, Juma, Munchie, Matchie, Munshie
Kabool KhanQabool
Kader BuxKadder, Qadir, Bux, Bakhsh, Baksch, Buksh  
Kala KhanKalla, Kali, Kala
Kalbo KhanKaloo
Karam SinghKarem, Karaum, Karram, Carram, Carrum
Kardah Bosh BootaKooda Bux Boota, Khuda Bux, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Kareem BuxKarem, Carram, Carrum, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Karloo KhanKaloo Deen, Karoo Deen
Kaseta SinghKasheta
Kashim DeenQasim, Qaseem, Qazeem, Qazim, Kaseem, Kasseem
Kassam KhanCassim, Quasim
KeemahKheem, Kumah
Keroo KhanKarroo, Karoo
Khuda BuxKhoda, Khudah, Kudah, Kudda Bux Deen, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Kiam DeenQyam, Qiam
Kishin SinghKishan, Kishen, Keshan, Kissen
Korrum DeenCuram, Karem, Karum, Kareem
Kulub DeenKaleb
KushallaKushala, Kushali
Ladda CashmeraLudda Kashmiri, Luada
Lataf KhanLataft, Latif
Hakkim KhanHukam, Hakim, Harkam, Hookem
Lubhu SinghLubbo, Lubboo, Lubu
Mahair KhanMehar
Mahan KhanMehan
Mahomed AllieAli, Mahommed, Mahomet
Mahomed Allie KhanMahomed Ali Khan
Mahomed BuxMahommed, Mahomet, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Mahomed Fuzal KhanFuzzel
Mahomed GujarGujar Mahomed, Charlie Mahomed, Gujer
Mahomed SharkerMahommed Shakir
Mair BuxMeer, Amir, Ameer, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Malla SinghMulla, Mullah
Malook SinghMaluk
Man DeanMarm, Deen, Narm Deen
Marad BuxMeera, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Mazid KhanMajid, Majeed
Meer Alli KhanAmeer, Amir, Ali
MeerzmanMeezaman, Meraman, Meerasman
Meya Mahomed AriffMehar, Meyar, Meyah, Meyan, Meya, Maya
Meya Mahomed BuxMehar, Meyar, Meyah, Meyan, Meya, Maya, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Maya JallaldeenMehar, Meyar, Meyah, Meyan, Meya, Maya
Meyan Alla DattaMehar, Meyan, Miyan, Alla Ditta
Meyer SinghMehar, Meyar, Meyah, Meyan, Meya, Maya
Missery SinghMystery Assaram, Rasaram
Miyan Mahboob AllumMiyan Mahbub Allum
Miyga KhanMiga
Mohamed IsmailIsmael, John
Mohammet BuxMohamet, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Molla BuxMulla, Mullah, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Molla DadMoula, Molla, Mullah, Alladad
Monga KhanManga
Mota KhanMoota
Mudjtbar ShahMujtaba
Mukkau Sheak MahomedMukka Sheik
Munad BuxMurad, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Munshee Kareem BuxMunshee, Munshie, Munsie, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Mustafa KhanMustifa, Mustapha
Nabob KhanNawab, Naboo, Nabo, Noab, Nowab
Naimet KhanNamet, Namat, Naimat
Nandh singhNand
Narain SinghNaran
Natha SinghNutta, Nuttah, Nuttha
Nathey KhanNathu, Nutta, Nuttah, Nuttha
Nathoo SingNathoo Singh, Natha
Nazam DeemNazim Deen
NeasaliNaiz Ali, Naze Ali
New Gundah SinghGunda, Ganda
PartapaPurtab, Purtabh, Purtarb, Pertab
Nie ToolaNitulla, Nuttoo, Nutta, Nutha, Natha
Noor AllumNur, Allam, Alum
Nunda SinghNundah
Nuthoo Khan RieNuttoo, Nutta, Nutha, Nuthoo, Nuttoo Rai
Oahurwull Tharowull/PharramullAssomull Pamamull, Rocimull/Rochemull Pamamull
Omah DeanOmar, Deen
Ottam SinghOtim, Outim
Phan SinghKhan
Palwan KhanPelwhan, Pelwan, Palwhan, Pailwan
Parg SinghParget, Pargat
Pernop SinghPertop, Pertap, Pertab, Purtabh
PholaPollah, Pola, Polah
Pier BuxPir, Peer, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Punditt SalgrahmPundit
Rahim Bakhsh KhanRahim, Rahm, Raheem, Bux, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Rahim TullaRahm, Raheem, Ramatullah, Rahmatulla, Rhamatulla
Rahna KhanRahana
Rala GhamonGhaman
Ralla singhRallah, Rala, Roola, Ruila
Ranga/Ranja KhanRajah
Rasmat KhanRashmat, Rashma, Rashmai, Rashmii
Ratten SinghRattan, ratan
Rochemull PamamullRochimull
Romali SinghRomal, Ramali
Rubya SinghRulya, Rubah, Rulia, Rule, Roola
RurahRoorah, Roor
Sab DeenSabah, Sahib, Sarb
Saf Alli KhanSaif, Saifalli, Vasilly
Sahoo ShahSahu, Shau, Sahoo
Said abdul HakHaq
Said Shah JeelamJelani, Geelani
Saltuna SinghSultan, Sultana
Samonda SinghSamunda, Samunder, Samund, Samonde, Simon
Santogh SinghSantokh
Saun SinghSorn
Sha Wallie KhanShah Wali Khan, Shah Bally Khan, Civelli Kahn, Shah Valli Khan  
Shah Iwar KhanShah Swar Khan
Shair SinghChere, Shere. Sher, Share
Shairsman Jan BuxShasmani, Shahsman, Baksch, Buksch, Buksh
Shar KhanSher, Shah
Shera ManSher, Sheera, Chere
Sheriff Deen WazeerSharf, Sharif, Wazir
Sidara SinghSidhara
Sobah SinghSoba
Sohna/Soni KhanSona, Soni, Sonah
Somond SinghSomand, Soman, Suman, Samunda, Samunder, Samund, Samonde, Simon
Sorn SinghSarn, Saran
Suchet SinghSuchette, Sucha, Suchah
Suchie ChandSucha, Suckie, Suki
Suden SinghSundah, Sunda
Sujah SinghSucha, Suchah
Sunda SinghSunder, Sundah
SunghgooSandhoo, Sandhu
Suttar Din GujarSuta, Sutar, Sutah, Deen, Bajar
Taroo KhanTaru

Len Kenna and Crystal Jordan

Len Kenna was educated at La Trobe University studying History and Archaeology. He has been interested in things Indian from his childhood when Indian hawkers called at his family home in Hamilton, Victoria. In 2004 Len was contacted by Multicultural Commission Victoria to write a history of Indians in Australia.  This was the first detailed study of Indian history in Australia.

Crystal Jordan assisted Len because she has a keen interest in India. Her father was born in India.  The Australian Indian Historical Society Inc. was formed to research and publish the results of that research and to form a link to the Indian Community.

Len and Crystal have written and published sixteen books on Indians in Australia drawing on official records and primary sources.  One on these books: The History of Sikhs in Australia, has been translated into Punjabi by Dr. Balwant Singh Dhillion of Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India and has been distributed worldwide.