register page graphic

Issued under Circular 07/5519 and Naturalization: Chin Nooey

By Sophie Couchman (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)

Searching through the Victorian CEDT Index you might find a few entries that do not contain information about the person with a lot of ‘n/a’ written in the fields. When you view the register page you will see ‘Issued under Circular 07/5519’ or words to that effect written across all the fields in the register.

I tried searching for these circulars in the National Archives of Australia without success. The NAA holds a lot of circulars! Chatting with Kate Bagnall about my problem she directed me to one of her blogposts and two registers related to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. Browsing through Kate’s images of the the register held in Adelaide in series AP214/9 I struck it lucky. Below is a copy of Circular 07/5519 which relates to the annotations in the Victorian CEDT registers.

Department of External Affairs Circular 07/5519
[NAA: AP214/9, Photograph courtesy Kate Bagnall]

The body of the circular reads:

With reference to the re-admission to the Commonwealth of colored persons presenting Naturalization Papers, I have the honor to inform you that in cases where the Officer is satisfied that those person are the bona fide holders of such documents, they may be permitted to land on payment of the usual fee of £2 for a Certificate exempting them from the Dictation Test, which should be issued and cancelled immediately after their arrival.

2. The requirement of a fee in such cases will place the holders of Naturalization Papers on the same footing as other colored persons who have complied with the law and obtained certificates under the Immigration Restriction Acts prior to their departure from the Commonwealth.

3. I shall be glad if the necessary instructions can be issued, and advice sent to this Department from time to time of the admission of such persons and the payment of the fees in question.

From the date of this Circular, 12 June 1907, ‘colored persons’ travelling on their naturalization certificates had to pay a £2 fee in order to re-enter Australia. The same fee paid by those applying for a Certificate Exempting from the Dictation Test (CEDT). In other words the Australian government of the time was asking British subjects who were legally entitled to return to and live in Australia to pay a fee to exercise their legal right of return.

Unfortunately most of the entries for people who entered under the Circular only provide the name of the person making it difficult to match them with other records and confirm whether this person is your ancestor. However this information does mean that you should be possible to find naturalization records for these individuals.

If you want to find individuals who might have travelled under a Circular search the ‘Age’, ‘Occupation’ or ‘Residence’ fields of the Victorian CEDT Index for ‘n/a’ and then examine the digital photograph of the register page to see whether they travelled on a Circular.

Here is the entry for Chin Nooey in the Victorian CEDT Index. It states that he entered Victoria on his naturalization certificate.

Entry for Chin Nooey, 1912
[Index entry for Chin Nooey, 1912, Register 1, p. 167, Victorian CEDT Index, (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1904–1914’, NAA: B6003, 1]

This particular entry in the register also provides the Victorian Naturalization Certificate number, 3177, and the date it was issued 31 August 1885. It also lists the C&E number 1912/11195 (which has unfortunately not survived culling). The Certificate number and date of issue are useful for searching for naturalization material and confirming that you have the correct person.

Searching NAA’s RecordSearch we find a file for ‘Chin Nooey’ in the A712 series. A712 files contain correspondence related to Naturalization applications and generally includes:

  • A signed petition to the State Governor requesting naturalization under the Aliens Act, which might be approved or rejected
  • An signed oath stating name, age, birth place, residence, occupation, years residence in Victoria
  • A certificate signed by a warden, police magistrate or Justice of the Peace identifying the applicant and affirming that they are of ‘good repute’
  • A file sheet with notes on the progression of the application with useful dates and numbers

From Chin Nooey’s naturalization certificate we learn that his name is 陳女 (for some reason he writes the characters the English naming order with his family name second and not first). He was a 27 year old gardener who had arrived in Australia only four years earlier in 1881. Several ships in this year did not list individual Chinese who arrived so we cannot confirm that this was the year he arrived. Chin Chung, who the Justice of the Peace appears to have known certified to knowing Chin Nooey.

You need to check carefully to make sure each of these processes have been completed to be sure that the person was successfully naturalized. To ensure that the application was successful it is useful to search the ‘Index to Naturalization Certificates (1851-1922)’ held by the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV 4396) (searchable on and the ‘Volumes of enrolled letters of naturalization’ (NAA: A727).

Chin Nooey’s entry in the Index to Naturalization Certificates,
Certificate number 3877, issued 31 August 1885
[PROV: VPRS 4396, Index to Naturalization Certificates (1851–1922),
accessed via]
Copy of Chin Nooey’s Naturalization certificate, 31 August 1885
[NAA: A727, ROLL 5]

A few additional things to note about the naturalization of ‘colored’, and particularly Chinese, people is that from 1885 the Victorian government made the decision to refuse all Chinese naturalization applications. This was not written into law but was made by administrative decision. Any applications after this date are unlikely to have been approved.

One of the reasons Chinese applied for naturalization between 1881 and 1885 was in order to travel freely under the Victorian Chinese Act 1881. It is therefore worth checking to see whether there is any outgoing travel shortly after a naturalization application as one of the reasons they may have been choosing to naturalize was to travel.

Both the Victorian and Federal governments were concerned about the fraudulent use of naturalization certificates by Chinese in order to travel. This resulted in a large number of naturalization certificates being cancelled. Series A801 contains these cancelled, confiscated and unclaimed certificates. Some of these certificates have photographs attached and written annotations on them detailing why they were cancelled. Chin Nooey’s was one of these cancelled naturalizations.

Looking closely at the annotations on the certificate we can learn more about Chin Nooey and his travels. Official annotations in well-written Cantonese along the side of his certificate give his name as 陳梅 (which romanised using Yale Cantonese is Chan Muih). The character ‘陳’ is pronounced ‘Chin’ in Taishanese and Hakka. The character for the second part of Chin Nooey’s name sounds similar to 女 (Neuih), the name he writes himself. It has presumably been incorrectly written. The writing also indicates that he was a gardener (種菜园).

We can also see that Chin Nooey returned to Australia at the following times:

  • 15 December 1887 on the Changsha
  • 28 August 1896 on the Changsha
  • 10 February 1906 on the Chingtu
  • 1 July 1912 on the Nikko Maru

We can find Chin Nooey (often under different spellings) on incoming passenger lists in Victoria and New South Wales using this information but it has been more difficult to find when he left Australia which might be any time within three years of when he returned. He is likely to have departed from Victoria but also perhaps New South Wales or another Australian port.

One final piece of information that we know is that Chin Nooey’s naturalization certificate was confiscated or at the very least taken away from him. A search of Trove Newspapers shows that there were a four or five Chinese men (accounts vary) were arrested as prohibited immigrants when the Nikko Maru and the Aldenham arrived in Melbourne in July 1912. Three of these men took their cases to court – Ah You who arrived on the Aldenham claimed to be a a 53 year old gardener who had worked in Echuca and Bendigo, Ah Chong (or Ah Choong) claimed to be a tea hawker who had worked at Emerald Hill amongst other places and Laung Ah Choon (or Loon Ah Choon), claimed to be a 58 year old tea hawker but had worked in Carlton, Fitzroy and Richmond. All appeals were unsuccessful and they were charged with 6 months imprisonment, two with hard labour. Newspapers do not report the names of the other two (or one) person. Perhaps they chose not to go to court. Chin Nooey arrived on the same ship as Laung Ah Choon.

One of a number of newspaper articles outlining this case in July 1912
[‘”Returned Chinese”, Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1912, p.7 via Trove Newspapers,]

It is possible Chin Nooey was one of the men who did not go to court and remained unnamed in newspaper reports. If we got back to the Victorian CEDT Registers it is worth noting that they do specifically say that Chin Nooey was ‘admitted’ to Victoria. Laung Ah Choon’s name is not in the Registers and if we look at the names of the other men listed around Chin Nooey and compare them with the passenger lists for the Nikko Maru the two names following Chin Nooey’s name in the passenger list: Ah Chun and Wah Hee. These match the two following names in the Registers: Ah Chu and Wah Hee. I think perhaps these men’s naturalization certificates were most likely taken from them as part of checking their credentials, never returned or collected.

[Thanks to Dr Kate Bagnall for her feedback on this post]

Further reading

Aliens Statute 1865 (28 Vic No 256)

Chinese Act 1881 (45 Vic No 723)

Bagnall, Kate, ‘Chinese Australian families and the legacies of colonial naturalisation’, Tiger’s Mouth,

Dutton, David, Citizenship in Australia: A Guide of Commonwealth Government Records, National Archives of Australia, 2000

This post was last updated on 1 July 2021.

register page graphic

Using Victoria, CEDT Book and C&E Numbers and Passenger lists: Mrs Lup Mun

By Sophie Couchman (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)

Using CEDT applications made by Mrs Lup Mun located in the Victorian CEDT Index, we can see how photography, the Victoria Number, CEDT Book Number and C&E Number and also inwards and outwards passenger list can be used together in your research. Mrs Lup Mun was a Chinese herbalist, living and working in Celestial Avenue off Little Bourke Street in the early twentieth century (see references below to learn more about her life).

A search of ‘Lup Mun’ in the Victorian CEDT Register Index brings up one search result which takes you to this page in the register.

Victorian CEDT register 2 showing Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT application in 1924
[Index entry for Mrs Lup Mun, 1924, Register 2, p. 88, Victorian CEDT Index, (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1915-1933’, National Archives of Australia: B6003, 2)]

Examining the register you can see that Mrs Lup Mun’s application for a CEDT in 1924 has the following numbers associated with it:

  • Vic. No. 1924/148
  • CEDT Book No. 367/79
  • C&E File No. 1924/14749

Doing an Advanced search of the National Archives of Australia’s RecordSearch ( for Series number B13, Control symbol 1924/14749.

Searching for Mrs Lup Mun’s C&E File in the B13 series using RecordSearch

You find the following file for Mrs Lup Mun.

Mrs Lup Mun’s C&E File in the B13 series in RecordSearch

Only a small proportion of the B13 series have been digitised but you can either pay for the file to be digitised or order and visit the archives to view it in person.

Mrs Lup Mun’s file contains:

  • File cover sheet summarizing file contents
  • Form 32 certifying that Mrs Lup Mun was permitted to land back in Australia
  • Two copies of her completed CEDT certificate
  • Two spare copies of photographic portraits used on her certificates (full frontal and side view)
  • Statement from the Victorian Income Tax Office stating her income tax was in order
  • Written reference from George Hook of 244 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
  • Written reference from S. Shaw, a teacher at the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union School in Melbourne
  • Her CEDT application

If we look at Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT certificate in the file we can see the CEDT Book Number (367/89) printed on it (the CEDT certificate number) and then handwritten on the top right hand corner the Vic. Number (1924/148) (the number in the CEDT Register).

Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT certificate within her C&E file
[NAA: B13, 1924/14749]

Once you know how these numbers work it is possible to understand the meaning of other administrative annotations on the file. On Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT application (see below) she is asked about any previous overseas trips. In red ink we see a C&E number for a 1902 trip – 02/7240 (which is read 1902/7240) – and that a certificate was issued to her in 1916 but was not used – 16/6355 (which is read 1916/6355). A search of RecordSearch shows that neither of these files survives in the B13 series.

Section of Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT application within her C&E file
[NAA: B13, 1924/14749]

The 1902 CEDT is too early to be listed in the registers but we can find the 1916 CEDT application. The annotations in red ink state the 1916 Vic number is 16/42 (which is read 1916/42). We can find it listed in Register 2 (which contains 1916 applications) under this Vic number. The entry notes that Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT was cancelled because it had not been claimed after two years. We did not find this record in our original search because her name is spelled ‘Mrs Lipp Mun’ but we have found it by tracking her recordings using the numbers associated with her travel.

Victorian CEDT register 2 (1915-1933) showing Mrs Lup Mun’s CEDT application in 1916

Index entry for Mrs Lipp Mun, 1916, Register 2, p. 13, Victorian CEDT Index, (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1915-1933’, National Archives of Australia: B6003, 2)

In the remarks section is the number ‘24/148’. From our previous research we can recognise this as the Vic. Number for Mrs Lup Mun’s 1924 CEDT application. While Mrs Lup Mun did not travel in 1916 she did in 1924.

This misspelling of Mrs Lup Mun’s name, as ‘Lipp’, reminded me of the name used on two beautiful photographs in another series held at the National Archives of Australia that contains photographs related to pre-Federation travel of Chinese Australians.

Portrait of Mrs and Miss Lih Moon (in Chinese-style dress), undated
[NAA: B6443, NN]
Portrait of Mrs and Miss Lih Moon (in Western-style dress), undated
[NAA: B6443, NN]

These photographs with their ‘NN’ item number are not a proper part of the B6443 series. They are also unusual in the series because they show a woman and a child – in Chinese-style and then Western-style dress. I had always wondered who this woman was and what her story was. Every few years I would do some searches for her name without success but suddenly I made the connection that ‘Lih’ and ‘Lipp’ and ‘Moon’ and ‘Mun’ were not so different.

Comparing the portraits of ‘Mrs Lih Moon’ with photographs of ‘Mrs Lup Mun’ that I already knew about from previous research I felt confident that this was the same woman.

Cropped portraits of Mrs Lup Mun
[Left to right: NAA: B6443, NN; Chinese Museum, 2008.08.37, NAA: B13: 1924/14749, Chinese Museum 1993.21]

The photographs these cropped portraits come from and the stories behind them further illuminate our understanding of Mrs Lup Mun and her life.

Studio portrait of Mrs Lup Mun with children and friends from Little Bourke Street, 1930s
[Chinese Museum, Raymond Lew Boar collection, 2008.08.37]
Silk embroidered memorial hangings dedicated to Mrs Lup Mun on her death
[Chinese Museum collection, 1993.21]

We also know from our research into Mrs Lup Mun’s travels that she applied for a CEDT in 1902. This is prior to the establishment of the CEDT Registers but after the creation of the B6443 series of photographs. My supposition is that the portraits of ‘Mrs and Miss Lih Moon’ were created in in 1902 and used by Mrs Lup Mun to identify her when she returned from travelling. The Immigration Restriction Act was not assented until 23 December 1901, when Mrs Lup Mun travelled in 1902 it is likely the new system of CEDTs processing was not in place and some version of the older system used. This is why these photographs have been filed with the B6443 series.

Another photograph filed in a series on its own, but believed to have belonged to the B6443 series is the photograph below. Hand-written on the back of the photograph is his name ‘Lip Moon’ of 195 Little Bourke Street and a note that he returned in 1906. I believe this is Mrs Lup Mun’s husband.

Photographic portrait of Lip Moon [Lup Mun], Allan Studio, 318 Smith Street, Collingwood
[NAA: VA1984/397, 1, Photograph of Lip Moon]

So finally, based on the year of departure (1902) and year of return (1906), we can make a search of Victorian outward passenger lists and New South Wales inward passenger lists.

Probable passenger listing for Mrs Lup Mun travelling to Hong Kong on Australian V in 1902 with her husband and daughter
[PROV, VPRS 948, ‘Outwards passenger lists (1852-1923)]
Passenger list entry for Mr and Mrs Lip Moon, returning second class to Sydney from Japan on the Empire on 12 February 1906
[NSRS-13278, Inward passenger lists, 1854-1922, Empire, 12 February 1906, via]

This shows Mrs Lup Mun (written ‘Lip Man’) travelled with her husband and eight-year old daughter to Hong Kong in September 1902 and then returned to Sydney on 12 February 1906 off ship from Japan with her husband only. We do not know whether they travelled back to Lup Mun’s village or stayed in Hong Kong. We also do not know what happened to ‘Miss Lup Mun’ – perhaps she was betrothed or maybe sent to school.

Further reading

Couchman, Sophie, ‘From Mrs Lup Mun, Chinese herbalist, to Yee Joon, respectable scholar: A social history of Melbourne’s Chinatown’, in H. Chan, A. Curthoys & N. Chiang (eds), The Overseas Chinese in Australasia: History, Settlement and Interactions: Proceedings from the Symposium held in Taipei, 6-7 January 2001, IGAS, National Taiwan University and CSCSD, Australian National University: Taipei, 2001, pp.125-139.

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, Otherland: Melbourne, 2004, pp.171-190.

Couchman, Sophie, ‘Ho Lup Mun’, Chinese-Australian Historical Images in Australia website,

Couchman, Sophie, ‘Mrs Lup Mun: A valued member of the community’, Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website,

See, Pamela, ‘Mrs Lup Mun’, 2007, papercut silhouette drawing (frame: 48.5 cm x 38.5 cm, support: 42.0 cm x 32.0 cm),