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The Chinese in Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery

By Terry Young (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)


I grew up in Coburg and during those 20 years I never visited the local cemetery. The Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery in Bell Street, Preston is one of the oldest in Melbourne dating back to 1856.

Recently I made a decision to visit the cemetery to investigate the Chinese who were buried there. My research tells me that there are about 130 Chinese buried in the Other Denominations section dating from 1907 to 1937. Many of these graves are unmarked.

On this visit I came across the headstone of Young Ying who died 29/12/1919, aged 54.

Young Ying’s gravestone at Coburg Pine Cemetery, 2021. Photographer: Terry Young

Using the Victorian CEDT Index, I searched for Young Ying and found the following information.

3090Young YingChinese44Market gardenerNorth Carlton1910
5492Young YingChinese49GardenerBrunswick1915
7153Young YingChinese52GardenerEast Brunswick1919
Victorian CEDT Index search result for ‘Young Ying’

At first I thought this was not the same person as he returned to China in 1919 (see above)

A closer look at the actual register page image tells me that the CEDT was cancelled as it was not used within three years of issue.


Victorian CEDT Register detail
[Index entry for Young Ying, 1919, Register 2, p. 43, Victorian CEDT Index, http://cafhov.com/vic-cedt-index/?type=id&search=7153 (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1915-1933’, National Archives of Australia: B6003, 2)]

It was not used as he had died in December 1919 as identified on the headstone.

If I had not looked at the register page I would have assumed this was not the same person. This is an example of how the Victorian CEDT Index can help provide more information and support family history research.

The index is able to provide information about 262 Chinese who resided in Coburg from 1904 to 1955 or you can browse through those from other suburbs here – http://www.cafhov.com/vic-cedt-index/browse.

Terry Young

Terry is a first generation Chinese Australian. As an adult he developed a curiosity about the unspoken lives of his Cantonese speaking parents. Both migrated to Australia during difficult times, personally and historically. Terry’s family research has helped shape his persona and identity. He continues to research and discover details about his ancestors and his extended family, not only for his personal satisfaction but also for future family generations.

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Linking CEDT Registers and the B13 correspondence series: Ah Lipp

By Sophie Couchman (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)


Using a person’s name or the C&E number you can use the National Archives of Australia’s RecordSearch (https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au) to search the B13 ‘General and classified correspondence, annual single number series’. This is the main series of correspondence of the Collector of Customs in Melbourne held by the National Archives of Australia in Melbourne. It contains correspondence related to immigration restrictions, tariff classifications, excise, prohibited literature, administration, smuggling, prosecutions, shipping, exports and imports, reflecting the changing functions of the department.

Many of the entries in the Victorian CEDT Registers list include an ‘C&E number’. As people’s names can sometimes be spelled in different ways or misspelled it can be useful to sometimes search using this number instead of their name (see Mrs Lup Mun for an example of this).

A C&E number looks like a year (or the last two digits of a year) followed by a slash symbol and then a number. Latter registers include a special column to write this number, earlier registers have it written in the notes section. Ah Lipp’s C&E number when he travelled in 1915 is listed in the Victorian CEDT register as 15/11290. This number (written as the full year followed by slash followed by the number, for example 1915/10290) can be used to search the B13 correspondence series in addition to searching using the person’s name.

Advanced Item search of B13 series using Ah Lipp’s C&E number
Search result for the above Advanced Item search

Included in this series are a files documenting CEDT applications. Originally the series would have included a file for each CEDT application but unfortunately the series has been extensively culled and so only a small proportion of files survive. A typical CEDT application correspondence file contains the following: Application form, police statement, two references and copies of the Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test, Summary coversheet (see example below).

Information supplied by Ah Lipp in the Victorian CEDT Registers indicates he applied for a CEDT in 1915 when he was 75 years old (making him born around 1840). He had been in the Commonwealth for 57 years (suggesting he arrived around 1858). He left on the Changsha on 14 May 1915 and there is no information about any return to Australia.

Information provided in his file in the B13 Series confirms the year of his birth and year of arrival in Australia. Ah Lipp’s CEDT certificate on file also show no indication that he returned to Australia despite being able to. At age 75 and after 57 years living and working in Australia, this is perhaps not surprising.

We also learn that he was very mobile during his time in Australia. He spent 2 months in Sydney, 4 months in Beechworth, 3 years in Goulburn, 6 months in Heathcote, 5 years in Bendigo, 6 months in Castlemaine, 2 1/2 years in Vaughan before settling in Malmsbury for 40 years. He worked initially as a miner and then turned his hand to market gardening, with a contract, according to the favorable police report with the police station. During this time he never left Australia. He signed his CEDT application in English in a fair hand. Ah Lipp obtained character references from the Town Clerk and a Justice of the Peace in Malmsbury.

He wears slightly different clothing with a different studio background in the identification photographs he provides for the application suggesting they were taken at slightly different times. He wears a three piece suit with decorative fob in both photographs, probably his best suit. His hands and the crumpled shirt and suit betrays his working class background but the fob suggests he’s had some prosperity.

As can be seen these files can be rich in information, particularly those from later years because files were ‘top numbered’. This means that the file for a person who applied for a second CEDTs was renumbered and filed with the later CEDT application. So some files document multiple journeys.

Unfortunately not all of the B13 series files have been digitised. You can pay for them to be digitised or visit the National Archives of Australia reading rooms in North Melbourne to read and copy them yourself.