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.

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’, National Archives of Australia: 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

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). It is possible to search this index on

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]

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. Victorian passenger lists do not list Chin Nooey as travelling around 1885.

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 certificates. Some of these certificates have photographs attached and written annotations on them detailing why they were cancelled. A search of ‘Chin Nooey’ in NAA’s RecordSearch shows that there is also a cancelled Naturalization Certificate for him.

See also

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

register page graphic

Found: Louey Leong Hock

By Anna Wolf (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)

In May 2019, walking past the Chinese Museum in Little Bourke Street on my way to a yum cha with my husband’s family, I was thinking that I had not been to the museum for a long time. So when I got home, I looked up the museum’s website to see what was currently on exhibition. I saw the information about CAFHOV’s Victorian CEDT Index transcription project and promptly registered my interest.

My parents were from Toisan (台山) in what was called Canton (now Guangdong province). My father came to Australia directly from China in 1949, my mother and I came from Hong Kong in 1960. Both my parents passed away in 2012. From brief mentions and snippets of stories told at family gatherings, I had always believed that my father came to Melbourne to work for an uncle in a shop called ‘On Hie’ (安泰, pronounced ‘On Hie in Toisan dialect and ‘On Tai’ in Cantonese) in Chinatown. I did not know the name of this uncle and did not enquire much about my father’s life here.

I have always been interested in family history and had just finished working on a project on my father-in-law’s German Jewish family, as well as helping a friend with her research of her family roots in Devon in the United Kingdom. I had thought it fairly difficult, if not impossible, to find out information about my Chinese side of the family. Firstly, due to my poor knowledge of reading and writing Chinese (my Chinese education stopped at primary grade 2), and also not knowing even where to start.

The day I spent at the Chinese Museum learning about transcribing the index changed everything. I didn’t find information about my family straight away, but using the Index after the transcribing was completed, I found my great grandfather! I had found a copy of the family tree from my father’s things, and just out of curiosity, I translated my great grandfather’s name, 雷良學, into English (phonetically) and looked it up. And there it was. On page 153 of the register for 1933, entry no.5 – ‘Louey Leong Hock’, and better yet, in brackets ‘Louey Kay’!

Louey Leong Hock (Louey Kay) 1933 entry. Note that the return details in the register have not been completed.

Index entry for Louey Leong Hock (Louey Kay), 1933, Register 2, p. 153, Victorian CEDT Index, (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1915-1933’, National Archives of Australia: B6003, 2)

His alias, Louey Kay, would have been this – 雷記. The character 記 is actually pronounced “Gey” (in both dialects). It is usually the last character in a shop name, like company or brand. It is also a sort of a nickname used by close friends to denote that person is the boss of the shop. ‘Louey Kay’ is therefore the name used for my great grandfather by his friends and business associates.

From this entry’s information, I was able to trace his movements and discovered he came to Australia in 1899 and left in 1933. He was 61 when he left, and he died in China in 1934. I am fortunate that one of my Louey cousins is in Guangzhou and he is interested in family history. Through the magic of language translation apps, I have been able to communicate with him to a degree and to confirm some facts and approximate times. And through CAFHOV members, I have received advice about how to search for further records using the services of the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) and the National Archives of Australia (NAA).

It was getting my great grandfather’s folder of CEDT documents from the NAA in my hands that was the eureka moment. I was able for the first time to see a photo of my great grandfather, and to share this precious find with my cousins who have never seen him before. Even my father’s oldest living brother was surprised. I guess photography was a rare thing in rural China in the early 1900s, and my uncles and aunts were too young, or not even born when he went back to China that last time.

Louey Leong Hock’s CEDT certificate
[NAA: B13, 1933/638]

The contents of the documents have enabled me to do further research about my great grandfather. Knowing his alias, ‘Louey Kay’, from the Index, I have discovered he travelled back to China three times before his last trip. He worked and lived for a time in Bendigo and Melbourne.

Through information gathered from my cousin, as well as PROV and Trove, I believe he was involved in a Chinese herbal medicine business in Little Bourke Street called ‘Quong Tsy Hong’ (廣善堂) in the early 1900s, and then in a shop in Bendigo called ‘On Loong’. From about 1915, he worked as a storekeeper at ‘On Hie’ at 210 Little Bourke Street. This was the business that I believe was part-owned by my great grandfather and his direct cousin Louey Fee Hock. This must have been the ‘uncle’ from the family stories I’d heard.

This is about as far as I have got in my research before COVID hit us. I need to get in touch with some old-timers in Bendigo and Melbourne’s Chinatown in order to find out more about these shops and the people who owned or worked in them. And of course, it would be helpful to go to my father’s old village to see the family home. But it has been a very interesting journey so far.