By Anne Thorogood (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria Inc)
Henry Tuckathima Nitobe was born in Yokohama around 1872. He married Alice Amelia King in 1905, and stated he was aged 33, a laundryman and the son of Toda Nitobe, a potter and Hana or Hama née Jaka. He lived in Yarra St, Geelong. The marriage took place on the 17 May at the Geelong Registry Office. The signature of one of the witnesses could be Asian but it is very hard to read.
Alice gave her surname as Winter, but on her birth certificate she was the daughter of Ellen King aged 20, father unknown, born in Collingwood in 1882, and 11 years younger than Henry. Her mother had married Daniel Winter, a career criminal in 1901. Daniel’s father, uncle, cousins and later his sons, all had extensive criminal records.
In 1908, a youth was charged for illegally pawning a diamond pin, the property of Henry Nitobe. It had been stolen by his friend and brother-in-law, Charles Winter, aged 14. Charles went on to spend most of his life in prison.
In 1908, Alice was charged with obstructing the Inspector of Factories and Shops when he came to inspect their laundry. He claimed she swore at him and tried to push him out. Alice was fined 3 pounds and costs.
In 1926 Henry, or Harry as he was known, applied for an Exemption from the Dictation Test. His certificate describes him as being 5 foot 1 inch, of medium build, olive complexion and with black hair and brown eyes. He had been in Australia for 33 years (c.1893) and had worked as a laundryman and cook. He had lived in Prahran for one year, Malvern four years, St Kilda four and a half years, Geelong seventeen and a half years Warrnambool one and a half years, as well as nine months in Finley, New South Wales. A Detective Sergeant Gleeson stated he was a hard worker and attested to his good character. His last listed address was 133 Little Malop Street, Geelong. Henry travelled from Melbourne to Sydney and returned to Japan on the Mishima Maru in December 1926. The CEDT register does not list any information about his return. No more is known of him (see the entry in the register via the Victorian CEDT Index here).
Alice Nitobe had been put into care when younger. When she absconded from the Lang Street Home in South Yarra in 1900 aged 17, she was described in the Police Gazette as being 4 foot 10 inches, with a slight girlish build, dark hair and complexion. She had ‘a Japanese cast of features’. She had a cousin also named Alice, who was two years younger and had six siblings. She was the daughter of Wilhelmina King and Luk Ah Kim, so perhaps she also had Chinese ancestry.
After Henry left Australia, Alice went to New South Wales where her family was living. She married under a slightly different name, Alice Amelia Holden, in 1930 to Thornton Herbert Littlewood. On her marriage certificate she was described as working as a waitress, claimed not to have been married before. She died in Queensland in 1955. She had no children.
Anne’s partner’s grandfather, Thomas Kimm, was the cousin of Henry Tuckathima Nitobe’s wife Alice. Anne uncovered Henry’s story as part of researching Alice Amelia King’s life. Using Chindex she was able to understand more about his travel and movements and locate file and CEDT certificate in the B13 series of the National Archives of Australia.
Index entry for Henry Nakashima Nitobe , 1926, Register 2, p. 110, Victorian CEDT Index, http://www.cafhov.com/vic-cedt-index/?type=id&search=9967 (original data taken from ‘Register of Certificates Exempting from the Dictation Test, 1915-1933’, National Archives of Australia: B6003, 2).
Certificate for Exempting from Dictation Test 1926
Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages, Marriage certificate, Alice Amelia Winter, 1905
New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages, Marriage certificate, Alice Amelia Holden, 1930
Victorian Police Gazette, 1900