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
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.
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 (https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au) for Series number B13, Control symbol 1924/14749.
You find the following file for Mrs Lup Mun.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The photographs these cropped portraits come from and the stories behind them further illuminate our understanding of Mrs Lup Mun and her life.
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.
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.
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.
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.