Role of the Chinese

in the story of the KellyGang

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Introduction

KellyGang

Large numbers of Chinese came to Victoria in the 1860s and 70s to work on the gold fields. They tended to work over gold fields that had already been worked by the European Australians. They were very hard working. see also (Alexandra110/9/1869)

Tension between the European and Chinese miners sometimes came to the surface and there were race riots at Buckland on the Ovens in 1857. (Argus15/8/65)

The Chinese were also store keepers and market gardeners and they added to the cultural life of towns like Beechworth where there were about 4,000 Chinese at one stage.

In 1866 a group of Chinese market gardeners moved from Victoria to New South Wales because of the tariffs. How did they live and organise their garden. (Argus13/6/66)

Working in the vineyards (T&C19/3/1870)

Murder at Myrtleford (Argus11/9/71)

Another murder of a Chinaman at the Woolshed (Argus7/5/74)

During the late 1870s there were Chinese miners at Sebastopol and Joe Byrne had a lot of contact with them. He could speak Cantonese and he had acquired their taste for opium. Some have suggested that Joe got the idea for armour from the Chinese.

More details of Chinese tradesmen (Argus9/6/80)

The Chinese wore hats that looked like straw umbrellas and shoes with turned up toes. They also had loose jackets and trousers. They recovered gold after the European miners had taken it all. Then they enjoyed gambling on the game of fan tan and looking after their fowls and pigs.

They had great respect for the family and in particular their ancestors and they built joss houses in many of their camps.

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Chinese at KellyGang

We have a problem with the Chinese names. They were written down and pronounced by people who could not speak chinese. The Royal Commission records names such as Ah Fook etc. Ah is a term a bit like the English term 'Mr' and the other name listed is the equivalent to a surname.
Ah cheny
Ah Man
Ah Maw
Ah Fook
Ah How
Ah On
Ah You
Ah Yang
Ah Shang
Ah Sing
Ah Woo
E Fang
Key Yet
Min Ting
Pong Luke
Chat Ving

Ned Kelly had a run in with Ah Fook in 1869

SConst Mullane arrested Aaron Sherritt for an assault on a Chinaman, but the charges were discharged at the sittings of the Supreme Court because the evidence was considered insufficient. (RC13531)
In January 1877 Joe Byrne got 6 months for assaulting a Chinaman who tried to stop me swimming in the Woolshed dam.

The police had reports that a Chinese storekeeper on the Buckland river supplied provisions to the KellyGang (RC13475)
Some of the Chinese were occupied in the cultivation of tobacco, the pea-nut. (Argus5/11/78)
A Chinese detective was used to follow up on this report and chinese handbills were issued. (RC5846)

Ned Kelly's view of the Chinese
Was the KellyGang supplied by a Chinese trader in the area between Cobur and Longwood? (Argus17/12/78)

When Ned Kelly was on the train on his way up to Beechworth for his committal on 1/8/1880 he clearly showed he had received some sympathy or assistance from the the Chinese community. He also said that if he had a tail (that is, a Chinaman's pig tail) he would go home to China, as one Chinaman was worth all the Europeans, and he would rather trust his life to them than any European living. (RC5488)

On about 16/6/1880 Consts Faulkiner and Canny got reports from An Yang that the KellyGang were getting supplies from a Chinese shop keepers at Buckland Flat, Pong Luke and Chat Ving. (RC5481) (RCApp15)

Death of Aaron Sherritt
At daylight the first one then the police at Aaron Sherritt's saw was a Chinaman. They called him and asked him would he take a message into the police in Beechworth, and we would pay him for doing so. He was horrified at the sight of Sherritt lying on the floor, and said he would not. They then asked him then if he would go and take a message to the schoolmaster, who lived about a couple of miles away fr27-apr-12 (RC3681)

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