Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Digital Documents Record


1590 Philip Lee Chun’s explanation of the variations of his name on official documents

Full Document Caption:
The transliteration of Chinese names onto official records caused many problems for officials unfamiliar with Chinese naming conventions and language. Philip Lee Chung tries to explain to officials inaccuracies in his official paperwork.

Source: National Archives of Australia (NSW), SP42/1, 36/813

Region: Date From: 1915 To: 1915
New South Wales    

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C14[?]/7461

No. 34 Dixon Street
Sydney February 1st 1915.

To The Collector of Customs
Sydney.

Sir.
Replying to your letter of 27th January 1915, I shall deal with the three paragraphs seriatim.

In 1875 I came out to Australia under the name of Ah Tchee, and in 1883 in that name I obtained my Naturalisation Certificate.

When Mr Teece [?] wrote he stated the date of Naturalisation Certificate as 1886. This was probably a clerical error, but I need hardly point out that it could have no object, because it simply represented me as being a British subject, three years later than I really was. If the mistake had been intentional, it would have been on the other side.

I enclose now my original Naturalisation papers dated 1883, which can leave no doubt, and the identification marks thereen will I hope abundantly dispose of that question. The description and handprints thereen unerringly indicate that identity of Ah Tchee with myself.

Now with regard to the confusion concerning the name, I desire to go more fully into the matter. I can readily understand that the Chinese system of nomenclature is rather bewildering to a European. But I think I can explain thoroughly, and I should like to add that I shall be pleased to corroborate my statement by a Statutory Declaration.

Perhaps, for the convenience of the Department, I had better put it in this form:- The Englishman in China would be…[sample of full document only]