Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Examples of Chinese Inquests

The following is an attempt at deciphering the major content of two inquest reports, one for Quong Wah whose death in the inquest register was listed as being caused by fall of earth, and the other for Hock Chin whose cause of death was starvation.

The inquest reports are in a poor condition, and much of the writing is unclear. A sample of the original - the testimony of witness Ah Tip is included to show the difficulties of interpretation. Many words are impossible to decipher and the missing information is indicated as ---.

Names of the jurors and the detail duplicated on each inquest report are not included.

INQUEST 848 73: QUONG WAR 29th September

12 Jurors good and lawful men of ------ in the said Colony who, being duly sworn and charged to inquire,
upon the part of our Lady the Queen, when, where, how and by what means the said Quong Wah came by his death do say upon their oath that his death ----------- District Hospital Ballarat ---- caused by laceration of and effusion of ---- brain - caused by a heap of earth having accidentally fallen down upon him from site of open cutting on the twenty fifth instance at Little Bendigo, Parish of Bungaree.

Evidence of Tee Hin

I am a miner residing at Little Bendigo Ballarat. I have known the deceased Qong Wah for some 3 years and he was mates with ---- about a fortnight on a surface claim on the Horn Ducket (unclear) 2m --- claim title Buckly Bungaree -and on the 25th inst we went to work about 7.30 --- in an open cutting about 7-8 feet deep and were working about half an hour - then deceased and Chin Soon were perking - undermining on side of the cutting to - -- a -- of dirt - I was brushing and I had just brought in the truck and placed it for ---- I saw the side of the cutting about falling and I sang out to the men (deceased and Chin Soon) to --- it -- but they did not move and then a great heap of earth came down --- and --- down both men. Chin Soon was knocked over against the opposite side of the cutting - but the deceased was covered up to his shoulders. I then went for assistance to the Speedwell Store and Hotel and James Winkler came with me and assisted in taking both men - and he gave his evidence about it at the Inquest held on Chin Soon on the 25th instant. The Deceased Quong Wah was first taken out and got at once in a spring cart to the hospital. I never saw hm again and I heard of his death yesterday.


Evidence of Ah Tip

I was mates with Deceased and ---- and I went to work with him on 25th instance in an open cutting on the Horn Ducket claim and myself and the deceased men were pushing underminings outside of the cutting for a face of dirt - I was perking next to Chin --- and about half an hour after the commencement of work the side of the cutting came down upon us without any warning and it knocked down Chin Soon and the deceased Quong Wah and I was on my thigh and I was able to turn aside ---

------ came and both men were taken out and Chin Soon was quite dead and Quong Wah was driven away to the hospital.

Ah Tip (In Chinese characters)

Evidence of ----- Owen

I am a legally qualified Medical Practitioner and the deceased Quong Wah was received into this hospital on the 25th inst suffering from a scalp wound over the right ear - contusion of left ear and slight puffy swelling over occipital ----. There was a simple fracture of left Tibea and Fibula. Deceased was sensible but in course of same afternoon respiration became laboured and he became comatose. He remained same next day and I had a consultation on him on the 27th but afterwards gradually --- and died on Saturday the 28th about 8 --- the cause of death was laceration of the ---- of blood in brain.


Dear Sir
I have to report the death of Quong Wah caused by injuries received in amine at Little Bendigo on the 25th ins.

I am truly yours
Dr. Glendinning

Note: Chin Soon referred to in above inquest is Inquest No.831 73


INQUEST 250 74: HOCK CHIN 25th March 1874

M Cons -Leverton reports that the man Hock Chin referred to in the attached correspondence is lying dead in an old hut about half a mile from Vine Yard Hotel, Dead Horse. Deceased appears to be an aged man of poor circumstances and is said to have been ill and feeble for some time past.

The Chinese Interpreter has been requested to attend the Inquest at 3 p.m. 23.3.74 at the Vine Yard Hotel, Dead Horse.

George Leverton, charge, Ballarat

Constable John Parsons reports that about 8 p.m. this evening two Chinese reported to him that they found the Chinaman named in the margin dead in his hut, Dead Horse, Bungaree this morning. They stated he was sickly for some time, that he has no money or no friends. The Constable told them that the Police would be at the French Mans Hotel at 10 a.m. 22nd inst and one of the Chinese promised to be there in order that he may show where the deceased did reside.

John Parsons, Constable

Constable Leverton will proceed at once to the place indicated and make all enquiries and report information for the Coroner and after the Coroner finds the time for holding an Inquest it will be necessary to give the Interpreter notice to attend the Inquiry.

Proceedings Before Coroner

12 Jurors good and lawful men of Dead Horse in the said Colony who, being duly sworn and charged to inquire, upon the part of our Lady the Queen, when, where, how and by what means the said Hock Chin came by his death do say upon oath that the said Hock Chin on the twenty first day of March in the year aforesaid at Dead Horse Ranges in the Colony aforesaid was found dead and that the said Hock Chin had no marks of violence appearing on his body but through want of the common neccessaries of life and by no violent ways or means whatsoever to the knowledge of the said Jurors did between the 19th and 21st days of March of the aforesaid -- die.

Evidence of Ah Yue

I know the body shown to the Jury - it is that of Hock Chin a ragpicker who came some time ago to the hut in which he lies - no one else lived in the hut. I saw him last on Wednesday the 18th in bed in the hut. I gave him some rice and pork. Deceased said he felt a little better and would come to see me on Sunday. He complained of pain near his heart. He came from --------- has no friends to my knowledge in the colony. He was very poor and had no food except what a neighbour gave him.

Ah Yue (in Chinese characters)

Evidence of Ah Lung

I went to deceased's hut on Saturday the 21st and hearing there was a sick Chinese in the hut I went inside and Deceased was stiff and dead. I have known him 7 or 8 years. He was very poor and complaining of sickness for a long time and had not enough to eat. He has no friends here and none in China I know of.

Ah Lung (in Chinese characters)

Evidence of Mary Gallagher

I live in opposite side of the gully to the hut of the deceased. I have seen deceased for the last 9 to 10 months by himself for the last 3 or 4 months. He was very weak and feeble and unable to wash. He had no regular food and used to collect a few bones and used to beg a few victuals. I sent him some tea and bread and jam last Wednesday and didn't see him after.

Mary Gallagher (her mark)