Tom Ah See
Tom Ah SeeLast Name
Ah SeeGiven Name:
TomArrival in Queensland
pre-1885Date of Birth
ca. 1840Place of Birth
ChinaDate of Death
ca. 1903Place of residence in Queensland
Margaret (Maggie, Maggy) DunnDate of Marriage
1 May 1885Place Married
John Ah See (b. 13 Apr 1886), Mary Ah See (b. 10 Apr 1888), William (b. 29 Mar 1892), Jenny Ah See (b. 24 Jun 1893), Annie Ah See (b. 24 Jun 1895), Nellie Ah See (b. 13 May 1900) and Kitty Ah See (b. 13 Jun 1902).
According to the information recorded on Ah See and Maggie Dunn's marriage certificate, Ah See was born in China in about 1840, the son of He Ong (his father) and Ah Chow (his mother). Ah See was a bachelor aged 45 when he married Maggie. Her age was recorded on the certificate as 'under 21'.
The couple's seven children -- John, Mary, William, Jenny, Annie, Nellie and Kitty -- were born between 1886 and 1902. Some time prior to November 1904, Ah See died leaving Maggie a widow and their children fatherless. In late 1904, 8-year-old Annie Ah See began attending the Deebing Creek Provisional School at the Deebing Creek Aboriginal Mission near Ipswich, while 5-year-old Nellie Ah See was enrolled in June 1905. The school register recorded that the girls lived at Deebing Creek and that their father was deceased.
Following Ah See's death, Maggie married an Indigenous man, Peter Rouse, and returned with him and at least one of her daughters, Kitty Ah See, to the Nanango region. Rouse was charged with the indecent assault of Kitty (Kate) in 1911. According to the Maryborough Chronicle, Maggie gave evidence that Rouse hit her and then assaulted Kitty, but Rouse pleaded his innocence and stated that "it was a put up job by his wife to get rid of him". Rouse was sentenced to serve four years at the Brisbane Gaol.
On 5 November 1915, Tom and Maggie Ah See's second son, William Ah See, enlisted in A Company of the 41st Infantry Battalion. Prior to enlistment he worked as a carpenter on Morella Station, via Roleston [sic]. After training at the Enoggera Army Camp in Brisbane, William was sent to France. However, he was hospitalised several times with influenza, bronchitis and bronchial asthma. He was eventually evacuated to England for medical treatment and then classified as medically unfit. William arrived back in Australia in September 1917. Photographs of the soldiers of A Company 41st Battalion appeared in The Queenslander on 29 July 1916. William's photograph was incorrectly captioned 'V. Ah Lee'.
In October 1919, Brisbane newspapers including The Telegraph reported that William Ah See, 'a half-caste Chinese', sought to dissolve his marriage to Evelyn Mary Ah See on the basis of her 'alleged misconduct' with George Ferber, also a World War I soldier, with whom Evelyn had a child. A decree nisi was granted, 'to be made absolute in three months'.
It has not been possible to trace Tom Ah See's date or place of death as there were multiple Chinese men named Ah See living in Queensland prior to 1904 when the Deebing Creek school register noted that Annie Ah See's father was deceased.
Researcher and author: Jan Richardson, Harry Gentle Research Centre.
Last updated: 27 July 2022.
If you can provide further information on this person, please contact the Harry Gentle Resource Centre: [email protected]
Image: Taroom, 1895. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
Link to digital item: https://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/144109
Qld BDM, Marriage certificate, 1885/C/1736
Ah See and Maggy Dun [sic], married 1 May 1885, Taroom Court House.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1886/C/9186
John Ah See, born 13 Apr 1886.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1888/C/10734
Mary Ah See, born 10 Apr 1888.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1892/C/11110
Unnamed male, born 29 Mar 1892.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1893/C/10698
Jenny Ah See, born 24 Jun 1893.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1895/C/11099
Annie Ah See, born 24 Jun 1895.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1900/C/10865
Nellie Ah See, born 13 May 1900.
Qld BDM, Birth registration, 1902/C/10961
Kitty Ah See, born 13 Jun 1902.
QSA, Admission Register, Purga Aboriginal State School
QSA Item ID ITM639781, Admission Register - Purga Aboriginal State School, Digital Representation ID DR 32934, entries for Annie Ah See (No. 128, 7 Nov 1904) and Nellie Ah See (No. 149, 20 Jun 1905), Deebing Creek Provisional School.
National Archives of Australia, Service Record, B2455, AHSEE W
Service record of William Ah See, 'A' Coy, 41st Battalion.
Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Roll
Private William Ah See, Service number 113, 41st Infantry Battalion.
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser
26 Jul 1911
A Company 41st Battalion, photographs by Fegan
29 Jul 1916
Actions for divorce
24 Oct 1919
Online ResourcesMarg Powell, William Ah See #113, SLQ Blog, 27 July 2017.