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A retired Aussie programmer from Sydney, I am an ardent traveller, student of things Chinese, and in retirement both an online teacher and online MOOC student. I write mostly about travel and experiences in China, and of interaction with Asian culture and people. Don’t expect controversy because, like a cat in a puddle, I tread carefully - but sometimes I just might throw in a ‘googly’!
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My Chinese Ancestry - 200 years of it. Part 1    

By LaoGui 老鬼的博客
407 Views | 1 Comments | 1/8/2020 10:50:54 AM

A young, 20 or so years old, Chinese male disembarked from the Laurel in Sydney in 1818, just over 200 years ago. The first or perhaps the second legal immigrant from the Middle Kingdom to Sydney. Surely many other itinerant Chinese had landed in the north west diving for beche-de-mer (trepang, sea-cucumber), and perhaps Zheng He had come there too, 400 years earlier. Others had been shanghaied or press ganged and later jumped ship, probably from the Pearl River region, whence Mai Shiying (aka Mak O'pang, Mak Saiying) came too. At some point shortly after arrival, He was assigned the name of John Shying, willy nilly, clearly resulting from the confusion over family names.  That name thenceforth appears on marriage and birth certificates. From John Shying Circa 1798 to John James 1823, John Joseph 1844, William John 1868, and Jack Reuben my grandfather the male chain continues, but Reuben had four daughters, so Narelle, mum, was the end of my branch of the Shying chain.

The Laurel reached Canton on 5th October and left on 20th November for this port, arriving at Port Dalrymple (Launceston) on 18 February 1818. The following day she headed north to Port Jackson and entered the Harbour on the 27th of that month. John Blaxland several years later writes: Shying lived with me, on his arival in the colony, as a carpenter for three years and was an honest, respectable character.

Mai Shiying could write, so that tells something about him; I wonder if he also had the bianzi, the pigtail, as prescribed by Qing law. Almost certainly yes, but nothing is written to confirm it, and indeed nothing of a personal nature can be found in the documentation, all of which is official and transactional.  The nearest thing to personal we find is the existence of a piece of furniture made by him for Elizabeth Farm

Images:
1.Marriage to second wife, 1840's - note signature direction
2.The Sale of the Peacock Inn which he had built and which was taken from him
3.His Grandson, when cameras came to exist; my great great grandfather

to be continued ... 老鬼

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#2020-01-08 10:50:02 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

This is fascinating stuff. I love history and appreciate how it must be both fascinating and exciting to be able to follow your own family history back to such a truly major event as the first or second Chinese person to come to inhabit your home country.

I enjoyed this and look forward to what will follow. 

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