Father Lee aka Le aka John AH KIN or ATCIN b. 1825 m. 18521 d. 18982
Mother Sarah A. RATCLIFF3 aka LAIDLEY4 b. 1824 m. 18525 d. 18946
Sister Jane ACTIN b. 18537 m. d.
Inmate Lucy AICHIN b. 18558 m. 1872 (see below) d. 19219
Sister Sarah ACKAN b. 185810 m. d.
Brother Samuel Le AKIN b. 186011 m. d.
Sister Maria AH KIN b. 1862 m. 187812 Thomas AH SEE d. 194013
Sister Hannah LE AH KIN b. 186414 m. unknown d. unknown
Brother Luppit aka Lip Dick AH KIN b. 186615 m. unknown d. 189816
Husband (1) Joe aka Chu COEY aka COY aka COOEY b. unknown m. 187217 d. unknown
Husband (2) Charles ON b. unknown m. none d. unknown
Daughter Julia Wing COEY b. 187318 m. d. unknown
Daughter Mary COOEY b. 187519 m. d. unknown
Daughter Dolly Mary ON b. 1885 m. d. 1919
Son William ON b. 188820 m. d. 195121
Daughter Rosanna ON b. 1888 m. George SUE WON d. unknown
Son David AHKENN b. 189222 m. d. 196323
Son Robert COY b. 189524 m. unknown Eliza d. 196125
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Inmate Lucy26 14 4' 8" dark black dark slight make

Note An image of Lucy and her descendants appears in the exhibition Tracking the Dragon.27

Lucy AH KIN was admitted to Newcastle on 17 June 1868,28 and Agnes KING confirmed her admission in her report to the Colonial Secretary on 23 June.29 Lucy was fourteen years old and was able to read the alphabet and write letters on slate. She was recorded as a Protestant and her name appeared on SELWYN's list of students compiled in June 1868.30 The Braidwood Dispatch reported in the Empire31 that Lucy, the daughter of a Chinaman at Jembaicumbene, had recently charged the Chinese immigrant, LI TIN, with indecent assault. The case was dismissed and Lucy was placed in gaol pending the decision of the Bench to approve an application by her mother Sarah, to send her to Newcastle. It was reported that Sarah was unable to support Lucy and that her father refused to do so. The bench met at Braidwood Gaol on Thursday, 30 April 1868, and committed Lucy to Newcastle making an order for her 'unnatural father'32 to contribute to her support. The Braidwood Gaol recordfor Lucy is in the name AH KHIN and she was described there as a Catholic who was able to read and who had been born at Queanbeyan. While the Entrance Book,33 and also Lucy's trial in Muswellbrook in 1871, recorded that her father was dead, this was not the case. Lucy also stated at her Muswellbrook trial that she had been admitted to the Sydney Infirmary suffering from St. Vitus' dance and from there she had been sent to the school and there was some element of truth in this statement.

On 23 September 1870, CLARKE arranged a three-year apprenticeship for Lucy with Alexander JOHNSTON, Esq., of Scone. This apprenticeship was short-lived as on 5 October, JOHNSTON34 wrote to CLARKE stating:

I am sorry to inform you we cannot take the girl you wished to send in consequence of Mrs Johnston's not liking to have a girl with Chinese blood as other servants would annoy her and make her life miserable. That is the only reason.

CLARKE arranged another three-year apprenticeship for Lucy as a domestic servant to Mr. JOSEPHSON, of the Bank at Muswellbrook on 10 October 1870. She was to be paid four shillings per week during her first year and this was to increase by one shilling a week each year for the following two years. In an attempt to avoid a further rejection of Lucy due to her ethnicity, CLARKE reported to the Colonial Secretary on 13 October 1870, when requesting permission for the apprenticeship to go ahead that

Mr Josephson has seen Ah Kin and rather likes her appearance than otherwise.35

Nearly three months later on 4 January 1871, Lucy accused a local labourer, Edward MADDEN, with raping her at the Muswellbrook burial ground while she was caring for JOSEPHSON’S three young children.36 The Police Gazette in connection to MADDEN’s arrest reported that her surname was ATKIN.37 On 9 January 1871, JOSEPHSON returned Lucy to the school.38 He accompanied her return with a letter that stated:

I am afraid that the man will get into it for his trouble she has known[?] enough to constitute "rape" and not the mere attempt she swore to in the indictment. I can hardly believe but that she gave the man a good deal of encouragement for she said nothing about the affair until the next morning and I think being frightened that we should hear of it, told the servant girl about it. The morning before Lucy left here she was locked up in the servant's room, the next morning the girl missed a 5/- piece now noone else could have taken it except Lucy however we could not find it on her but she acknowledged to having seen it in the girls box and as there was some wages coming to Lucy I paid the servant out of it feeling certain that she took it as we have found her out in many thefts before even the children's clothes that were given to her to wash she had thrown down the closet and buried about the yard. I have still a few shillings of her wages on hand [and will forward them to you].
Hoping you will be able to make something of this specimen of humanity.

Lucy's readmission wasn’t recorded in the Entrance Book near her first admission to the school as on her return to the school, she was temporarily admitted to the Newcastle Reformatory.39 Because the reformatory records are not extant it is unknown whether her name was entered in that register at this time. A letter from LUCAS stated that Lucy:

… was returned to the institution on the 6th [sic] Jan. last and placed by my Predecessor Capt. Clarke in the Reformatory under the charge of Mrs King (as I am informed) for safety and to prevent her being tampered with.

Lucy absconded from the reformatory on 14 April 187140 with the reformatory admission, Mary Ann MEEHAN and another industrial school admission, Annie HOWARD.41 The Empire reported the girls’ discovery by constable LEONARD of Wallsend Police42 when:

… a suspicious character had been seen purchasing rations from a store near Hexham, and then proceeding into the bush at Minmi. A search in the locality was instituted, and the trio were discovered concealed in a hut, where they said they had been staying ever since their escape with three men whose names they refused to give to the officer. The police, however, have the names of the scoundrels.43

One of these ‘scoundrels’ was Thomas HAFEY who was also arrested by LEONARD and who subsequently received one month's imprisonment in Maitland Gaol for concealing an absconder. The identity of the other two men has not been uncovered and no other men appear in the Maitland Gaol records at this time charged with this crime. LUCAS confined Lucy in the cells as punishment for this escape and also for her disorderly conduct.44 One week on 21 April and after her recapture and return to the school, Lucy went to Muswellbrook for MADDEN's trial. Lucy’s admission to Newcastle in 1868 and her recent escape were used by the defence as evidence against her.45 The fact that she had not reported the rape until the day after it had occurred and then to a ‘fellow servant’ and not to her mistress, was also used against her. JOSEPHSON’s decision to return her to Newcastle after the assault was further evidence that did not help her trial. A doctor called as a witness stated that Lucy wasn’t a virgin as she had claimed and that she showed no bruises or ‘marks of resistance'. MADDEN and his witness maintained that Lucy had gone with him willingly and had not screamed. Although the judge stated that:46

… it was not because a female had been or was a bad character that she was to be ravished by anyone who chose to do so; still at the same time the character of the person making a charge of such a nature was not to be altogether left out of consideration. He referred in very strong terms to the low estimation in which the female sex is looked upon by a certain class of men, who appear to regard women as created only for the gratification of their animal passions … but unless the prosecutrix had objected to what the prisoner did to her, and plainly showed to him that she objected, he could not be found guilty.

MADDEN had pleaded not guilty to the capital offence of rape, was subsequently acquitted and Lucy was returned to the school in Newcastle shortly before the transfer to Cockatoo Island.

Lucy transferred with the school to Biloela in May 1871 and was listed in the transfer records for the industrial school and not the reformatory, so after the Muswellbrook trial she was almost certainly returned there. On the 21 November 1871,47 LUCAS requested and gained approval to apprentice Lucy to Captain GIBSON, the pilot at the Sydney Heads, for one year at a wage of two shillings a week with a further provision for clothing. LUCAS noted that Lucy was conducting herself well and no record of her name has been found amongst the Biloela rioters of September. This apprenticeship to GIBSON didn't last and Lucy may have been returned to Biloela but the records for this period are in the section of the Entrance Book that has not survived. Permission was gained for another apprenticeship to Mr George P. EASTMAN of Balmain on the 5 March 1872 but records do not report that this apprenticeship took place as on the 23 April a request was made and approved for Lucy's apprenticeship for one year at two shillings a week to Percy SCARR48 of Wagga Wagga.

Both Lucy, recorded as ATKIN, and Jane WHITE (2) were apprenticed to Percy SCARR as both girls appeared in Wagga Wagga Court on Friday, 31 May 1872, within a month of their arrival, charged with absconding from their indentures. The pair was discharged from custody on the condition that they return to SCARR's service.49 In June 1872, shortly after her return, Lucy's apprenticeship was cancelled by the Wagga Wagga Bench, as Lucy had signed the consent for this to occur.50 Lucy and Joe COEY,51 a greengrocer, were married by Edwin H. TOMPSON on 30 July 1872, at the Office of the District Registrar in Wagga Wagga. Places of birth, the names of their parents and their ages were not recorded on the registration. The witnesses were Mary SISSANS and William H. WILSON. The birth registration for a daughter, Mary, where Joe was almost certainly referred to as Chu, suggested that he too was Chinese or of Chinese descent.52 Only three children were recorded for the couple on th NSW BDM Index.

In August 1872 in Wagga Lucy charged Sam, a Chinese man, with abusive language.53 She was listed to appear for insolvency in Wagga Wagga Court on 13 July 1875,54 but no further information about this case has yet been located. Recorded variously as Lucy Choo, Chew or Chu COOEY she took Mary CROSS to court for assault in September 187955 and in March 1880, Lucy's husband CHEW COOEY, was advertising that he would not be responsible for her debts as she had left their home.


Chew COOEY's Advertisment [1880]
Image courtesy of Trove - Digitalized Newspapers
Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW : 1875 - 1910)56

After this date Lucy commenced a relationship with another Chinese immigrant, Charley or Charles ON WON and this relationship has been confirmed in online trees. Nothing is known of Charles On WON. An image of Lucy and her children with Charley ON WON may be viewed in the photo contained in the website, Tracking the Dragon: A History of the Chinese in the Riverina.57 Online trees confirm their relationship and have identified many births and deaths of Lucy's children that do not appear in the NSW BDM Index. Lucy was assaulted by Frederick OHLSEN in Wagga in April 1882.58 It is unlikely that Lucy reconciled with her first husband, Chew, and uncertain what happened to Charley as in 1892 Lucy delivered an illegitimate son, David, and by 1895 it may be that she and Chew had reconciled as Lucy's last child, Robert, was registered with these parents.

Lucy eventually moved to Bathurst and died there in 1921.59 Her parents were recorded on her death registration as Ah KIM and Lucy.


Lucy was of mixed race. The Entrance Book only named Lucy's mother, Sarah, and recorded that her father was dead.60 This statement had almost certainly been provided by Lucy and was false. Le AH KIN had been ordered to financially support Lucy while she was in Newcastle and in 1871 a receipt for money that he had paid and which was received from Braidwood Police on 11 January 1872, was retained by the government and subsequently was stored in the CSIL. It is thought that Lucy was angry with her father and refused to identify him when this information was collected in Newcastle. Le's receipt is reproduced below with the permission of SRNSW.61


Receipt from Le AH KIN [1871]
Source: Courtesy of State Records NSW: SRNSW: CSIL: 72/285 [1/2161]

There is little doubt that Lucy's baptism occurred in 1855 in the Canberra area62 of NSW under the name Lucy AICHIN. Her parents were identified on the NSW BDM Index as Lee and Sarah. Lucy's baptism cannot easily be read and an online tree for Lucy has identified that she had been born in Bell's Paddock, Braidwood, on 1 October 1855.

Although their father's given name and surname were variously recorded, registrations for Lucy's siblings confirmed that she was the daughter of the Chinese immigrant, Lee aka Le aka John AH KIN, and his wife, the Englishwoman Sarah RATCLIFF. As Lee ATCIN and Sarah RATCLIFF they had married in the Presbyterian Church in Yass on 10 June 1852. Lee and Sarah were both from Bedullack, NSW. The witnesses were Elizabeth ENTWISTLE of Yass and Mary DEREPAS of Duro.63 The birth registration for Lucy's sister, Maria, identified that she had been born at Strike-a-Light Flat, Braidwood, but also that her mother's maiden name was Sarah LAIDLEY.64 Maria's birth confirmed that the couple had three girls and one boy who were alive in 1862 and the record further confirmed that Lee and Sarah had married in Yass, NSW, in 1851. One of these two differing records is incorrect and it is believed that the surname recorded and the age provided on Maria's birth registration in 1862 where Le was the informant was in error, perhaps due to his accent.

Sarah had been born in Manchester, England. Her questionable year of birth was reported on Maria's birth registration to be about 1824. It is very likely that Sarah had arrived in NSW at the age of four with her parents, Joseph and Susannah RADCLIFF, and her brother, Crispian, aboard the Champion in 1840. The family was from Oldham, a part of Greater Manchester, England. This potential arrival suggests that Sarah's age at death was more correct and that she was about 16 when she married. Because the family arrived in Australia in 1840 they will not appear on the 1841 English Census. Sarah died of the effects of alcoholic poisoning producing syncope of the heart at Hill End, north of Bathurst, on 30 October 1894. She was attributed the alias BROWNING by the coroner65 suggesting a new relationship. At the time of her death her year of birth was recorded as about 1833.

Lee aka John was from Canton, China, and had been born in about 1825. He was recorded as a gold-digger at the time of Maria's birth. As Le, his death was probably registered at Wagga Wagga four years after four years after the death of his wife, Sarah, at Hill End. The different death locations, if the correct deaths have been identified as no registrations have been viewed, suggest that by the 1890s, Le and Sarah were not living together. It is interesting that eventually Lucy also moved to Bathurst.

It is considered likely that the Sarah AH KIM,66 who appeared in the Wagga Wagga court with Ellen SEYMOUR on 20 October 1888, charged with keeping a disorderly house is connected. She was sent to Albury Gaol for six months and was released on 19 April 1889. The Albury Gaol records indicated that she was a native of the colony but had been born in Beechworth, Victoria, in about 1856.67 It may be that she was Lucy's sister, Sarah, who had been born in 1858.

Updated May 2018

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