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Tong, Kay Sing (Willie) (1903 - )


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    Tong family, c. 21 June 1912, by Yeomans, 116 Bourke St, Melbourne, courtesy of S. Millard (private hands).

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Tong, Kay Sing (also used)
  • Tong, Willie (also used)


Kay Sing Tong’s parents and siblings were living in Lacey Place, off Little Bourke Street in Melbourne when he was born in 1903. After the death of his father in 1912 he went with his mother and siblings to live in China (possibly Hong Kong). His father left Kay Sing with his entire personal estate, £598 and 16 shillings on his death. Kay Sing was married in China when he was sixteen, just prior to his first return trip to Australia in 1920. Immigration records show he made at least two further trips to China, in 1921 and 1925.

On his return to Melbourne he worked as a store assistant at 186 Little Bourke Street, Chin Wah Moon’s firm. Chin Wah Moon was his guardian after his father died. He was a merchant and herbalist associated with the Sun Wah Chong firm at 183-185 Little Bourke Street and later 184-186 Little Bourke Street. Kay Sing followed in the footsteps of his guardian and also became a herbalist. He travelled frequently to country towns like Kynton and other smaller cities and had non-Chinese as well as Chinese patients. He eventually established a permanent practice in Exhibition Street which was pulled down when St Vincent’s Hospital expanded. He moved to premises in Elsternwick and practiced there until his death.

Marjorie Law, Kay Sing’s neice, always knew him by his Chinese rather than English name. She recalls him making many trips between China and Australia but spending most of his time in Australia. His wife remained in China where she brought up their children and was not able to come out to Australia until she was in her fifties or early sixties.

Kay Sing’s eldest daughter married and moved to Mexico City. His son, Chun Wing, lived in Broome and worked as a pearl diver before moving to Melbourne where he ran Foon Kee’s in the 1960s until his death. Chun Wing had two sons, one of whom ran a number of Chinese restaurants in Melbourne and the other moved to live in Hong Kong.

Sources used to compile this entry: NAA(Vic), B13/0, 1920/13667; 1922/9836; 1925/13404; 1922/10446; Oral history interview with Marjorie Law, 24 August 1999; Sands and McDougall Streets Directories various years.

Prepared by: Sophie Couchman, La Trobe University


Tong family
c. 21 June 1912
Australia - Victoria - Melbourne