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Gam, Thomas (1833 - 1906)

23 July 1833
Amoy (Xiamen), China
10 April 1906
Wyong, New South Wales, Australia


The first official record found of Thomas Gam was his marriage to Barbara Lechleiter on 11 February 1863 at the Church of St Luke's, Dapto, New South Wales. The marriage registration has Thomas recorded as Thomas Gammy and Barbara Leslaker.

It is obvious that Thomas Gam was not his original name but either an Anglicised version of his Chinese name or just a name taken. It was quite common for Chinese men to be called 'Tommy'. Is this how he got his name?

They had fourteen children - eight sons and six daughters. Amazingly, all fourteen children reached adulthood. The first nine children's births were registered at Wollongong, New South Wales between 1863 and 1877 and the remaining five children's births were registered at Wyong Creek between 1878 and 1887.

No record of his emigration to Australia has been located. Some family members believe that Thomas came to Australia through Robe in South Australia. However this has not been confirmed despite research undertaken.

Thomas Gam received his Certificate of Naturalisation on 6 March 1872. His certificate described him as 'Tom Gam', born 'near Femoy, China' which probably refers to Amoy in southern China. He arrived in Australia in 1857. At the time he was naturalised he was 37 years old and a resident of Avondale, Dapto, New South Wales. It is believed he applied for naturalisation so that he could purchase land.

At some stage, he purchased land at Wyong Creek, New South Wales, and that the family moved there in either 1877 or 1878 as their tenth child was born there in 1878.

A booklet published to celebrate 100 years of the Wyong Public School discusses the important role Thomas Gam played in the establishment of the first school in Wyong Creek. He offered the use of a house on his selection for the school at a peppercorn rent for a number of years. In January 1889 he and another man helped rescue the school building from fire. Despite his role in the establishment of the school, his wife, Barbara's suggestion that their two grown up daughters be used to teach the girls of the school sewing was opposed, in part because they were of Chinese ancestry.

Thomas Gam was obviously a community-minded person who did a lot for the area in which he lived.

No photographs of Thomas Gam have been located.

Sources used to compile this entry: Wyong Creek Public School 1883-1983, Wyong Creek Public School Centenary Committee, Wyong Creek, New South Wales, 1983, 2-5, 10; New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages.
New South Wales Certificate of Naturalisation.

Prepared by: Helene Shepherd, independent family researcher

Published Resources

See also

  • Wyong Creek Public School 1883-1983, Wyong Creek Public School Centenary Committee, Wyong Creek, New South Wales, 1983, 2-5, 10. Details