Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Story of Ah Sue: a Chinaman of Carnamah and Arrino

This is an unexpected and sad story of imprisonment, execution, visions and suicide.

Back in April 2012 we found this small piece in The Western Mail newspaper of 1 June 1889. We were most excited as it made mention of a Chinese man named Ah Sue who was living in Carnamah. It provided proof to a claim made in 1936 that the Macpherson and Nairn families had employed Chinese labourers on their Carnamah and Noolooloo pastoral stations.



The following excerpt comes from the Western Australia Police Gazette of 10 April 1889. It reveals that Ah Sue was living in a hut in Carnamah and had a number of items stolen in March 1889. The thief was suspected to be an Aboriginal girl named Nellie.



Ah Sue later left Carnamah, where he'd worked for the Macpherson family, and secured employment with Cecil V. Foss as a shepherd on Arrino Station in Arrino. One day he fired a shot at his co-worker John Connelly after Connelly had kicked his dog. The courts found him guilty of shooting with intent to maim and he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.



While serving his term at Fremantle Prison four Chinese men were sentenced to be executed. They were Yang Turk, Lin Chi Chew, Chow Yang and See Nigee. Their lives ended on the morning of 29 April 1892. They received no spiritual counsel as they were followers of Confucius and there was no one suitably knowledgeable to speak to them. The four men offered no resistance and were of a very stoic demenour on the day. This was attributed to their Confucius beliefs, in which one accepts his fate as predestined.

Following the execution of his four countrymen Ah Sue suffered visions and hallucinations. In the end he could handle them no more. He was locked in his cell for the night on 20 January 1893 and the following morning he was found dead, having taken his own life. The following report comes from The Daily News of 23 January 1893.

2 comments:

Red Nomad OZ said...

What a sad story! But a fascinating historic snapshot of life in earlier times. I hope we're not destined to repeat the mistakes of the past ...

I hope to have a post to you soon (if you're still interested), and also to be able to scan Mum's photos over the year end.

Andrew S. Bowman said...

I know, it's quite tragic on multiple levels!

Yes we're still extremely interested. We look forward to your blog post and the photos :)