Hong Kong Chinese sent to Australia as convicts | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chinese sent to Australia as convicts

Hong Kong Chinese sent to Australia as convicts

I was wondering if there is much known about Hong Kong Chinese who were sent to Australia as convicts? I am currently taking a course through Oxford Online on the British Empire and I came across a small mention in one of the course readings, from the Australian Government website, that Hong Kong Chinese were sent to Australia as convicts. I also wondered too if any British citizens in Hong Kong were also sent to Australia as convicts?

"While the vast majority of the convicts to Australia were English and Welsh (70%), Irish (24%) or Scottish (5%), the convict population had a multicultural flavour. Some convicts had been sent from various British outposts such as India and Canada. There were also Maoris from New Zealand, Chinese from Hong Kong and slaves from the Caribbean." - 'Convicts and the British colonies in Australia' from the Australian Government website

Here is the link to the article  -



For those interested in the history of convict Chinese ... I have come across this blog post from a Chinese Australian history website, which I have linked just below.


"Convict wives, Chinese husbands (Tasmania)

From the Hobart Town Police Report of Monday, 15 January 1838:

Caroline Sye complained of her husband, a Chinaman, for ill-usage, which she failed to prove; and as she insisted she would not live with him, she was allowed to retire to the factory on probation, and on receiving a good report to be favored with a country residence.

(Published in the Colonial Times (Hobart), 23 January 1838, p. 8.)

In Sojourners (p.33), Eric Rolls tells of another convict woman, Hannah Howard, who was released into the care of a Chinese man, Ahong (who was also a convict but had been granted his ticket of leave), after their marriage in 1851 in Launceston. Her ticket of leave was granted soon after.

What a very curious place colonial Australia was."


I have come across a mutiny called the 'Cyprus mutiny' from 1829, where convicts took control of the ship Cyprus in Tasmania and sailed the ship to Canton and then onto Japan. A very interesting read if anyone is interested.



I have found some information on Hong Kong Chinese sent to Singapore as convicts in the 1840s...

From the book, Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt:

"In January 1848, one event in particular drew attention to the convict drama. A British passenger vessel, the General Wood, had sailed from Hong Kong to Singapore with ninety-three Chinese convicts on board, and then, within sight of their destination, the convicts rebelled. The ship was seized by the prisoners, and they killed the captain. The European passengers were held hostage, and the ship set course for China. The freedom of the rebels was brief, for the ship ran aground. They were recaptured and sent back to Singapore, and again put on trial.

Yet the scandal was sufficient to oil the wheels of protest, both in Singapore and in London. The transport of Chinese convicts was stopped in 1856..."  p386 Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt


I had a chance to ask Chris Munn about this today - he knows a lot about Hong Kong's police, courts, and prisons. Chris says there was a small group of 10 prisoners (6 Chinese, 1 European, 3 other) transported from Hong Kong to Van Diemen's Land (modern Tasmania) in 1844. That was the only time transportees from Hong Kong went to Australia, but transportation from HK to other destinations continued until 1858.

When it stopped, the local prison was soon overcrowded, which led to the use of a hulk as a prison ship, the construction of the prison on Stonecutters Island, and eventually the new "radial" prison buildings at Victoria Gaol.

Chris finished by saying he'd written an article about this topic, and that it's available online at: https://www.erudit.org/fr/revues/jcha/1997-v8-n1-jcha1004/031119ar/

Thank you for the reply and link and also asking Chris Munn about the topic. Much apreciated!