Born: c1815, Amoy, China
Died: 1 December 1902, Tingha NSW Australia.
Married: Esther Rose McClure
William Tootong travelled from China to Australia, possibly during the 1850s gold rushes. He worked as a miner in Rocky River, NSW. In 1861 he is recorded as living in Bundarra. Later settling in Tingha around mid-1870 where he married Irish-born Hester Fuller (nee McClure).
Tootong may well have continued to mine tin well into later life – I discovered this reference to Tue Tong and party in a Mines and Miners article in the Worker (Wagga, NSW Sat 13 July 1901 … Ah Lui and Party and Tue Tong and party, working small reefs in the Butchart Gully, are also doing fairly well. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/145905067/16542267
William Tootong also used the English surname of Williamson and is often recorded as Too Tong Williamson or Too Tong Tootong.
It’s possible Tootong was married once before Esther to Jane Anna Jones, there is a reference on BDM – Spouse Name: Hon Hong Williamson, Marriage Date: 1860, Marriage Place: New South Wales, Registration Place: Armidale, New South Wales, Registration Number: 1183
Hester Fuller (nee McClure) had travelled to Tingha sometime in the mid-1870s accompanying her was her child Mary Ann, Mary’s father is English born William Fuller, it’s not known if was married to Esther.
By 1878 William Tootong and Esther were married or living together and proceeded to have five children they include Ellen (Hyde) (1878- ), Francis William (1881-), Thomas Joseph (1883-), Sarah Jane (Kee) (1887-), Sidney (1889-). The children took the name Tootong and later Williamson.
Both William and Esther Tootong Williamson are buried in the Tingha cemetery as are two of their daughters, Ellen Hyde and Sarah Kee.
I was recently sent this photocopy of Too Tong by another descendant, I’m intrigued to find it’s source so please let me know if you have any information on this image.
There are a few references to William Tootong on Trove, which I’ve listed below — my thoughts regarding the charges and general treatment of the Chinese — the charges seem somewhat trumped-up and while they don’t necessarily portray his character in the best possible light they do provide an insight into what I imagine many Chinese experienced in everyday early colonial life, and their acceptance (or not) into the community. I’m still looking for the conclusion to the rape charge, he would have been acquitted, as he continued to father children with Hester. (please feel free to send me the Trove link if you can find it)
Trove references for William Tootong:
NSW Reports of Crime Thursday 22 Nov 1860 – Bundarrah
The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser: Sat 2 Mar 1861
William Tootong is accused of wounding a cow, and is apprehended on a warrant in Armidale for a number of days due to the absence of a witness, Tootong is described as a Christianised Chinaman. he pleaded not guilty.
The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser: Saturday Saturday 9 March 1861. read the full article on Trove – Armidale Express 1861
The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser: Saturday 6 July 1861
Tootong is acquitted of the charge of wounding his neighbour’s cow. what’s interesting to read about in this report is the living conditions within the hut. Read the article on Trove -The Armidale Express