Tan­gled take on tale about (four) old wives

Kyabram Free Press - - NEWS -

NO-ONE in town dare com­pare their fam­ily tree to Les­ley Lowe’s; you could be there hours, no days.

Les­ley’s great-grand­fa­ther, Kwong Sue Duk, was one of only two men in Aus­tralia to legally have four wives. Yes, four. The well-renowned Chi­nese herbal­ist came dur­ing the gold rush be­fore head­ing to Amer­ica and then back to Can­ton, be­fore com­ing back to Aus­tralia.

He went back to Can­ton twice, each time bring­ing back an­other wife and set­tling them in Aus­tralia where they all lived to­gether be­fore the law changed to not al­low mul­ti­ple wives.

You’d hate to think what the break­fast ta­ble looked like af­ter his 24 chil­dren had fin­ished with it. Two of his chil­dren died, how­ever the fam­ily had come to love hav­ing the 24, and so adopted an­other two.

“If you look at the record, a lot of the chil­dren (from dif­fer­ent moth­ers) are the same age too,” Les­ley laughed.

Les­ley’s grand­fa­ther, also Les­lie, had nine chil­dren, one of whom was Blue­bell Kwong: she mar­ried Pe­ter Cheong and they had six chil­dren, in­clud­ing Les­ley, all in Aus­tralia.

Les­ley then mar­ried Stu­art Lowe and they had three chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren.

The de­scen­dants of Kwong Sue Duk have fam­ily re­unions ev­ery two years.

To en­sure they have some idea of who’s de­scended from whom, they wear coloured badges cor­re­spond­ing to the dif­fer­ent wives.

“Hun­dreds of peo­ple come ev­ery two years and we get the fam­ily tree (pic­tured) reprinted. It gets big­ger and big­ger ev­ery year,” Les­ley said.

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