Tangled take on tale about (four) old wives
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.