Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Ten, George Soo Hoo (1848–1934)

by Ruth Teale

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

George Soo Hoo Ten (1848-1934), Anglican missionary to the Chinese, left his birthplace Hoiping, Kwangtung, China, aged about 17, for San Francisco where he learned English and was converted to Christianity by a Baptist minister. In 1876 he was a tea merchant in Sydney, and in July 1879 first went among the market gardeners of Botany and Waterloo as a catechist sponsored by the Sydney Diocesan Corresponding Committee of the Australasian Board of Missions.

Despite ridicule and open opposition from many Chinese, especially gamblers and opium dealers, and bitter anti-Chinese feeling among some Europeans, Ten began Sunday afternoon services at Botany and the St Andrew's Cathedral schoolroom, as well as week-night classes in English. His first six converts were baptized in June 1882. In February 1884 he preached to the Chinese at Bathurst, and later in Sydney formed 'a Chinese YMCA' which met monthly 'for fellowship and special instruction'. In January 1885 his annual stipend was increased from £75 to £125 with house rent. On 20 December he was made deacon and licensed as 'missionary to the Chinese and to officiate at Christ Church, Botany', whose foundation stone had been laid in June.

Ten conducted missions in Brisbane in October 1887, in Melbourne in July 1888 and in Parramatta in May 1891. In February 1889 his stipend was doubled and by 1890 he was conducting 38 services a week at Botany, Waterloo, Cook's River, Canterbury, North Willoughby and at St Andrew's and St Philip's schoolrooms in the city, as well as training Chinese catechists. After 1894 he helped raise funds for land, a church and mission hall in Wexford Street, an area that was a centre of prostitution and gambling in Sydney; and in March 1898 St Luke's Church was opened there. On 24 June he was priested, his annual salary rose to £300 and he confined his ministry to the inner city; at the same time control of the mission passed to the New South Wales Church Missionary Association. By 1912 he appears to have retired to Homebush. On 24 September 1934, aged 86, he died of cancer in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, survived by a daughter and predeceased by his wife Elizabeth, née Lett, a dressmaker, whom he had married in Sydney on 25 April 1889. His estate was valued for probate at £4882.

Select Bibliography

  • Australasian Missionary News, Jan 1889
  • Church Missionary Assn of New South Wales, Annual Report, 1903-04, 1912, and Diocese of Sydney, Official register, and Diocesan Corresponding Committee, Australasian Board of Missions, Votes and Proceedings, Synod (Sydney Diocesan Registry).

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Ten, George Soo Hoo (1848–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ten-george-soo-hoo-4699/text7785, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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