Genealogical Analysis of Lee’s Clan in the Establishment of

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Research Article - (2017) Volume 5, Issue 4

Genealogical Analysis of Lee’s Clan in the Establishment of the Wo Hang Village in the Eighteenth Century

Hung Chung Fun Steven*
Department of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Institute of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China
*Corresponding Author: Hung Chung Fun Steven, Department of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Institute of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China, Tel: +852 2948 8888 Email:


The study explores an unusual village in the region of Hong Kong; the Wo Hang village of Sha Tau Kok. The formation and establishment of the Lee clan was in the early stage of the Ching Dynasty after the evacuation of coastal areas. While the study and explanation of the settlement and development of this village is not right, it ensures Chinese traditional social culture and its political economy in modern China of the south Chinese regions are correctly described and understood. In addition, the presentation and analysis of communities in Chinese social history and how they form and search for their ethnic interests cannot correctly and precisely be interpreted. This paper initiates from critical genealogical knowledge to de-construct the traditional Chinese discourse and the orthodoxly description of ethnic communal interest. It gives a correct and original explanation through the reconstruction of the social ethnographical practice of Chinese society, while providing the correct clarification for contemporary Chinese history and an appropriate explanation of confucian capitalism.

Keywords: Hong Kong; Dragon; Boat; Races


The recent marriage news of Myolie Wu1 and Philip Lee triggered the happiness of the Wo Hang villagers again. There was a rhyming couplet pasted in front of the Lee clan’s ancestral hall, expressed in Chinese as: 龍到鳯臺跨鳯閣,鳯生龍子躍龍門 (It is translated as Dragon arrives at Phoenix Pavilions crossing over Phoenix Court; Phoenix gives birth to Dragon son jumping over Dragon Gate.) This rhyming couplet was a demonstration of the importance of Chinese custom for those sons of the clan and the success of extending generations of the Chinese patriarchal society. Philip Lee Shing-tak is a Chinese returning to Wo Hang from overseas (Britain). He is a son of the eleventh generation at Wo Hang. Their marriage ceremony included some Chinese traditional customs and rituals on 28 December 2015.

Important roles had been played by the Lee clan of Wo Hang for the development of the Sha Tau Kok region in the nineteenth century, where a prosperous market was established which prolonged for almost two hundred years intermittently until today. The special characteristics and extraordinary development of the village attracted the attention of many studies [1,2]. Prior to this, researchers studied the history of the establishment of the village Wo Hang, which took place approximately one hundred years previous. However, the explanation of Lee’s family settlement was misled in some contexts and thus, requires clarification. As the analysis of the true story of their settlement is as yet not completely understood, further elaboration is necessary.

The historical description of the Lee linkage to Wo Hang was incorrect. They were a community of people smaller than a town. After their establishment and settlement, the Lee family took a leading role in the regional affairs and in resisting against the regional great clan’s domination of local political-economy. The resistance was crucial to the historical stage. The act of fabricating the Tung Wo Hui (Bazaar or market) was an important stage of Chinese history. While organization, alliance and the regional military strength and armed force were the principal factors for the establishment of an independent market. It can be explained by means of the Chinese way where power dominates capitalism. More “San Huis” (new markets) were then witnessed as they were established in the surrounding regions.

Of course, history is of infinite realities with finite minds. Our limited knowledge cannot completely aid in the knowledge of the real historical background and contents of the development of Wo Hang Village. Through re-construction historical oversights of the settlement and establishment of the Lee clan in Wo Hang can be supplemented. ‘Thus, this paper seeks to explain more accurately their family’s settlement in the eighteenth century’. This in turn could help in the understanding of their establishment of the Tung Wo Market in the regions since then. More details of the Lee clan’s foundation and establishment should be further elaborated. In fact, material or information on the Lee clan’s early settlement is extraordinarily limited. We can only trace their livelihoods by such limited sources of historical material. The study is helpful in understanding their clan’s forthcoming future in the establishment of the Ten Alliance (Chap York) against the Cheung’s domination, the establishment and maintenance of the Sha Tau Kok Market and avoiding over development of (todays) small housing of the Wo Hang Village.

Misinterpretations of the History of the Early Development of Wo Hang

The history of settlement of the Wo Hang Lee clan was related to the contemporary changes of the southern Chinese history. The social migration and development of many Chinese clans in the history of contemporary China must be correctly recognized. Furthermore, the settlement of the Lee clan in Wo Hang signified the modus vivendi of Chinese ethnicity in pursuing their way of life in the recent suffering recorded in history. The family members were the Hakkas. Moreover, many writers and researchers found interests in studies of the Wo Hang village and the Sha Tau Kok region [1-3] which were related to the circumstances surrounding a miscarriage of genealogies. The study intends to find facts for further clarification of these mis descriptions and misunderstandings. This paper, at least, aims to clarify the contents of the Lee family’s settlement at Wo Hang in the first hundred years. This is crucial as clarification can reconstruct the understanding of Chinese migration, settlement and engagement through contemporary Chinese history.

For example, the following was a paragraph cited from the Hong Kong Government website2: Lee clan in Sheung Wo Hang [4] Tsuen in Sha Tau Kok has their origin at Shanghang county in Fujian with Lee Huo-tak as the first ancestor. According to the “Genealogy of Lee Clan in Sheung Wo Hang Tsuen”, Lee Huo-tak was the descendant of the royal family of the Tang Dynasty who was born in the 18th year of Lizong reign (1242) of the Southern Sung Dynasty. He migrated to Xibeicun, Fenglanggang at Shanghang county in Fujian province from the north. When Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty abolished the “Chin Gai Ling” (coastal evacuation decree - early Qing government ordered coastal inhabitants to move 50 miles inland to forbid their contact with anti-Qing person), numerous Hakka clans migrated to that area in groups. Most of them were families of Lee, Ho, Tang and Tsang while the development of Lee’s family surpassed the rest of them. The founding ancestor of the Lee clan in Sheung Wo Hang was Lee Tak-wah who originally resided in Buolo county. According to the family history, he brought his parents’ bones together with the clansmen to resettle in Sheung Wo Hang Tsuen in Sha Tau Kok in 1688. “Wo Hang” literally means a valley with abundant harvest of rice. Villages in Sheung Wo Hang Tsuen were living on farming.

Essentially speaking, this paragraph is only slightly correct. That is, many historic descriptions cannot be correctly expressed. In addition to these inhabitants, were the Five Great Clans who originally existed in the New Territories. This was another general understanding of the contemporary development of the New Territories by the Hakka’s immigration in history. However, the information of the settlement of the Lee Clan in Wo Hang which was provided by the Antiquities and Monuments Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department did not match with the facts of the Hakka settlement in the present known area of the New Territories of the Hong Kong region. Moreover, the settlement of the Lee clan in Wo Hang was mistakenly described by many Chinese scholars or writers who relayed incorrect stories of the settlement and development of Wo Hang [3]. More details of evidence known to be correct are required to clarify these issues in order to develop genuine and appropriate explanations of the initial settlement of the Lee family. The paper intends to re-construct the historical reality, thereby making the unknown known and in doing so clarifying mistakes and correcting them.

At first, the surrounding areas of the new Territories were not clearly interpreted by the western academics as the real pictures of the Clearances were not correctly described. The paper intends to more clearly define this which will help to clarify the origination and identification of the Lee family at the Wo Hang Village. The western scholars did not describe this explanation in the context of the family’s ethnic relation to the different clans in the local Hong Kong regions. The studies reported were generally carried out by anthologists using some historical material. The Lee clan had two genealogies, but these were seldom correctly mentioned in their studies. The genealogies recorded the origination of the Lee clan and the recent development of the Wo Hang Village and the neighboring relations. They could project the geopolitical situation of the local management and the maintenance of the market after 1820. These events were distinct from the circumstances that made the Wo Hang Village an influential force in the establishment of the Tung Wo Market and the management and development of the Sha Tau Kok region after the eighteenth century.

Method of Study and the Genealogical Related Matters

Before going over the historical understanding of the Lee Clan at Wo Hang, it is crucial that certain important events are discussed including related methodology. This must be highlighted in order to gain a clear understanding of the Lee clan’s settlement at Wo Hang. It is important that this is related to historical research which must be based on the facts and evidences. History cannot be relayed through imagination, but it can be done through explanation. Genealogical research and the research of genealogy is central to this. Genealogical research is identifying evidence when telling a true story of family genealogy. In addition, genealogical research intends to compare and analyze the collections and corrections of family genealogy. Both are important in the process of tracing out the facts from historical documents. It is of course paramount that such fats are also confirmed. It is necessary to clarify the historian’s point of view ensuring individuals gain a good understanding, while also attempting the appropriate explanation of the settlement of the family in contemporary Chinese history. It is especially important in taking care of Chinese genealogies. Or it is said that it is the genealogy of the Chinese genealogy. How such Chinese genealogy is produced must also be clarified. For simplicity, it should be noted that some genealogies are real whereas, others are fake stories told to the clan. Though some contents of these genealogies are questionable, they do however still provide us with very important information about the history. This certainly applies to the study of Wo Hang.

Essentially speaking, the proliferation of written genealogies that began recently was a relevant prerequisite for the emergence of largescale lineage villages no more than 300 years ago. However, the Lee clan had expressed that their genealogy had been revised as early as the time of the Song dynasty in the eleventh century. The genealogy was a significant factor in the cultural constitution of the Wo Hang village that had apparently appropriated agnatic principles and organization as a constituent part of the lineage-village. The exposition was the objective social history of Wo Hang as a typical rural village. The most unambiguous account of the history of Wo Hang should be from the genealogies but the reality is not necessarily so. Regarding the settlement and development of the Wo Hang village, many scholars or writers relayed facts that were based on the Lee clan genealogy. However, clear evidence indicates that the Lee Clan genealogy did not actually express the facts relayed. Clearly, many so-called facts of the Lee clan of Wo Hang did not match the evidence given by the Lee Clan genealogy.

As a matter of fact, there were three searchable versions of Wo Hang’s genealogy. One was recorded as edited and hand-written by Li Ting Ying in 18343. The other one was a similar version which was believed to be a pale photocopied version. This copy was altered by one of their descendants who wrote on it in ballpoint pen. Moreover, many words of this version are unclear. The name of Lee Ting Ying could be identified in this genealogy but, unfortunately, his name could not be found from his editing of the genealogy. There was initial editing of the Lee genealogy in 1804 (revised in the ninth year of Emperor Jiaqing) but the editor expressed himself as Lee Ting-O. It is a mistake made by the said editor of who’s existence there is doubt. The Ting was the fifth generational middle name of the Wo Hang Lee clan. The person in doubt is Lee Ting-ying or Lee Ting-o. The mistake may come from the recognition of the Chinese first name. Ying and O are written in Chinese as 英 and 薁 respectively, with their characters similar in their outline shapes particularly in the hand writing generated by use of the Chinese writing brush. The Lee Genealogy illustrated the name of the other editor who was named Lee Kwok-choi. Lee Kwok-choi appeared as supplementary to the Lee Genealogy three times, in 1822, 1834 and 1847. Other chapters of these two similar versions of the genealogies were edited by other branches of the Lee clan and it was not related to the Lee linkage of Wo Hang. A further new genealogy was written by Lee An-lim in 19784.

It should be noted that a lot of the information on the Lee clan’s settlement is important. Unfortunately, some of the material provided is not reliable. Many records of the Lee clan are still questionable. Moreover, some pages of the genealogies are hardly readable, especially on the pages of the Lee’s family at Wo Hang. Basically speaking, the fifth generation of the Lee clan could still be traced with some missing names or uncertainties caused by having to read fuzzy writing. More crucially, the page of the sixth generation of the genealogical book of the Wo Hang village is almost completely missing. All that remains of it are some remnants of paper fragments. It is because of this that only a few members of the sixth generation were known but many of them could not be identified. Almost no further information was provided by this genealogy after the sixth generation and it was believed that the sixth generation should live in the nineteenth century.

A quite general research problem of issue here is whether the research is researchable. History can only know a tiny part of the actual true history, while this true history is infinite and thus challenging for our limited minds to know it all. Hong Kong studies have similar problems for many areas of history which are not readily available to us. In particular, there were many small villages (hamlets), which include many different versions of history expressing views on Hong Kong and Modern China. Many historians would like to report their findings while also avoiding relaying to us the true history. It is because of this that the reality is not easily or completely identified. They may always impose their opinion on history while not seeking proof of evidence.

This paper outlines and exemplifies the use of a method for analyzing genealogical knowledge. The overall research aim of this genealogical analysis is to produce “a history of the present”. A history which is essentially critical with its focus on locating forms of Chinese knowledge representation, the channels it takes and the discourses it permeates. The research combines various methods involving a selective search for injustice and subjection to reveal plausible alternatives to more pervasively modernist histories, which tend to revere progress. Salient features of a genealogical research method are detailed in the context of an actual research project previously conducted by the authors and reproduced here for the purposes of exemplification explicitly as a genealogy.

Study: Clarifications Of Different Areas Of Wo Hang Development

Explanation of the evacuation order and related matters

First of all, more contents about the ‘Coastal Evacuation Order’ must be notified. Otherwise, the history of this Hakka’s migration may be misinterpreted. Scholars could generally explain the evacuation order issued by the Qing government, but they could not give more details of the aftermath. Of course, the contents and contexts of the order were quite complicated and hardly understandable in the context of Chinese history. So their details might not be truly understood. Without a clear understanding of the ‘Great Clearance’ things may easily be misunderstood. The reason for the implementation of the ‘Coastal Evacuation Order’ was the dangers from pirates and the necessity of protecting the population of Taiwan’s Cheng Shing-kung against the Qing government. However, this evacuation movement only increased piracy.

It occurred to the Manchus that the way to avert the danger was to move the entire population of the China coastland inland and to fortify the coast more completely. As a matter of fact, after taking the office of the Kangxi Emperor (4 May 1654 – 20 December 1722, to rule over China from 1661 to 1722) of Qing, the goal was to fight the anti-Qing movement based in Taiwan. In brief, the reason for this was that as the Manchu government was not able to muster a good enough fleet to defeat the Ming remnants in the 1650s, the policy required the evacuation of the coastal areas of Kwangdong. Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fijian, as well as Shandong were also affected and prevented from using Cheng Shing-kung’s influence on the coastal areas to support his anti-Ching movement. The sea ban was a series of related isolationist policies restricting private maritime trading and coastal settlement. The regions were required to destroy their property and move inland 30-50 Chinese miles (li, 16-26 Km).

The soldiers erected boundary markers and enforced the death penalty on those beyond it. It was influential in the southern region of China as the eastern areas of China had actually implemented such a policy at a much earlier date. Enormous numbers perished and others were forced to go far inland to obtain food during this time. The soldiers had instructions to pull down the houses and build forts and towers with the bricks and stones that remained after removing the population. Many of these mounds of earth and stone may still be visible on the hills. Many were destroyed but the two which I visited were the one in Wong Chuek Kok Tsui (Figure 1) and the other in Tai Sing Shan of Wei Tung (Figure 2). As the evacuation was not effective but only increased piracy, the Qing government noticed the side effects of the ‘Evacuation policy’ but only three years later in 1665 – as reported by Zhou Yau-tal and Wong Loi-yam. That is to say, the evacuation lasted from 1662 to 1669 and the return was allowed in 1669. This was referred to as the rescission of the Coastal Evacuation Order. It allowed people to come back. That is, the order of boundaries restoration was issued in 1669. The prohibition on human settlement of those coastal areas was revised in 1669 and the resettlement was allowed at that time. So to speak, the evacuation lasted from 1662 to 1669.


Figure 1: The mound that exists today was a fort at Wong Cheuk Kok Tsui in the New Territories, built in 1668.


Figure 2: The Tai Sing Shan Fort in Wei Tung (惠東大星山炮台) built in 1718.

Balfour [5] pointed out that the fortifications alluded to here have all disappeared [5] but that was not true. At least two places I had reached and found were the fortifications in Wong Chuek Kok of Hong Kong and Tai Sing Shan of Wei Tung respectively. Hase could express the rescission of the Coastal Evacuation Order [5] in 1668, but he could not give details of this Order in context. The return from the evacuation was allowed partly because it had led to greater disturbance than before and partly because of the loss in taxes [5]. Mostly importantly, the resettlement could not recover the original prosperity. It follows that a new policy of extending boundaries was adopted in order to move more people to live in the coastal areas. This was carried out in 1683 after the suppression of all antagonist forces5. Later, the Qing government met with internal conflicts of the Revolt of the Three Feudatories and with external opposition of the Kingdom of Formosa (Taiwan). These were settled in 1881 and 1883 respectively and the new extension of the boundary order was adopted. It was not until 1683 that the Extension of the Coastal Order encouraged the linkages to open the marginal lands to newcomers. Some Punti villagers were abandoned and later colonized by Hakka. The policy of extending borders was not implemented in one day, but it continued for a very long time, as a matter of fact. Hakkas originated from the northeast of China and they concentrated themselves in the western river valleys at the eastern Kwangtung, the west Fukien and the southern Kongsi. More Hakka people were encouraged to migrate to the boundary regions. However, the process was very slow and extended for a long time. So to speak, the settlement and development of the boundary coastal regions was also a slow moving process. Approximately one hundred years later, the population and the development of the Chinese societies everywhere increased and flourished respectively. More tensions and conflicts occurred among the Chinese societies thereafter.

The Hakka immigration embraced a wide area north and east of the Hong Kong region as well as several islands. Old Punti villages had entirely disappeared in some cases. The land was taken by Hakka who had built their own houses. Hakka had entirely superseded the Punti after a period of time in other regions during which they shared villages. So we have a very famous proverb, which is “the Hakka occupying the land-owning classes”. The evacuation gave the Hakkas the opportunity to take up land in the places that had been abandoned, not yet developed or that had opened up for development.

The Extension of Territory had an effect on anchoring the boundaries which were commonly adopted strategies of the Qing governance. Hence, many Hakka families were encouraged to move to the coastal lines. Thereafter, many Hakka villages were set up at the San on County as they were emigrants from the mainland living at the inner part of mountainous regions where the living conditions were more severe or rigorous. This was an encouragement policy while the areas were still not too extensively utilized. Hakka can mean guest people as they were not natives of the Hong Kong regions and differed from Punti or local people. Moreover, they also did not originate in the mountainous regions, but they settled there for quite a long time only. In conclusion, the number of people who actually immigrated to the Hong Kong region was many. However, their arrival was influential. Based on Lockhart’s Report of the New Territories in October 1898, more than 60,000 people were in the New Territories of which nearly half of the people were the Hakkas in this 200 years history of development [6].

Ancestral identification of the Lee Clan

The genealogical origination of the Lee clan, of course, was related to the Chinese orthodoxly history. At the earliest, it can be tracked down to the stage of three sovereigns and five emperors of myth and legend which was the earliest system of Chinese historiography. So, according to the Lee clan genealogy, the Lee clan’s first ancestor was Gao Tao6 who was born in the latter half of Tang Yao Di. After the thirty-second generation, Lee Si, was the prime minister7 of the Gin dynasty. Following this, at the sixty-fifth generation, Lee Bing was titled as Tang Duke by the West Ngai dynasty. He had six sons who were Yjun, Yuen, Bor, To, Hoi and Long. The first son, Lee Yjun, later became the founder of the Tang Dynasty and the Emperor Gaozu of Tang (8 April 566 – 25 June 635). The fifth son of Lee Bing was Lee Hoi, also of the sixty-sixth generation of the Lee clan. Following him to the eighty-second generation, Lee Chu had five sons. He adopted three words for his sons’ name and used the first name Tak as the eighty-third generational name. Their middle names were made up of five phases of Chinese philosophy8: Kam, Mok, Shui, Fo and To (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth). Lee Fo-tak moved to and established a new site for his family in the Sheung Hong County of the Fukien Province [4]. He thus became the first generation of the Sheung Hong region of the Lee clan. In the contemporary history of southern China, most of the Lee clans likely identified themselves as the descendants of Lee Fo-tak. So, during the New Spring Festivals, many of Lee’s offspring went to Lee’s and his wife’s graves for celebrations at which they set off fire crackers annually (Figures 3 and 4).


Figure 3: The Lee’s Great Ancestral Hall in Fukien Province (23 February 2015).


Figure 4: The tomb of Lee Fotak at Shueng Hong County of the Fukien Province (the photo was taken on 23 Feb 2015).

Wo Hang was settled by a number of Hakka groups. Concerning the Lee clan in Wo Hang, the first and the most crucial point is to clarify which point of origination is identified by the Lee clan at Wo Hang. They follow the date of their arrival at the present region known as Hong Kong where they settled. These concern the establishment of the Wo Hang village at the region currently known as the New Territories area. However, by reading of the genealogies, we find that the genealogy of the Wo Hang Lee clan, as a matter of fact, was revised at least four times. One revision was done by Li Ting-o in 1804. The name of Li Ting-ying cannot be found in this revision of the genealogy. Li Kwok-choi was then found to have revised the Lee clan genealogy three times in 1822, in 1834 and in 1846 respectively. On the other hand, in the study of the Lee clan at Wo Hang, as a side track to the study there is a recognition of the Great Grand Father. This was of great importance to the villagers who were concerned on whether they were of the same Greater Grand Father or not. The classification of them in terms of this is crucial. It is of note that what is read today may differ from two hundred years ago. Thus, the present identification of the Lee clan may differ from their ancestors if they were to make something known of their clan’s present understanding. When Lee Ting-o edited the Lee Genealogy he identified himself as the seventeenth grandson of Lee Min in 1804 and Lee Kowk-choi recognized himself as the eighteenth grandson of Lee Min. Both of them did not (as expected) recognize themselves as the descendants of Lee Fo-tak or Lee Tak-wah. These brought on the question of identification.

Nevertheless, these brought about different identifications of the Lee clan as well and it was seldom notified. For as per clan tradition, they should recognize their Great Grandfather (tai gong, 太公). If they have an identical Great Grandfather, it means that they come from same origin. Lee Kowk-choi revised their genealogy and identified himself as neither the sixth generational descendent of Li Tak-wah nor the twenty-sixth generational son of Lee Fo-tak, but he considered he was the eighteenth generational descendent of Lee Min (Lee Min gong, 李敏公). However, after the sixth generation, one of Lee Fo-tak’s later generations had to migrate to Cheung Lok (zhǎnglè) County of the Kwangtung Province. He was Lee Pa Ba Long (Lǐbǎibāláng) and was named as Man (mǐn) with the style name given as Sau-tak (lifespan virtue, shòudé). It should be pointed out that, according to the revisions of the Lee clan genealogies, Lee Ting-o in 1804 and Lee Kowk-choi in 1834 and in 1847, identified Lee Man as their Great Grandfather only. Lee Ting-o was his seventeenth generation’s grandson and Lee Kwok Choi was his eighteenth generation’s grandson as these were expressed by their revisions of the genealogies. However, the names of Lee Ting-o and Lee Kowk-choi could not be found in the direction of flow of Lee’s genealogies. Thus, who their fathers were was not something that could be recognized.

Migration and Settlement of the Lee Clan at Wo Hang

After ten generations of Lee Man, it was Lee Ying-keen (李應乾) moving and being the founder at Boluo County of the Kwangtung Province. His grandson was Lee Tak-wah and Lee Tak-wah came to Wo Hong of Sha Tau Kok with his son Lee Kuen-lam, being the founder of the Wo Hang Village of Sha Tau Kok. Of course, Lee Tak wah and his son Lee Kuen lam came to the village site near the head of the valley. It is not known whether the name of Wo Hang came before their settlement or not. It is viewed as follows from the website of Hong Kong History and Society9 of the Chinese University of Hong Kong:

Li Kuen-lam was born in the first year of the Shunzhi Emperor of Shizu, the Qing dynasty and died in the sixtieth year of Kangxi Emperor of Shengzu, the Qing dynasty. He established the ancestral shrine, gave birth to Jit-gui, Jit-jong, Jit-fang, and divided into three subsidiaries10. (translated from Chinese, 權林,生於清朝世祖皇帝順治元年,終 於清朝聖祖皇帝康熙六十年。建祠,生捷桂、捷榮、捷芳,分作 三房)

Concerning birth and death of the first two generations of Lee’s family at Wo Hang Village, these facts were expressed as follows:

Tak-wah was born at the tenth year of the Chongzhen Emperor11 of the Ming dynasty and died at the thirty-first year of the Kangxi Emperor12 of Shengzu, the Qing dynasty. He came to Wo Hang Village of Tung Wo Hueng, Bao’an County of Guangdong Province at the end of the Ming Dynasty. (translated from Chinese,德華,生於明朝莊烈 皇帝十年,終於清朝聖祖皇帝康熙三十一年。於明朝末年遷廣東 省寶安縣東和鄉禾坑村)

However, this expression is quite easily questionable. In fact, even without evidences to show their dates of birth, few of them were exceptionally given by the Lee clan’s genealogy. The dates of birth and death of Lee Wah-tak were therefore obviously problematic. As the Lee clan knew Lee Tak-wah had 76 years of age, Lee An-lim stated Lee Takwah’s date of birth was the tenth year of the Chongzhen Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1637, 明朝莊烈皇帝十年) and the date of death was the thirty-first year of the Kangxi Emperor of the Ching dynasty (1693, 清朝聖祖皇帝康熙三十一年). It can, however, be calculated that Lee Tak-wah had only 56 years of age but it was ironically expressed that he had 76 years of age. The son of Lee Tak-wah was Lee Kuen-lam and he was born in 1644. It was physiologically impossible that when Lee Tak-wah was eight years old to have a son born in 1644. It is only in the Lee Genealogy that there is expression of the death of Lee Kuenlam in the sixtieth year of the Kangxi Emperor (1722, 康熙六十年). He was 78 years old and died precisely in 1722. Following on, concerning their dates of birth, material provide by the Lee An-lim’s Genealogy (in 1978) are so questionable that there is no evidence provided by him on the dates of birth of Lee Tak-wah if Lee Kuen-lam’s date of birth was reliable as stated by the Lee Ting-ying’s Genealogy in 1834. That is to say, if Lee An-lim had read the genealogy edited by Lee Ting-o, he could not conclude the date of birth and the date of death of Li Tak-wah. It is impossible that the date of death was prior to his arrival at Wo Hang. The dates of birth and death of Lee Kuen-lam were appropriate for reference. He was born in 1644 and died in 1722. So he was 78 years of age. However, there is no record of his sons’ dates of birth and death. If we believed his arrival in 1698, his sons’ birthdays should be estimated in the very early of the eighteenth century. The dates of birth and death of Lee Tak-wah were questionable and should not be defined.

One such group consisted of Lee Tak-wah and his son Lee Kuenlam, who, according to the old Clan Record, came to the village site near the head of the valley in 1688 [3,7]. Moreover, Hase and Lee stated that they came to Wo Hang in 1688. However, the official document was made by the Antiquities and Monuments Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in 2013. They expressed that Li Tak-wah was the founding ancestor of the Lees of Wo Hang during the 1680s. They could not confirm however the year of their arrival. Moreover, Sin Kwok-kin expressed that Lee Tak-wah moved to Wo Hang in 1698 [8]. Furthermore, regards the date of arrival, Wo Hang was mentioned again by the genealogies and by many writers. The key point is determining when they arrived at Wo Hang Village. This follows from the problem of determining when the Lee family came to Wo Hang.

Furthermore, Lee An-lim expressed the Lee family came to Wo Hang in the Late Ming dynasty. This contradicts what he himself expressed as the date of birth of Lee Kuen lam which he stated was in 1644, the year of the end of the Ming Dynasty. It is therefore most questionable. Hase stated Lee Tak-wah arrived in 1688 and Siu expressed his arrival was in 1698. The settlement of Lee Tak-wah consisted of his wife and their only son, Lee Kuen-lam. The most pivotal evidence about their arrival, as a matter fact, was found from “the Preface of Re-continuous Lee Genealogy” 〈再續李氏族譜序〉, written in the ninth years of the Jiaqing Emperor (1804). He expressed that: Lee family was pleased by the official document in the thirty-seventh year of Emperor Kangxi in 1698. Therefore, Lee Tak-wah brought with him his wife and son to Wo Hang Village of Wong Pui Ling. As they did not return to their homeland, the Clan genealogy could not be identified.

Based on this evidence, Siu pointed out correctly the year during which they came to Wo Hong. Some historical details were not well noted, concentrated and described which were important in the historical context. The contextual understanding of the development and transformation of the village helps to clarify what actually happened in these regions from a historical perspective. The perspective of historical re-constructionism aims to rebuild the real understanding of the history and revise the misunderstanding and the wrong doings. Based on this consideration, we should understand the development of the Ching dynasty after 1683. The policy of extension of the border was initiated and the dynasty started a new era of complete flourishing. The three generations of Kangi, Yongzheng and Qianlong can be called as their golden age of development which the boundaries reached as the land utilization maximized. The sea was roughest towards the south and east, and the country around this part was very rugged and not easily accessible [5]. A drastic rise in the population took place and this was due to the prolonged period of peace and stability in the eighteenth century. There were many isthmuses and shallows. Merchant guilds proliferated in many growing Chinese cities. It was such that, the economic situations reached a historical high in the world, but the scientific knowledge of the western countries met with capitalized contesting challenge in the eighteenth century.

These villages were not established by large numbers of newcomers. Most were settled by a single “founding ancestor” and his nuclear family. Wo Hang was a case in point. This village originally had four indigenous resident families. They were Lee, Ho, Tsang and Tang. The third generation of the Lee clan had three sons at the beginning of the eighteenth century. They were Wing, Kwai and Fong with the adopted generational middle name “Jit”. The settlement and proper development of the Lee family, 3 sons of the third generation in the early eighteenth century, 13 sons of the fourth generation in the middle of the eighteenth century and 41 sons of the fifth generation at the end of the eighteenth century, dominated the village. Moreover, other clans were gradually excluded. It left the village populated with the single clan family and as such, the region now is only occupied by males with the surname Lees.

So, generally speaking, after the establishment of the Wo Hang Village by the Lee’s family, they contributed to the regional development and transformation of the area from a farming area to a marketing and trading place in the nineteenth century. The regional development was remarkable as they successfully pursued their independence from the control of the regional great Punti clans. The regional Bazaar was set up through the alliance of dozens of villages. It was called Tung Wo Hui(東 和墟) and characterized as the Eastern Peace Market of the eighteenth century. The circumstances differed due to other regional conflicts which took place frequently (Figure 5).


Figure 5: The second brother ancestral hall at Ha Wo Hang with a portrait of Lee Fotak and tablets of the third and fourth generations.

Death and burial in the local worship

It follows that, the three perspectives explained above are the priority areas that are important aids in elaborating the settlement and development of the Wo Hang village in the eighteenth century. Lee An-lim pointed out the settlement of Lee Tak-wah as being poor and living in a squatting house. He was well guided by a famous Feng Shiu master, Lee Sam-yau, in finding land on which to build his home at Wo Hang. It is there that he lived (being the founder of Wo Hang) since then. These village were mainly settled by a single founding ancestor and they were nuclear families. The Lee clan had thirteen males in its fourth generation in the middle period of the eighteenth century. It witnessed the success and rapid expansion of the Lee clan members in the eighteenth century (Figure 6).


Figure 6: Reopening of the coffin and recollection of the skeleton of the dead recently at Wo Hang, indicating the reburial as per the Hakka custom.

However, Hase and Lee expressed that Lee Tak-wah brought the bones of his parents with him for reburial at Wo Hang. This being a Hakka custom. It indicated that the Lee clan moved to a new place where they were determined to stay, thus, firmly breaking with his old village [2]. This conclusion is challengeable. It also caused misunderstanding about the settlement of the Lee clan at Wo Hang. The situation was something complicated. To understand orthodoxly and traditional Chinese customs, temples and ancestral halls were the central places of orthodoxly Chinese living communities, where they consecrated ancestral tablets, worshipped ancestors, discussed affairs and entertained. The ancestral shrine established by Lee Kuen-lam was called Lee’s Clan Generational House (Li Shi ShiJu李氏世居). Lee Anlim expressed that after the settlement of Tak-wah, he came back to Shek Tan Wang Lung Tsai of Buolo County and brought Ching-shan couple’s skeleton of the dead. Jit-wing Kung of the third generation and Chui-ching Kung of the fourth generation reburied Ching-shan Kung in the ground at the left-hand side of Ha Wo Hang. (1978, in Chinese, 德華公落居後,乃回博羅縣石坦橫壠仔,將青山公夫婦骸骨帶 來,至三世祖捷榮公,四世祖朝楨公,乃將青山公葬於下禾坑座 勢左便之竜地見。) These two points were contradictory and cannot help the formation of a conclusion.

The grave of Lee Ching-shan can be seen in Figure 7. The tomb of Lee Ching shan was put at the hillsides of Ha Wo Hang, near abandoned farmland. There were traces of worshiped and religious rites that were observed. That is to say, the tomb of Lee Ching-shan still has worshippers. Of course, there was no the place for the burial of a corpse. The tomb of Lee Ching-shan at Wo Hang should be the pivotal record of Lee Ching-shan being the Great Grandfather of the Lee clan at Wo Hang. The key person might be Lee Ting-o. He went back to Buolo in 1804 in search for their ancestral identification and reburied Lee Chingshan in 1805 at Ha Wo Hang. The stone tablet of Lee Ching-shan’s tomb was not clear. Many words were hardly readable as they were eroded. After the father and son of Lee Wah-tak and Lee Kuen-lam’s grave was revamped in the forty-ninth years of the Qianlong Emperor of the Ching dynasty (1784), the tomb of Lee Ching-shan was refurbished in the tenth years of the Jiaqing Emperor (1805). However, the extents of worshipping of Lee Ching-shan could not be comparable to those of the graves Lee Wah-tak and Lee Kuen-lam, the son and grandson of Lee Ching-shan respectively. Lee Ching-shan not being so respectful is foreseeable (Figure 8).


Figure 7: At least five of the grandsons of the fourth generation established this tomb and reburied the tomb of Lee Ching-shan.


Figure 8: Reburial and joint internment of Lee Tak-wah and Lee Kuen-lam at Shek Chung Au in 1784.

Based on the revision of the Lee clan genealogy in the fourteenth years of the Daoguang Emperor in 1834, it was said that the Lee clan settled in Wo Hang village. Within fifty years, more villages were subsequently established. These were Sheung Wo Hang [4], Ha Wo Hang in 1730 and Wo Hang Tai Long in 1750. Lee Kuen-lam was an intellectual and taught at Canton. He had a classroom in Canton and taught there. Therefore, whether the family earned a living merely by farming is not a certainty. Originally, Lee Kuen-lam had three sons, under the generational middle name “Jit”. The first names were Wing, Kwai and Fong. In managing their familial affairs and properties, they established the Sam Jit Tong (ancestral hall of three Jits). It is quite a corporate body and their sons of the same generation possessed in bodily form. It was the corporate body in the Chinese rural community. The second son of Lee Kuen-lam was Lee Jit-kwai (third generation) and his family separated from Wo Hang, establishing a new village at Ha Wo Hang in 1730. They built the other ancestral hall themselves; the Second Brother Ancestral Hall. The first great grandson (fourth generation) was probably born in 1722. This separation could not definitely be understood as there were disputes among the members of the family. However, the following is remarkable. The later generations of Lee Tak-wah and Lee Kuen-lam reburied the grave at Shek Chun Au, making the greatest grave nearby double tombs with double monuments in the Fourth-ninth year of Emperor Qianlong (1784). It was a clear indication that they extended their influence over the area of the Sha Tau Kok region. It also projected the later establishment of the Tung Wo Market in the 1820s (Figure 9).


Figure 9: The reburial of Lee Tak-wah and Lee Kuen-lan at Shek Chung Ao firstly in 1784 and the repair process in 1880 and in 2012 respectively.

The genealogical history and property management of the Lee Clan

The Shum Chun River and the Sha Tau Kok Sea were the areas made of alluvial plains but nowadays these are embankments and land reclamation sites. These drowned valleys link together to form a network eventually broadening out into Deep Bay to Mirs Bay. In fact, the area had little good farmland. Mostly small patches at the heads of the little bays where one of the mountain streams reaches the Sha Tau Kok Sea [3]. The Wo Hang valley looks across a very narrow strip of farmland at the steep and wooded hill marking the edges of the valley. So, the upper basin of the stream can be reached by passing through the village. It thus results in Wo Hang. Wo Hang(禾坑) has two words. The first is Wo that means an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown. Hang is a water tunnel, a passage way through water. The Wo Hang Village was largely made by land reclamation which was made arable. Wo Hang was the name which given meant “ Valleys of Rice”. Originally the sea reached to approximately a kilometer to the end of the valley, but reclamation led to increase in the available and arable farmland [3]. The settlement of the Sha Tau Kok region followed the reclamation of land opened up by the recession of the sea along the coast in the nineteenth century. In fact, the reclamation of Wo Hang arable farmland was performed earlier.

Rice is the main food of the southern Chinese. Farmers in Hong Kong were basically rice subsistence farmers. People mainly planted rice in the Hong Kong region in the eighteen century. Hong Kong was made up of villages of rice subsistence farmers. Some villages in the mountains grew tea for their own consumption and a surplus for sale (in the local market towns). Sugar was produced for local sale in some villages (of the Hong Kong region) but the great, heavy, ox-driven stone presses were very expensive so that not many villagers could afford them.

Wo hang was settled by members of a descent group surnamed Lee who constituted the sole inhabitants of the village. However, this was not the case. When ancestors of the Lee inhabitants first migrated into the village, it was occupied by other Hakka cultivators bearing surnames of Tang, Tsang and Ho. They lived in neighbouring hamlets. There were four surname groups therefore coexisting quite harmoniously. After the Lee Ancestral Hall in Lo Wai was built, the other residents claimed that the geomantic disposition of Wo Hang had been damaged and unrecoverable. As time passed, The Tsangs moved to Ma Yau Tong and the Tangs settled into the nearby village of Kong Ha. Unfortunately, the Hos dwindled over passing generations to zero. That was the way by which Wo Hang became a single surname village.

The nomenclature of local ancestor worship groups varied according to the region. The Cantonese and Hakka could use the term tso(祖) or tong(堂) to designate local ancestral groups holding a common property. These survived well despite the physical separation of its members or territorial dispersion of the properties. Wo Hang was the place where they could break new ground for agriculture with their own labor. Two crops of rice and a third crop of winter sweet potatoes were (could be) grown in Wo Hang. The great bulk of the agricultural land in Wo Hang was owned by the communal and ancestral trusts. The trust was well administrated and managed where the land was of the higher quality double crop paddy land [3]. The household owned the houses and the fields where they had opened up with their own labor.

The structure and practice of the Wo Hang ancestral worship group was noticeable. The conceptual unity of the communal trust was established by the Lee clan. The existence, as a group, of the Lee clan members thrived upon the fact that its membership included those living locally and away. The first communal trust was built as the Sam Jit Tong trust. This was organized by their thirteen sons as the communal trust represented their three fathers, Jit-wing, Jit-kwai and Jit-fong. Later, it transferred to Pat Hing Tso by them. The three sons of Jitfong (Chui-tung, Chui-leung and Chui-shu) established the Sam Yue Tong. Along the axis of descent of the communal village organization, familial households and higher order linkages were seen as different levels of certain kinds of domestic organization or, more importantly, kin bonding in Wo Hang. The strength of the descent bond attached to it was archetypically traditional and applicable. This characterization of traditional Hakka kin organization and its territorial manifestations facilitated the political and economic importance in the Sha Tau Kok region.

The misunderstanding of land, village and kinship is a consequence of our inappropriate understanding of the kinship that were constitutive of family, household, linkage and village. The elementary misunderstanding had further ramifications for our recent misunderstanding of the colonial Hong Kong experience in context. The communal trust in Wo Hang underlined and cross-cut the functioning of household families, higher order agnatic clusters and residential villages in ways that made free from confusion about the legal codification, systematic routinization and disciplinary ordering of traditional social organization. Its institutionalization by the Lee clan communal trust had sown the seed for the construction of that tradition lifestyle. The unambiguous existence of patrilineal ideology and descent group based residential villages in Wo Hang had appeared to give its applicability to the local context of Sha Tau Kok. The famous forthcoming history was the establishment of the Sha Tau Kok market in the 1820s. There is a prolonged history of the market for 200 years now, settling independently from the domination of the Shum Chun Market at that time. The establishment of Shap Yeuk (the Alliance of Ten) consolidated the Hakka region by dozens of villages in Sha Tau Kok and counteracted the influence and monopolization of the Wong Pui Ling Chueng clan.


Wo Hang epitomized the vestiges of a traditional Chinese Hakka village. Over ten generations of people have passed since the Lee ancestors first settled in the village of Wo Hang. Lee Ann lin in 1978 made many mistakes in his book of the Lee genealogy. He was of course easily given authorization for providing the history of his clan. However, from an academic perspective and the common records of the Wo Hang village, there are too many issues which are still questionable about the development of Wo Hang Village. Our findings are not yet clear enough to allow for the description of the key development and the significant transformation of the village in contemporary Chinese history. this can only be done by clarification of various misunderstandings or incorrect interpretations of the Lee clan settlement in Wo Hang.

The clan genealogies were reconstructed histories that should not be taken as primary sources for study of the past. The genealogy was something that by deliberate design selected and thus excluded references to peripheral the existence of others. However, the genre genealogies offered a useful avenue for understanding the nature of the agnatic community as the villagers themselves perceived it. This paper intends to clarify something about the settlement and development of the Wo Hang Village in the earlier period which was long before the British administration. It can tell the background of the establishment of Sha Tau Kok market as it should be a complicated case for the market establishment due to both political and economic reasons.

It was caught in the midst of a well-established Chinese society and in the transformation of contemporary Chinese history. Several aspects of the Lee genealogy of Wo Hang deserved mention as an important source of information for local social and border history. The transformation from village to the regional alliance for a narrowly defined community of Lee settlers and the various dimensions of agnatic ideology and practice became strategic tools for galvanizing local solidarity and social identity.

The Lee clan as a matter of fact was well established. Their success would be due to their good family traditions. The style of the study of this family was sufficient for their re-establishment in the territories. After three generations, the Lee clan flourished. Forty sons in their fifth generations well equipped their families’ establishment in the eighteenth century at the Wo Hang regions in Sha Tau Kok and prepared for the development of a successful market. The landfills by reclamation were very important for this development as the land soils were incomparable with their nearby regions like Yuen Long and Sheung Shui. However, their skillful settlements and their construction of appropriate folkways was important (mínfēng民風) as people viewed food as the primary need.


This paper clarified the settlement of the Lee clan at Wo Hang. The family did not come to the border immediately after the demobilization of the Coastal Evacuation. When the family first arrived at Wo Hang, they were not sure whether they could settle. After one generation, Lee Kuen lam made sure their family settled and flourished there so that they came back to their home country to bring their ancestors’ skeleton of the dead for reburial at Wo Hang. They hoped that the grave of the ancestors’ of Fengshui could help their fate in the development of their families, such that, their family really grew and thrived. There was a body of people who settled from home at Wo Hang but maintained ties with their homeland. After the leasing of the New Territories in 1899, the inhabitants remained nationals of the home state but were not literally under the home state system of government.

1Myolie Wu Hang-yee was born in Hong Kong (6 November 1979), and she is a Hong Kong actress and singer. In early 2015, Wu revealed that she had been dating Hong Kong businessman Philip Lee since late 2014.

2The view is on 17 July 2017, from the website: page=8&vilCode=STK2&method=View&localename=US

3This is provided by the library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as 《 黃貝嶺禾坑村李氏族譜》: The materials are also provided by the library of the University of Hong Kong and recorded: 40 p.(on double leaves): ill., gen. tables. Genealogy of the Li family of Ho-k'eng, New Territories, Hong Kong to ca. 1834. Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong: Genealogical Society, 1975. - 1 reel; 35mm.: handwritten

4The other set of the genealogy is given by the library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong: Hong Kong History and Society. Submitted by admin on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 11:12,

5They were the Governor-General of Guangdong and Guangxi and it followed their request in 1669. Residents were allowed to return to their original homes, but the areas were still relatively underdeveloped for a long time.

6About the Lee clans’ explanation, it may simply refer to :

7The prime minister of the Yin dynasty was the most senior minister of the government, just second to the King.

8The Wu Xing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: WǔXíng), also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets is the short form of "Wǔzhǒngliúxíngzhīqì" ( 五種流行之氣) or "the five types of chi dominating at different times". May refer to :

9 The website is:

10 They made three fongs, subsidiaries. These indicated that family’s branches were set up and headed by the sons.

11 The Chongzhen Emperor (6 February 1611 – 25 April 1644), personal name Zhu Youjian, was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1627 – 1644. The tenth year should be 1636.

12 The Kangxi Emperor (4 May 1654 – 20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty and he ruled over that part of China from 1661 to 1722. This thirty-first year was 1692.


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  2. Chun A (2000) Unstructuring Chinese Society: The fictions of colonial practice and the changing realities of land in the new territories of Hong Kong, Routledge, London and New York, USA.
  3. Hase PH, Lee MY (1992) Shueng Wo Hang Village, A village shaped by Fengshui, In: Ronald G. Knapp (ed.) Chinese landscapes: The village as place Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Hong Kong pp: 79-94.
  4. Sheung Wo Hang. From Wikipedia:
  5. Balfour SF (1970) Hong Kong before the British: Being a local history of the region of Hong Kong and the new territories before the British occupation. Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 10: 134-179.
  6. Lockhart JH, Stwart MH (1898) Report by Mr. Stewart Lockhart on the Extension of the Colony of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Government, Hong Kong.
  7. Antiquities and Monument Offices (2013) Declaration of Fat Tat Tong at Ha Wo Hang Sha Tau Kok as a monument, Memorandum for Members of the Antiquities Advisory Board. 17 April 2013. Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong.
  8. Kwok-Kin SA (2010) History and living in the north of the new territories in Hong Kong. Hin Chin Institute (in Chinese), Hong Kong.
Citation: Steven HCF (2017) Genealogical Analysis of Lee’s Clan in the Establishment of the Wo Hang Village in the Eighteenth Century. Anthropol 5: 195.

Copyright: © 2017 Steven HCF. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.