John ABLONG (aka John Aiguo Bo Long) [1853-1916]

Submitted by Dr Anthony Ablong on Wed, 03/30/2016 - 12:32
Alias / nickname
John Aiguo Bo Long
(Day & Month are approximate.)
(Day & Month are approximate.)

My grandfather John AB Long changed his surname to Ablong in 1877 at Sydney about a year before marrying my grandmother Emma Ah Kin in 1878 at Craigie NSW.  Emma’s father was George Ah Kin and her mother was Mary Higgins.

John and Emma’s children were born in Waterloo NSW.  The family journeyed to HK in 1902 where a mercantile trading business was started.

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Dear Anthony,

I was interested to read your note: "my grandfather John Ablong built the first residence at the Peak." Please could you tell us more about the building, and how your grandfather was connected with the project?

Regards, David

Hi David,

Our family records describe the house as being along Peak Road and not too far from the Mt Austin Barracks and No.6 Police Station.  It was one of the few houses destroyed by the Japanese shelling the area during WWII.

My granfather sailed from Sydney on the ss Australian to HK in 1898 with his wife Emma and children one of which was my father Alfred Ernest Ablong.  One of his first tasks was to house his family and the house was built to accommodate the family. He held a position with the Army's E&M Unit for a short time before joining the Customs Service.

Look forward to more photos and commentary during the year.



One possibility is Quarndon. The house was between No 6 police station and Mt Austin Barracks and its replacement Chu Wan was built in 1948 suggesting the original building was damaged or destroyed during the war. However it was not the first residence on the peak but as residences were built by at least 1875 your grandfather is unlikely to have built the first house on the peak.

A picture of wartime damage no the peak. Unfortunately it does not show Quarndon:

Looted houses on the Peak
Looted houses on the Peak, by John Florea, The LIFE Picture Collection, Getty Images


I always did find the dates based on anecdotal family information difficult to reconcile so that the information from Herostratus on the buildings at the Peak is greatly appreciated, and I am grateful as it adds to the tapestry of history long lost.  This is the quality of information that value-adds amongst the other material provided by Gwulo that I truly appreciate.  Herostatus' observations on this matter will be added to my family archives.

It may also be interesting that according to my family records, the 6th Governor of HK (Sir Richard MacDonnell) built his summer residence in the same area around 1868, and other houses were built soon after.  The Peak Reservation Ordinance that was introduced sometime in the late 1800s-early 1900s decalared the area around the Peak as exclusive residential reserved for non-Chinese.

In further research, I found an undated newspaper item written in the South China Morning Post sometime in 1937 in the column "From the Files 25 years ago" observing that 'Mr John Thomas Cotton (my mother's father) who will shortly be celebrating his 50th year of residence in HongKong told reporters that when he first came to HongKong as a corporal in the Royal Artillery, the only main thoroughfare was Queen's Road which extended from Wanchai to the Gas Works at Weat Point.  There were no trams, only rickshaws.  The Rope Factory was the first in West Point.  He also revealed that Murray Parade Ground used to slope but was levelled by the military authorities. Mr Cotton formerly with Prisons Department, the Customs and finally the HongKong Hotel Company said the Commodore was the first to build on the Peak, thenMr Belilios and then Sir Robert Ho Tung.  He recalled the building of the Peak Tramway when every brick was carried up by women and small children......'. More information followed and mainly related to the house I spoke about earlier.  My grandfather later returned in 1939 to UK on Home Leave, and was killed in one of the German bombing raids on Coventry.