2021 Jeff Fatt and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

It was such a pleasure to meet the quietly spoken and delightful Jeff Fatt (the ‘Purple Wiggle’) as part of filming ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ (SBS S12, Ep4). I also assisted a little with some research advice.

We met at the old court house in Stawell, Victoria, now the Stawell Historical Society (https://www.facebook.com/Stawell-Historical-Society-901746499903222). I spoke with Jeff about a series of rather complicated court cases in 1860s and 1870s that saw his great great grandfather John Lee Young being forced to resign after misinterpreting an oath during a court case, thereby causing the case to be dismissed. He was cleared of any impropriety and had a lot of support from the local white Australian community but the error was seen as too grave and so rather than being dismissed he was forced to resign.

Some years before this Lee Young had annoyed a section of the local Chinese community who believed he had reported a couple of Chinese gambling houses to authorities. With only English-language sources to go on it is challenging to understand what is going on but Lee Young clearly divided the local Chinese community on the issue. It is likely those who felt wronged by Lee Young then later rallied support from Lowe Kong Meng, a prominent Melbourne merchant and a number of other Chinese merchants to make a formal complaint against him after he mistranslated the oath.

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