Terry (1873-1952) was a New Zealand white supremacist and
murderer, incarcerated in psychiatric institutions after
murdering a Chinese immigrant, Mr. Joe Kum Yung, in Wellington,
New Zealand, in 1905.
Terry was born in Sandwich, Kent, in 1873. He was the son of
Edward Terry and Frances Thompson. His father was a prosperous
corn merchant in Kent, and later managed Pall Mall Real Estate.
was educated at Merton College in Wimbledon, until he tired of
that life, and joined the Royal Regiment Artillery in 1892.
After his father secured his discharge in 1895, he became
involved in successive itinerant occupations in South Africa,
British Columbia, Canada, and the United States in 1895-6,
before he finally emigrated to New Zealand in 1901.
period in Canada and the United States, Terry developed his
virulent white supremacist attitudes, which were to have a
tragic outcome in his immediate future
Zealand, he first worked for the Department of Lands and Survey
in Auckland, before he tried to establish a horticultural market
garden north of Auckland, in 1901.
In 1903, he worked as a Taihape bush feller, north of Palmerston North and Fielding,
before recommencing employment with the Department of Lands and
Survey as a surveyor, based in Mangonui, Northland, in 1905.
supremacism and the murder of Joe Kum Yung in 1905
Terry gave the
first indication that he was a white supremacist when he wrote
and privately published The Shadow, which dealt with his
obsessions against Chinese and East Asian immigration to New
Zealand to work the goldfields, or in horticulture or small
undertook a 900 km trek from Mangonui to Wellington in 1905,
distributing copies of The Shadow as he went. Once he
reached the nation's capital, he attempted to convince New
Zealand's Parliament to ban any further Chinese and East Asian
immigration to New Zealand, but failed to do so.
September 1905, Terry shot Joe Kum Yung, a Chinese immigrant, in
Haring Street, Wellington. Mr. Yung died later of injuries.
According to John Dunmore, Mr Yung was an elderly Canton Chinese
gold prospector, aged 70, who had a pronounced limp as a result
of a past mining accident.
Terry selected Yung as his victim due
to this infirmity. Ironically, Mr. Yung appears to have been
destitute, given his lack of luck on the declining goldfields,
and yearned to return to his native Canton.
submitted himself to the authorities and the New Zealand Supreme
Court convicted him of murder on 21 November 1905. Originally,
he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life
incarceration within New Zealand psychiatric institutions.
the next 47 years Terry served time in Christchurch's Sunnyside,
Dunedin's Seacliff and Lyttelton Prison. He was later diagnosed
with paranoid schizophrenia. This did not prevent white
supremacist New Zealanders from circulating a petition for
mitigation of his sentence, although the local Chinese community
circulated a counter-petition in response.
absconded from Sunnyside twice, in 1909 and 1914. Under Seacliff
administrator Truby King, he seemed to recover slightly from his
ongoing mental illness, and was allowed to produce more poetry,
paint, and undertake horticulture. Over time, he developed
messianic religious delusions and later assaulted a doctor who
attempted to administer an anti-typhoid injection in 1940,
whereupon he was returned to solitary confinement. Terry died in
1952, aged seventy-nine.
There has been
some posthumous interest in Terry's life and times, which has
led to some poetry about his offending, and a biography in the
late seventies. Terry has received a capsule biography in the
online Dictionary of New Zealand biography, and a further
section in the recently published Wild Cards: Eccentric
Characters From New Zealand's Past (2006). Unfortunately,
not all of this interest has been scholarly in tone, as the
neofascist New Zealand Nationalist Workers Party republished
copies of The Shadow for their own anti-immigrant racist
purposes in the eighties.
editions of Terry's The Shadow appear to be extant. However,
Lionel Terry's Obsession, 1905
Keen public interest and a good deal of
morbid sympathy were aroused by the appearance in the dock in
1905 of Edward Lionel Terry on a charge of murdering an aged and
inoffensive Chinese in Haining Street, Wellington.
The prisoner used the occasion for a violent
attack on British policy towards unnaturalised aliens, and
described his crime as “a merciful delivery on a world-weary man,
and a service to the community”. There was never any doubt of
He shot his victim down in the street and
then went to the police station and described his crime,
produced a revolver as evidence, and handed a copy of his
pamphlet The Shadow, a harangue on aliens, to the
watchhouse-keeper, with the bland remark, “If you read that
you'll understand the position”.
At his trial he conducted his own defence,
and reached remarkable heights of histrionics and rhetoric in
his speech from the dock, which was mostly an appeal for the
elimination of alien influences in the Empire.
The Chief Justice, Sir Robert Stout, told the
jury that the material question was the mental state of the
prisoner, a suggestion to which Terry reacted violently with an
assertion that he was perfectly aware of the quality and nature
of his act.
The inevitable verdict of guilty was
accompanied by a strong recommendation to mercy, and the Chief
Justice sent him to prison for life. Terry spent the rest of his
days either in gaol or in the Sunnyside and Seacliff Mental
Hospitals, but he was a perennial source of embarrassment to the
authorities by reason of his escapes and attempted escapes and
the violence of his conduct.
Though sentenced in 1905, he was still news
in 1908, especially when he celebrated one anniversary of his
trial by setting fire to his quarters in the Lyttelton Gaol, one
wing of which had been specially gazetted as a lunatic asylum
for his benefit. He died under restraint at Seacliff Hospital on
20 August 1952.
Terry, Edward Lionel
By Frank Tod - Teara.govt.nz
In 1905 the New
Zealand public was startled by the calculated murder of an elderly
Chinese in Haining Street, Wellington. Joe Kum Yung was killed by
Lionel Terry, a young Englishman who wanted to draw attention to
his views on alien immigration. Terry's belief in racial
segregation and his obsession with what was commonly called the
yellow peril drove him to murder, and condemned him to nearly half
a century in mental hospitals.
Edward Lionel Terry was born at Sandwich, Kent,
England, on 6 January 1873. Known throughout life by his second
name, he was the son of Edward Terry and his wife, Frances Lydia
Thompson. His father claimed to be descended from Napoleon
Bonaparte. He was a corn merchant in Kent but later established a
real estate firm in Pall Mall, London. He was considered a
Lionel Terry was educated at Merton College,
Wimbledon. He then joined his father's firm, but became unsettled
and enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1892. A year
later he transferred to the Royal Horse Guards. His father
purchased his discharge in 1895 and Terry left almost immediately
for South Africa. He joined the mounted police at Bulawayo and
participated in the Jameson raid of 29 December 1895 to 2 January
1896. Returning to London he entered into partnership in the
family firm, but stayed only a short time before leaving to travel
extensively overseas. In the course of his travels he visited the
United States and British Columbia. There, and earlier in South
Africa, he worked alongside Chinese immigrants. The experience
engendered a deep hatred of 'black and coloured races', especially
the Chinese. Before long this hatred had become an obsession.
According to his own account Terry arrived in
New Zealand in 1901. He spent some time as a temporary fieldworker
with the Department of Lands and Survey in Auckland and then tried
fruit-growing north of Auckland. He moved to Wellington in May
1903 and was re-employed by the department as a temporary
draughtsman. After a few months he went to Taihape where he worked
at bush felling. In 1904 he returned to the Lands and Survey
Department and was sent to Mangonui in Northland as a surveyor.
While there he wrote The shadow, a book of verse with a
long introduction on the need for racial purity.
In July 1905 Terry attracted considerable
interest by carrying out a marathon walk of nearly 900 miles from
Mangonui to Wellington. A policeman who met up with him on the way
described his appearance: 'He looked a perfect picture. As fine a
man as ever I saw – bolt upright, and with as free an action as
you'd see on an athlete.' People who came in contact with Terry
invariably commented on his magnificent physique and were
impressed by his striking personality, conversational powers and
overall breadth of knowledge. Along the walk he distributed copies
of The shadow and gave lectures on the yellow peril.
After arriving in Wellington on 14 September,
Terry tried to convince members of the House of Representatives
and immigration officials that all non-European immigration should
be stopped. He had little success, and in an effort to gain
further publicity for his views he shot Joe Kum Yung on the night
of 24 September 1905. The victim was rushed to hospital but died
soon after. Terry surrendered to the police the following morning,
handing over his revolver and a copy of The shadow, which
he said would explain his action. On 21 November he was tried in
the Supreme Court at Wellington. He conducted his own defence but
failed to justify the killing and was sentenced to death. The
sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment on the
grounds of insanity; he was later diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic. Terry was to spend the rest of his life in
Lyttelton prison and in Sunnyside and Seacliff mental hospitals.
He escaped from Sunnyside twice in 1906 and
from Seacliff in 1907 and 1908. These escapes attracted
considerable publicity and Terry's allegations of mistreatment at
both hospitals and at Lyttelton prison gained him a good deal of
public sympathy. Also, while few people had condoned Joe Kum
Yung's murder, many shared Terry's dislike of the Chinese. It is
said that a petition for his release was circulated and that the
Chinese community responded with a counter petition.
Terry spent most of the time between 1909 and
1914 in solitary confinement at Sunnyside. He asked to be returned
to Seacliff in May 1914, where the medical superintendent,
Frederic Truby King, granted him various privileges on condition
that he would not escape again. Terry was removed from his dark,
lonely cell and given a suite comprising a bedroom and library–dining
room. He wrote poetry and painted, kept pet goats and sheep, and
cultivated an extensive garden in the hospital grounds. From
around 1914 he turned increasingly to religion, but it was
idiosyncratic and in most of his verse he referred to himself as
the 'Prophet', 'Messiah' and 'Superman'. He wore white clothes,
grew a long beard and wore his hair below his shoulders. However,
despite his messianic tendencies, he wanted a Christian burial.
In 1940 he assaulted a doctor who was trying to
give him a typhoid inoculation. As a result most of his privileges
were withdrawn and he spent the last 12 years of his life in
solitary confinement. Lionel Terry died at Seacliff Mental
Hospital on 20 August 1952, aged 79 years. It is not known if he
had ever married.
Before his confinement in mental hospitals for the racial killing
of an elderly Chinese man in 1905, Lionel Terry was a marathon
walker; people who met him invariably commented on his magnificent
A self portrait of Lionel Terry