In the 19th century many Chinese who left home in search of better horizons died overseas. As it was the wish of traditional Chinese to be buried in their home towns, this temple was built in 1856 to store corpses awaiting burial in China, and to serve as a public ancestral hall for those who could not afford the expense of bone repatriation. Families of the latter have erected 3000 memorial tablets for their ancestors in a room behind the altar.
Pak Sing Ancestral Hall also functioned as a clinic for Chinese patients refusing treatment by Western doctors. The words pak shing mean 'people' – it was a temple for the people.