Ghee Hin was initially dominated by the Cantonese, although Hokkiens formed the majority by 1860. Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka and Foochow form smaller minorities. One of the major leader of Ghee Hin was Chin Ah Yam, a Hakka from Dabu, Guangdong. Their main lodge was located in Lavender Street, which contained the ancestral tablets of important ex-members, before being donated to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital when it was torn down in 1892, following the Suppression of Secret Societies Ordinance.
The Ghee Hin were notorious for riots against CatholicChinese in 1850 (killing over 500), as well as post offices in 1876, against a new, and more expensive, monopoly on post and remittances. The colonial government began to move towards surveillance, control, and finally suppression from the 1890s onwards.
Ghee Hin and Hai San were the two secret societies that were involved in Perak civil war in the 19th century.