Burial register ID: 4894
Surname: HEADS
First name: MICHAEL
Middle names:
Gender: Male
Age: 38 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 25-Jan-1887
Date of burial: 28-Jan-1887

Block: 27
Plot: 9

In loving memory of


And daughter MARGARET

Also our loving mother


Daughter of above

Passed away 9th Sept. 1952.

Bio contributor: Pauline Ireland-Kenny

Michael Heads was born on 25 December 1842 in Walsingham, Durham, England. The Heads family tree can be traced back to the 1660s in Walsingham. Five members of a family of eleven, Thomas, George, William, Agnes and Michael Heads, all came eventually to New Zealand. They sailed from Liverpool on the SS Red Jacket in February 1861, arriving in Melbourne in April. Michael’s sister Agnes married William Hall on 27 April 1861 at Melbourne, Australia. The date of their arrival in Otago is unknown.

Michael Heads became the husband of Annie Ireland, with whom he had ten children. He had begun work in Dunedin for Peter Ireland, who ran a carrying business, and when the Irelands’ underaged daughter Annie found herself pregnant, her parents refused to give their consent to her marrying the father, Michael. Not only was he poor, he was English and not a Presbyterian. The marriage nevertheless took place in 1869 at the home of William and Agnes Hall.

The children of Michael and Annie were: Isabella (1868), Agnes (1869), George (1872; died 1873), another George (1873), Ann (1874), Michael (1875); William James (1877), Margaret (1880) and Hannah (1882).

The family lived in and around North East Valley, and by 1878 they were living at Maple Hill township, High Ward, just off the North East Valley tram line terminus. According to Isobel (Knudson) Green, Annie and Michael Heads lived up Norwood Street on the right hand side going up. The house, which included stables, was on a corner with a street diagonally opposite. Michael Heads was a driver on the horse-drawn trams. He would take the day’s takings home with him. On one occasion, he was followed home at night by two men, so he ducked down the alleyway between his house and his neighbour’s, which fortunately was of a similar appearance, then rushed into his own house and told Annie not to put on any lights. The Heads children mostly attended North East Valley School or George Street School. Sometimes they were withdrawn, perhaps because of illness or because they were needed at home, but also because of the need to pay school fees.

If the Heads pitied the Browns when their Aunt Jessie Brown died in 1886, they were to suffer as greatly by the unexpected death, at the age of 45, of Michael Heads on 25 January 1887. The cause of death was phthisis pulmonaris (acute bronchitis), undoubtedly caught while working on the trams. Michael was a much-respected tram-driver. He had been married for 18 years and had three sons and six daughters.

Others buried here: Michael’s wife Annie, and their children Ann and Margaret.

There are 5 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
HEADS ANNIE 42 Years 29-Dec-1893 31-Dec-1893
HEADS GEORGE 10 Months 16-Apr-1873 18-Apr-1873
HEADS MARGARET 37 Years 28-Jun-1911 02-Jul-1911
HEADS MICHAEL 38 Years 25-Jan-1887 28-Jan-1887
KNIGHT ANN 77 Years 09-Sep-1952 11-Sep-1952