Burial register ID: 6967
Surname: HEADS
First name: ANNIE
Middle names:
Gender: Female
Age: 42 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 29-Dec-1893
Date of burial: 31-Dec-1893

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

Annie Heads 1851–1893

Annie Ireland Heads was the youngest daughter of Peter and Isabella Ireland. She was born in St Andrews in 1851 and was only one month old when the census was held. She was named Isabella after her mother when she was born, but was known simply as “Annie”. However, she gave her name as “Ann” when she married. She would have been four when the family sailed for Tasmania, and at least ten when she arrived in Otago.

Her story is similar to those of her two older sisters. All three had large families for whom they struggled to provide and, like the Browns, the Heads children lost both parents when they were still relatively young. Annie would have been the favoured younger daughter, particularly when Jessie left home in 1863, followed by Jane in 1865. She must have attended school, albeit briefly, in Dunedin with her younger brothers, although there are no surviving records. Her home was in Melville Street, where her father ran a carrying business, and employed Michael Heads, an Englishman who had not long arrived in New Zealand and who did not appear to have many prospects. Michael was the son of George Heads and Margaret Hodgson. He was born on 25 December 1842 in Walsingham, Durham, England, making him at least nine years older than Annie. Peter and Isabella’s shock can be imagined only too well when Annie announced that she was pregnant. This strict Presbyterian family must have been shaken, although the oldest son Thomas had also fathered a child out of wedlock. Annie was under age (21 was the requirement) and her parents obviously refused to give their consent to her marrying the father, Michael Heads. Not only was he poor, he was English and not a Presbyterian.

Annie’s child was born on 23 May 1868 and, perhaps to appease her grandmother, named Isabella. But there is no record of Annie’s daughter’s birth, either as a Heads or an Ireland, at the Dunedin Registry Office. It is possible that the child was born at home or even at the house of Michael’s sister, Agnes Hall, in King Street. This birth-date can, however, be confirmed by the George Street School APW Register.

No longer needing her parents’ consent, Annie Ireland and Michael Heads, described as a cab proprietor, were married on 31 August 1869. A “Notice of Intent to Marry” dated 28 August 1869 states that Ann Ireland (sic), aged 18, had been a resident in Dunedin for 7 years, and that Michael Heads was aged 25, and had been in Dunedin for six years. They were married at the house of Michael’s brother-in-law William Hall at 18 Great King Street, Dunedin. The ceremony was performed by Dr D. M. Stuart, the minister for Knox Church, and witnessed by William Hall, also a cab proprietor, and Agnes Hall, Michael’s sister. Agnes Heads was born on 6 September 1869.

Annie’s children 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. After his death Annie kept cows whose milk the girls would sell, while the Heads boys would hawk from door to door, at first from horses and later from vans. Annie also had a beautiful flower garden in her property at Norwood Street.

Annie herself died on 29 December 1893 of cancer of the womb, a long and painful death, at her residence in Great King Street. She must have wondered how the family of nine, aged from 11 to 24, would survive. At least two of the daughters could provide a home for the younger ones and only Hannah would still be at school. Fortunately, the Heads family was not to be split up for fostering as the Browns were. Although Annie had earned her parents’ displeasure by her marriage without their consent, they cannot have shut her out of their lives. Her mother Isabella, at least, would have been distraught to see the premature deaths of both Michael and then Annie, with the children left to fend for themselves.

Annie was buried in the Dunedin North Cemetery with Michael and her baby son George. The headstone was not erected until the death of Ann Knight, in 1952.

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

See also:

1. Annie’s parents Isabella and Peter Ireland (at Block 37 Plot 5).

2. Annie’s brother Thomas Ireland and his family (at Block 104 Plot 14).

3. Annie’s sister Janet (Jessie) Brown and her daughter Isabella (at Block 190A Plot 6-7).

Annie Heads
Source: Pauline Ireland-Kenny

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