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Mr Christopher Head Mayor of London

Discussion in 'Passenger Research' started by Brian J. Ticehurst, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. I was recently given some information on Mr.s Heads third memorial - so here is his updated Biography:
    Head, Mr. Christopher. First Class Passenger. Missing. Cabin B11. London address c/o Henry Head & Co., 27, Cornhill, London, E.C.
    There is a brass memorial to Mr. Head in St Nicolas Church, Old Shoreham, Sussex.

    Money for a memorial painting was raised and the artist Miss N. Labouchere was commissioned to paint Mr. Heads portrait in his full Mayoral outfit. The memorial painting exists today and and be viewed on request at the Central Library, Hornton Street, Royal Borough Of Kensington.

    In Cadogan Place Gardens, Sloane Street London there is a memorial to Mr. Head and it takes the form of a sundial, with a metal plate on its plinth bearing the inscription on three lines:
    To The Memory of Christopher Head
    For Some Years Hon. Secretary of These Gardens
    Who Perished on the Titanic April 15th 1912.

    Probate Report: Head Christopher, of 7 Wyndham House, Sloane Square, Middlesex and 27, Cornhill, London. Probate registered 12th June, 1912 to Geoffrey Head esquire. Effects

    (From The Boston Globe, Tuesday, April 16, 1912)
    Among the others of reputed wealth who were on board are Christopher Head a London barrister and one of the senior member of Lloyds, underwriters, was among the passengers.

    (From The Brighton Argos, Wednesday 17th April, 1912)
    ''The passengers included Mr. Christopher Head, a former Mayor of Chelsea, director of Henry Head and Co. (Limited), insurance brokers and underwriters, and son of the late Mr. Head, J.P., who resided at Buckingham, Shoreham.

    (From The Bridgwater Mercury, 20, April, 1912).
    Notable People on Board
    Mr. Christopher Head, former mayor of Chelsea. Much interested in art matters, and the donor of one of the panels to be placed in Chelsea Town hall. Took a prominent part in the discussions at the Mansion House on the King Edward Memorial.

    (From The Chatham, Rochester, and Gillingham News, Saturday, April 20, 1912).
    ''The life insurance's on lost passengers must also represent a very high figure. Mr. Christopher Head, recently Mayor of Chelsea and himself an underwriter at Lloyds, is reported lost; he was insured against accident during his trip to America for £25,000.''

    (From The Aberdeen Daily Journal, 20th April, 1912).
    Mr. Christopher Head was the fifth son of the late Mr. Henry Head, a well-known London underwriter. He had long been a member of Lloyd's, and, on the death of a brother in 1905, he entered the firm of Henry Head and Co. as a director.
    In 1910 he married Mrs. Hill Trevor, daughter of Mr. H. D. Chapman of Kilhendre, Ellesmere.
    From 1909 to 1911 he was mayor of Chelsea. During this time he associated himself closely with the artistic life of the borough, and took a leading part in the discussions at the Mansion House on the King Edward Memorial. Mr. Head had long been interested in all that belongs to shipping and insurance, and had made many voyages in trading vessels of all kinds. Business took him to America, and he undoubtedly chose the Titanic as a means of gathering further experience. For he spared himself neither time nor trouble in what he undertook, whether in his public or private capacity.

    Firstly, Christopher Head was a former mayor of Chelsea at the time he sailed on the Titanic. He was the son of Henry Head, and his residence in 1912 was 7 Wyndham House, Sloane Square, Middlesex, and 27 Cornhill, London. He boarded the Titanic in Southampton, ticket
    #113038, price 42 British pounds, cabin B-11. Mr. Head was lost in the sinking and his body was never recovered.

    (From the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea News April 1998)
    A former Mayor of Chelsea was among the 1,523 lost in the Titanic disaster of April 1912. Christopher Had served as Mayor between 1909 and 1911 and had been a Conservative councillor since 1906.
    According to contemporary accounts, Head was a man of unusual energy who was happy to meet anyone and 'thought nothing' of putting in hours at the Town Hall both before and after work.
    He was certainly an outstandingly generous man and gave many gifts to the Chelsea Library. He was also something of a patron of the arts and is said to have used his influence to ensure an 'original' scheme for the decoration of Chelsea Town Hall to mark the Coronation of George V.
    The scheme reflected his taste for the modern and attracted a good deal of criticism. However, the local paper of the day described the critics as people 'whose qualification as judges of artistic merit were of the slightest.'
    Head had also been closely involved in the King Edward Memorial Fund.
    Thought by many as a genial soul there is nevertheless a suggestion that from time to time He had ruffled feathers. In his obituary the local paper said that he 'would have gladly governed all Chelsea in the spirit of the benevolent despot' and went on to describe his ideas as sometime 'impractical or even quixotic.'
    Interesting, one of his ideas was for a Chelsea Market.
    During his time on the Council, Mr. Head is credited with improving insurance's for workmen while reducing the Borough's overall insurance bill. He also campaigned for the development of vacant land owned by the great estates which was one of the great issues of the day in the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea.
    Outside the Council, he was reported as being vigorous in his efforts to 'awaken public spirit on behalf of the country's defensive forces.'
    Educated at Lancing and Trinity College, Cambridge, he practised as a barrister for a time before entering the family firm at Lloyds, where he specialised in shipping insurance.
    It was business in New York that took him aboard the doomed ship. He was only 43 and had married just 18 months previously. The paper reported that as he was insured against 'ocean accidents' his wife had been left financially secure.
    Money for a memorial portrait of the ex-mayor was quickly raised amongst his colleagues on the Council and the work was commissioned from his friend, the well-known artist Miss N. Labouchere. The Council still has the portrait today. It can be viewed on request at the Central Library, Hornton Street.

    (From the Shoreham Society Newsletter - Spring News 1998)
    A Titanic Link.
    Little did any of us realise as we beat a path to South Coast Cinema doors to see that blockbuster movie Titanic that it had a Shoreham connection. A prominent Shoreham family lost one of their sons on the so-called 'unsinkable ship'. Henry Head, a London underwriter, rented the original Buckingham House set in 55 acres of park, the shell of which can bee seen at Woodview, on the west side of Buckingham park. Three of his eight sons were educated at Lancing College.
    Christopher Head, the fifth son, went on to Trinity College Cambridge and was called to the bar. After his father's death he became a director of his father's company at Lloyds of London, became mayor of Chelsea and played a prominent role in preserving St James' Park in London. He was drowned in the sinking of the Titanic and no-one seems to know why he took a passage on that maiden voyage. For those who are interested, there is a brass memorial to him in St Nicolas Church, Old Shoreham, Sussex.

    (From Progress July 1912, the Journal of Lever Brothers)
    Port Sunlight was directly and indirectly associated with the great suspense, and subsequent sorrow, which thrilled this country and the world when the new and gigantic White Star Liner Titanic heir of all the ages of constructive science, foundered on her maiden voyage, with a loss of 1,503 lives out of a total number on board of 2,206.
    The fate of Mrs. Leather, sister to our Mr. Leston Edwards and his family. Happily, tidings of Mrs. Leather's safety eventually turned the sympathy on to the congratulatory side.
    Mr. Fred Clarke of the Titanic's band whose performances up to the last moment willl live in the history of the disaster, was for many years a familiar and popular ally of our Philharmonic Society at their special concerts. Villagers will easily recall his appearance at the Coronation Concert. Many who knew him had a melancholy satisfaction in attending a special benefit performance in aid of his mother and sisters which was held at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, in May.
    Then amongst the public men, was one comparatively recent visitor to Port Sunlight, Mr. Christopher Head, formerly Mayor of Chelsea, who was here as recently as October last in conference with us on the subject of Town Planning, in which he was particularly interested.
    A memorial service was held at Christ Church on Sunday evening, April 21st, conducted by the Rev. L. H. Mills, whose discourse was devoted to the subject of the Titanic disaster. Chopin's March Funebre was rendered by the organist (Mr. Woodroofe) at the close of the service, the audience reverently upstanding.

    Cheers Brian
  2. Mike Poirier

    Mike Poirier Member

    Hello Brian
    This is excellent info. I had no idea Mr. Head was a mayor. It was a very interesting read.
  3. Ben Holme

    Ben Holme Member

    Excellent info, Brian. There is more information on Christopher Head contained in the above post than I have ever come across elsewhere.

    It's a pity that his actions and movements aboard Titanic have passed entirely without record.

    Best regards,
  4. I agree that it is odd that Christopher Head's activities aboard the 'Titanic' should have gone so completely unrecorded. To the best of my knowledge, not a single survivor made any reference to him, either immediately after the sinking or in subsequent years. Undoubtedly, this was because so many of his fellow travellers in first-class were Americans - hence, he was unlikely to have been known to any of them before-hand. Nevertheless, having very recently served as the Mayor of Chelsea (although certainly NOT of London, as the title of this thread implies!), one imagines Head to have had a fairly 'commanding' personality (apparently having been referred to during his time in office as a 'benevolent despot') and it is surprising that he did not make a greater impression during the voyage, if only on his table companions in the dining-saloon.

    Nor was Head's family an obscure one. In many ways, they seem to have represented the kind of successful, ambitious and upwardly-mobile late Victorian upper-middle class Galsworthy immortalised in 'The Forsyte Saga'. Christopher's father, Henry Head, was the son of a former Mayor of Ipswich and made his fortune as an insurance broker at Lloyd's of London. Indeed, this fortune must have been fairly substantial since, at the time of his death in 1905, he was living in a very grand country house near the town of Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex. A potted history, and two photographs of the now-ruined mansion (which Christopher must have been familiar with during his father's lifetime) can be found below:



    Christopher Head's elder brother, named for his father and ultimately knighted, would go on to achieve great prominence in the field of neurology. His entry on Wikipedia sketches in further detail relating to the upbringing he and his siblings received:


    The greatest distinction was won for the Head family by Christopher's nephew Anthony (the son of his younger brother Geoffrey), an Old Etonian, army officer and Conservative MP who married Lady Dorothea Louise Ashley-Cooper, daughter of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury. He served as Secretary of State for War under Churchill and Eden and, for his pains, was eventually elevated to the peerage as Viscount Head in 1960. As I've mentioned elsewhere on the board, he was a good friend and close neighbour in Wiltshire of Cecil Beaton and is much-mentioned by him in his published diaries of the 1960s and 1970s, for the two men moved together in the most illustrious of social circles.
  5. Brian Ahern

    Brian Ahern Member

    Thanks for providing those links, Martin. It is surprising that no one mentions Head, especially since he appears to be a very handsome and imposing-looking man. I think the upwardly mobile Edwardian-Victorian middle classes make for fascinating reading, whether fictional families like the Cazalets and Forsythes (well, okay, I've actually only seen the miniseries adaptations), or real-life families like the Shands, Cubitts, Heads, Pearses, Ismays, and Woolners.
  6. I don't think it is entirely true to say that Christopher Head was ignored in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. In addition to the newspaper reports mentioned above, he was also one of the people mentioned in some detail in The Times, which contained the following obituary.

    "CHRISTOPHER HEAD - Mr Christopher Head was the fifth son of the late Mr Henry Head, a well-known London underwriter. He was in his 43rd year, and was educated at Lancing end at Trinity College Cambridge. Called to the Bar as the Inner Temple, he practiced for a time in the Admiralty Division and on the North-Eastern Circuit. But he had long been a member of Lloyds and, on the death of a brother in 1905 he entered the firm of Henry Head & Co as a director.

    In 1910 he married Mrs Hill Trevor, daughter of Mr H.D Chapman of Kilhendre, Ellesmere. From 1909 until 1911 he was Mayor of Chelsea. During this rime he associated himself closely with the artistic life of the Borough, and took a leading part in discussions at the Mansion House of the King Edward Memorial. He was an ardent collector of prints and drawings, particularly those of modern artists, and was a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club.

    Mr Head had long been interested in all that belongs to shipping and insurance, and he had made many voyages in trading vessels of all kinds. Business took him to America, and he undoubtedly chose the Titanic as a means of gathering further experience. For he spared himself neither time nor trouble in all that he undertook, whether in his public or private capacity".
  7. Mark Baber

    Mark Baber Moderator Member

    LOL! Without having seen Stanley's message, I just added the same item from The Times to Head's passenger page info.

    The online archive is a wonderful thing, isn't it, Stanley?
  8. I have just had a look at Christopher Head's biographical details - which could probably be much enhanced by the addition of some of the new data that has appeared in this thread(?) Just a thought, however, but I would not have described him as a "politician", he was primarily who had also joined family stockbroking firm.
  9. I have just spotted an error in the previous message and as I cannot alter it or delete it I had better repeat the entire message, which should have said:

    "I have just had a look at Christopher Head's biographical details - which could probably be much enhanced by the addition of some of the new data that has appeared in this thread(?) Just a thought, however, but I would not have described him as a "politician", he was primarily a lawyer who had recently joined family stockbroking firm".
  10. I wasn't really suggesting that Christopher Head was 'ignored', Stanley, but rather, that it is astonishing that no survivor left any kind of recollection of him at all. It is abundantly clear that the first-class passengers were a terrifically social and gregarious bunch and, unless he remained in his cabin for the duration of the voyage (which seems most unlikely), it is surprising that Head didn't come into contact with anybody who later recorded their impressions of him. As I've said above, one can only assume that, as an Englishman travelling alone, he passed 'under the radar' for the homeward-bound Americans aboard. It is also conceivable that he was placed at a table in the dining-saloon with other unaccompanied gentlemen - who did not survive the sinking either.

    One way or another, Head was clearly a mover-and-shaker in London and his premature death must have left a hole in his community. Presumably, Chelsea Town Hall will contain records pertaining to his tenure as mayor. As I live very close by, I really have no excuse not to go and investigate further!
  11. Hello Martin,

    I understand what you are saying, and would agree that he does not crop up in the survivors' recollections - I was merely pointing out that there was, in fact, a considerable amount of detail about Mr Head in the post-disaster press reports. I think it is entirely logical to suppose that he may have made many new friends aboard the ship, but if none of them had survived there would be no recollection of him.

    Just a thought, but a party of unaccompanied Edwardian gentlemen who had formed a social group in the earlier part of the voyage would probably have been the sort of "thoroughly decent chaps" who would have willingly stood back to let the women and children get into the boats. They would have seen this as "doing the right thing".