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Michael Matthew (Mick) Healy (1864–1913)

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Michael Healy, 1902

Michael Healy, 1902

Michael Matthew (Mick) Healy [also known as Healey] (1864?-1913?) bricklayer, clerk, criminal and Socialist agitator 

Birth: in Sydney, probably the Matthew Michael Healy, born in 1864, son of Irish-born parents Michael Healy (1826-1888), a freeholder from Limerick, and Anastasia, née Keogh (1836-1911), from Tipperary. Not Married. Death: possibly on 4 September 1913 in a lane off Goodchap Street, Sydney, late of 144 Reservoir St. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Known as ‘Meek and Mild’. Age and occupation varied in press reports and criminal records, but according to his gaol description record in 1902 he was born about 1865, and his occupation was clerk. He was 5 feet 6 ½ inches (169 cm) tall, weighed 156 lbs (71 kilos), with dark hair, brown eyes, a scar on the inside heel of his left thumb, “M.H.” tattooed on the inside of his left forearm and with his nose and right cheek badly scarred.
  • Between January 1881 and April 1884 he was arrested on several occasions for stealing, assault, riot and using profane language.
  • Arrested in 1884 with others for his part in the ‘Bondi Boxing Day Riot’, in which push members battled police at a dance hall. He was sentenced to eight years jail by chief justice Sir James Martin on 26 March 1885. Had been released by 1889, when he was arrested in Melbourne for being illegally at large in Victoria and was sentenced on 16 April to another 12 months hard labour.
  • In 1890 some of his poems describing prison life appeared in print.
  • Delegate to first annual conference of the Amalgamated Navvies and General Labourers Union in 1890. That year he was secretary of South Sydney Labor Electoral League and in November he was appointed to the executive committee of the Australian Socialist League (ASL). He was a member of various deputations and attended a demonstration with many better-known political agitators such as Creo Stanley and Sam Rosa, in April 1891 delivering an address to ASL meetings.
  • In May 1891 he was appointed unemployed movement organiser by the ASL, addressed a meeting “at the Statue” [of Queen Victoria in the Domain] and then participated in a delegation to the Works Department.
  • Now notorious as a Socialist and a criminal, he was often in trouble in the following decade, for various offences, such as assault and bad language. In 1894 he was rumoured to have been a police informant responsible for the conviction and execution of Alexander Lee and John Cummings, the murderers hanged for killing a bank manager, William McKay.
  • In 1896 he published a letter in Truth calling for the licensing of prostitution.
  • Was again arrested in Sydney on February 1902 for maliciously wounding a man with a broken bottle in a King Street Hotel. He claimed he had reacted to provocation on account of his role in the Barraba murder case. Sentenced to penal servitude for four years.
  • Could be described as a politically-wise larrikin.
  • Seems likely to have been the Michael Healy, 49, labourer, who took his own life at Sydney on 4 September 1913. He had told his sister that he was tired of life. Cause of death: Lysol poisoning (self administered).

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Citation details

'Healy, Michael Matthew (Mick) (1864–1913)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Michael Healy, 1902

Michael Healy, 1902

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Healey, Michael Matthew

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


4 September, 1913 (aged ~ 49)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

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