Granny Mick and her family
The legendary matriarch





Other sources

  1. The Family: Facts and Fables, book by Lindy Selley (daughter of Jan Carr), privately printed, 2022
  2. Correspondence from John Simcox, Steve Green, Clare Matheson and others (2007)
  3. 'Granny Mick and her grandchildren', notes by John C. Bragg
  4. Various correspondence with John C. Bragg
  5. Correspondence with Andrew Padmore, son of Tib

Family trees

Smith family tree
Family trees of the Smith, Watton, Carr and Hay families


Other information

Church Hill House


Church Hill House on Hamstead Road, Handsworth, 2019

The house was for many years a pub (the Endwood), and is now being converted into a mosque.

Granny Mick on the ocean wave
Granny Mick and Dot Carr 'on the ocean wave'

Photo (1912) courtesy of Phil Holcroft

This photo of Granny Mick looking like Miss Marple is from a trip she made to the Karnak temple in Egypt in 1912, with Frank and Dot Carr, Edie, and George Harry Johnstone. The story goes that Dot and Frank's holiday by themselves had expanded into a family party, which is why Dot looks slightly grumpy here. Credit to Lindy Selley for brilliant detective work.

Granny Mick and Edith in the garden
Granny Mick and Edie in the garden (probably of the Corner House)

Photo (1920s) courtesy of Peter Johnstone

Arthur and Hettie Knight
Arthur and Hettie Knight

Photo (1930s) courtesy of Phil Holcroft

Mary Isabel Bragg (née Smith) (centre) with her children Helen and Charles ('Char')

Photo (from 1920) courtesy of Tom and John Bragg

Lieut. Frank Carr


Lieut. Frank Carr

Photo (ca. 1916) at Handsworth Golf Club

Death of Frank Carr

Frank died in the night of 17th/18th April 1917, in the 2nd Battle of Gaza, part of the Sinai Palestine Campaign against the forces of the Ottoman Empire.

He had previously driven ambulances in France at the battle of Verdun in 1916; he then received a commission in the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps (later the Tank Corps), and returned to combat in command of a Mark I tank called 'Nutty'. This was only the second time tanks were used in war (the first being the Somme).

In the battle, his tank was alone in support of the Hampshire 8th Battalion and Suffolk 5th Battalion in attacking a redout called Kirbet-el-Sihan. His tank received a direct hit, and Frank, who climbed into the tank to get the driver out, was badly burned in the explosion, dying later of his wounds.1,8,ii He is buried at the Jerusalem Memorial and Cemetery.

For more details see Lindy Selley's book, pp. 116-130


Winifred Green Art Nouveau Silver Belt Buckle


Art Nouveau silver belt buckle by Charles S. Green & Co., designed by Winifred Green, 1905

Photo: kind permission of Leonard Antiques

Silk embroidery by Winifred Green
Silk embroidery by Winifred Green, 1910s

Picture in possession of Lindy Selley

Mrs Leicester's School 1 Mrs Leicester's School 2
Mrs. Leicester's School

Book by Charles and Mary Lamb, illustrated by Winifred Green, J.M. Dent, ca. 1899

Book in possession of Harriet Bridle

Yes, Cousin Joseph
Yes, Cousin Joseph!

Children's book by Frances Joyce with illustrations by Jan Green, published 1935

Photo courtesy of Peter Johnstone

Angling Annual 1 Angling Annual 2
Annual of Angling

Cartoons, by Jan Green, privately printed, 1935

['Bridge' is Dora Bridget Lunt]

Book in possession of Lindy Selley

Poems by Jan Green
Poems by Jan Green

Collected by Jan's granddaughter Kate, printed 1993

Painting by Tib Padmore
Painting by Tib Padmore, née Carr [untitled, 1980s]

By kind permission of her son Andrew

Coffee mug painted by Franky Carr
Coffee mug by Franky Carr

Photo: Lindy Selley

Jean Copley Smith
Jeanie Copley Smith née Carr ('Granny Mick')

Photo (from 1887) courtesy of Phil Holcroft

Thomas Henry Smith
Thomas Henry ('Tom') Smith

Photo (probably 1880s) courtesy of Phil Holcroft


Jeanie Copley Carr is somehow the central figure in the Smith side of the family. All roads lead to her and away from her, she is mentioned umpteen times in family correspondence,i,ii and she is the absent presence in the Smith family photo of 1898. And so it seems fitting that the final page of this website should be a kind of finale to this much-loved matriarch.

Needless to say, it is the encyclopedic memory and extensive research of John Bragg which is the source of much of this article.iii Supplementing that, Lindy Selley's book is also a wonderfully rich source of detail, anecdote and character.i

Jeanie was a Yorkshire lass (born at 34 Eyre Street in Sheffield), the fifth of 15 children of the Rev. James Byron Carr and Martha Hay (see the pages on the Carr family and the Hay family). As her father's Methodist ministry took him all over England, she wasn't able to stay anywhere for long - see the page on the Carr family for the places Jeanie lived while growing up. She worked for a time as a music teacher in Manchester in the early 1860s. It was while her father was stationed in Birmingham in 1865 that she managed to jump off this carousel: the Methodist chapel was on Cherry Street, where the Smith family had its stationery and bookbinding business. (See the map of Birmingham for most of the locations mentioned here.) She and Thomas Henry ('Tom') Smith met here and married in 1868, by which time Jeanie's father was stationed in Grimsby. The wedding (conducted by him) in the George Street Methodist chapel was probably one of the last times she entered a church: though not exactly irreligious, she did not share the Methodist fervour of both her parents, or of Tom's mother Elizabeth, nor the Swedenborgian convictions of the 'Handsworth set' (Johnstone, Faraday, Wilkinson, Bragg, Haseler, Rabone, Best et al.). At some later stage she really did vow never to enter a church again.i

Tom Smith in about 1875
Tom Smith aged about 30

Photo (ca. 1875) courtesy of Phil Holcroft


The man she married, Thomas Henry ('Tom') Smith was the eldest son of Thomas Smith of Birmingham. Thomas had a stationery business, which in those days encompassed printing, bookbinding and illustrating, and which Tom eventually took over. It may be that Tom's cousin William Sanderson also worked there at some stage. (See the page on the Smith family for details.) It seems he was a mild-mannered man, respected in his trade: 'Mr. Tom Smith of Moseley, a painter and engraver', as a biography of his son Frank puts it.1 His brothers entered more lucrative fields, and became wealthy public figures, as did his youngest sister. Tom was comfortably situated but not in their league.i He and Jeanie lived in various parts of Birmingham, ending up in the pleasant suburb of Moseley. Their eight children were born in five different places (see below) - mostly modest suburbs, compared to the grand Edgbaston villas of Tom's brothers and sisters. Tom tragically died in 1896 at age 51, apparently poisoned by fumes from a faulty flue in his own house.iii

'Granny Mick'

Thus began Jeanie Copley Smith's long widowhood of nearly 40 years. She was the mother of six daughters, only one of them married, and a teenage son. (Another son, Alexander Lascelles Smith, had died as a young child.) Her brother Alec Carr helped out by taking two of these off her hands: Edith and Frank went to live with him near Grimsby for a few years (see below, also the page on the Carr family). When they returned, Jeanie moved from Moseley to Handsworth Wood, a move made possible by Edie's legacy from Alec Carr.i The family - Edith and the youngest three children (Winnie and Dorrie were by this time married) - lived in Church Hill House, which was large but very cheap (it was directly above a railway tunnel). Hettie and Arthur Knight lived two doors away. In the following eight years, Mary, Jessie and Frank married, and later Jeanie moved with Edith to the Corner House on Handsworth Wood Road.ii,iii

Granny Mick in 1918
Granny Mick at 74

Photo from 1918, courtesy of Phil Holcroft

Jeanie was by all accounts a woman of wit and character. She combined a down-to-earth Yorkshireness with a certain playfulness and a gift for storytelling.i Although the wife and later widow of the poorest son of a rich family, she and her offspring refused to be cowed by their prosperous in-laws, carving out a niche as 'outsiders', free to do as they liked. Various words and turns of phrase peculiar to this side of the family probably arose at this time - 'cimp' (companion), 'con' (conversation), 'frithed' (smartly dressed) and so on. And then there was the 'Gypsy Blood', the family legend that one of Jeanie's ancestors was the result of a dalliance with a gypsy girl. This tale (see the pages on the Carr family and the Hay family) was the ideal cover-all explanation for any wayward behaviour by Jeanie or one of her brood.i But among the various theories for the origin of this ancestry was the breezy comment by Franky, Frank Carr's daughter, that it was all "a figment of Granny Mick's imagination".ii

Granny Mick and grandchildren
Jeanie Copley Smith (née Carr) ('Granny Mick') and her grandchildren, 1910

Back row: Stan Lunt, Alec Knight, Granny Mick, Tom Lunt, Steven Green, Humph Lunt

Middle row: Jeanie Knight, Helen Bragg, Tib Carr, Bridge Lunt

Front row: Mick Green, Mie Johnstone, Jan Carr, Char Bragg, Dave Carr, Lucy Johnstone

Photo courtesy of Peter Johnstone

Grandchildren started appearing soon after Tom's death, and it was one of these (Steven Green) who, unable to pronounce 'Smith', called her 'Granny Mick'. The name stuck and went into legend.i Eventually she was to have 17 of them, and 40 great-grandchildren. Granny Mick seems to have led an enjoyable life with her large family, playing cards (sometimes on a Sunday, sometimes for money - shock, horror!) and socialising. The story goes that she died at age 91 after falling down stairs in high heels while hurrying to get to a party.i Various photos show her doing the gardening, on board a ship, and of course the photo from 1910 (above) of her surrounded by 15 of her grandchildren (the other two, Franky Carr and Tom Johnstone, were not yet born).


Dora and Edith Smith
Dora and Edith Smith

Photo (1880s) courtesy of Phil Holcroft


Edith Piercy Smith, the eldest daughter, was born in 1869 in the district of Kings Norton, but exactly where is not clear.iv She worked for a time as a teacher, and was 27 (and single) when her father died. So perhaps she saw the move to her uncle's (see above) as an opportunity for new things. She effectively became Alec's housekeeper or 'chatelaine' in his grand house south of Grimsby.i After Alec died, Edie returned to Birmingham, now called Edith Carr Smith and with a substantial legacy, but still single. She liked to mention that a certain Lord Brocklesby had cast his eye on her in Lincolnshire, but this hadn't led anywhere. Later when the family moved into the orbit of the Johnstones, Edie became a close companion of George Harry Johnstone, Jessie's brother-in-law and "pride of Handsworth Wood", even referring to him as her "lover", but this probably never went further than a close friendship.i 'Miss Edie' (also called Auntie Dedie) thus settled down to a pleasant spinsterhood with her mother at Church Hill House and later the Corner House, outliving Granny Mick by only four years.

Winnie Smith
Winifred Smith

Photo (1890s): Phil Holcroft


Winifred was born in Great Brook Street, Duddeston, east of the city centre, in 1871.iv Of whole 'Johnstone/Smith' family branch, hers was perhaps the artistic talent which flowered most strongly (see the introductory page on the Johnstones). She studied at the newly-opened Birmingham School of Art,2 winning the Midland Institute Gold Medal in 1893, judged and awarded by William Morris.i After art school she worked as an illustrator of children's books, including books of moral tales, e.g. Mrs. Leicester's School by Charles and Mary Lamb (see photos left).3 Then in 1897 her artistic outlets expanded when she married Charles Stevenson Green.

Chas Green
Charles Stevenson ('Chas') Green (1868-1959)

Photo (1890s): Phil Holcroft

'Chas', as he was known, a goldsmith-turned-silversmith, was the son of Charles Green and Katherina Stevenson. Charles senior (1844-1906), a jeweller specialising in rings, contributed to the cultural and civic life of Birmingham in a manner similar to George Hope Johnstone, promoting education for all, and serving as a Liberal MP. His son on the other hand was a difficult man, probably at various stages unfaithful to his wife, and not averse to 'borrowing from the till'. The second of these failings was stopped abruptly when Chas and his father fell out and parted ways in 1902. Chas set up his own company, Charles S. Green & Co. Ltd., making silver articles of all sorts, but was not allowed to compete with his father's jewellery business. He and Winnie lived first in rooms on Pemberton Street in the Jewellery Quarter, then as the business began to grow, they moved back to Carpenter Road in Edgbaston (where Chas grew up), and later to Smethwick. Their two sons were born around this time: Charles Stevenson (known as Steven) in Handsworth in 1902, and Mick in Edgbaston in 1908. Mick was given the middle name Pemberton after the street where Chas and Winnie first lived (continuing a trend started by Granny Mick when she named Jessie).i

Winnie was able to employ her artistic talents as a designer in her husband's company, moving away from illustrating to a more serious Art Nouveau style (see photo below left).4 In addition to this work, she made beautiful embroidered silk pictures - see below left, also the picture of her niece and nephew Lucy and Tom on the page on Stanley Johnstone. Sadly, Winnie's artistic output came to an abrupt stop after the death of her first son Steven of bone cancer in 1919.

Mick, the second son, also became a silversmith in the family firm, and married his first cousin, Frank's daughter Jan Carr: see below under Frank.

Hettie Smith
Hester Gertrude ('Hettie') Smith

Photo (1896): Phil Holcroft


Hester Gertrude, born in 1874, also in Great Brook Street,iv was the first of the daughters to marry, and her son Alec was born a few weeks before his grandfather died. Hettie and her husband Arthur Knight (the only spouse not from Birmingham) settled in Handsworth Wood, and perhaps helped arrange Granny Mick's move there after she became widowed. Arthur ran a company making sparkling mineral water. This was a business ahead of its time, and was unfortunately not successful.

Three Knights and a dog
Hettie, Jeanie and Alec Knight

Photo (ca. 1914) courtesy of Lindy Selley

To help make ends meet, Hettie opened a dress shop on Temple Row in Birmingham,ii with the assistance of a generous male admirer. Her niece Helen Bragg worked in this shop for a time, to supplement the family income (her father Alan's jewellery business was apparently "flagging").i Before long Helen was snapped up by a certain Tom Martin, whom she later married. Hettie's son Alec worked for a time at Charles S. Green and Co.;ii he later joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a 2nd lieutenant, and was sadly killed at Gallipoli in October 1915 aged 19.5 His sister was Jeanie Copley Knight, who married Cyril Holcroft, a solicitor. Their grandson Phil Holcroft is the source for many of the photos used here.

Dorrie Smith
Dora Helena ('Dorrie') Smith

Photo (1890s): Phil Holcroft


Dora Helena ('Dorrie') Smith, not to be confused with her daughter Dora Bridget ('Bridge') Lunt, or for that matter Dora ('Dot') Carr, was born in Lee Bank Road in Edgbaston in 1873.iv She took after her mother and worked for a time as a music teacher. She married Randle Needham Lunt in 1897, thus starting a minor dynasty of 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. (The Lunt family photo of the year 2000 was a serious untertaking, numbering 56 faces plus 13 extras.) Randle was the son of Richard Lunt and Ann Needham from Cheshire (and half-brother to Olive Lunt, who married Harold ('Rol') Smith - see the page on the Smith family). He ran a successful clothing and textile emporium, headquartered in Old Square in Birmingham: Richard Lunt & Co.,6 a similar business to Wilkinson & Riddell started by Henry Wilkinson. Dorrie and Randle lived in 'Netherbyres', Salisbury Road, then on Wellington Road in Edgbaston. ('Netherbyres' was named after the house in Berwickshire where the Smith family sometimes took holidays - fond memories perhaps?) They had three sons, Tom, Stan and Humph, and a daughter Dora Bridget ('Bridge'). Stan and his son Michael were excellent golfers, each winning national Amateur Championships, in 1934 and 1963 respectively.6,7 Bridge married William Simcox, a solicitor. Their son John, a keen teller of family stories,ii worked for a time at Wilkinson & Riddell before going into business with Tom Johnstone, prior to which he was a page boy at the wedding of John Pennycuick and Lucy Johnstone (see page on Sir John Pennycuick).ii

Mary Smith
Mary Isabel Smith

Photo (1890s): Phil Holcroft


Mary Isabel (known as 'Mur') was born in 1875, also in Lee Bank Road.iv She married into the Bragg family, forming the first of three links between Granny Mick's children and the 'Handsworth set' (the others were Jessie and Frank - see below). Alan was the son of Charles Bayley Bragg, and worked in the jewellery company his father had started with Walter Best (see below). Alan can be seen in photos (from the 1900s?) boating and skating on Hamstead Pool - see the page on 'the Colony'. He and Mary settled in Handsworth Wood and had two children: Charles Alan ('Char'), the father of family history expert John C. Bragg, became a director of Wilkinson & Riddell and lived to 101; Helen, who like many of her cousins attended St Joseph's Convent School (see below), worked for a time in her aunt Hettie's dress shop (see above).

Jessie Smith in 1900
Jessie Smith in 1900

Photo: Peter Johnstone


Jessie Braithwaite Smith, my great-grandmother, was born in 1879 in Braithwaite Road in Sparkbrook, hence her middle name.iv (See above for Mick Pemberton Green of Pemberton Street.) She, like Mary, grew up in Church Hill House on Hamstead Road, a short hop from 'the Colony' on Hamstead Hill: both married scions of Colony founders, in Jessie's case Stanley Johnstone, son of George Hope Johnstone. Stanley had taken over his father's successful jewellery business, and he and Jessie moved into 'Headingley' after his father died. Jessie features prominently, along with Dorrie and Granny Mick, in various family reminiscences.i,ii (It seems that she, like Hettie, had generous male admirers...) See the page on Stanley Johnstone for details of her family.

Frank Carr
Frank Clifford Carr (né Smith)

Photo (1910s): Phil Holcroft


Frank Clifford Smith was the long-hoped-for son of Tom and Granny Mick (another boy, Alec, died as a young child). He was born in Moseley in 1881 soon after the family moved there,iv and educated at Rydal Mount school in Colwyn Bay, Wales.1 After his father died in 1896 he was shipped off to Waltham Grove near Grimbsy, near the birthplace of his maternal grandmother Martha Hay, to learn the ways of business from his uncle Alec, a wealthy timber merchant, and relieve the pressure on his widowed mother. (See the map of Lincolnshire for locations.) His eldest sister Edie went with him and they formed a strong bond.i Alec treated Frank like the heir apparent, and indeed he received a considerable inheritance when his uncle died in 1900, but not the house, which was auctioned off by Alec's brother Robert (see the page on the Carr family).

Frank, now Frank Clifford Carr, returned with Edie to Birmingham and joined his uncle Samuel Smith's Imperial Bedstead Company as a clerk, later buying himself a partnership (with Uncle Alec's legacy) and becoming a director (see page on the Smith family).i It is possible that Thomas Wells, the husband of his aunt Frances Catherine Carr, also worked here. Frank had taken up golf while in Lincolnshire, and back in Handsworth started to play at a high level, representing England against Scotland in 1911.1 His picture still hangs on the wall of the Handsworth Golf Club, alongside one of his sister Winnie (see page on 'the Colony'). While there he met Dora ('Dot') Best, daughter of Handsworth G.C. founder member Walter Best and Eva Wilkinson. Dot's parents were quite conservative, teetotal and committed members of the New Church, and probably looked askance at Granny Mick's family partaking of sherry and playing cards on a Sunday.i Dot and Frank were married in the Wretham Road New Church and lived on Church Lane in Handsworth Wood, near Frank's sister Hettie. But not four months after his youngest daughter was born, Frank was killed in Palestine in 1917.1,8 See side note for details.

Dora Carr and children
Dora ('Dot') Carr with Dave, Jan and Tib

Photo (from 1915) courtesy of Andrew Padmore

Frank Carr's family

Frank and Dot had four children: Dave, Jan, Hester Edith ('Tib') and Alixe Eva ('Franky'). Frank's daughters and granddaughters followed Lucy and Mie Johnstone and their daughters in attending St Joseph's Convent School for girls near Tamworth. Helen Bragg (Mary's daughter) and Beth Best (Dot's niece) also went there. See the page on Stanley and Jessie Johnstone for details and photos.

Dave was, it seems, the black sheep of the family, drinking too much and drifting from job to job. Finally after World War II he took a cheap one-way fare to Australia, where he settled and married for the second time.i

Jan married her first cousin, Winnie's son Mick Green (after first casting her eye on two other cousins, John Hadfield and Peter Chamberlain).i After the war they bought and restored the countryside idyll that was Woodbury, in the Worcestershire hills above the Teme valley. This magical farm, with its extraordinary view and ancient, aga-warmed kitchen, held a special place in the family for some 50 years.

Woodbury kitchen


The kitchen at Woodbury Hill Farm, in 1992

Alba and Peter McConnell, Lindy Selley, Jan Green, Nick Selley

Jan inherited the family's artistic genes: she drew cartoon books featuring members of her family, and illustrated a published children's book (see above left). She also wrote poems, which have been collected in a volume by her granddaughter Kate. Jan and Mick had two daughters, Lucy and Lindy, and a son Frank Charles Stevenson ('Steve') Green. Steve and Lindy have contributed a enormous wealth of detail and 'human interest' to the compendium of Smith family history.i,ii

Around the hill from Woodbury lived Jan's sister Tib, whose husband Terence Padmore made billiard tables. Tib was also a serious artist, and had a painting presented in the Royal Academy summer exhibition in 1958.9 She was later taught by her son-in-law Tam Lawrence at the Kidderminster School of Art.v

Frank and Dot's youngest daughter Alixe Eva was born on Christmas Day 1916 and later acquired the name 'Franky' in memory of her father.i Like her sisters, Franky was also an artist, making and painting elegant pieces of pottery (see photo left). Soon after the 2nd World War she married for the second time, to Will Johnson, and they ran a dairy farm outside Bath, before moving to deepest Cornwall, where they restored a tumbledown thatched cottage, the almost unfeasibly charming Venton Gannel.