Stanley and Jessie Johnstone and family





Other sources

  1. Correspondence with Richard, Peter and Laurence, sons of Tom Johnstone
  2. Correspondence with John C. Bragg
  3. Correspondence from John Simcox, Steve Green, Clare Matheson and others (2007)
  4. My mother, Alba McConnell (daughter of Lucy Johnstone)
  5. The Family: Facts and Fables, book by Lindy Selley (daughter of Jan Carr), privately printed, 2022
  6. Correspondence with Harriet Bridle (daughter of Mie Johnstone)

Family trees

Johnstone family tree
Family trees of the Johnstone, Faraday, Wilkinson and Swift families

Also showing Bragg, Haseler, Rabone and Best


Other information

Hamstead Hall


Hamstead Hall in 1936

Johnstone family at Headingley
The Johnstone family at New Headingley

Tom, John Pennycuick, Lucy, Jessie, Stanley

Photo (1930s) in possession of our family

Mie and Lucy at Headingley
Mie and Lucy (ca. 1912)

Photo: Peter Johnstone

Stanley and Tom in uniform
Stanley and Tom in uniform (ca. 1918)

Photo: Peter Johnstone

Christmas poem

A peep into life at Headingley is given by the Christmas Poem which Stanley sent to the throng gathered there while he was in France in December 1918. Stanley, known in the family as 'DLD' (which stood for 'Dear Little Daddy'!), managed to mention almost every one of his relations, often with nicknames and obscure references .i (Full text on request)

Christmas Greetings 1918 by S. Jeanpierre [!]

In 1918, that's the year when I was far away.

My thoughts turned to Headingley, that winter's Christmas day.

I thought of all my dear old friends, assembled round the table:

A noisy merry crew they were, more like the crowd of Babel.

Lucy and Tom silk embroidery
Lucy and Tom Johnstone, 1916

Silk embroidery by Winifred Green

Photo courtesy of Laurence Johnstone

The St Joseph's twelve

Lucy Johnstone and subsequently eleven of her relatives attended St Joseph's Convent School for Girls, in Haunton Hall near Tamworth. This was established in 1904 by an order of French (later Irish) nuns,6 and provided a valuable if quirky education to two generations of the family.iv To counteract possible Catholic influences, the family took the precaution of 'flooding' the school with non-Catholic children - in the early days, 'les cousines' made up the bulk of the pupils.v The twelve were:

St Joseph's Convent School


St Joseph's Convent School, Haunton, probably 1930s

St Joseph's group photo
Pupils at St Joseph's Convent School

Back centre: possibly Father Gamble

Cousins group front centre (L-R): Helen Bragg (kneeling, in dark waistcoat), Jan Carr, Tib Carr

Photo (mid-1920s) courtesy of Andrew Padmore

Jessie Johnstone embroidery
Embroidery by Jessie Johnstone, dated 1944, in possession of our family

Happy the man, whose wish and care

a few paternal acres bound,

content to breathe his native air,

in his own ground.

Blest, who can unconcern'dly find

hours, days, and years, slide soft away

in health of body, peace of mind,

quiet by day,

sound sleep by night; study and ease

together mixt, sweet recreation,

and innocence, which most does please

with meditation.

The house is the Old Manor House, the poem is Ode on solitude by Alexander Pope (1688-1744), minus the last stanza.

Family historians

Stanley's family has produced a crop of historians, committed to notating, compiling, collecting and generally keeping the flame alive. Tom Johnstone drew family trees of most branches of his family, meticulously set out in two books, up until about 1946. He deserves much praise for these labours of love. He also contributed to the excellent radio programme about his grandfather's involvement in Elgar's Dream of Gerontius ('The Dream Makers' - see the page on George Hope Johnstone).

Johnstone brothers
Peter, Laurence and Richard Johnstone and an archivist from the Library of Birmingham

The occasion is the presentation of the Headingley Birthday Book to the Library, September 2019

See page on George Hope Johnstone for details

Tom's sons Richard, Peter and Laurence (photo above) have also made a huge contribution to keeping the memories of their (our) ancestors fresh, for which I for one am very grateful. And Mie's daughter Harriet has amassed a large collection of family documents and memorabilia, and made exciting research excursions with cousin Lindy.

Stanley Johnstone
Stanley Johnstone

Photo courtesy of Laurence Johnstone

Jessie Johnstone
Jessie Braithwaite Johnstone, née Smith

Photo courtesy of Laurence Johnstone

The union of Stanley and Jessie linked the two main families in this grouping: the Johnstones, core of the Handsworth set, mainstays of  'the Colony', and the Smiths, prosperous Edgbaston businessmen. This happy family took over the Johnstone jewellery business and the grand house 'Headingley' (which they later replaced), and gently made the transition from Victorian into (new) Georgian and Elizabethan England.


The fourth child, and second son, of George Hope Johnstone (GHJ), Stanley was born in 'Headingley', the Victorian house in 'the Colony' which GHJ had built in 1873. After Malvern College,1 he entered the family business, G.H. Johnstone & Co., goldsmiths, which specialised in cuff-links, collar studs and the like. Following his father's death in 1909, Stanley and his elder brother George Harry, later joined by Stanley's son Tom, ran the firm, continuing the success and prestige it had enjoyed under GHJ, until the start of World War II. In the late 1920s they introduced a collar stud made as a single piece without solder, marketed as the 'O.P.' (for 'one-piece'?) range.i

Stanley Johnstone BJSA medal
BJSA medal given to Stanley Johnstone, dated 1912, 1915 and 1916

Photo: Laurence Johnstone

In contrast to his charismatic, assertive father, Stanley was a mild-mannered, unassuming man (although sharing GHJ's lively sense of humour).i He was obviously (also like his father) well respected in the profession, serving first as Hon. Sec., then Vice-Chairman, then Chairman of the Birmingham Jewellers and Silversmiths Association (BJSA) from 1904 to 1916 (see photo).

During the 1st World War, Stanley served in the Royal Army Service Corps in France, as a 2nd lieutenant.2 He was required to stay on in France for a time after the cessation of hostilities, so was not able to be in Headingley for Christmas in 1918. Instead he sent a poem full of family jargon and witty references to all his relatives, which has taken its place in the family folklore (see below left).

Although less conventionally sporting than his daughters (see below), Stanley was reputedly able to play tennis with himself, by dint of jumping over the net between lob shots (not easy as he was not very tall).i

Johnstone family
The Johnstone family at Headingley

Children (L to R): Mie, Lucy, Tom

Photo (1910s) in possession of our family


In 1904 Stanley married Jessie, the youngest daughter of Tom Smith and Granny Mick. Her middle name apparently came from Braithwaite Road in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, where the family was then living.ii Jessie, whose father died when she was 17, had grown up in various parts of the city, eventually settling in Church Hill House in Handsworth, with her mother and two of her sisters, Edie and Mary. This little family knot (plus sister Hettie and brother Frank who lived nearby) enjoyed a busy social life of bridge, golf and parties.iii In 1903 Mary married Alan Bragg, grandson of Colony founder John Bragg, and Jessie followed her into this set a year later. She and Stanley initially lived on the Handsworth Wood Road, then after George Hope Johnstone died in 1909, they moved into Headingley House, together with GHJ's widow Catherine and Stanley's somewhat eccentric brother George Harry.

New Headingley
'New Headingley', built in the 1930s

In the foreground are Lucy and Stanley

Photo (probably by John Pennycuick) belonging to our family

'New Headingley'

In the early 1930s Stanley and Jessie decided to replace the original Victorian house with a more modern one, also called Headingley. While the new house was being built, the family lived in nearby Hamstead Hall, a grand manor house complete with a hermit's cave in the garden.iii (It was demolished in 1936.2) The family moved into their elegant new house in about 1935, but unfortunately their stay there was short: Stanley died in 1936, after which Jessie, Lucy and Tom (and George Harry) continued to live there. But when war broke out, Tom joined the army and the house was sold, and eventually demolished in 1963 when the area was redeveloped. After the sale of the house, Jessie moved to a flat on the Bristol Road in Edgbaston (near Tom and her sister Dorrie).i,iv She was skilled at embroidery, and made a sampler of the Old Manor House as a house-warming present for Lucy.


Jessie Johnstone and grandchildren
Jessie Johnstone (née Smith) with her children and grandchildren

Back row: Tom Johnstone, Harriet Trentham, David Trentham, Alba Pennycuick, June Johnstone (née Best)

(inset: Laurence Johnstone)

Middle row: Mie Trentham (née Johnstone), John ('Joe') Pennycuick, Jessie, David Trentham (snr.), Lucy Pennycuick (née Johnstone)

Front row: Bruce Trentham, Giles Trentham, Richard Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, John Pennycuick jnr.

Photo (at the Old Manor House, probably summer 1951) in possession of our family

Lucy Johnstone, France
Lucy Johnstone in the south of France

Photo (ca. 1929) courtesy of Peter Johnstone


Stanley and Jessie's eldest daughter, called 'Lu', inherited much of the artistic talent with which the Johnstone and Smith families were blessed, becoming a fine pianist. She attended St Joseph's Convent School near Tamworth, to be followed by eleven of her relatives (see left),v and later studied (French and music?) in Paris.iv

Luc and Mie Johnstone tennis
Lucy and Mie Johnstone at a tennis tournament

Photo (ca. 1930) belonging to our family

Her other great talent was tennis: she captained the Warwickshire ladies team and was county champion many times. She competed in the ladies' singles at Wimbledon in 1930; she and Mie were also a formidable doubles pair (see below). Lucy met her future husband, barrister and later judge John Pennycuick (known in the family as Joe) at a tournament in Folkestone in 1929, and married him the following December (having competed together in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon). After their marriage they lived at Headingley for a while, and in 1944 bought the beautiful Old Manor House near Buckingham, equipped of course with a tennis court. Jessie's embroidered sampler (photo left) depicts the house along with some of its fauna and flora. Lucy and Joe had two children, Alba (my mother) and John. See the page on Sir John Pennycuick for more details and photos.

Wedding Mie Johnstone David Trentham
The wedding of Mie Johnstone and David Trentham, Handsworth, June 1934

Photo courtesy of Harriet Bridle


Lucy's younger sister Margery followed her into St Joseph's (where she acquired her nickname 'Mie') and onto the tennis court: she also was a top county player, competing in the ladies' singles at Wimbledon every year from 1933 to 1937, and with Lucy in the ladies' doubles from 1930 to 1937 (except 1935 shortly before Alba was born). In 1930, Joe, Lucy and Mie played in both doubles and both singles competitions.5 In 1934 Mie married David Percy Trentham. David was a Commander in the Royal Navy - rumour has it that Prince Philip was one of his underlingsiii - and tended to treat his family like ratings on a ship. During the war Mie and her two eldest children lived near Kingsclere in Hants, where she worked driving Land Girls to the local farms, and taught map reading to soldiers, to the amusement of her husband!vi

Trentham family in garden
The Trentham family in the garden of the Red House

David, Mie, Giles, Harriet, Bruce, David snr.

Photo (from 1961) courtesy of Harriet Bridle

After the war Mie and David lived at the Red House at Yateley on the Berks/Hants border, also of course equipped with a tennis court. Mie had a talent for the stage, and was often involved in various 'theatricals'.vi She was also musical like her sister and brother, singing and writing the lyrics to songs which Tom set to music. She and David had three sons, David, Giles and Bruce, and a daughter Harriet, who all inherited Mie's talent for sports.


Stanley's son, named Stanley but called Tom to avoid confusion, grew up in both the Headingleys. He went into and later ran the family jewellery firm, but when war broke out he joined the armed forces and had to sell the business, and 'New Headingley', which the family had only recently moved into. Also at that time Tom married June Best, great-granddaughter of Robert Best (1803-63), whose two nieces Jane and Anne were founder residents of 'the Colony', and who drew the fascinating 'Family Knot' diagram shown on that page.

Tom Johnstone wedding
Wedding of Tom and June Johnstone, Edgbaston Old Church, Oct 1939

L-R Lucy Pennycuick (née Johnstone), John Pennycuick, Robert Dudley Best, Fred Bell-Scott, Tom Johnstone, June Johnstone (née Best), Jessie Johnstone (née Smith), John Best, Anne Best (later Feeny), Mie Trentham (née Johnstone)

After the war Tom went into partnership with his cousin John Simcox (Dorrie Smith's grandson), running a business that made parts for the automobile industry.i Tom and June lived in Wellington Road in Edgbaston and later near the Solent in Hampshire, where they enjoyed sailing. They had three sons, Richard, Peter and Laurence (see side note). Tom inherited his grandfather's great love for music, and played the piano well. He and Mie co-wrote some songs in the 'popular song' style of the 1930s.i And starting in about 1928, Tom captured on cine film many wonderful family moments - at Headingley (old and new), and on ski slopes and beaches.

Old Malt House group
Family at the Old Malt House

June, Tom, Ann Best (later Feeny), Mie, Alba, Harriet

Photo (early 1940s) in possession of our family

Old Malt House
The Old Malt House

Photo (early 1940s) courtesy of Harriet Bridle

During World War II some of the family took refuge in a beautiful country house near Kingsclere in Hampshire called the Old Malt House, which belonged to the Spranger family, friends of John Pennycuick. Headingley had been sold, and the Old Manor House and the Red House not yet bought, so Lucy and Mie and their children, plus Lucy's sister-in-law Bryda Brancker camped in this fantasy-land house, complete with a hop-kiln roof and a secret passage.