July 25, 1995
Jared Pratt Family Association
c/o Robert J. Grow 9767 Little Cottonwood Place Sandy, Utah 84092
Dear Pratt Cousin:
On the next two pages, please find a description of a discovery connecting Lt. William Pratt of Connecticut (upper picture) with Rev. William Pratt, his father, of England. We’re also planning a family reunion for next summer, as well as a major temple work project. Thank you.
The Pratt’s Trans-Oceanic Connection Strengthened
by Robert and Linda Grow
In the summer of 1993, we had the opportunity to visit England. We were interested in
visiting Stevenage, where the Reverend William Pratt served as parish priest from 1598 to 1629.We only had one day in which to visit Stevenage and Cambridge, both north of London. We had originally planned to visit Stevenage on the way back from Cambridge, but as the train approached Stevenage, Robert felt that we should get off. When we explained to a local cabbie that we were looking for a church near Stevenage, where our ancestor had been the pastor over three and a half centuries earlier, he took us to St. Mary’s Church in Baldock, a small town close to Stevenage where Reverend William Pratt was born in 1562. Although this was not the church we were looking for, we had the good fortune to meet there Maureen Lane (an energetic Englishwoman in her 60’s), who was working on a national historical project to record the inscriptions and artwork in St. Mary’s and other local churches. Upon hearing about our search, she at first suggested we visit the oldest church in downtown Stevenage. Later she pursued us down the street to tell us she now "felt" to direct us to St. Nicholas Church on the outskirts of Stevenage and offered to take us there in her own car. The beautiful centuries-old St. Nicholas Church just outside present-day Stevenage (but in the center of the town in the 17th century) proved to be the one we were looking for as it contained an old metal plaque in the wall on the left side of the altar honoring the Reverend William Pratt. Since we were there on a weekday, when the church is almost always closed, we felt blessed to find people there who were willing to show us around. We were touched by how much these people cared about their history and heritage and by their dedication to the old church entrusted to their care.
The genealogy problem we hoped to resolve concerned the birth dates of the two oldest sons of the Reverend William Pratt, John and William. It was believed that John and William immigrated to America, helped settle Hartford, Connecticut, with the Reverend Thomas Hooker, and became prominent citizens there. Our problem was that the birth dates in the family records were in the early 1620’s, which would most likely have made John and William too young to be the prominent citizens described. We hoped to be able to locate information that would solve this mystery.
Following our visit to St. Nicholas, Maureen was kind enough to drive us several miles to
the Hertfordshire Record Office. We first got our "reader’s ticket" (good until 1997 if we can make it back!) and then located the parish records for Stevenage on microfilm. The office was very busy, but we were finally able to use a microfilm reader and soon discovered that the microfilmed records did not clear up the mystery but may have been the source of the confusion. We could find no birth record for William (the son of Reverend William Pratt and our ancestor) at all and the record we found for John did not have a date at the top of the page; we, like Orson Pratt in the mid-1800’s, assumed the date to be 1620, as 1620 was the date on the page of the parish record microfilmed to the immediate left. (A highly unreadable copy of these microfilm records is located in the LDS Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City.) We put the microfilm back and then examined the Baldock Parish Records where we found the birth date of October 1562, for Rev. William Pratt, whose father was listed as Andrew.
After explaining our dilemma in detail to Ms. Gillian Sheldrick, an archivist, she suggested that we next examine the Bishop’s Record. The Bishop’s Record was a record that the Bishop of an area requested that the parish priests under his jurisdiction prepare once a year listing all the births, deaths and marriages of the parish. We requested that these records be located and after several minutes a large box was given to us. The box contained original handwritten records on parchment which were carefully wrapped and tied together in a bundle. (Bishop’s Transcript, Stevenage, 1604-1711, Bundle 141,1-55, a readable copy of which is in the LDS Genealogy Library.) The handwriting was elegant and easily readable, although some of the pages were partially illegible due to fire or water damage and many years were missing completely. After looking through the pile of documents for a few minutes we came upon one which contained the previously unknown birth date of William Pratt as recorded by the hand of his father, Reverend William Pratt. The date was June 6, 1609. WOW!! This was a key part of the information we had been seeking. We were absolutely thrilled and amazed that we had actually found the birth date in an original source! It was almost more than we had dared hope for. We also found birth dates in the Bishop’s Record for two other children of Reverend William Pratt-Sara Pratt and Richard Pratt-but as yet no record of John Pratt’s birth except that found on the parish record microfilm.
We now knew that John Pratt’s birth date must be prior to 1609 as he was listed on the St. Nicholas Church plaque as the older brother. Since we could find no record of him in the
Bishop’s Record (as many years were missing), we decided to locate John Pratt on the microfilm of the parish record once again. Our time was quickly running out as it was almost closing time. Robert then remembered that a note at the beginning of the microfilm implied that the parish records had been damaged many years ago and then rebound. As we and Ms. Sheldrick carefully examined the microfilm containing John Pratt’s birth once again, it became apparent that the parish records that had been microfilmed were in fact somewhat out of order, incomplete, and some pages were missing entirely. A close examination of the order of months and years on the pages before and after the page on which John’s birth date appears revealed that he was born on either November 29, 1606 or 1607 (not November 29, 1620) because the backside of the undated page evidencing his birth was dated 1607 in the microfilm record. Ms. Sheldrick theorized that the parish records had been in disrepair (which was not uncommon) and
were rebound with pages out of order or missing, and then the records had been microfilmed that way.
After returning home, we hired the Hertfordshire County Recorder to reverify these dates as far as possible by examining all surviving relevant records available at the Record Office. After conducting the "fullest research possible," she has verified our conclusions in writing.
These newly-found birth dates for John and William Pratt indicate that the two young men who left England and settled in Hartford, Connecticut, were the sons of Reverend William Pratt of Stevenage, England, as the family has believed all along, only now we are able to provide significant credible substantiation from original sources for these assertions based on their birth dates. (Note: There are no burial records for John or William in the Stevenage records, nor are they mentioned in their father’s will. Our research suggests that the immigration records of New England do not reference John or William Pratt’s arrival in American in the relevant time period, as is the case with many early colonists. We are still hopeful of finding some further substantiation of the Pratt’s family ties to England in the Connecticut records later this summer.) We are now highly confident that the mystery has finally been resolved and that Reverend William Pratt, the Cambridge-trained Anglican priest with possible Puritan sympathies who spent the last thirty years of his life in the service of his small flock in Stevenage, England, is in fact our common progenitor.
That day we spent in England (even though we didn’t make it to Cambridge) was nothing
short of remarkable for us. We never imagined that we would be able to shed light on a
genealogy problem that has plagued the Pratt family in America for more than a century since the first genealogical research of our English roots was done by Orson Pratt in the 1850’s. We are greatly indebted to Maureen Lane, a stranger who befriended us, and the personnel of the Hertfordshire Record Office for their expertise and assistance.
Pratt Family Update
The Jared Pratt Family Association, founded in 1880 by Orson Pratt, has three main purposes: to preserve the Pratt family history for ourselves and our children; to engage in and coordinate ancestral research for the progenitors of Jared and Charity Pratt; and to find and compile records for all the descendants of Jared and Charity Pratt. Jared and Charity were the parents of five sons: Anson, William Dickinson, Parley Parker, Orson, and Nelson. The Jared Pratt Family Association recently held reunions in Salt Lake City in 1991, in Nauvoo in 1993, and now, without further ado and with little fanfare, we invite you to mark your calendar for the. . .
1996 Reunion and Family History Conference
We are tentatively planning a large family reunion to be held in Salt Lake City on
Saturday, July 20, 1996, in conjunction with the centennial of Utah statehood. Even though Jared and Charity Pratt, and their sons Anson and Nelson, never lived in Utah, the other three sons, William, Parley, and Orson, and many of their descendants made significant contributions to Utah history. Any suggestions for reunion activities would be greatly appreciated. To date, planning has gone no further than the preceding sentence. We need volunteers to serve as a reunion committee to assist in the preparation of the reunion. If you are interested, please contact us by mail or by phone at (801) 943-4648.
Continue Descendants Search
In preparation for this reunion, we would like to renew the effort to find and record all
descendants, living and dead, of Jared and Charity Pratt. The descendancy record currently stands at 23,700 individuals, which we believe to be the largest and most complete descendancy of any large pioneer family. However, we estimate that this may be only half of the descendants of the Pratts. In order to compile this record, we need your help in the following ways:
1. Submit family group sheets for your family, both for you as a parent and as a child, if you have not already done so.
2. Update us on any changes which have occurred in the descendancy record in the last few years (i.e. births, marriages, deaths, etc.)
3. Submit genealogical information for other relatives, such as siblings, cousins, grandchildren, etc., which you possess or can obtain.
4. Help research one of the many "dead-end" lines, especially if there is one close to you. (Call us for details.)
**Matthew Grow, compiler of the descendancy database, is going to BYU in the fall and on a two-year mission for the LDS Church in late spring, so please send him your info ASAP. (801) 943-4648.
Renew the Mailing List
Over the past five years, with your generous help, we have compiled a mailing list from an initial list of approximately 300 correct addresses, to a list which now includes 2,200 families. If you have moved, we need your new address immediately, or we will lose contact with you, perhaps forever. Also, if you have knowledge of individuals who are descendants whom you do not believe are on our mailing list (like your children, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.), we would appreciate a list of addresses, so we can contact these individuals and include them in future mailings. If you know which grandchild of Jared these people descend from, that information would also be helpful.
Ancestors of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson
The Jared Pratt Family Association (JPFA) is currently involved in a project to edit our ancestral lines as recorded in the LDS Church’s Ancestral File (AF) in order to update and correct the information that is there. As you are aware, this information has been submitted by numerous descendants of our common ancestors, Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. When different information is submitted by different researchers on one individual, the information is stored as separate individuals, although in reality the information refers to the same person.
It is desirable to have ancestral lines recorded in the AF be as correct and well-documented as possible. It is obvious that the information should be the same for all of the ancestors of Jared and Charity. This means that the differences or errors in the current AF should be examined and that the most well-documented, reliable information should be submitted to correct the files.
It is advisable for information to be collected, edited, and submitted to the AF through family organizations, thus preventing duplication of submissions and the submission of conflicting information to the file. We are fortunate to have an extended Pratt family association through which we can submit information to the AF.
I have been asked by the president of the Jared Pratt Family Association, Robert Grow, to edit and correct the AF of our common ancestors, Jared and Charity Pratt. As I searched the AF, I found that the records are extremely complex and convoluted, with many duplications and errors.
A technician at the Medieval Files in the Family History Department advised me to target the corrections in the file back to the 1500’s and to wait on attempting to correct earlier data at this time. This seems to be wise advice. I decided to tackle the task by breaking it down into segments of 100 years starting with the generations of ancestors living in the 1800’s, then the 1700’s, etc. Prior to any "corrections or changes" being submitted to the AF, I want to be sure that I have all of the available information.
There are those of you who are also aware of the discrepancies in the data in the AF. Your information and help is needed to make our records as correct and complete as possible. If you have any information that differs from that in the AF, would you please cooperate with me and send me copies of changes along with your documentation of the change.
Grandfather Pratt family organizations, along with the descendancy arm of the Jared Pratt Family Association, will be responsible for correcting the data for a particular family back to Jared and Charity Pratt. The ancestral arm of the JPFA will be responsible for correcting the ancestral lines from Jared and Charity Pratt back to the 1500’s. Those of you who have information, please send it to me.
Amy C. Odell
3433 Tice Creek Dr.
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
I look forward to your cooperation with this project which will benefit all of our family.
Amy C. Odell
A Note to Our LDS Relatives
Temple Work: “Do It Now!”
by Matthew Grow
With the LDS Church’s Temple Ready project is nearing completion, we feel that the time is right to complete all temple work for the deceased descendants of Jared and Charity Pratt for which we have records. At the same time, we believe that the temple work for the descendants of Lieutenant William Pratt, Jared Pratt’s immigrant ancestor (five generations earlier), and his brother John should also be completed as found in two books, published in 1864 and 1900, respectively. We will be opening family files in the next few weeks under the name of the Jared Pratt Family Association in the following temples-Idaho Falls, Los Angeles, Mesa, Salt Lake, Jordan River, Provo, and Bountiful (and other temples upon request).
In 1870, Orson Pratt and his family completed much of the temple work for individuals listed in Rev. Frederick Chapman’s The Pratt Family, which contained approximately 5400 descendants of Lt William Pratt. Lt. William and John Pratt have very large and prominent families, including many generals and ministers, several Congressmen, and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (not to mention all of us). Many of those individuals were still alive in 1870 when Orson Pratt first attempted to do the temple work for the descendants of William, and we do not believe there has ever been a concerted effort for the descendants of John Pratt. Also, we have garnered information on the descendants of Lt. William Pratt from other sources, including a book on the descendants of his great great grandson Zadock Pratt, whose seven children include a son, also Zadock, a prominent Congressman in the 1830’s and 1840’s, who was successful in first appropriating money for the transcontinental railroad and the Bureau of Statistics, later to become the Department of the Interior. Also, information on the descendants of Jared Pratt’s brothers and sisters was found in Arthur Coleman’s Pratt Pioneers
We will first be placing names of the descendants of Lt. William and John Pratt in the family files. We will wait approximately one month before we submit any names of the descendants of Jared and Charity Pratt, as we believe that those closest in lineage to the deceased individuals should complete their temple work. If you believe that there are individuals fairly close in relationship to you for whom you would like to complete temple work, please contact us about those specific individuals in the next three weeks. We will do everything we can to accommodate individual requests to ensure that people have an opportunity to complete temple work for people on their lines.
These family files should be fairly large, and we invite all interested family members to help us ensure that this work is completed. Upon request, we will send additional names to other temples or to temples in which the family file becomes depleted, until all the work has been completed. We are counting on the family to provide all ordinance work, include baptisms, endowments, and sealings.
Because the ordinances must be done sequentially, if you plan on doing only endowments or sealings, we encourage you to call ahead to check if there are names which are ready for those ordinances
In a letter dated March 10,1853, Orson Pratt wrote the following to his brother Parley concerning the research being done by Frederick W. Chapman on the descendants of Lt. William Pratt. Orson relates his feelings when he first heard of this project:
"I wept like a little child. I was so overjoyed that I could not refrain from weeping. Now my dear brother, there are none among all the descendants of our ancestor, Lieut. William Pratt, who have so deep an interest in searching out his descendants as ourselves. We know that the God of our fathers has had a hand in all this. Yea, blessed be the name of the Lord God of Joseph and of Israel; for he hath given into our hands the keys of the priesthood, and the doctrines of salvation that we might stand as Saviours to our ancestors and their lineal descendants. Let us, my dear brother Parley, take hold of this matter in earnest, and assist our kindred in the laudable enterprise that they have undertaken."
Now it has fallen to us to help complete what Orson termed this "laudable enterprize" 142 years ago, assisting the lineal descendants of our ancestors to do what they cannot do for themselves.
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Dec. 2006]