By Charles Guaring & Albert Seddon
Relative to the vast amount of surnames on record few leave lasting marks in history and the Pratt name is among this few.
Consider: Charles Pratt founded the first free Public Library in New York and the famous Pratt Institute. Silas Pratt founded the Pratt Institute of Music and Art, Enoch Pratt the Nonreservation Indian School at Carlisle, Penn., and Henry Pratt the Maryland School for the Deaf and Dumb. And these are only a few of the “monuments” left by the Pratts in England and America.
The name first appeared on record on the “Seals of Suffolk” in England in the year 1179, later in Berkshire in 1192 and again in Essex in 1295. When we consider that there were no surnames in existence to speak of before the 11th century the antiquity of the name of Pratt is evident.
It originated from the Old English word “praett” meaning “a trick”; it also implies everyone who is cunning or cute but we think this term was given to a person who employed wiles or stratagems in battle.
The Pratt name frequently appears on the records associated with government and politics and because of this an Edmund Pratt was appointed “the Lord of the Manor” in Carles, Hockwold by King Henry VIII for services rendered.
In all, twelve coats of arms were granted to the Pratt name, nine of these in England the other three in Ireland in the Counties Cavan, Cork and Meath where large tracts of land were owned by the receipients.
The crosses shown on the coat of arms illustrated are pointed at the bottom indicating that they are “Crusade” crosses; these were planted in the ground by knights in front of their tents whilst they slept.
In 1623 the first Pratt arrived in America from England. His name was Joshua Pratt and he was appointed “constable” at Plymouth, Massachusetts a few years after he landed in the “New World”. A “constable” in those days was like a minor governor rather than a policeman.
[Seattle Post Intelligencer, Apr. 29, 1970]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2007]