Pratt Family Biographies

by Una Pratt Giles
daughter of Parley Parker Pratt Jr.
granddaughter of Parley Parker Pratt and
great granddaughter of Jared Pratt

Pratt History

The name of Pratt is variously spelled in more historic writings as, Pratt, Prat, Pratte, Pradt, Praed, Prate, Praer and Prayers. It is a surname derived, like many of the Norman and Saxon names, from a locality. The Latin word “Pratum” means meadow. The Spanish word is “Prado.” The French word is “Preaux,” meaning prairie. The clerks who wrote the Liber Censualis (Dooms-Book or Dooms-day Book) and other records and enrollments of the 11th and 12th centuries traces the translated words and names either into Latin or French or retained them in Saxon, at their pleasure. These occupying meadow lands would be entered by registrars as De Prato or Pratensis, others as Du Pre. Still others would be called in the language of the conquered people, such as Mades, Maed or Mead. Names of families, which among other European nations have precisely the same signification with this are Italian, Prato; Spanish, Prado; French, Du Pre; German, Wiess; Danish, Eneng. The English names Praer and Prayers, seems to have come through the latinized form of the French Prairies; to-wit: De Praeries.

The home of the English Pratts, anciently, as well as today, is chiefly in the eastern and southern parts of England, in the counties of Leicester, Huntington, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Devon, Lincoln, and Hartford. Nine distinct armorial bearings granted by the Heralds College are now extant among as many different families of this name, of which one is borne by the Earl of Camden, John Jeffries Pratt, another, the only one out of Great Britain, by the family of Cabra Castle, Devon, Ireland.

The motto belonging to the emblazonry of Pratt, of Ryston Hall, in Norfolk, alludes to Etymology of the name; “Rident Florentia Prata,” among the earliest of English surnames, and the family in many of its branches held stations of influence and power in the British Empire. The earliest notice of Pratts in England is prior to 1200 of the Christian Era, and shows that they probably came to England from Normandy.

Four brothers, John, William, Engebraw, and Peter de Pratelles figured largely in the reigns of Richard and John. They were all living in 1201 A.D., as they witnessed the settlement of Robert, Earl of Mallent.

John de Prattelles

John de Prattelles was a favorite minister of Richard Couer de Lion. In 1193, we find him associated with William, Bishop of Ely. He and his brother, Peter, were witnesses to a charter granted at Rodley in 1199, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others. From his wife, Margerie de Bornes, he received the manor of Patricksborne in Kent. Records show he had possessions in Northampton, Berkshire, and Oxford. His possessions were confiscated in consequence of the rebellion in Normandy in the sixth year of King John, and its separation from the English throne.

William de Prateles

William, brother of John and Peter, accompanied King Richard to the Holy Land, and became of great service to the King, when he was reduced to extremity.

Rev. William Pratt
1562 – 1629

Rev. William Pratt, christened in Baldock, England in October of 1562, was the son of Andrew Pratt, and grandson of Thomas and Joan Pratt. For thirty years he was Rector of Stevenage, Herts, England. All six of his children are named on a tablet in the Church in memory of the father’s service there. His will was dated 1629. Thomas is our earliest know Pratt ancestor.

Lt. William Pratt
– 1678

Lt. William Pratt was the son of Rev. William Pratt and Elizabeth., He married Elizabeth Clark in June of 1636. They had eight children, five sons and three daughters.

He was the first settler in America, in this line. He came with Rev. Thomas Hooker to Newton (now Cambridge) Mass. in 1633 and then to Hartford, Conn. He was one of the original proprietors or Settlers of Hartford, Conn. and is named on Founders’ Monument there. His life in Connecticut must have been full of danger and excitement. The daily menace of Indian Raids which threatened death or capture, would cause life to be anything but monotonous or carefree.

To have taken part in the Indian wars, especially the Pequot War, must have required an almost unbelievable degree of courage.

The Pequots had frequently shown as great cruelty to other Indian tribes as they did to the Colonists. In 1634, they signed a peace treaty with Massachusetts Bay which included the privilege the whites of settling on the Connecticut River, but in spite of that the Indians committed frequent depredations. It may be truthfully said that no event in the very early history of New England had a greater influence on its destiny than that known as the Pequot War. It turned the tide which threatened to overwhelm the Colonies, and established a peace that continued unbroken for nearly forty years. William was one of the band that went from Hartford to fight the Pequots. He received a land grant in Soldiers Field in recognition of his services.

He was a large landholder in Saybrook and Hebron, Conn. which fell to his sons at his death. He was named in the will of Attawanhood, third son of Uncas, the Indian Chief signed 10 Mar 1676. He had a great deal to do with settling relationships with the Indians, and was held in great esteem by them as shown in Connecticut Records.

He represented the town of Saybrook in 23 sessions of the general Assembly during the years between 1666 and 1678. He died 9 May 1678 in Saybrook, Conn.

Joseph Pratt
1648 – 1703

Joseph Pratt, born 1 Aug. 1648 at Saybrook, Conn. was the third son of Lt. William Pratt. He married twice. First he married Margery Parker, daughter of William and Margery Pritchard Parker, by whom he had five children. He then married Sarah Chapmann, daughter of the honorable Robert Chapmann, the first American settler. They had eight children.

Joseph was a large landholder in Pauatapaug Quarter, Hebron. He died 12 Aug. 1703, age 55 years.

Ensign William Pratt
about 1674 –

Ensign William Pratt, born about 1674, was the second son of Joseph and Margaret Parker Pratt. Her married Hannah Hough. 8 Oct. 1700, to whom he had six children.

It appears from town records that he was prominent man in civil and military affairs. He was one of the thirty-four inhabitants and Pautapaug, of whom fourteen were Pratts, who agreed upon the location of the first meeting house on the 26th of April 1723.

Christopher Pratt
1712 –

Christopher Pratt, born 4 Nov. 1712, was the fourth child and third son of Ensign William Pratt and Hannah Hough. He married Sarah Pratt, 14 June 1739, by whom he had seven children. He died at Wallingford, Conn.

Obadiah Pratt
1742 – 1797

Obadiah Pratt, born 14 Sept 1742 at Saybrrok, Conn., was the second son of Christopher and Sara Pratt. He married Jemima Tolles in 1768, she being fourteen years old, and had eleven children. He was a farmer, tanner and furrier. He moved from Connecticut to Canaan Columbia Co., New York, previous to the Revolutionary War. He died in Canaan 2 March 1797, age 55 years. Jemima, his wife , died 24 Nov. 1812, age 58 years.

Jared Pratt
1768 – 1839

Jared, first son of Obadiah and Jemima Tolls Pratt, was born 25 November, 1768 at Canaan. He was married twice, first to Mary Carpenter, in 1792. She died and left but one child, Mary or Polly Pratt, born Feb 1793. He then married Charity Dickinson, 7 July 1799, by whom had five sons.

He carefully instilled in the minds of his children strict honesty and morality by both precept and example, thus preparing them for the restored gospel. He taught school in winter and farmed in the summer. He was also a weaver. He died 5 November 1839, age 70. Charity died at St. Joseph, Mo., 20 May 1848, age 72.

The Pratt Name

The name of Pratt may not be ” as old as the hills,” but is almost “as old as the meadows,” since it is derived from the Latin word “pratum” meaning meadow, or the French “preux,” meaning prairie. The motto on the arms translated means “the flowery meadows smile.” The name has been spelled variously, Prat, Pratte, Pratellis, Pratt.

It appears that the name was used by a number of persons in France and Southern Europe. In 1066 one Le Sire de Preux is found to have accompanied William the Conqueror to England and fought in the battle of Hastings. He was in possession of the Barony of Pratella, near Rouen, in Normandy. In the latter part of the eleventh century he became interested in the Crusades to the Holy Land and became an active warrior for the Cross.

John De Prattelis was a Minister of Richard Coeur de Lion and a favorite of the Crusader King, John, with his brother, Peter Pratellis, were among those to witness the granting of the charter at Rodley. Peter was an hereditary standard bearer of the King.

The family surname is generally supposed to have derived from the Latin (via France and Normandy) pratum, or pratal, for meadow or growing in a meadow.

The English Oxford Dictionary Vol. VIII page 1230 gives this usage and such examples as: “… to designate the different kinds of localities we may employ a series of adjectives such as sylvestral, Pratal, pascal, ericetal …” another writer is quoted as saying, “… no fast line can be drawn between pascal and pratal plants.

Some etymologists, though, see a derivation from the words prately, a pratie now obsolete form of prettily. They would believe our early progenitors were of fair countenance.

Then there are other researchers who lean to the view that our ancestors were a very talkative people and were named to reflect those characteristic. The English Oxford Dictionary quoted above defines “prattle” as “… idle inconsequential talk.”

Various writers are quoted to explain this usage “…They shall be judged by proof not according to prattle.” another writer requests that “… he shall keep his babble and prattle to himself.” “…Her mother was never tired of her girlish prattle.” “…little children love to pratte and repeat what they have heard.” “… sweet prattle basket be quiet!” “…at last the prattle box made a short pause.” “…here is pratynge with a vengeance.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Prat” in still another meaning indicating the origin of this variant is unknown–it means the “buttocks” and was used in such sentences as “…set me down here on both my prats.” “…despatch the horses upon their prats setting the postboys yelling in a terrific hubbub.”

The Oxford English Dictionary indicates a fourth meaning or usage for Prat in the Old English language — trick, prank, fraud–“…Your prats are now found out.” “…of all the pratts I ever played none was carried out more graceful.” “…the Bishop asked what pratting is this?” “…they should be punished for the pernicious pratt…”

The Pratt pioneer and their descendants, it would seem, prefer to believe their name derives from the flowering meadows of Normandy and implies a fresh renewal of life as the grass comes alive each spring with new green leaves.

The above was taken from the book, Pratts Pioneer in Utah, Arthur D. Coleman


Return to general histories of the Pratt family