Henry Pratt

Author:
Date published: 19/01/2014
© Newbury Weekly News

HENRY PRATT

The death of Mr. Henry Pratt, which took place at mid-day on Sunday, shortly after completing his eighty-seventh year, removes a veteran, who, in his time, discharged a number of public functions as schoolmaster and borough official. It was in the former capacity that his name is more particularly associated and his name venerated by several generations of Newbury men, who benefited by his sound teaching and benevolent interest in their school careers and after life. He was indeed a patriarch, a long white beard imparting an appearance of greater age than his activities warranted. He was wonderfully agile up to a few months of his death, and has only been confined to his house for a few months. Reviving an ancient custom, the funeral knell was tolled on Sunday, three times five for a man, and eighty seven to indicate the age.

Henry Pratt was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, on December 18th, 1831, and after receiving his early education in a private school, was apprenticed as a pupil teacher at Wisbech St Peters' Boys' School. He gained a first-class Queen's College scholarship, and entered St John's College, Battersea, for two years' training.

His first appointment was headmaster of Newbury National Boys' School. He often told the story of his first acquaintance with the town on the last night of 1857. He travelled from Wisbech in the morning and reached Newbury late in the evening, a distance of 160 miles, quite a feat of travelling in those days. The Rector, Rev. J.I. Randall was then living in lodgings in Northbrook-street. Both were young men, one 29 the other 23. The Rector said “Are you prepared to to make a school!” Mr. Pratt replied “I would much rather do that than work on another man's ground.” “Then we shall get on well together.” Having to return to London the same evening, he took his first meal in Newbury at the “Jack” Hotel, and nearly came to grief by falling into the Northbrook ditch, then flowing uncovered.

Mr Pratt started after the Christmas holidays. He and a curate canvassed the courts of the town for scholars, and began in an old building on the site of the Temperance Hall, where Richard Chance had been conducting a school for Kimber's and Cowslade's Charity boys. Later it was removed to the building in Bartholmew-street now used as the Church Army Hostel. The Enborne-road school was opened in September 1860 and regarded as the latest.....


The Funeral

There was a large attendance at the funeral yesterday (Wednesday), including representatives of civic and official life, Oddfellows, old scholars and townspeople. The body was conveyed on a hand-bier from the house in West Mills to the Parish Church, where he had been a worshipper for so many years, the interment being at the Cemetery. The Rector (Rev. L. R Majendie) conducted the service in church and at the graveside. The Oddfellows' oration was impressively read by Bro. David Geater.

The mourners were Mr. J.E.Pratt, Mr. H.C. Pratt (sons), Miss Pratt, Miss G.A. Pratt, Miss P.M.Pratt, Miss K.E. Pratt (daughters), Mrs. R.C. Pratt (daughter -in-law), Nurse Roche, Mr. G. Pavier, Mr. A.J. Wright (Reading), Mr. C. Munday.

Among those present were the Mayor (Mr. George Griffin), Ald. A. Jackson, Councillors Adrian Hawker, A.D. Cater, Mac.[?] F. Davies, C.W. Burns, W.J.Butler,

J.H. Witts, J.H. Thompson, Mr. W.R. Pettifer (Assistant Town Clerk), Mr. W.R. Davey (Gas Manager), Mr. R. J. Jeeves (Borough Accountant), Mr. J.W. Rosling (Education Secretary), Mr. J.S. Herbert (Rate Collector), Rev. C. V. Pike, Mr. E. Black-Hawkins.

The Oddfellows were represented by Sister M.A. Geater (District Grand Master), Bro. E.G. Kimber, Deputy G.M., Bro. D. Geater, Prov. C.H., A. Wellington, G. Walters, B.D. Curwood, H. Smart, S. North, W. Taylor, F. Burton, J.F. Pyke, W. Noakes, J. Cousens, G. Ford, J. Russell, W. Gamble, R. Wickens, F.J. Geater, E.lipscomb, T. Perrett, H. Twissell, W. E. H. Twissell, W. R.Goodman, A. Jackson, C. Langton, J. …....

 Newbury Weekly News 5 Jan 1922.

 

 

HENRY PRATT, P.P.G.M.

 

BRO. HENRY PRATT, whose portrait fills the place of honour in this month's Magazine, was born at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, on December 18th, 1834. After receiving his early education in a private school, his parents removed him to St. Peter's School with a view to his becoming a pupil teacher. He was apprenticed in July, 1850, being the senior of the two first pupil teachers employed in the Wisbech St. Peter's Boys' School.


Having completed his apprenticeship of five years, he sat at Christmas, 1856, in the examination of candidates for admission to training colleges, and, gaining a first-class Queen's College scholarship, entered St. John's College, Battersea, for two years' training.

 

On leaving college he was appointed headmaster of Newbury National School, which post he filled for 20 years with credit to himself and satisfaction to the managers. On his resignation at Christmas, 1877, he was presented with a purse of £30, a lever watch, and gold albert chain. The watch was engraved: " Presented with a purse of £30 to Mr. Henry Pratt by friends, teachers, and scholars connected with the Newbury National School on his resigning the mastership after 20 years' faithful service. March 4th, 1878, J. L. Randall, Rector.'' "

In 1859 Bro. Pratt was married to the daughter of a tradesman of his native town. Miss Priscilla Bannister, whose happy companionship he enjoyed for 43 years, until her death in 1902. Nine children were born of the marriage, five sons and four daughters; two sons and the four daughters are still living. 

Shortly after giving up the teaching profession Bro. Pratt was appointed Inspector of Weights and Measures for the borough of Newbury  and secretary and manager of the Corn Exchange, both of which appointments he still holds.  

It was in 1860 that Bro. Pratt's connection with the Manchester Unity began, he being initiated in July of that year a member of the Britons' Pride Lodge, '3475, Newbury district.

He at once took a keen interest in the working and welfare of the lodge, and the lodge wag not slow to take advantage of his usefulness. In July, 1861, he was elected elective secretary; in December of the same year he became Vice-Grand, and in December, 1862, Noble Grand of the lodge. In March, 1863, the marriage of the Prince of Wales (late King Edward VII.) took' place, and Bro. Pratt was an energetic member of the committee appointed by the district for .carrying out in Newbury the demonstration of loyalty on that auspicious occasion.


Bro. Pratt was many times called upon to fill the post of lecture master, and as frequently to audit the lodge accounts. He first attended as delegate to a district meeting in July, 1865, and from that time he has almost invariably been elected as one of the representatives of his lodge at these half-yearly gatherings. 


In 1868 he was elected on the investment committee, where his services were much appreciated, he being always especially careful to see that the funds of the lodge were properly and safely invested. There were few committees in connection with his lodge or district on which he did not have a place.


At the close of the year 1870 Bro. Pratt was unanimously elected permanent secretary of the Britons' Pride Lodge; he proved to be a most efficient and painstaking secretary, always most courteous and obliging, ever ready to " give his best counsel and advice " to any who sought it. He gained and retained the universal respect and esteem of the brethren of the lodge and district. '

 

Bro. Pratt was the first delegate ever sent to an A.M.C. from the Newbury district. This was in 1874 to Richmond, .Surrey, where he had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of several of the veterans of the Order at that day, such as Henry Ratcliffe (then C.S. of the Order); Samuel Daynes, Norwich; James Schofield, Bradford; Henry Buck^ Birmingham; James Curtis, Brighton; Wm. Lovesey, Worcester; Reuben Ginn, St. Ives; John Geves, Leeds; Reuben Watson, Nottingham, etc. He also attended the Middlesbrough A.M.C. in 1899, but has since declined in favour of younger candidates.

 

In 1874 Bro. Pratt was elected Prov. D.G.M. of the Newbury district, and Prov. Grand Master in the following year. He filled both these offices with much ability, and to the entire satisfaction of the district. On their completion a complimentary dinner was given in his honour, which was attended by a large company of the officers and leading Oddfellows of the district, who thus testified their esteem and regard. The subject of our sketch has taken an active part in the establishment and inauguration of five lodges in the district, viz. : The Kintbury Pride, Kintbury, 1872; The True Briton, Hungerford, 1879; Pride of Woolhampton, Woolhampton, 1908; Rock of Friendship, Thatchman, 1912; and the Newbury Female Lodge, Newbury, 1912; for the latter he acted as the first Noble Grand. 


Since 1866 he has filled, and still holds, the post of examining and relieving officer for the district. He is a trustee of his own and also of the female lodge.


Much regret was felt by the members of the Britons' Pride Lodge when, in 1912, our old friend felt compelled (though very reluctantly) to resign the -secretaryship which he had held for 42 years. It was well known that this step was not taken from any lack of interest in the good work of Oddfellowship, but from the fact that the demands of the National Insurance Act, together with increase of work in connection with his other appointments and advancing years, made it absolutely necessary for him to take the step. During his term of office he had the gratification of seeing the membership almost trebled, and the funds increased from £1,400 to £6,500. On his resignation he wag the recipient of a very handsome present subscribed for by the members of the lodge, supplemented by amounts from members of the Jack of Newbury and other lodges in the district. The present consisted of a P.P.G.M.'s jewel, a beautifully-illuminated address (the work of his son, Bro. J. E. Pratt) handsomely bound in album form, gold-mounted umbrella, a gold-mounted walking stick, a case of silver-mounted pipes, and a pouch of tobacco. 

To the address were appended the names of the officers of the lodge and over 200 members. He expressed himself as being proud of this fact.


Notwithstanding his advanced age, Bro. Pratt is hale and hearty, and still takes an active part in the business of his lodge, and is a regular attendant at the fortnightly meetings. As recently as 1914 he again went through the chairs, completing his term of Noble Grand in his 80th year. His two sons are both members of the Britons' Pride Lodge. He has been for many years one of the managers of the Newbury Savings Bank.

 

In politics he has always been a warm supporter of the Conservative cause, and has been for many years on the committee of the Newbury Conservative and Unionist Club, being now senior member of that body. Bro. Pratt has many warm and admiring friends among all classes in the neighbourhood, .besides those in the ranks of Oddfellowship. The earnest hope of all is that our dear old friend may be spared yet a little longer to continue his good work and to enjov the fruits of his labour.

Sources:Newbury Weekly News 5 Jan 1922

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