Pratt is a name derived from the Latin pratum — a meadow. Platt has the same meaning, from plateau, the French term for a flat, level surface.
The first of the Pratt family was probably called de Prato, of the meadow, or he who lived in the meadow.
Pratellis is one of the variations of the name. Perhaps the first of the name was Baron William de Pratellis of Normandy, who went over with the Conqueror. In Battle Abbey Roll his name appears as “le Sire de Preaux.” Clerks who made records in Domesday Book translated the names into Latin of French, or retained them in Saxon, as best suited their pleasure; hence those occupying meadow lands would be entered Dupre, for example, or de Pratensis; while others, in the language of the conquered people, were Maedes or Mead. Other variations of Pratt are Praed, Pradt, Prate, Praty, Pretie, Prettie, Pretty and Praer. “Preyers Henricus” — Henry Pratt — was summoned for military service in the reign of Edward I. In Spanish, the name is Prado; in Italian, Pialto; in Portuguese, Prado; in Danish, Plat; in German and Swedish, Platt.
Modern variations of the name are Prat, Prate, Pratte.
One family tradition is that the armor-bearer of the early kings of England was of this family. Peter de Pratellis, the Crusader, was hereditary standard-bearer and so beloved of Richard that the king kept him always by his side. Peter de Pratellis and his brother William were as gallant and loyal knights as ever bore the cross. As plain Peter and William Pratt, however, their exploits would certainly lose some of their romantic interest.
Anthony du Prat was Chancellor of France and Francis I’s Prime Minister. He accompanied his king to Italy when he went to confer with Leo X about the Pragmatic Sanction. A few hundred years later Charles Pratt, Earl of Camden, was Lord Chancellor of England, but he was obliged to surrender the great seal because he opposed taxation of the American colonists. His views on this subject were perhaps biased by the fact that some of his relatives had settled there.
The first pilgrim Pratt was Phineas, or Phinehas, as his name more frequently appears. He came over in the Sparrow. Joshua Pratt helped lay out Plymouth into lots, receiving a peck of corn daily as compensation.
One of the pioneers of Buffalo was Captain Samuel Pratt, who was always on friendly terms with the Indians. One of his young sons was once pursued by an Indian and came running into the house, the wild man at his heels. When the Devil’s Ramrod – such was the Indian’s name — discovered to whom the boy belonged, he thrust his knife into the side of the house instead of the boy’s head, exclaiming, “I will not kill.” Then, with an grand and haughty air, he strode from the house. Another tradition in this family is that the first carpet ever seen in Buffalo was the one Captain Pratt had in his log cabin.
Prattsville, NY, was founded by Zadock Pratt, son of the Revolutionary soldier of the same name. He also established the Bureau of Statistics at Washington when he was Congressman. Through his efforts postage was reduced, and the post office at the National capital was erected according to his plans.
Nine distinct armorial bearings are now extant among as many different families, of which one is borne by the Earl of Camden and one by the family of Cabra Castle, Ireland. One motto alludes to the etymology of the name “Rident Florentia Prata” — “the flowery meadows smile.” In Spain, the family bear for arms a green meadow flowered.
Gules should be the heraldic color of one branch of the family that descended from Phineas Pratt, the non-conformist, who, with some four hundred others, was imprisoned for their religion. Phineas managed to communicate with his family by writing to them with blood drawn from his arm for that purpose. Apropos of this there is a story that the red stripes on the arms of the Keith family were originally drawn with blood on the battlefield on a silver shield.
The Pratt arms reproduced are argent on a chevron sable, between three pellets, as many mascles or Crest, a wolf’s head, erased quarterly, argent and sable.