When Thomas Howlett (1678—1759) was appointed master Bricklayer of His Majesty’s Works in 1736 in the place of Thomas Churchill, deceased, he shared the appointment with Joseph Pratt. Thomas Howlett had been bricklayer to the Prince of Wales, and doubtless owed his new position to that patronage. What of Joseph Pratt?
Joseph Pratt, junior, (1697—1768) was a well-respected bricklayer, being Master Bricklayer to the Office of Ordnance and was son to Joseph Pratt (d. 1750) also a bricklayer. In fact both father and son in turn rose to become Masters of The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers of the City of London, in 1721 and 1740 respectively. Possibly of even more importance, Joseph Pratt had married Thomas Churchill’s only child, Elizabeth (1707-1768).
Joseph Pratt senior and his wife Elizabeth had (at least) nine children, but seven of them died in infancy, including the last four, all of whom died at less than 6 months of age. The survivors were James and Joseph. James Pratt (1705—1740) also became a bricklayer “to his Majesty”, but died in 1740 apparently without leaving any wife or children. Joseph Pratt junior and Elizabeth had four children who lived to adulthood, three girls and a boy.
The son, Thomas Pratt, also became a bricklayer, and, on the death of Thomas Howlett in 1759, succeeded in his place as joint Master Bricklayer to the Board of Works with his father. Thomas Pratt married on 23 June 1760 Mary Wright, daughter of Stephen Wright of the Office of Works, at that point Deputy Surveyor. Thomas and Mary had two children, Joseph and Charlotte before Thomas died in 1762. After his son’s death, Joseph Pratt held the office alone until his own passing in 1768, upon which the office was abolished.
Joseph Pratt and his son Thomas both married into the Office of Works. The daughters also married into similar circles. Sarah married James Morris, Master Carpenter of the Board of Ordnance, son of Roger Morris, Master Carpenter to the Board of Ordnance. Sarah died in 1760 without leaving any children. Elizabeth, who also sadly died young in 1759, married George Mercer, Master mason, and left several children.
We shall have more to say of the interconnections of these families at the top of their trades in mid-eighteenth-century London.