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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Mr. William Pratt

Mr. William Pratt, formerly a Member of the Christchurch City Council, was born in 1823, educated at a private boarding school in Durham, and brought up to the drapery trade. He was for some time employed as a draper's assistant in London before deciding to come out to New Zealand in 1843, in which year he arrived with the early settlers in Nelson. After undergoing many of the hardships of those early days, Mr. Pratt removed to Wellington in 1848, and was engaged as a bookkeeper in a store for about twelve months. In December, 1849, he settled in Lyttelton, in a storekeeping and bakery business, the first that was established in that port. This business he conducted for five years, during which period he witnessed the landing of most of the Canterbury pilgrims. In 1854, Mr. Pratt removed to Nelson, where he was engaged in farming for the following nine years. Returning to Canterbury in 1863, he purebased the well-known drapery business now
Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. W. Pratt.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. W. Pratt.

page 111 carried on by Messrs. J. Ballantyne and Co., and which had been founded by Mr. David Clarkson in 1854. Mr. Pratt opened his premises in January, 1864, and conducted a large and satisfactory business till 1872. During this period he acquired the freehold of the property on which Dunstable House now stands, together with the one at the corner of Colombo and Cashel Streets, which property he still owns. Mr. Pratt was twice returned as a member of the City Council. He has published a most interesting volume, entitled “Colonial Experiences in New Zealand, by an Old Colonist,” in which he describes the struggles of the early Nelson and Canterbury settlers. The book, which is of 288 pages, is full of interesting reminiscences, and gives a graphic account of the hardships with which the early New Zealand settlers had to contend, and will well repay perusal. Mr. Pratt was married in 1851 in Lyttelton to a daughter of Mr. John Fowler, of Riwaka, and has three sons and five daughters living.