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Preacher Pratt by Malcolm Payne published 1996Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Old account books often give an excellent insight into family history. Richard Pratt's books are exceptional. He not only uses them for accounts, but also as a diary, journal, and a 'reciept' (recipe) book. There are details of horse and cow medicines, which must have been beneficial to the animals, for Richard had quite a good name among locals as an animal herbalist. Much is spelled phonetically, as are so many of the naive written accounts in rural areas at this time. You will realize as you read that what may appear to be typographical errors by this writer, are actually Richard's method of spelling. As he is mostly self-taught one can only wonder at his tenacity, and confidence, which bids that he was much called upon to help others, much less able than himself, with all manner of clerical work. I am much obliged to Mr Peter Pratt of Cherry Gardens who allowed me to have copies of his forbear's account books and papers.

Richard Pratt snr. gave help to many local people who were much impressed by his standard of self-education. One of these being Mr Sprott, a local solicitor. Richard visited premises with him, recording their whole inventories of goods for various trusts and wills, with the estimated value of the goods being listed. All of this gives a valuable insight on the social life of the times.

On May 25th, under a heading - 'East Sussex Election', Richard Pratt writes down his account with Mr Sprott, revealing work he did on his behalf. "With Mr Sprott looking over lists of voters & arranging - 5/- (25p); June 17 - with Mr Sprotts Clerk convincing (canvassing) Crowborough & Sweethaws - 5/6d. (271/2p); June 29 - ditto Fordbrook &c.; J 21 - Do. Dengate (Danegate), Boarshead, &c. 5/- each." So this sort of work goes on right up until July 15th. He then enters - "Arranging the Conveyance to Poll". Using various members of his own family as helpers, drivers, etc., he has a number of entries for "Hors & Cart to places such as Mayfield, Withyham and other such villages in the polling area. He also subcontracts the services of others in the area with horses and carts - "Alfred Jarvis, Reuben Taylor, Richard Mitchell, G.Parker - his own van - and Mr Smith . . . " who is probably the coachbuilder in Croft Road (on part of the Waitrose site) at this time. Many of the old Crowborough families will recognise ancestors among these names.