PRATT, JAMES BUTLER
- Born: 1822c Died: 1886
County surveyor for Co. Leitrim, 1857-1884. James Butler Pratt may be the James Pratt, son of James Butler Pratt, lawyer, who was born in Co. Cavan and admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, aged eighteen, in November 1840.(1) He was awarded the Diploma in Civil Engineering by Trinity College in 1844.(2) He was first employed by the Board of Works as an inspector of drainage, but resigned in 1847. During the 1850s he was associated with WILLIAM DARGAN , first as resident engineer on the Dublin & Bray Railway and then as contractor's engineer ont he Limerick & Ennis Railway.(3) He had sat and passed the county surveyorship qualifying examination in 1851, but it was not until 1856 that he was appointed county surveyor for Co. Leitrim in succession to THOMAS DUGALL HALL , taking up his duties in January 1857. As such he was closely involved in the running of the expensive but unprofitable Ballyconnell Canal.(5) He remained in the post until 1884, when he resigned 'owing to failing health'.(4) He died, aged sixty-four, on 1 February 1886 at 25 Lower Fitzwilliam Street.(6) He was the father of MERVYN JAMES BUTLER PRATT , who predeceased him.
All information and references in this entry not otherwise accounted for are from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 279-280, which gives the fullest account of Pratt's career.
(1) G.D. Burtchaell & T.U. Sadleir, eds., Alumni Dublinenses (1935), ; this information cannot be reconciled with the entry on Pratt of Cabra Castle in Burke's LGI(1904), 495-6, while O'Donoghue identifies him with another James Pratt, who was his exact contemporary at Trinity.
(2) R.C. Cox, compiler, Trinity College School of Engineering: 'Graduates' in Engineering 1843-1992 (1993), unpaginated.
(3) Clare Journal, 2 Dec 1858; Michael McNamara, 'The Limerick and Ennis Railway', Sixmilebridge Parish Magazine, Christmas, 1994, 5 (B.O'D.).
(4) Leitrim Advertiser, 10 Jul 1884.
(5) See Patrick Flanagan, The Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal (Newtown Abbot: 1972).
(6) Leitrim Advertiser, 4 Feb 1886.