Prentice moved to Shanghai 1870 to join Muirhead & Company which was absorbed later by Boyd & Company Boyd & Company was subsequently absorbed by Shanghai Dock and Engineering Company, a major shipbuilding company. Prentice rose through the ranks to become the controlling interest and principal of the firm.
He served on the Shanghai Municipal Council and was chairman from 1901 to 1902.
He died on 30 April 1925 following an attack of pneumonia in Shanghai. He was buried in Bubbling Well Cemetery.
A bust of Prentice was placed in the hall of the French Club in Shanghai following his death. A stained glass window in memoriam of Prentice was placed in the Union Church in Shanghai.
Route Prentice (now Jinxian Road) in the Shanghai French Concession was named after Prentice.