Degory Priest


BIRTH: About 1579.
MARRIAGE:  Sarah (Allerton) Vincent, 4 November 1611, Leiden, Holland, the sister of Isaac Allerton.
CHILDREN: Mary and Sarah.
DEATH: 1 January 1620/1 at Plymouth.


Degory Priest deposed that he was 40 years old in a document signed in Leiden in April 1619; this would place his birth at about 1579 in England. On 4 November 1611, he was married to Sarah (Allerton) Vincent, the widow of John Vincent, and the sister of Mayflower passenger Isaac Allerton; Isaac Allerton was married to his wife Mary Norris on the same date.

Dutch hatters at work, cir. 1635.

It has been suggested that Degory Priest of the Mayflower may have been the Degorius Prust, baptized 11 August 1582 in Hartland, co. Devon, England, the son of Peter Prust. However, given that the baptism appears to be about 3 years too late, and the fact that none of the Leiden Separatists are known to have come from Devonshire, I have my doubts this baptism belongs to the Mayflower passenger. Degory Priest was one of the earliest to have arrived in Leiden, so it seems more reasonable to suspect he is from the Nottinghamshire/Yorkshire region, the Sandwich/Canterbury region, the London/Middlesex region, or the Norfolk region: all of the early Separatists in Leiden appear to have come from one of these centers.

Degory Priest became a citizen of Leiden on 16 November 1615, and was called a hatter, and perhaps employed with Samuel Lee and Godbert Godbertson, other members of the Leiden congregation who were also hatter.  In 1617, Degory Priest had some kind of altercation with a man named John Cripps who was alleged to have been having an adulterous affair with Elizabeth wife of John Mos.  He had some friends sign an affidavit stating he hadn't hit Cripps but only "touched his jabot."  Degory shared his Leiden residence with a tobacco-pipe maker named Nicholas Claverly.

Degory and wife Sarah had two children, Mary and Sarah. Degory came alone on the Mayflower, planning to bring wife and children later after the colony was better established. His death the first winter ended those plans. His wife remarried to Godbert Godbertson in Leiden on 13 November 1621, and they had a son Samuel together. Godbert, his wife Sarah, their son Samuel, and his step-children Mary and Sarah Priest all came on the ship Anne to Plymouth in 1623.