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Degory Priest facts for kids

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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, by William Halsall
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

Degory Priest (c. 1579–1621) was a passenger on the voyage of the Mayflower in 1620. He signed the Mayflower Compact.

The name of Digory Priest or Prust is common in Devon, Cornwall and London England.

Priest was a member of the Separatists church. This religion was not allowed in England and many people moved to Leiden Netherlands Priest was one of those families.

Priest was a hat-maker from London. There are many legal documents in Leiden which show that he was born in 1579. In 1611 Priest married a widow named Sarah Vincent. Sarah was a sister of Mayflower passenger Isaac Allerton. Priest's became a citizen of Leiden on November 16, 1615 with Isaac Allerton and Roger Wilson.

On June 28, 1617 Priest asked two men to sign a legal document that said that he had not hit John Cripps but only “touched his Jabot”. This was the frill on the front of his shirt.

Leiden records show that Degory Priest was a witness to a statement signed on January 18, 1618. The statement was signed by Tailor Isaac Allerton. It was about the cost of a crimson coat.

On April 9, 1619, Degory Priest and Samuel Lee signed a document for Nicholas Claverly, a Tobacco pipe maker. This document was a promise for Claverly's good behavior. Claverly had arrived in Leiden about 1615 and lived in a house owned by Degory Priest.

Records show that on May 3, 1619 Degory Priest was a witness to a document signed by Richard Tyrill. Priest said that Nicholas Claverly was not connected with the murder of Tyrill’s brother John Tyrill.

On the Mayflower

The Mayflower Compact 1620 cph.3g07155
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

Priest came alone of the Mayflower. His family came over later in another ship.

Priest left Plymouth, England on 16 September 1620. There were 102 passengers and 30–40 crew. On 19 November 1620, the Mayflower reached land at Cape Cod hook. They landed on November 21. They wrote the Mayflower Compact, which made rules on how they would live and treat each other. Degory was one of the signers. The Mayflower was supposed to land in the Colony of Virginia, but the ship was too damaged and they were forced to land at Cape Cod now called Provincetown Harbor.

William Bradford wrote that seven men died soon after the ship landed. “Digerie Preist” was among them. Bradford said that all these died soon after their arrival in the general sickness. He added that Priest’s had his wife and children were sent for because she was Mr. Allerton's sister.

Degory Priest married Sarah Vincent on November 4, 1611. She was a widow. They had two daughters. Their names were Marah and Sarah. Sarah Priest married a second time. His was also a hat-maker from Leiden. Their burial places are unknown.

Priest died early in the first winter, on January 1, 1621 of the “general sickness”. He was 42 years of age. He was buried in an unmarked grave. This was the custom that first winter of 1620–1621. His name appears on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb, located on Cole's Hill in Plymouth.

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