Degory Priest, Mayflower Passenger

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Degory Priest

Also Known As: "Digerie Preist", "Mayflower immigrant", "Gregory Priest"
Birthplace: of, London, Middlesex, England
Death: January 01, 1621 (36-45)
Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (Perished 6 weeks in cold weather at Plymouth Colony. Buried in Cole Hill.)
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Degory Priest's father and Degory Priest's mother
Husband of Sarah Godbertz
Father of Mary Pratt and Sarah Coombs

Occupation: Hatter, Farmer, Mayflower immigrant
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Degory Priest, Mayflower Passenger

His name is spelt as Digerie Preist in early Plymouth records.

Degory Priest, also known as Digory” “Gregory”, “Degorie”, or “Digorie” and “Preist”, was born about 1579/80 in England. In a document signed in Leiden, Holland in April 1619 he deposed he was 40 years old. It has been suggested that he may have been the Degorius Prust, baptized 11 Aug 1582 in Hartland, 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 Devon, it is unlikely this baptism belongs to the Mayflower passenger. Degory Priest was one of the earliest to have arrived in Leiden Holland from England, so it is more reasonable to suspect he is from the regions from where Separatists were known to have been from, which excludes Devon, but includes: the Nottinghamshire/Yorkshire region, the Sandwich/Canterbury region, the Norfolk region and the London/ Middlesex region. All of the early Separatists in Leiden are said to have come from one of these centers. Since Degory was said repeatedly described as a "London Hatter" it is most likely then that he was from the London city area which is in the county called Middlesex. Thus, looking at Middlesex county records may be the best way to uncover his baptism.

A cursory research of marriages in Middlesex (London) in the book entitled London Marriage Licences, 1521-1869 by Joseph Lemuel Chester, in a search for the names of either Priest of Preist reveals only one Preist in the right time frame on page 539: The 1570 marriage of an ale master, a John Priest of St. Margaret (church) and Dionisia Cotton (widow of Mr. Cotton) both of the City of Westminster London. The bond by said John and Richard Priest, his father. Dated 20 May 1570. All of the other Priest or Preist weddings in London or Middlesex county in this historical resource were either too early or too late for a circa 1579 birth of Degory.


'St Margaret Westminster, the church of (is a parish; parish registers begin 1538), is situated at a small distance from the north door of Westminster Abbey. The ancient church was built in 1064, by Edward the Confessor, for the use of the neighbouring inhabitants and dedicated to the before-mentioned St Margaret. It was rebuilt in the reign of Edward I, by the parishioners and merchants of the Staple[Inn], except the chancel which was erected at the charge of the Abbot of Westminster. In 1735, it was repaired and the tower cased... granted by parliament, in consideration of its being the church wherein the House of Commons attend divine service, as the peers do in Westminster Abbey.

In the records of St Margaret Westminster Parish, as of March 1570, a Richard Priest and his wife are permitted a license by "my Lord of Canterbury" to eat meat during Lent. There was an obligation to not eat meat during gLent. However, dispensation were granted in the case of illness and the payment of a fee according to their socials station. Lords of Parliament and their wives paid £1 6s. 8d. Knights and their wives 13s.4d and all other 6s.8d. In 1571, Richard Preist was granted another dispensation to eat meat during Lent by "my Lord of Canterbury."

The 12 June 1623 wedding of a Henry Priest of Stepney Middlesex (London) is listed under London Marriages between 1521-1869. Henry was a haberdasher, which meant he was a seller of hats in London. His bride was a spinster, Margaret Sanekey of St. Botolph Aldergate London. Though Henry is the age to have been a nephew or a cousin of Degorie Priest we do not have a connection yet. It is just research clue.

A John Priest was baptised 18 November 1543 at St Margaret Church Westminster London. A Grace Preist doughtier of Richard, as well as an Agnes Preist appears and also a Nicholas Priest. A Marget or Margery Priest was baptised 7 November 1558, all at St. Margaret Church Westminster London. However, so far, no Digorie, Digory, Degorie or Degory was found at St. Margaret. It is possible however that a baptism for a Digorie Priest took place at another London church.

Historically there were 109 parishes in London, many of which consolidated over time. Some were burned down in the the great London fire of 1666 long after Degorie would have left London. Here is the list of other London Parishes for someone to research a possible baptism of a Digorie Preist:


Degory died 1 Jan 1621 on the Mayflower ship, where all of the passengers spent the winter living aboard, wintering in harbor in Plymouth. Since they arrived too late to build homes on land they had to live on the Mayflower until spring.

Degory Priest, was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and he was in London as a hatter when Shakespeare's plays were written and performed for the first time, just to give context.

Degory Priest listed as "Hatmaker of London" and sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth in 1620.

The 17th cent. saw the high-crowned beaver hat of the Puritan and the wide plumed hat of the cavalier. Eventually, by 1660, long after Degorie had died, the brim had become so wide that the corners were turned up forming the classic colonial tricorne.

In Degorie's era in England and colonial early America, nearly everyone wore some kind of head covering, making the hat industry very important. A man’s hat advertised his social status. Hats that were more elaborate represented greater wealth or status. Colonial hats were made of beaver skin, wool, cotton, or straw. Colonial hatters knew how to make many different kinds of hats such as a knitted caps, broad-brimmed beaver "Pilgrim" hats (which was the most popular), or upturned brim-tricorne hats (three-cornered hats). Because beaver furs were so numerous in the New World, the hat industry was one of the first that actually took business away from Great Britain.

In Holland, on April 9, 1619, Degory Priest and Samuel Lee, both hatters, signed a good behavior document on behalf of Nicholas Claverly, a tobacco-pipe maker, who had arrived in Leiden about 1615 and resided in a house owned by Degory Priest. In the document, Priest stated an age of forty years, which indicated he was born about 1579.[1][7]

Degory Priest was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620.[7][10]

Degory Priest was born about 1579 and died at Plymouth, 1 January, 1620/1. He married, at Leiden, 4 November, 1611, Sarah (Allerton) Vincent (the widow of John Vincent). Sarah was sister to Isaac Allerton and arrived in America after the Mayflower with two children Mary, who m. Phineas Pratt and Sarah, who m. John Coombs.

After Degorie died on the Mayflower in the first winter, his wife Sarah married another hatter by the name of Godbertson.

From William Bradford’s later recollection of seven men from the Mayflower who died soon after arrival, “Digerie Preist” among them, with this comment: “All these dyed sone after their arrival in the general sickness that befell.” And with this about Priest’s family: “But Digerie Preist had his wife and children sent hither afterwards, she being Mr. Allertons sister.” Bradford closed his comments in this section with the note: “But the rest left no posteritie here.”[11]

Since he was married in Holland in 1611, it is clear that he was a religious Separatist very early on, and was an early member of the Pilgrims' Leyden congregation.  He came to America on the Mayflower and was the 29th signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Arriving December 21, 1620, with a harsh winter and illnesses' upon them, this note from the Prince, annals p.96 starts out with a sad note:

  "January 1. Monday, the people at Plymouth go betimes to work and the year begins with the death of Degory Priest."

Degory's wife and widow, Sarah, would marry again on November 13, 1621 in Leyden Holland to Godbert Godbertson.  In 1623, Godbertson would bring Sarah and her 2 daughters, Mary and Sarah to Plymouth on the ship ANNE.

Notable descendants actor) Richard Gere → Homer Gere → Albert Gere → George Gere → Sarah Tewksbury → Lucina Fuller → Elkanah Elms → Sarah Bennett → Ruth Coombs → Francis Coombs → Sarah Priest → DEGORY PRIEST

(Pres) Franklin D. Roosevelt → Sara Delano → Warren Delano → Warren Delano → Elizabeth Cushman → James Cushman → Elizabeth Coombs → John Coombs → Sarah Priest → DEGORY PRIEST


  •  It has been suggested that Degory Priest of the Mayflower may have been the Degorius Prust, baptized 11 August 1582 in Hartland, 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 doubt this baptism belongs to the Mayflower passenger. Degory Priest was one of the earliest to have arrived in Leiden, so it is 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.
  • As with all things, caveat emptor! There are conflicting stories about the lineage to his son John. Some sources claim his only two children were his daughters, listed above. Others claim that the John Priest of Woburn was his son, who came on a later ship from Holland to join his father. 


  • NEHGR111:320. 
  • Townsend, Wakefield and Stoner, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed in Plymouth Massachusetts December 1620 Volume 8 Degory Priest 2nd ed. (GSMD 2008)
  • Robert Charles Anderson, The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony, 1620-1633 (Boston 2004) 382+


  1. Savage, Genealogical Dictionary

Degory Priest was possibly Degorius Prust, son of Peter Prust, born: circa 1579. Degory Priest married November 4,1611, at Leyden, Holland, Sarah (Allerton, sister of Isaac Allerton,) widow of John Vincent. His only children were two daughters, Mary Priest, born: circa 1613, and Sarah Priest, born: circa 1615. Both daughters were born in Leyden, Holland.

Degory sailed to America on the Mayflower, leaving his wife and daughters to arrive on another ship. He had planed to build a home for them and send for them when it was ready. However, he got sick and died in Plymouth circa January 1, 1621, before he could send for his family. Sarah, his widow, received word of his death, and married Godbert Godbertson in Leyden on November 13, 1621. The father of Sarah's son, Samuel, was Godbert Godbertson,  (sometimes written Cuthbert Cuthbertson,) not a son of Degory Priest.    

Mayflower Families, Volume Eight Family Of Degory Priest, Silver Edition, 1994

Mayflower passenger Degory Priest, born in England circa 1579, died at Plymouth MA. Jan. 1, 1620/21, a victim of the first great sickness at Plymouth Colony. He was perhaps the son of Peter Prust, baptized Aug. 11, 1582, at Hartland, co. Devonshire, Eng.

He married the sister of Isaac Allerton, Sarah Allerton, widow of John Vincent, at Leyden, Holland, (Netherlands) on Nov. 4, 1611.

Degory Priest had two daughters, Mary Priest born circa. 1613, and Sarah Priest 1615 at Leyden, Holland. He had no son. However, his widow, Sarah Priest, married a third spouse, Godbert Godbertson, on Nov. 13, 1621, in Leyden by whom she had a son, Samuel Godbertson.

Source: Mayflower Families Five Generations Of Degory Priest, Silver Edition.

Degory with his wife and children, left England for a better life in the new world. They were passengers on the "Mayflower." Degory died the first winter in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was the 22nd signer of the Mayflower Compact.


Find A Grave :


The Mayflower Source: Mayflower descendants and their marriages for two generations after the landing The Mayflower originally was destined for the Hudson River, north of the 1607 Jamestown Settlement. However, the Mayflower went severely off-course as the winter approached and remained in Cape Cod Bay. During the winter the passengers remained on board the Mayflower, suffering an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. To establish legal order and to quell increasing strife within the ranks, the settlers wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact......


Wikitree :

The Mayflower. Degory Priest was a passenger on the Mayflower. Join: Mayflower Project Discuss: MAYFLOWER Contents [hide] 1 Disputed Origins 2 Biography 3 Children 4 Sources Disputed Origins Some believe he was the son of Hugh Prust and Agnes Wood, bpt. 4 Jun 1592, Hartland, Devon, England,[1] but no published research names any parents. They, therefore, have been detached from this profile until solid evidence of his origins can be found.

Possible clues are as follows: According to Banks, the name of Digory Priest or Prust is common in Devon and Cornwall. A family with those names was found residing in Lezant, co. Cornwall. At the time of the Pilgrim emigration families of this name were living in the London parishes of All Hallows the Great, All Hallows on the Wall, St. Augustine, St. Dunstan-in-the-West and St. Margaret Patten.[2]

Biography Degory Priest was born about 1579 (his age was about forty in 1619), and was said to be of London, England.[3][4]

He was a hatter in 1609 in Leiden, Netherlands[5] His name appears in many Leiden records of the time. He was rather active in comparison to other members of the English church. He became a citizen (burgess) of Leiden on November 16, 1615 with guarantors being his future brother-in-law, ]]]][[Allerton-3[[[|Isaac Allerton and his friend Roger Wilson.67 Degory Priest witnessed an interesting notarial deposition in Leiden, signing with a mark. This indicates that he, in contrast to Allerton, was probably unable to write. 8

He married on 4 Nov ,1611 in Leiden, Sarah (Allerton) Vincent, as "Sara Vincent, the widow of Jan Vincent," and the sister of Isaac Allerton.[3] After the death of Degory Priest, Sarah married, as her third husband, Godbert Godbertson.[9]

Marriage November 4, 1611 Leiden, Diggorne Preest and Sarah Vincent There are several depositions in Leiden which make his approximate birth year 1579. The first historic record of Degory Priest is from documentation in Leiden, Holland on October 7, 1611 when he became betrothed to Sarah Vincent, widow of John Vincent of London.Degory and Sarah were married on November 4, 1611, the same day that Sarah's brother Isaac Allerton married Mary Norris. [7]

"Several Leiden incidents in June 1617 are recorded regarding Degory Priest's involvement in activities that border on assault in one case and adultery in another. On June 28, 1617 Priest requested two tobacco pipe-makers to sign an affidavit that he had not hit John Cripps on June 17, 1617 but only "touched his Jabot" – i.e. the frill on the front of his shirt. The affidavit may have been needed by Priest to document his innocence in what could have been an assault case. And on the next day, June 18, 1617, Priest needed another affidavit, this time also involving John Cripps, card maker, who was rumored to have been in an adulterous relationship with Elizabeth, who was the wife of Leiden woolcomber John Mos". [7]

"Leiden records further indicate that on January 18, 1618 a statement signed by tailor Isaac Allerton was witnessed by Degory Priest regarding the estimated value of a crimson coat."[10][8]

"On April 9, 1619, Degory Priest and Samuel Lee, both hatters, signed a good behavior document on behalf of Nicholas Claverly, a tobacco-pipe maker, who had arrived in Leiden about 1615 and resided in a house owned by Degory Priest. In the document, Priest stated an age of forty years, which indicated he was born about 1579."[11]

Records show that on May 3, 1619 Degory Priest witnessed an affidavit to a statement signed by Richard Tyrill stating that Nicholas Claverly was not connected with the murder of Tyrill's brother John Tyrill. [11]

He was a member of the Leiden contingent on the historic 1620 voyage of the ship Mayflower, arriving ed in Plymouth in 1620 on the Mayflower.[12] He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620, with his signature written as "Digery Priest".

He died about two months later, a victim of the general sickness that killed nearly half of the passengers on the Mayflower. [13] He was buried likely sometime in January 1621 in Coles Hill Burial Ground in Plymouth, most probably in an unmarked grave, as was the custom that first winter. Along with many others who died in the winter of 1620-1621, his name is memorialized on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb, located on Coles Hill in Plymouth. [14]

Degory Priest came alone of the Mayflower, with his family remaining in Leiden. He intended to send for his wife Sarah and daughters Marah and Sarah once the colony was established.

After Priest's death, his wife Sarah married another hat-maker, Godbert Godbertson (or Cuthbert Cuthbertson), about November 13, 1621 with whom she had one son, Samuel, born possibly about 1622. Godbertson was said by Edward Winslow to be an English speaker of the Dutch Church and a member of the Separatist church in Leiden. They came, with their son Samuel Cuthbertson (later shortened to Cuthbert) and her daughters Marah and Sarah Priest, to Plymouth on the ship Anne in 1623. They were assigned land in the 1623 Division of Land with 6 "akers" for "Cudbart Cudbartsone" – one acre for the deceased Priest and one each for his wife Sarah, her second husband Godbert Godbertson and their three children.[15] Both Godbertson and his wife Sarah died in the epidemic of 1633 sometime in that fall, with their estate inventories being taken on October 24, 1633. Their burial places are unknown. [7]

Children 1. Marah Priest was born about 1612 and died in Charlestown in 1689. She married Phineas Pratt by 1633 and had eight children. The family moved to Charlestown about 1646. Her name has often erroneously been given as "Mary." Phineas Pratt was a person of note in Plymouth history, coming on the ship Sparrow in 1622, being one of Thomas Weston's settlers at the failed Weymouth settlement, and coming to Plymouth in 1623ref>Mayflower Families through Five Generations Volume 8, 2008 Degory Priest </ref>

2. Sarah Priest was born about 1614, went to England by October 1646, and may have died there, date and place unknown. She married John Coombs about 1632 and had two sons. For reasons that are not known, possibly the demise of her husband, Sarah traveled to England about 1645 and left her two sons, John and Francis Coombs, in the care of William Spooner who had agreed to their maintenance. It is believed that Sarah never returned to Massachusetts Colony, either having died on the voyage, or in England. [16]

Sources ? England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 30 December 2014, Hugh Prust in entry for Degory Prust, 04 Jun 1592); citing HARTLAND,DEVON,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 0874366 IT 1. ? Banks: The English Ancestry of the Pilgrim Fathers p. 75 ? 3.0 3.1 Groom- Bruidegom: Diggorne Preest Place of birth-Plaats geboorte: Londen Bride- Bruid: Sarah Vincent (Allerton) Place of birth-Plaats geboorte: Londen Wid.- Wed.: Jan Vincent Remarks- Opmerkingen: Witnesses groom- Getuigen bruidegom: William Leesle acq. bekende - Samuel Fuller acq.-bekende Witnesses bride- Getuigen bruid: Jannetgen Diggens acq. bekende - Casemijn Gipsijn acq.-bekende - Acq. Tammel: maidennames witn. bride- meisjesnamen getuige bruid: White en Horsfield. Bride- Bruid: Allerton Source: Erfgoed Leidenen omstreken Source- Bron Archiefnr; 1004 Archiefnaam: Schepenhuwelijken (1592-1795) Inventarisnummer: 198 Folio: B - 004 Marriage 4 Nov 1611 Leiden and Scan marriage 4 Nov, 1611 ? Mayflower Families Through Five Generations - Degory Priest Vol.8 p.3 ? Banks p. 75 ? Poorterboeken Aktedatum: 16-11-1615 Plaats: Leiden Poorter Diggore Pryst (Priest) (hoedenmaker=hatmaker, hatter) Bijzonderheden: Payed- Betaald: 3,2 guarantors-Borg; Rogier Wiltzon (saaiwerker) and Ysaac Allerton (kleermaker-Taylor) Diversen: both witnesses are guarantee - beide getuigen stelden zich borg Origin-Herkomst: Engeland (E.) Erfgoed Leiden en omstreken Poorter 16 November 1615 Leiden Bronvermelding Register van poorterinschrijvingen F, inventarisnummer 1267, blad 91v., aktenummer 10021 Gemeente: Leiden Periode: 1603-1638 ? 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Wikipedia - See Sources ? 8.0 8.1 Source: Pilgrim Occupations in Leiden ? Rosner: Mayflower Increasings p. 85 ? Wikipedia citing Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris 2006) p. 198 ? 11.0 11.1 Ibid ? Filby, P. William, ed.. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2006, p 374 ? Bradford's History ? Findagrave ? Anderson, GBM Vol. 2 p. 776 ? Mayflower Families through Five Generations Volume 8, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Plymouth, MA., Second Edition, 2008 Degory Priest Townsend, Mrs. Charles Delmar, Wakefield, Robert C. S., FASG, Stover, Margaret Harris, Mayflower Families through Five Generations Volume 8, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Plymouth, MA., Second Edition, 2008 Degory Priest Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., 2006), p. 197 Degory Priest on Wikipedia Robert Charles Anderson, "Degory Priest", The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Vol. III, Boston, New England Historic Genealogical Society 1995. (Online at American Ancestors, premium subscription required: Degory Priest: Featured Name. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Vol I-III, Pages 1526) (Online database accessed June 17, 2015:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010) Note: One must have a subscription to AmericanAncestors and be logged in for this link to work) Bradford's History on line at Roser, Susan E., Mayflower Increasings From the Files of George Ernest Bowman, Second Edition, Fourth Printing, Genealogical Publishing, Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md., 2001 (online at Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 1986), pp. 23-24, pp. 341-342; pp. 411-413; p 409; pp. 277, 417 (Print editions available) Robert Charles Anderson, Pilgrim Village Family Sketch: Degory Priest, (a collaboration between American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society) Online at Degory Priest Charles Edward Banks, The English ancestry and homes of the Pilgrim Fathers who came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620, the "Fortune" in 1621, and the "Anne" and the "Little James" in 1623 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1962), p. 75, p. 145 George Ernest Bowman, The Mayflower Compact and its signers, (Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1920), Photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document, pp. 7-19. Memorial of Degory Priest Findagrave Memorial of Sarah Priest Coombs Findagrave Stearns, Ezra S. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire (Lewis Publishing Company, 1908) Page 891 Families Directly Descended from All the Royal Families in Europe (495 to 1932) & Mayflower Descendants. Bound with Supplement[17] Macdonough, Rodney. The Macdonough-Hackstaff Ancestry (Press of S. Usher, Boston, 1901) Page 458-61 "Family Tree," database, FamilySearch ( : modified 14 June 2018, 14:30), entry for Degory Priest(PID; contributed by various users. William Bradford's journal "On Plimoth Plantation"

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Degory Priest, Mayflower Passenger's Timeline

of, London, Middlesex, England
August 11, 1582
Age 3
Hartland, Devon, England (United Kingdom)
August 11, 1582
Age 3
Hartland, Devon, England
November 4, 1611
Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands
Leiden, Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands
November 11, 1620
Age 41
Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States