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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Priest family come from? What is the English Priest family crest and coat of arms? When did the Priest family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Priest family history?

The ancient name of Priest finds its origins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from a name for a priest having derived from the Old English word preost, which means priest. It was also a nickname given to a person with a priestly character, and probably also given to a person with the exact opposite character. A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character.


Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Priest family name include Preost, Priest, Prest, Preist, Prestt, Press and many more.

First found in Hertfordshire, where they held a family seat before the Middle Ages.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Priest research. Another 187 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1379, 1615, 1557, 1579, 1621, 1645 and 1735 are included under the topic Early Priest History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 103 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Priest Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Priest family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 81 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Priest surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Priest Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • John Priest, his wife Sara, and their daughters Mary and Sarah, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1620 aboard the "Mayflower"
  • Degory Priest who arrived in Massachusetts in 1620 aboard the "Mayflower"
  • Degory Priest, who landed in Massachusetts in 1620
  • Sarah Priest, who landed in America in 1620
  • Walter Priest, who arrived in Virginia in 1623

Priest Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Eliza Priest, who arrived in Virginia in 1717
  • Catherine Priest, a bonded passenger who arrived in Annapolis, Maryland in 1723
  • Abraham Priest, who arrived in Maryland in 1725
  • Richard Priest, who arrived in New England in 1731
  • Ann Priest, who settled in Maryland in 1750

Priest Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Angus Priest, aged 46, landed in North Carolina in 1812
  • Andreas Priest, aged 26, arrived in New York, NY in 1847
  • Albert Priest, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850


  • Lee Priest, American male bodybuilder
  • Dorman E Priest, American optical engineer
  • Dana Priest (b. 1959), American author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (2006)
  • Christopher James Priest (b. 1961), born James Christopher Owsley, American writer of comic books, often credited simply as Priest
  • Christopher Priest (b. 1943), English writer
  • Alfred Ernest "Fred" Priest (1874-1922), English professional footballer
  • Mr. Arthur John Priest (d. 1912), aged 24, English Trimmer from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Cathy Priest, Canadian female bodybuilder


  • Descendants of Dwight Solomon Priest of Massachusetts and John Henry Linville of North Carolina by Thomas Merriam Linville.

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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  3. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  6. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  7. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  11. ...

The Priest Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Priest Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 21 July 2014 at 00:07.

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