William was strongly anti-British long before the Revolution. He was a carpenter and then a printer, and finally gave his life for American independence. 1757 - William was drafted from the Virginia Militia to serve in the King's Virginia Regiment. When he refused, a bounty of 40 shillings was offered for his capture. The Sept 2, 1757 Virginia Gazette described the wanted man as: "William Depriest, Goochland County, height 5'7 1/2", 24 years old, Brown complexion, country Virginia, trade sawyer." In 1764 the British passed the Currency Act which prohibited printing paper money in the colonies and caused great economic hardships. Patrick Henry, in a speech before the House of Burgess in 1765, called upon the colony of Virginia to make paper money in defiance of the King but was voted down. He ended his speech "if this be treason, make the most of it!" William DePriest apparently took him seriously. [Patrick Henry's wife's family were neighbors of the DePriests.] 1767 - The following article is from the October 22, 1767 Virginia Gazette: "Williamsburg - Col. Terry, from Halifax county, informs that some time in August last a man was taken up and committed to their gaol, who upon examination confessed himself one of DePriest's gang, and that he, with others, guarded the said DePriest until he had struck 80,000£ Maryland currency, the bills mostly of the Dollar denomination. And some Gentlemen now in town inform that DePriest himself is now apprehended, and committed to Frederick county gaol in Maryland." [This amount of money goes beyond simple counterfeiting; it was a strong political statement.] William was arrested in Sept 1767 and charged with counterfeiting eight-dollar Maryland Bills of Credit. News of his activities and arrest was reported in newspapers throughout the Colonies including Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. Shortly after his arrest, William wrote his wife Tabitha, but the letter was intercepted and taken to Maryland's governor. It is now included in the Maryland Archives.
"To Tabitha Depriest, Pitsylvania County, Virginia. Dear Wife I am very sorry to inform you of this Melancholy News that I am apprehended & am now in Irons at Frederick Town in Maryland. I beg that you may take it as easy as you can and come as soon as possible you can to see me and bring me as much Money as you can. I beg that you may go about among my Friends and they will help you to Money. After you have done what you can upon Smiths River I beg that you may go into Amherst County and apply to Col. William Cabbel [Cabel] and to James Nivils [Neville] and to all the heads of that County as my friends and to my Brother John and apply yourself to Capt Thomas Devenport [Davenport] in Cumberland County and he will do more for you than all the rest. It is needless to mention all for you know as well as I who to apply to. am your Loving Husband Wm Depriest"
William was first held in the Frederick county prison, then in Oct was taken to Annapolis, MD for fear his friends would attempt to free him. He died in the Annapolis jail while awaiting trial. He fell into a coma on Mar 9, 1768 and died on Mar 13.
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