Due to restrictions on in-person gatherings, the 2020 business meeting of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society was held virtually via Zoom on November 21, 2020. Authorization for remote-only meetings during the coronavirus pandemic was given to nonprofit organizations by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts legislature.
Call to Order – Virginia E. Davis, President
Moment of Silence in Memory of Monica M. Donelan – Virginia E. Davis, President
Presentation of Nominees to the Board of Trustees – Susan Fessenden, Nominating Committee Chair
Presentation of Nominees to Nominating Committee for 2021 – Virginia E. Davis, President
Treasurer’s Remarks – Charles E. Vautrain III, Treasurer
President’s Remarks – Virginia E. Davis, President
Director’s Remarks – Anne Mason, Executive Director
Adjournment – Virginia E. Davis, President
“Sometimes fortune Smiled other times a hard rub”: The Bilbao Adventures of Plymouth’s Captain Nathaniel Spooner
Presented by Donald C. Carleton, Jr. with comments by Dr. Xabier Lamikiz
As the ward of his uncle Ephraim Spooner, the Plymouth shipmaster Nathaniel Spooner (1758-1826) was raised in the house at 27 North Street now preserved by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, whose rich historical collections include Nathaniel’s portrait and spyglass.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Spooner skippered multiple voyages from Massachusetts to Spain delivering cargoes of cod and other foodstuffs to hungry Iberian consumers on behalf of his employers, the Plymouth merchants Thomas and William Davis. Despite the disordered international situation at the time, Spooner managed to complete most of his voyages without undue incident.
In August of 1803, however, Spooner’s luck ran out. While departing the Spanish Basque port of Bilbao, his schooner the Governor Carver was intercepted on suspicion of carrying specie, a serious crime at a time when the export of gold and silver by foreign traders was generally prohibited by law. The story of the Captain’s hair’s-breadth escape from justice and the legal machinations that followed is now being pieced together from surviving manuscript records by our speaker, independent scholar Donald C. Carleton, Jr., in collaboration with Bilbao’s Itsasmuseum (maritime museum) and Dr. Xabier Lamikiz of the University of the Basque Country.
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