Virtual annual meeting for Antiquarian Society

Details of Capt. Spooner’s hairbreadth escape to be presented for first time

Dave Kindy
Wicked Local
This portrait of Capt. Nathaniel Spooner hangs at the Hedge House Museum in Plymouth.

PLYMOUTH – More than 200 years ago, Capt. Nathaniel Spooner sailed several voyages from his homeport here to Spain, delivering cargoes of cod and other food. Most of those journeys went without incident. However, in 1803, he ran afoul of Spanish authorities and nearly landed in prison.

The details of Capt. Spooner’s hairbreadth escape have never been disclosed – until now. Researchers in Europe have pieced together what happened and will present their findings during the first-ever virtual annual meeting by thePlymouth Antiquarian Society on Nov. 21.

"We’re very excited to feature this presentation of never-before-shared research," said Anne Mason, the society’s executive director. "It will follow our annual meeting, which will be on Zoom for the first time, which is free and open to everyone. This research gives a new understanding of Plymouth trade in the 18th and 19th centuries."

Donald C. Carleton Jr. and Xabier Lamikiz will join the virtual session from Europe to present their research on this intriguing moment in the life of Spooner, who was born in Plymouth in 1785 and became a sea captain.

In 1803, his schooner the Governor Carver was intercepted by authorities after departing from the Basque port of Bilbao. He was suspected of carrying gold and silver specie out of Spain, which was illegal for foreign traders at the time.

From surviving manuscripts, Carleton and Lamikiz have pieced together Capt. Spooner’s escape from justice and the legal machinations that followed. Their presentation will follow a 30-minute business meeting by the Antiquarian Society on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m.

"Both speakers will join us from their homes in Europe for this international presentation," Mason said. "It starts after a short business meeting, where we read reports and elect officers. The program is free to participate, but registration is required."

To register online for the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s virtual annual meeting and information session on Capt. Nathaniel Spooner, go to

For more information, contact Mason at or 508-746-0012, or visit

In the collection of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Capt. Nathaniel Spooner's spyglass is depictd in his portrait.