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Guide to the Nathan Spear papers, 1802-1849
BANC MSS C-B 106  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Nathan Spear Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1802-1849
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 106
    Creator: Spear, Nathan, 1802-1849
    Extent: Number of containers: 2 boxes
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Consists of letters and accounts and other commercial records of his store in Monterey from 1832 and in San Francisco from 1836. Some relate to partnership, 1836-38, with William Sturgis Hinckley and Jacob Primer Leese.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nathan Spear papers, BANC MSS C-B 106, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    Forms part of the Hubert Howe Bancroft Collection.

    Scope and Content

    The papers, which include correspondence, accounts, and invoices, were given to Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1878 by Spear's son, William N. Spear.


    Nathan Spear was born in Boston in 1802. In 1829 he went to the Sandwich Islands and in 1832, went to Monterey. He opened a store and engaged in coastal trade with the schooner "Nicolás."
    Spear, in partnership with Jacob Primer Leese and William Sturgis Hinckley opened a store in San Francisco in 1836, and moved there in 1838, leaving his Monterey store in charge of William R. Warren. The partnership was dissolved the same year. Spear continued the business, transferred the "Nicolás" to San Francisco, and bought the schooner "Isabel." He also built a grist-mill with a machine for making shingles, and a turning-lathe. His nephew, William Heath Davis, was his clerk from 1838.
    Spear was arrested during the Graham affair in 1840. In 1846 he was an unsuccessful candidate for alcalde of San Francisco. Although he owned several town lots, he never became a Mexican citizen, and so obtained no land grant.
    Ill-health forced Spear to move to Napa Valley in 1846. He returned to San Francisco late in 1848 and died at the home of his nephew in October, 1849.