The runaway - slave, Mary Ann Macham, arrived in North Shields on a cold Christmas Day in 1831. She had escaped from Virginia in the United States where she was born in 1802 to an enslaved woman and a slave-owner. She crossed the Atlantic Ocean in an English ship called The Atlas, arriving in Grimsby. The master of the ship then brought her to North Shields.
She was taken in by the Quaker Spence family and worked as a domestic servant in the homes of various members of the family. In 1841 she married a local man, James Blyth. He was a rope maker and later a banker's porter, possibly working for the Spence family bank. James and Mary Ann lived in various houses on Howard Street in North Shields.
After James died in about 1877, Mary Ann continued to live in North Shields and for a while, stayed with relatives of her dead husband in South Benwell. She died in 1893 and was buried in Preston Village cemetery in North Shields.
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