Help us provide lasting tribute to woman who escaped slavery
We are a group of volunteers at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre on North Shields Fish Quay and we are raising £800 to provide a memorial stone to mark the last resting place of a woman who escaped slavery and became part of our community in the 19th century.
Mary Ann Macham and the role of by key local families in campaigns to abolish slavery has been the subject of Breaking Chains, a popular exhibition, at our heritage centre since last October. As the exhibition draws to a close we would like to provide a lasting tribute to Mary Ann to make sure that her story is not forgotten.
Who was Mary Ann Macham?
Mary Ann Macham, born in Virginia USA, was the daughter of an enslaved woman and a plantation owner’s son. She was sold into slavery and after years of cruelty, managed to escape. She stowed away on a ship bound for the Netherlands and eventually after long and treacherous journey arrived in North Shields on Christmas Day 1831.
She was met and befriended by the Spence family, well-known local business people, leading Quakers and supporters of the abolition movement. She married a local rope-maker, James Blyth and enjoyed over 60 years of freedom.
Her final resting place is with her husband in Preston Cemetery, North Shields but her name is not on his headstone. His stone is sited near to those from the Spence family and other local Quakers who helped Mary Ann in her new life of freedom.
Why do we want to make a lasting tribute?
Mary Ann’s story is inspiring and we believe it should not be forgotten. After years of hardship and cruelty she found the courage to escape and endured a treacherous journey to freedom. She arrived in North Shields a stranger but the kindness of local people and in particular Quaker families meant she was able to live a long and fulfilling life.
Our research showed that these families who cared for Mary Ann were also playing their part in campaigns to abolish slavery, facilitating visits and rallies by leading abolitionists.
Who are we?
We are a group of local people who support the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, the oldest surviving building on North Shields Fish Quay. We are passionate about preserving an iconic building for the benefit of the public and about inspiring people to find out more about the history of North Shields. We are run by a charity called The Net. More information about our heritage centre and charity is on www.oldlowlight.co.uk