A DESCENDANT of a man who helped shape America's history, is set to give a talk.

Jeremiah Dixon was responsible for helping create America’s Mason-Dixon line, which divided the slave-owning Southern states from abolitionist Northern states during the civil war.

Jeremiah Dixon, from Cockfield, County Durham, was commissioned 250 years ago by King George III to help resolve a dispute over boundary lines between the English colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the US.

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Maryland had been founded in 1632 by the Calvert family from Kiplin Hall, North Yorkshire, as a refuge for English Catholics. About 50 years later, neighbouring Pennsylvania was created by the Quaker William Penn and inhabited by the more aggressive Puritans.

Although surveying was in its infancy, accurate boundary measurements were required to prevent continuing argument, so the royal astronomer at the Greenwich Observatory recommended his assistant Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, from Cockfield to undertake a boundary survey.

It took five years and proved one of the great technological feats of the century.

The boundary became the Mason-Dixon, which defined the boundary of freedom for escaping black slaves and the dividing line between Southern and Northern states in the civil war.

Now one of his direct descendants, John Dixon, is to host a talk entitled Jeremiah Dixon; Revered in America, Forgotten at Home, for Northallerton and District Local History Society.

It will take place at the Sacred Heart Church Hall on Thirsk Road, Northallerton at 7pm on Tuesday, January 8. Non-members are welcome at a nominal admission charge of £2.50, while students under 18 will be admitted free.