Lion and Club

Mary Livingstone

David’s wife Mary was the daughter of two well-known missionaries, Robert and Mary Moffat. She was born and brought up in southern Africa.

After she married David, they settled in Kolobeng. Mary was responsible for domestic tasks like washing, cleaning and milling maize for porridge. She also spent time teaching local children.

She joined David on many of his early travels and was the first white woman to cross the Kalahari Desert.

She was of vital help to her husband on some of his expeditions because of her ability to speak Tswana and her status as the daughter of Robert Moffat who was well respected by local rulers.

As they travelled, Mary was able to negotiate with community groups, teaching local women and children when the opportunity arose.

How different do you think Mary’s life was as the wife and daughter of missionaries? How different was it from women in the UK? And how different would her life have been if she was alive today?


We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project. Note: Please note that David Livingstone Birthplace (and the David Livingstone Trust) is no longer part of National Trust Scotland (NTS). NTS members will therefore no longer receive discounted/free entry to the Birthplace Museum.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland

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