1821 to 1862
Mary Livingstone was the oldest child of
Robert Moffat and wife
of David Livingstone.
Born at Griqua Town, South Africa she grew up speaking Tswana
more fluently than English. She spent five years at Salem
School in the eastern Cape Colony followed by some teacher
training at Cape Town. From 1839 to 1843 she was in Britain
with her parents and disliked the life there intensely. From
1843 she taught happily in the school at Kuruman in Griqualand,
and then in 1845 she married David Livingstone. She and their
children accompanied him on his two great treks to the north
in 1850 and again in 1851. Although she loved this life as
much as her husband did, her parents were appalled, and when
David decided to explore the Zambezi Valley everyone insisted
that she not go. There followed four desperately unhappy years
in Britain which she still found alien. When David returned
to Britain in 1856 she spent two very happy years with him,
though still disliking life in Europe intensely. She insisted
on joining her husband on the next Zambezi expedition and
in 1861 she sailed for her beloved Africa. On April 27, 1862,
she died in David's arms at Shupanga on the Zambezi.
Andrew C. Ross
Edna Healey, Wives of Fame (1986) contains the only serious attempt at a life of Mary Livingstone. Timothy Holmes, Journey to Livingstone (1993) contains much information and some sympathetic insights.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.