Old Photograph Robert Moffat Monument Ormiston Scotland
Old photograph of the Robert Moffat monument in Ormiston, East Lothian, Scotland. Robert Moffat, born 21 December 1795, died 9 August 1883, was a Scottish Congregationalist missionary to Africa, father in law of David Livingstone, and first translator of the Bible into Setswana. Moffat was born of humble parentage in Ormiston. To find employment, he moved south to Cheshire in England as a gardener. In 1814, whilst employed at West Hall, High Legh in Cheshire he experienced difficulties with his employer due to his Methodist sympathies. For a short period, after having applied successfully to the London Missionary Society to become an overseas missionary, he took an interim post as a farmer, at Plantation Farm in Dukinfield, where he first met his future wife. The job had been found for him by William Roby, who took Moffat under his wing for a year. In September 1816, he was formally commissioned at Surrey Chapel in London as a missionary, and was sent out to South Africa. His fiancée Mary Smith, born 1795, died 1870, was able to join him three years later, after he returned to Cape Town from Namaqualand. In 1820 Moffat and his wife left the Cape and proceeded to Griquatown, where their daughter Mary, who was later to marry David Livingstone, was born. The family later settled at Kuruman, to the north of the Vaal River, among the Batswana people. Robert and Mary Moffat had ten children: Mary, Ann, Robert, who died as an infant, Robert, who died at the age of 36, leaving an uncompleted, but published, work on the Setswana language, Helen, Elizabeth, who also died as an infant, James, John, Elizabeth and Jean. Their son John Smith Moffat became a missionary and took over the running of the mission at Kuruman before entering colonial service. Their grandson Howard Unwin Moffat became a prime minister of Southern Rhodesia. Mary preceded Robert in death in 1870, at home in England where they had returned because of failing health. For the last twelve years of his life, Robert spoke throughout England, seeking to raise interest in the mission work. He was presented to Queen Victoria twice at her request and was presented with a Doctor of Divinity degree from Edinburgh University. Robert Moffat died at Leigh, near Tunbridge Wells, on 9 August 1883, and is buried at West Norwood Cemetery. A memorial monument, paid for by public subscription, was erected at his birthplace in 1885.
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