David Livingstone

There is a great deal of information about David Livingstone available on the internet and in public libraries.  We've tried to write here a precis of his life, as it relates to the purchase of Ulva Cottage in Malthouse Lane.

David qualified as a doctor in 1840, after training at Charing Cross Medical School, and at the same time he trained to become a missionary.

He made the first of his 3 visits to Africa in 1841, during which he met and married Mary Moffat (in 1845), who was the daughter of a fellow-missionary.  This visit lasted 15 years, and was notable for his missionary work, and his exploration activities.  These included mapping the Zambezi River, and being the first European to see the waterfall which he named Victoria Falls.  During this period he contracted malaria 30 times.

David and Mary returned to Britain in 1856, staying here just 2 years, during which time he was appointed HM Consul.  He was also elected to be a Member of The Royal Society and received a Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society, as well as becoming something of a national hero, with wide press coverage.

In 1858 David and Mary embarked on their second visit to Africa, to explore further the Zambezi.  The trip was sponsored by the Foreign Office, but proved to be a disappointment on two counts:  Firstly Mary died of malaria in 1862 at the tragically early age of 41, leaving 6 young children, the youngest of whom (Anna Mary, who later became our Annie) was born earlier in the trip in November 1858.  Secondly, David’s efforts were criticised in the press as being unsuccessful in terms of failure to halt the slave trade or to find opportunities for economic development.

He returned to Britain in 1864, but only for 2 years before returning to Africa, purportedly to find the source of The Nile, as well as carry out missionary work and continue to try to halt the slave trade.  However his expedition fell out of contact with Britain and was deemed “lost” for 5 years.  Accordingly a search party was sent by the New York Herald under the direction of Henry Morton Stanley. 

As we all know, Dr Livingstone was found by Stanley, but refused to leave Africa, despite being very unwell.  Dr Livingstone died in 1873 in what is today Zambia, from malaria.  His heart was buried near where he died, while the rest of his remains were brought to Britain and buried in Westminster Abbey. 

He is remembered as an inspiration to abolitionists of slavery, explorers and missionaries to this day, and his memory is maintained in the names of cities, towns, buildings, scholarships, statues and of course, one famous 4-word quotation by Stanley.  The second city of Malawi, Blantyre, is named after his birthplace.  Wikipedia lists over 60 items that bear his name.

As is well known, Stanley moved to Pirbright, living at Furze Hill, and is buried in Pirbright Churchyard, but his life is definitely outside the scope of this site.

One of the less favourable of Dr Livingstone’s legacies is the lack of time he spent with his children.  This is particularly the case with Anna, the youngest, who can only have seen her father until she was 8 years old, at which point he left Britain on his final voyage.  And during those 8 years he would have been engaged on many other activities, with little time available to spend on her.