Scottish Missionary and Explorer

David Livingstone (19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873) was obviously a Scottish physician, pioneer, Christian missionary, African explorer and anti-slavery crusader who became the most popular British heroes with the late 19th-century, Victorian era through his pursuit to reach new peoples inside interior of Africa through “Christianity, commerce, and civilization”.

Livingstone advocated to the establishment of British commercial trade, colonial expansion and religious missions in central Africa that will displace the slave trade performed by the Portuguese.

His explorations ultimately, contributed towards the “Scramble for Africa” and African nationalism.

Early Background

David Livingstone was considered one of seven children who lived in one room within the mill city of Blantyre, Scotland, inside a tenement building to the workers of any cotton factory for the banks with the River Clyde.

In 1823, in the age of ten, he was employed from the cotton mill of Henry Monteith & Co. in Blantyre Works where he with the exceptional brother John worked 14-hour workdays as piecers, tying broken cotton threads around the spinning machines.


His zeal for education inspired him to wait Blantyre village school, along with mill children, despite his long work hours, to increase his future job prospects.

Livingstone’s work experiences inside the cotton mill from ages 10 to 26 to back up his poor family taught him to persevere against all odds and the man developed a natural empathy effortlessly who labor and endure.

An appeal by British and American churches in 1834 for qualified medical missionaries in China made Livingstone determined to pursue that profession while still working inside mill.

He began lowering costs to enter Anderson’s University, Glasgow in 1836 (now University of Strathclyde), together with attending Greek and theology lectures on the University of Glasgow.

In 1838, he was accepted through the London Missionary Society (LMS) for be employed in China and began studies in medical practice, midwifery, and botany for the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School along with Ongar, Essex to build up his missionary training.

He qualified being a Licentiate with the Faculty (now Royal College) of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on 16 November, 1840 and appeared an Honorary Fellow on the Faculty, on 5 January 1857.

Early Influences

The Opium War were only available in 1839 and lasted until 1842 which made China missions difficult.

A speech in 1840, by Robert Moffat, Scottish, Congregationalist missionary in southern Africa and his awesome future father-in-law, convinced him that Africa was where he should serve.

He seemed to be influenced by abolitionist, T.F. Buxton’s arguments the African slave trade may be destroyed over the influence of “legitimate trade” along with the spread of Christianity.

On November 20, 1840, he was ordained being a missionary and hang sail for Cape Town South Africa, then arranged for Kuruman station where Moffat had worked on the list of Bechuana people.

Expeditions in Africa

David Livingstone undertook three major African expeditions and through his travels, he designed a reputation like a dedicated Christian, a courageous explorer, plus a dedicated antislavery advocate.

He treated the natives with respect, as well as the tribes he visited, returned his respect with faith and loyalty.

In January, 1845, David Livingstone married Mary Moffat (12 April 1821 – 27 April 1862) who has been the daughter of Scottish missionary, Robert Moffat.

Mary spent her formative years at Kuruman station and her familiarity with several African languages helped their missionary travels throughout the African interior.

First Expedition

In 1849, he traveled to Lake Ngami with William Cotton Oswell and reached the top of the Zambezi River for your first time in 1851.

In 1853, he made his purpose clear: “I shall throw open a path in the interior, or perish.”

From 1853-56 his expedition crossed southern Africa everywhere where he discovers the spectacular waterfall that he named Victoria Falls to honor Queen Victoria in 1855.

Livingstone returned to England in 1856 and received a hero’s welcome, a gold medal from your Royal Geographic Society, an honorary doctorate from Oxford University as well as a private audience with Queen Victoria.

Second Expedition

On his second expedition, Livingstone discovers Lake Malawi and reached the mouth on the Zambezi River as to what is now Mozambique about the Indian Ocean in May, 1856.

The Zambezi River linked the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique who have been supplying slaves to Brazil, who therefore sold these to Cuba plus the United States.

Following the death of his wife in 1862 plus the loss of his assistants, Livingstone uttered his famous quote: “I am able to go anywhere, provided or not it’s forward.”

Third Expedition

The third expedition of 1866-73, he explored central Africa to try to find the source with the Nile.

On locating the Lualaba River he mistakenly concluded it turned out the high part on the Nile River.

Henry Morton Stanley

From 1866, Livingstone lost experience of the outside world and also the London Daily Telegraph and New York Herald created transatlantic venture to send out journalist, Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to locate him.

Stanley found Livingstone alive near Lake Tanganyika in October 1871, greeting him using the now famous quote, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

With these four words, David Livingstone became immortal.

Livingstone answered: “Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to invite you.”

On March 14, 1872, Stanley departed for England pleading unsuccessfully, for Livingstone to send back with him.


Livingstone became increasingly ill and took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside from internal bleeding caused by dysentery and malaria on May 1, 1873, in the age of 60, in Chief Chitambo’s Village, near Lake Bangweulu, North Rhodesia (now Zambia).

Britain wanted Livingstone’s body so it can have a proper ceremony, even so the tribe cut his heart out and hang a note about the body in spite of this, “You might have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!”

His heart was buried within a Mvula tree at the spot where he died with the exceptional body was mummified

His body with the exceptional journal, were carried spanning a thousand miles (1,600 km) by his loyal attendants, Chuma and Susi, to your coastal city of Bagamoyo to get returned to Britain.

Henry Stanley would be a pallbearer at Livingstone’s funeral.

His remains were interred at Westminster Abbey using the inscription on his tomb reading, “Brought by faithful hands over land and sea,”

His exploration journey’s vastly increased geographical familiarity with central and southern Africa and enabled large regions being mapped.

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