The next graves on our route record another type of Victorian travellers. Missionaries travelled across the British Empire and beyond to spread Christianity. Here are two missionary graves.
On the left is Robert Moffat. The dates on his headstone are the years he lived and worked in Africa. Born in Ormiston in Scotland he became a Wesleyan minister. His first religious mission took him to South Africa in 1816. In 1825 Moffat and his wife Mary founded a church at Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province. Today it is a national monument.
In 1859 the Moffats founded another mission at Inyati in Zimbabwe. There Robert Moffat translated the Bible into Sechuana, a dialect spoken by the Tswana people in Botswana.
Among the visitors at the Moffats’ Kuruman church was another Scottish missionary, David Livingstone. Livingstone was one of the most popular figures of Victorian Britain. From 1840 until his death in 1873, he explored many parts of Africa. His missions included journeys through present-day South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, DR Congo, Malawi and Tanzania.
In 1844, Livingstone was attacked by a lion and stayed at Kuruman to recover. He then married the Moffat’s oldest daughter, also called Mary. The tree where Livingstone proposed to Mary is still at the church. Mary travelled with Livingstone until the couple had three children. From then on Mary moved back to live with her parents.
In 1862 Mary Livingstone joined her husband in Malawi but contracted malaria and died. She is buried in Chupanga in Mozambique. Livingstone continued his travels until he too died of malaria in Zambia. His loyal attendants carried his body over 1,000 miles to the coast so that Livingstone could be returned to Britain and buried there.
Robert and Mary Moffat meanwhile had returned to Britain due to failing health. Robert Moffat attended the unveiling of Livingstone’s statue in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
Immediately to the right of the Moffats’ grave is that of the Reverend Samuel and Mary Annear. Mary was born in Redruth in Cornwall and the couple married in 1843. The grave records that Samuel was a missionary in West Africa, the West Indies and Australia before he died in British Columbia in Canada. The Annears are probably buried next to the Moffats because they were fellow members of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society.
The Annears had a daughter born in Nigeria and there are mission records of their travels elsewhere including the Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone. They later settled in South Minneapolis in the United States.
The St Paul Daily Globe newspaper from December 1st 1884 records that the Reverend Annear gave a speech in favour of the prohibition of alcohol. Described as “an extensive traveller in Africa for fifteen years among the nations”, Annear “had found strong drink to be the greatest curse of the world”.
South African missionary Robert Moffat