Who was David Livingstone?

David Livingstone was born on 18 March 1813 into a working class family in Blantyre, Scotland, United Kingdom, the second of seven children. The family shared a room in a tenement building owned by the mill company where Livingstone started working at the age of ten.

He was taught to read and write by his father, and in addition to schooling in the evenings provided by the company, he taught himself Latin and developed a love of natural history.


At the age of 19 he was promoted and, with his increased wages, by 1836 he had saved enough money to enter Anderson's University, Glasgow to study medicine, where he studied under Andrew Buchanan MD. Two years later, he suspended his course and spent a year at the London Missionary Society in Chipping Ongar, Essex. He moved to London in 1840 to complete his medical studies at the British and Foreign Medical School, the Aldersgate Street Dispensary, Charing Cross Hospital and Moorfields Hospital. At the end of the year he qualified as a Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. That same month he was also ordained a missionary by the London Missionary Society and in December set sail for South Africa and onward to the mission station at Kuruman as a missionary doctor.

Livingstone was one of the first medical missionaries to enter southern Africa, the first in central Africa, and he was often the first European to meet local tribes. He won their trust as a healer and medicine man and gained such a reputation amongst the villages he visited that he eventually had to limit his treatment only to those with serious illness. He was particularly sought for his skills in obstetrics, the surgical removal of tumours and ophthalmology.

On 1 May 1873, he died in Africa, a place which he travelled extensively, trying effortlessly to evangelise the native tribes and abolish the slave trade. David Livingstone was buried at Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom, a national hero.