ROBERT MOFFAT, MISSIONARY
The next three episodes of this series will focus on early European visitors to the Magaliesberg region. One of the most remarkable of these was the Scottish missionary Robert Moffat. He was born on 21 December 1795 in Ormiston, Scotland. His parents were not wealthy, and at the age of 13, he was apprenticed to a gardener (Moffat 1889, p. 5). It was hard, physical labour, which no doubt developed in Moffat a toughness which stood him in good stead later in life. In the evenings Moffat attended classes, during which he not only learnt Latin but was also given instruction in blacksmithing and playing the violin (Moffat 1889, p. 5).
By 1815, Moffat had found employment as a gardener in the village of High Leigh, Cheshire, England (Moffat 1889, p. 7). It was here that he came into contact with Methodist evangelists, and readily accepted their message. Moffat went through a life-changing conversion experience, and committed himself to a life of missionary service. In September 1816, he was formally commissioned as a missionary of the London Missionary Society (LMS), and was sent to South Africa.
After three years in Namaqualand, he returned to Cape Town, where he married his fiancée Mary Smith. The young couple travelled first to Griquatown, where their daughter Mary (later to marry David Livingstone) was born. From there they moved to the LMS station at Kuruman in the northern Cape.