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Mary Moffat

(1795 - 1871)

Mary Moffat was born Mary Smith at Plantation Farm (then Dukinfield Nurseries) alongside the then unfinished Peak Forest Canal in 1795. She was the daughter of John Smith, a prosperous nursery gardener, and Mary Gray.

In 1816 Mary met her future husband, Dr Robert Moffat, who had moved into the area from Scotland. Here he obtained employment as a gardener working for John Smith in Dukinfield. Mary and Robert got to know each other and soon they wanted to marry and become missionaries. Her parents objected to this and consequently Robert joined the London Missionary Society and left for South Africa in the same year. Mary overcame her parents objections and she left for South Africa in 1819. The couple married in South Africa in December 1819.

Mary Moffat
née Smith

Dr Robert Moffat

Robert opened a mission station at Kuruman, Bechuanaland (now part of South Africa), where Robert translated the Bible into the language of the Bechuanas and wrote two missionary books about South Africa.

The couple had 10 children and their eldest child, Mary, went on to marry the renowned Dr David Livingstone despite objections by her mother. They returned to England on leave in 1839 and went back again in 1843. In 1870 they came back to England to live and Robert Moffat visited Dukinfield for the last time. He was saddened to make comparisons between the past Dukinfield and the present. Mary died at Brixton on the 10 June 1871 and Robert died at Leigh, between Sevenoaks and Royal Tunbridge Wells, on the 9 August 1883. There is a memorial to Dr Robert Moffat at Ormiston, East Lothian, near Edinburgh, Scotland.

Family History
Mary, daughter of John Smith and Mary Gray. Born 24 May 1795, Plantation Farm, Dukinfield, Cheshire.
Robert, son of Robert Moffat and Ann Gardiner. Born 21 December 1795, Ormiston, East Lothian, near Edinburgh.
Married on the 27 December 1819 at Cape Town, Cape Colony, South Africa.
The couple had 10 children. Their third child, Robert, was born in 1825 and he died in the same year. Their fourth child was also called Robert after his father and brother who died.


  1. Daughter: Mary Moffat, born 12 April 1821, Griquatown, Cape Colony, South Africa. Married Dr David Livingstone, Kuruman, Bechuanaland, January 1845, died of malaria in 1862.
  2. Daughter: Ann Moffat, born 31 March 1823, Lattakoo, Bechuanaland. Married Jean Fredoux, by 1851.
  3. Son: Robert Moffat, born 1825, Kuruman, Bechuanaland. Died 1825, Kuruman.
  4. Son: Robert Moffat, born 28 January 1827, Kuruman, Bechuanaland. Married Ellen Platt, 4 Jun 1851, Kuruman, died 6 August 1862.
  5. Daughter: Helen Moffat, born 2 February 1829, Kuruman, Bechuanaland. Married James Vavasseur, 1847.
  6. Daughter: Elizabeth Moffat, born 25 March 1831, Cape Town, Cape Colony, South Africa. Died 4 January 1832, Kuruman.
  7. Son: James Moffat, born, 1833, South Africa. Died 19 March 1839, Table Bay, South Africa.
  8. Son: John Smith Moffat, born 10 March 1835, Kuruman, Bechuanaland. Married Emily Unwin, 1858.
  9. Daughter: Elizabeth Lees Moffat, born 16 March 1839, at sea, South Africa. Married Roger Price, October 1861, Kuruman,
  10. Daughter: Jane Gardiner Moffat, born 19 August 1840, Flixton, Lancashire (died 1927). Jane's birth was registered in the September Quarter of 1840 as Jane Moffatt, Manchester, XX 615. Her middle name of Gardiner was added at the time of Christening. Jane's death, aged 87 years, was registered in the December Quarter of 1927 as Jane G Moffat, Lewisham, 1d 1107. Lewisham is in South London.

Mary died on the 10 January 1871 at Brixton, London, Middlesex. Mary's death, aged 75 years, was registered in the March Quarter of 1871, Lambeth, 1d 348. Buried in Norwood Cemetery†.
Robert died on the 9 August 1883 at Leigh, Kent. Robert's death, aged 88 years, was registered in the September Quarter of 1883, Sevenoaks, 2a 310. Buried in Norwood Cemetery†.

†Norwood Cemetery is also known as South Metropolitan Cemetery or West Norwood Cemetery and it is situated in Lambeth, Greater London.

1881 Census, 3/4 April
Piece RG 11/911, Folio 101, Park Cottage, St Mary, Leigh, Sevenoaks, Kent.

NameRelationConditionAgeOccupationWhere Born
Robert MoffatHeadWidower85Returned African MissionaryEast Lothian, Scotland
Jane G MoffatDaughterUnmarried40House KeeperFlixton, Lancashire
Emily D MorrisServantUnmarried27Domestic CookNewcastle, Monmouthshire
Lucy E HincklyServantUnmarried15House MaidWellington, Somerset

Plantation Farm where Mary Moffatt née Smith was born.

A blue plaque celebrating the life of Mary Moffat née Smith located just beyond Stanley Lift Bridge overlooking Plantation Farm where she was born.

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