Mary Slessor
Mary Slessor.jpg
Mary Slessor
Born 2 December 1848 (1848-12-02)
Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Died Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "{"., Expression error: Unrecognised word "january".
Nationality British
Known for Christian Missionary work in Africa; promoting women's rights
Religion Christian (United Presbyterian Church of Scotland)

Mary Slessor (2 December 1848 - 13 January 1915) was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Her determined work and strong personality allowed her to be trusted and accepted by the locals, spreading Christianity and promoting women's rights.

the Early life


Mary Slessor

Mary was born in Aberdeen and moved to Dundee at the age of 11 when her family was looking for work. Her father was an alcoholic who had to stop his work as a shoemaker and eventually became a mill labourer. Mary's mother ensured that she attended church and made her a half time worker at a jute mill, working for half the day and attending the mill school for the other half. People around town would tease her about her red hair becaue they believed it was silly for a girl to have that with blue eyes even though when she got older her hair grew darker and turned brown.

She developed a strong interest in religion and joined a local mission teaching the poor. One famous story from this time is that of the Red Headed Lady: Mary dared a gang of boys that she would not flinch as they swung a metal weight closer and closer to her face; she successfully stayed still, and the boys had to attend her Sunday School as forfeit.

Among the Efik

Mary Slessor went to live among the Efik people in Calabar in present day Nigeria. There she successfully fought against the killing of twins at infancy. She died there in 1915 and was given a state burial[1].

Commemoration on banknotes

Mary Slessor is commemorated today on banknotes issued in Scotland by the Clydesdale Bank; her portrait appears on the obverse of the £10 note, replacing David Livingstone, whose image featured on the notes prior to 1998. On the reverse, Slessor is depicted holding children in her arms alongside a map of the Ekoi and Ibibio in Calabar (present-day Nigeria).[2][3]


  2. "Clydesdale 10 Pounds, 1998". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  3. "Current Banknotes : Clydesdale Bank". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 

Further reading

  • Robertson, Elizabeth, Mary Slessor: The Barefoot Missionary. Edinburgh: NMS Enterprises Ltd - Publishing, Revised Edition 2008. ISBN 10: 19016635071 ISBN 13: 9781901663501
  • Benge, Janet & Geoff (c1999) Mary Slessor: Forward Into Calabar. YWAM Publishing. 205 pages. ISBN: 1576581489.
  • Gruffydd, Gan Ceridwen Brenhines Y Diffeithwch (Mary Slessor)Llundain, in Welsh published 1926.
  • Livingstone, W.P. (1926) Mary Slessor of Calabar. Hodder and Stoughton. 347 pages.

External links

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