Mary Slessor

Mary Mitchell Slessor

Mary Slessor
Born 2 December 1848 (1848-12-02)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died 13 January 1915(1915-01-13) (aged 66)
Nationality Scottish
Known for Christian Missionary work in Africa; promoting women's rights
Religion Christian (United Presbyterian Church of Scotland)

Mary Mitchell 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.


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 and then survived a heart attack. 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. 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. Mary also noticed the boys coming back every Sunday; and one of the boys became a Christian. Two years later Mary was on a boat to Africa.[citation needed]

Among the Efik

Mary Slessor went to live among the Efik and the Okoyong which lived near the Efiks who live in Calabar, in present day Nigeria. There she successfully fought against the killing of twins at infancy.[1] Mary Slessor was a driving force behind the establishment of the Hope Waddell Training Institute in Calabar, which provided practical vocational training to Africans.[2] Slessor died in 1915.[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).[3][4]


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.
  • Hardage, Jeanette. Mary Slessor Everybosy's Mother, The Lutterworth Press (2010), ISBN 9780718891855.
  • Livingstone, W.P. (1926) Mary Slessor of Calabar. Hodder and Stoughton. 347 pages.
  • Rev. J. Harrison Hudson, Rev. Thomas W. Jarvie, Rev. Jock Stein. "Let the Fire Burn" - A Study of R. M. McCheyne, Robert Annan and Mary Slessor. This is an out-of-print booklet that was published in 1978 by Handsel Publications (formerly of Dundee). The company is now called Handsel Press. It is listed as D.15545, 15546 under Mary Slessor in List of Reference Works at the Local Studies Department of Dundee Central Library, The Wellgate, Dundee, DD1 1DB.

External links

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