Mary Slessor was a hard working Scottish mill girl and an unorthodox Sunday School teacher in Dundee in the mid 19th century. Inspired by David Livingstone, she became a missionary in Calabar, Nigeria, an area where no European had set foot before. Despite illness and constant danger, she lived with the tribes, learned their language, and respected their traditions, putting an end to some barbaric practises, such as the killing of twins. She adopted many Nigerian children (particularly twins) who had been left to die. When Southern Nigeria became a British Protectorate, she became the first ever female Magistrate in the British Empire and a skilful diplomatic emissary.
Mary died in 1915, aged 67, with great mourning amongst the tribes to whom she had dedicated her whole life. To this day the people of Calabar remember Mary Slessor, and this Scottish lady is part of their history. A stained glass window was dedicated to her in 1923 and can be seen in Dundee’s McManus Galleries.
Mary features on a Clydesdale Bank £10 note, the only non royal female to feature on a currency note!