Mary Slessor was a hard working Scottish mill girl and an unorthodox Sunday School teacher, who, inspired by David Livingstone, became a missionary in Calabar, Nigeria, an area where no European had set foot before. Despite several bouts of illness and constant danger, she lived with the tribes, learned their language, and traditions, earning their respect and 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.
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More Facts about Mary
In Dundee a stained glass window was dedicated to her in 1923 and this can be seen in the newly refurbished McManus Galleries.
To this day the people of Calabar remember Mary Slessor, and this extraordinary Scottish woman is part of their history and heritage. One of the main streets in the centre of the city, which has a population of approximately 400,000 (about 50,000 less then Edinburgh), is called “Mary Slessor Avenue”. A significant roundabout at one end of this tree lined street has a large piece of public art erected in memory of a woman that Nigerians still hold in very high regard.
Mary features on a Clydesdale Bank £10 note, the only non royal female to feature on a currency note!