In July 1934, a new exhibit of much interest, and, if its direct personal connection with the explorer could be definitely established, of great value, had just been put on exhibition at the Livingstone Memorial, Blantyre.
It was a rifle manufactured by Dougall, of Glasgow, famous gunmakers in their day. It was a gift to the Trust from Mrs John Stoddart, formerly of Edinburgh. It was given to her husband in the early 1900s by Mr James Walker, of Limefleld, son-in-law of Young of Kelly, Livingstone’s great friend, and it came with the assurance that it had at one time been used by the missionary.
That, however, is the only evidence that has been discoverel, and there are certain things that make the story rather improbable. The date of manufacture cannot be placed earlier than 1870, while the explorer left Scotland for the last time 1865. Further, the case has on the lid the name of W. O. Livingstone—that is the third son of the family, Oswell. He was a member of the Dawson Search Expedition sent out by the Royal Geographical Society to find his father. It reached Zanzibar almost at the same time as H. M. Stanley did his return journey. On learning Ibat Dr Livingstone had been relieved the party went no farther. However, it is also quite possible that this rifle may have been sent up-country with the extra porters that Stanley recruited and despatched up-country to Dr Livingstone so, it would reach him a few months before he died.
I once heard rumours that a gun was stolen from the David Livingstone Centre display cabinets, and wondered if this was the same one, but I’ve been unable to follow up that story. Pictured is an engraving made in 1884, commemorating Livingstone’s former harrowing moment with a lion. Who knows, perhaps the rifle pictured, was the one used to fend off the beast.