David Hunter was David Livingstone’s grandfather on his mother, Agnes’s side. It was his Christian name the famous explorer bore with so much honour.
When David Hunter married his wife Janet Moffat, they settled in comfortable circumstances on a small cottage and croft at Airdrie. Mrs Hunter died when her daughter Agnes was but fifteen. Agnes was her mother only nurse during a long illness, and attended so carefully to her wants that the minister of the family laid his hand on her head and said, ” A blessing will follow you, my lassie, for your duty to your mother.”
Soon after Mrs Hunter’s death a reverse of fortune overtook her husband, who had been too good-natured in accommodating his neighbours. David Hunter removed to Blantyre, where he worked as a tailor. One of his apprentices Neil Livingstone, fell in love with and married the master’s dutiful daughter, and thus it was that the Airdrie lass became the mother of the greatest of African explorers and missionaries. David Hunter was greatly respected by his neighbours at Blantyre, and died in 1834, at the age of eighty-seven.
Livingstone’s parents, Neil Livingstone and Agnes Hunter, were married in 1810, and took up house at first in Glasgow, the chief piece of furniture in their humble home being a handsome chest of drawers. Not liking Glasgow, they returned to Blantyre, where five sons and two daughters were born to them, David being the second son.
Mrs Livingstone’s family spoke of her as a very loving mother, one who gave to home a remarkable element of brightness and serenity. Active, orderly, and of thorough cleanliness, she trained her family in the same virtues, both by her precept and example. She was, a delicate little woman, with a wonderful flow of good spirits, and remarkable for the’ beauty of her eyes, to which those of her son David bore a strong resemblance.
To his mother, David was always a dutiful son. He was ever watchful to lighten her labours, and often swept out the floor, and assisted her in cleaning; and this he did with the thoroughness characteristic of all his life-work, for his mother gratefully records the fact that David swept “even under the door-mat.” But even in the discharge of this act of helpfulness, David was not wholly unlike the average human boy, for he would sometimes say, ” Mother, if you’ll bar the door, I’ll scrub the floor for you, a concession to the made prejudice of Blantyre he would not have made in later years.
Another satisfactory gleam of human weakness is recorded of him. He not only climbed to a higher point in the ruins of Bothwell Castle than any other boy, but carved his name up there. Livingstone’s mother died on the 18th of June, 1865, after a lingering illness extending over several years. When leaving home in 1858, she said to her son that she would like one of her laddies to lay her head in the grave, and it was a source of satisfaction to David Livingstone that he was in the country at the time and able to pay his last tribute to “a dear, good mother.”
Livingstone Birthroom is shown, a room his mother would have been most familiar with. These are the floors David dutifully helped his mother with.