African missionary; born at Ormiston (9 miles southeast of Edinburgh), Scotland, December 21, 1795; died at Leigh (25 miles southeast of London) August 9, 1883. From a boy he was religiously inclined, and after offering himself for mission work to the London Missionary Society he was accepted and sent to South Africa, 1816. He went first to Namaqua Land, where he was assisted by Afrikaner, a native chief converted by him. From there he went to Lattakoo in 1820, then on to Kuruman in 1825. From 1839 to 1843 he was in London lecturing for the Missionary Society, and translating the Psalms. He met Livingstone at this time, and secured his services for the Bechuana mission. In 1843 he resumed his work in Kuruman, and in 1857 finished his translation of the Bible. In 1870 he returned to England permanently. In 1872 he was honored with a doctorate in divinity from Edinburgh, and a testimonial of £5,000 from his friends.
He and Mrs. Moffat, who shared his labors and dangers, were pioneers in South African mission work, and stanch friends of the natives, while he proved himself a skilful organizer, teacher, and translator. During his work in South Africa he labored at intervals on a translation of the Bible into Chuana (Bechuana, Sechuana), which was published, London, 1872, revised 1890. He was the author of "A Book of Hymns in Chuana" (Mission Press, Kuruman, 1838); Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa (London, 1842); Rivers of Water in a Dry Place, Being an Account of the Introduction of Christianity into South Africa, and of Mr. Moffat's Missionary Labours (1863).
Bibliography: Lives were written by his son, J. S. Moffat, latest ed., London, 1904 (includes life of Mary Moffat); W. Walters, Now York, 1882; J. D. Marrat, London, 1884; D. J. Deane, ib. 1887; M. E. Wilder, Chicago, 1887; and in DNB, xxxviii. 97-101. Consult also: Robert Moffat, an Example of Missionary Heroism, London, 1878; Miss A. Manning, Heroes of the Desert, ib. 1885.
From The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge... New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1910.
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