Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Moffat, John Smith (A)

South Africa , Zimbabwe

British missionary and imperial agent.

A son of Robert MOFFAT, in 1859 he helped to found the first permanent mission among the Ndebele of MZILIKAZI in present Zimbabwe. Initially he was sponsored by his brother-in-law David LIVINGSTONE, but he soon affiliated with the London Missionary Society. In 1865 he returned to Kuruman to continue his father’s work among the Tswana, quitting the mission society in 1879 to hold a variety of government posts. During the late 1880s European pressure to wrench economic concessions from the Ndebele was intense. Moffat went to Zimbabwe as an official British agent and persuaded king LOBENGULA to sign a treaty of friendship which was the precursor of Lobengula’s important concession treaty with Charles RUDD (1888).

Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen


Moffat, Robert Unwin. John Smith Moffat. London: John Murray, 1921.

Dictionary of South African Biography, 4 vols. Cape Town, Durban: Human Sciences Research Council, 1968-81.

Tabler, E. C. Pioneers of Rhodesia. Cape Town: C. Struik, 1966.

Rasmussen, R. Kent. Historical Dictionary of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1979.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Dictionary of African Historical Biography, 2nd edition, copyright © 1986, by Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. All rights reserved.