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Laws, Robert, 1851-1934 (Scottish missionary)



  • Existence: 1851 - 1934


Robert Laws, the son of an Aberdeen cabinetmaker, was born on 28 May 1851 at Mannofield, Aberdeen. He was educated at the Free East Church School, Aberdeen, and at Aberdeen University. He then studied Divinity at the United Presbyterian Theological Hall, Edinburgh, 1872-75, and also studied Medicine at the University of Aberdeen, 1871-73, at Anderson's College, Glasgow, 1873-74, and at the University of Glasgow, 1873-74. Between 1873 and 1875, Laws was a Missionary in the Smallpox and Fever Hospitals, Glasgow. In 1875 he was ordained by the United Presbyterian Presbytery of Aberdeen, and the same year was appointed as Medical Missionary of the Free Church of Scotland Mission, Livingstonia, Lake Nyasa. Laws was in full control of the mission station between 1877 and 1927. For a time he was also Principal of the Overtoun College, Livingstonia, and in 1894 was sent as a deputy to begin the Hope Waddell Training Institution in Calabar, now in Nigeria. During his career as a missionary, Laws developed a Christian community of some 60,000 including African pastors, and founded over 700 schools. He translated the New Testament in Nyanja, published an English-Nyanja dictionary, compiled a Gunda-English and English-Gunda vocabulary, and published works in the Tonga language. For three years he was a senior unofficial member of the Nyasaland Legislative Council. Robert Laws died on 6 August 1934.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Photo of Robert Laws (1951-1934)
Photo of Robert Laws (1951-1934)

Papers of Robert Laws

Identifier: Coll-75
Scope and Contents

The Papers of Robert Laws consist of notebooks and papers mainly relating to the work of the Livingstonia Mission in Nyasaland (now Malawi), including notebooks on African languages. There is correspondence and other papers and also printed items including translations from the Bible and grammars.

Dates: c 1875-1934

Papers, volumes, and photographs of Robert and Margaret Laws

 Fonds — Box CSWC Small Collections Box 2
Identifier: CSWC 89
Scope and Contents

Volume of anthems, New Testament, empty wallet and photographs and prints of studio portratis of Robert and Margaret Laws

Dates: 20th c

Photo album relating to the Livingstonia Mission, and to Malawi, 1930s

 Item — Box CLX-A-345
Identifier: Coll-1848/18-0092
Scope and Contents

Photo album containing around 100 black-and-white photographs showing the everyday life of missionaries and locals in Livingstonia, Isoko, Karonga. There are small handwritten captions in different hands. Some photos show the Livingstonia missionary School in Nyasaland (modern day Malawi), which was established in 1875 by Dr Robert Laws, a disciple of David Livingstone. Photographs include Dr Laws standing on the steps of Livingstonia Institution along with the new principal.

Dates: 1930s