Scott Journal

Reference code(s): GB 0233 Acc 9218
Held at: National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division
Domain: archival
Title: Scott Journal
Date(s) of contents: 1884-1896
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: One bound volume of manuscript notes.


Name of creator(s): Scott, David Clement Ruffell (1853-1907)

Administrative/Biographical history: David Clement Ruffell Scott, Church of Scotland missionary in Malawi and Kenya, was born in Edinburgh in 1853. He attended school in Edinburgh then spent some time working in an actuary's office before a calling to the church led him to study Arts and Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He was a brilliant student graduating M.A. (1878) and B.D. (1881). Scott was ordained in 1881 and immediately sent to be head of the Church of Scotland mission at Blantyre in Nyasaland (now Malawi). He was responsible for virtually restarting the mission as all the previous staff had either resigned or been dismissed. Scott was a brilliant linguist, his interest in African culture and closeness to African people can be seen from his Cyclopaedic Dictionary of the Mang'anja Language (1892). Much of the periodical Life and Work in Central Africa between 1886 and 1898 was written by Scott. His efforts created a mission that was regarded as highly successful. Scott suffered a series of personal setbacks in 1895 with the deaths of his wife, brother-in-law and brother, and later of the daughter of his second wife. This, coupled with the Church of Scotland's decision to side with white settler critics, led him to resign in 1898. In 1901 Scott returned to Africa, to head the Kikuyu mission in British East Africa ( Kenya) which had just been taken over by the Church of Scotland. However his work at Kikuyu was not as successful as his work at Blantyre. The death of his second wife in 1902, a series of illnesses, and criticism of his methods of running the mission marred the final years of his life. Despite this, his ability to relate to Africans remained unchanged and he attracted a number of outstanding Kikuyus to the mission. Scott died at Kikuyu on 13 October 1907.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Presented to the National Library of Scotland in 1986.


Scope and content/abstract: *

System of arrangement: One large prebound volume, filled approximately two thirds with handwritten diary entries. The volume also contains seven loose pages, plus four unmounted photographs.


Language: Mostly English, plus a very little material in an African vernacular language.

Conditions governing access:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: None.



Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002


Personal names
Scott | David Clement Ruffell | 1853-1907

Corporate names