Livingstone’s Consular Cap

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Blantyre Folk

David Livingstone

Why Livingstone wore a “Consular Cap.”

Livingstones consular cap

Explanation in hitherto unpublished letter.

The Glasgow Herald – May 19th 1938

A hitherto unpublished letter, now placed on view at the Livingstone Memorial, Blantyre, explains the “mystery” of the “Consular” cap which the famous missionary seems always to have worn and which is now on show in the Scottish history section of the Empire Exhibition.

The letter is written to David Livingstone’s tailor, Henry Drummond, of Queen Street and Argyll Street, Glasgow. This Drummond was the father of a missionary of the London Missionary Society in Samoa, who was a college friend of Livingstone.

The explorer writes:- “Please send me two blue cloth caps similar to those worn by the officers of the Navy, the upper part having plenty of wadding. This is the best protection against the sun I know.”

The note is dated from Kolebeng in 1848. Dr. Livingstone did not enter Government service till 10 years later, and it seems most probable that he adopted the custom after his first outward voyage.

The letter gives further quaint information as to his dress. “My wardrobe,” he writes, “stands greatly in need of replenishing, and I feel inclined to try moleskin for trousers; the sail cloth is excellent but washes very white and appears soiled directly – common drab moleskin or any darker in colour if it can stand the washing. Of course the strongest you can furnish, no matter how thick or tradesman-like it looks.”

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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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