Mary Mitchell Slessor (2 December 1848 – 13 January 1915) was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Her determined work and strong personality allowed her to be trusted and accepted by the locals, spreading Christianity and promoting women's rights.
Mary was born in Aberdeen and moved to Dundee at the age of 11 when her family was looking for work. Her father was an alcoholic who had to stop his work as a shoemaker and eventually became a mill labourer and then survived a heart attack. Mary's mother ensured that she attended church and made her a half time worker at a jute mill, working for half the day and attending the mill school for the other half. She developed a strong interest in religion and joined a local mission teaching the poor. One famous story from this time is that of the Red Headed Lady: Mary dared a gang of boys that she would not flinch as they swung a metal weight closer and closer to her face; she successfully stayed still, and the boys were so ashamed of themselves they decided to attend her Sunday School and the leader of the gang became a Christian. Mary also noticed all of the boys coming back every Sunday. Two years later Mary was on a boat to Africa.