Updated 4 Nov 2016
Robert Scoon, 1789-1837, came to South Africa in 1817 as a young member of Benjamin Moodie's Scottish settler party, precursors of the more famous 1820 Settlers. In 1827 Scoon and a fellow Scottish settler, William McLuckie, left Grahamstown to hunt and trade north of the Gariep River. Their travels took them into the Ndebele territory of Mzilikazi who heard with interest of their use of firearms and wagons. On a second journey into the region two years later, they were summoned to the royal kraal at Kungwini (north of the present city of Tshwane). There they remained for six weeks, demonstrating their hunting rifles and establishing a good relationship with Mzilikazi that paved the way for visits by missionaries James Archbell and Robert Moffat later that year.
For the next five years Scoon operated successfully between present-day Mafikeng and the Magaliesberg and acquired a thorough knowledge of the area. In 1834 he was able to provide guidance and expertise to Andrew Smith's large scientific expedition into the interior. Having directed Smith to Mzilikazi's kraal at Gabeni, Scoon and fellow trader David Hume left the expedition to explore the valley of the Olifants River and the Soutpansberg. Two years later Scoon died of a heart attack while returning from one of his many hunting trips.