David Hume was born in Berwick, Scotland and came to South Africa with Benjamin Moodie's Scottish settlers in 1817. He became a pioneer trader, explorer and renowned big-game hunter. Starting in 1829 when he accompanied Robert Moffat, he arranged trips into Mzilikazi's territory and was one of the first Europeans to meet this chief of the Matabele. In 1830 he explored the region north of the Limpopo River searching for gold. He was also the first recorded European to enter Bamangwato, the present-day Botswana. Hume heard reports of the existence of Lake Ngami, but in 1836 lacked the funds to mount an expedition. He had settled at Kuruman with his family and annually sold the products of his hunting on the Market Square in Grahamstown. On 2 April 1851 he sold 5 594 kg of ivory for ₤5 260 and karosses and ostrich plumes to the value of £5 802. In 1854 he was elected as one of eight municipal commissioners of Grahamstown.
David Hume died in Grahamstown on 1 February 1864.