Founder of the Sal­va­tion Army

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - SALVATION ARMY -

Born near Not­ting­ham in 1829, Wil­liam Booth was one of five chil­dren.hil­dren. His father was a spec­u­la­tive builder whose busi­ness failed. At thee age of 13, Wil­liam was ap­pren­ticed to a pawn­bro­ker and his father died soon af­ter­wards. This poverty-stricken child­hood made a long-last­ing im­pres­sion on Wil­liam.

In 1844, he was con­verted to Method­ism and later be­came a Methodist New Con­nex­ion min­is­ter in Ty­ne­side. He met Cather­ine Mum­ford in 1852, mar­ry­ing three years later; they went on to have eight chil­dren. In 1860, Cather­ine started preach­ing and the fol­low­ing year, they broke from Method­ism in favour of an evan­ge­lis­tic life in Lon­don.

Wil­liam and Cather­ine jointly founded the or­gan­i­sa­tion that be­came the Sal­va­tion Army in 1865 and it grew un­der their lead­er­ship. Cather­ine died in 1890, the same year that Wil­liam’s book In Dark­est Eng­land and the Way Out was pub­lished. This work was hugely in­flu­en­tial when the wel­fare state was set up in 1948.

As the Army’s so­cial wel­fare work be­came more widely known, pub­lic opin­ion turned in Wil­liam’s favour. He was made free­man of Lon­don, be­came an hon­orary doc­tor of the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, was in­vited to Ed­ward VII’s corona­tion and was asked to open the US Se­nate with prayer. Wil­liam Booth died in 1912 and 150,000 peo­ple at­tended his fu­neral.

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