Founder of the 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.