Booth, William, 1829–1912, English religious leader, founder and first general of the Salvation Army, b. Nottingham. Originally a local preacher for the Wesleyan Methodists, he went (1849) to London and entered (1852) the ministry of the Methodist New Connexion Church, but in 1861 he began independent evangelistic work. In 1865, with the help of his wife, Catherine Booth, he started the East London Revival Society (soon known as the Christian Mission) in Whitechapel, London. The Christian Mission developed in 1878 into the Salvation Army. General Booth, a remarkable organizer, traveled widely, winning recognition wherever he went. In 1890 he published In Darkest England and the Way Out in collaboration with W. T. Stead. See Booth, family; Booth, Evangeline Cory.
See biographies by G. S. Railton (2d ed. 1912), H. Begbie (1920), St. J. Ervine (2 vol., 1934), H. C. Steele (1954), E. Bishop (1964), and R. Collier (1965); R. Hattersley, Blood and Fire (2000).
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