William and Catherine Booth: A Gallery of the Booths’ Children

BY 1890 William and Catherine Booth led an international movement largely supervised by their children. While other Victorian sons and daughters rebelled, the Booth children stayed the course. All of them, except Marion, who was retarded, held high office in The Salvation Army with a distinctive personal rank.

After Catherine’s death in 1890, however, rebellion began to break out. Granddaughter Catherine Bramwell-Booth surmised that had Catherine lived, she would have dispelled the misunderstandings that caused William much grief. Despite these misunderstandings, however, The Salvation Army was well served by its impressive first family.

William Bramwell (1856–1929)

Began as a Christian Mission secretary at age 16 and became his father’s chief of staff in 1880. He married a physician’s daughter, Florence Soper. Under an 1875 Deed Poll, succession to the position of General was by sealed envelope. When Salvation Army solicitors opened the envelope in 1912, upon William’s death, there was no surprise that Bramwell succeeded his father. He oversaw the Army’s growth to about the same number of officers as it has had since. In his later years, however, Bramwell became increasingly authoritarian, and in 1929 the High Council deposed him as “incapacitated.”

Ballington (1857–1940)

“The Marshal” joined his parents’ work after schooling and in 1879 was briefly jailed for preaching in the streets of Manchester. In 1884 he married Maud Charlesworth, an Anglican rector’s daughter. In 1887 William Booth sent them to command the Army in the U.S., where they served as effective, well-liked leaders. When William attempted to move them to South Africa in 1896, however, Ballington and Maud broke with the Army to establish the Volunteers of America, an organization similar in structure that has ministered particularly well to prisoners.

Catherine (1858–1955)

Acquired her title “the Marechale” after opening the Army’s work in France and Switzerland in 1881–82. In 1887 Catherine married her chief of staff, Colonel Arthur Sydney Clibborn, who altered his name to Booth—Clibborn. Due to personal slights, differences in doctrine, and frustration with the Army’s centralized system, they resigned in 1902 and attached themselves to an American cultist, Dr. Alexander Dowie of Chicago. Catherine, by now the mother of ten, continued to evangelize and later confessed, “It is terrible to allow oneself to be turned aside—that has been my sin. To the Masses I was sent as a child, and my greatest and deepest spiritual blessings and lessons have come in following my calling.”

Emma Moss (1860–1903)

Managed family affairs during the absences of her mother and father, and though she was retiring in personality, her pulpit talent proved equal to her siblings’. From 1880 to 1888 she trained women cadets in London, prior to her marriage to Frederick St. George de Lautour Tucker, who appended Booth to his name [on the insistence of William Booth, who did not want his daughters to lose their family identity]. A trained attorney and member of the Indian Civil Service, Tucker had opened the Army’s work in India in 1882. Together they served as joint commanders in the U.S., and while serving, Emma died (the only fatality) in a train accident in Deans Lake, Missouri.

Herbert Howard (1862–1926)

While attending school in 1880 he acquired a building for a new corps, Bristol Circus, which seated 2,250 people. In 1882 he organized Auxiliary Leagues of the Army’s friends, and then succeeded Ballington as principal of the Men’s Training Home in 1884. When he had a “nervous breakdown,” William sent him on a world tour of Army stations. He had a particular gift for musical composition and arranging celebrations. In 1889 he became commander for Britain. He married Cornelie Schoch, daughter of a Salvation Army pioneer in Holland in 1890. He later commanded the Army in Canada, then Australasia, until he defected from his father’s charge in 1902 to become an itinerant evangelist.

Marion Billups (1864–1937)

The only child not to serve actively as an Army leader. Her retardation was traced to “severe convulsive attacks” soon after birth. She held the rank of Staff Captain.

Eveline Cory (1865–1950)

Changed her name to Evangeline at the suggestion of WCTU president Frances Willard. She had assisted Emma at the Training Home in 1884, during which time she was arrested while holding a street service. For six months she was Captain of the Marylebone Corps where English statesman John Bright attended meetings and admired her forceful command. At age 23 she commanded the London Division and later led the Army in Canada (1896–1904) and the United States (1904–33), where the Army became famous for its service in World War I. “The Commander” played a major role in deposing Bramwell in 1929 and became the Army’s first woman general in 1934.

Lucy Milward (1867–1953)

Met her husband, Emanual Daniel Booth—Hellberg, a Swedish officer, in India in 1892. Following Hellberg’s death in 1909, Lucy led the Army in several Scandinavian countries.

By Norman H. Murdoch

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #26 in 1990]

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