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, ...

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