Monday, 3 January 2011

Catherine Booth

Within the Ashbourne Memorial Gardens is this statue.

Catherine Booth was born in Ashbourne on 17th January 1829, daughter of a coachbuilder. From here, the family moved to Boston in Lincolnshire and later to Brixton, London. She was a comitted Christian with a strong sense of social justice and became a member of both the Band of Hope and the Temperence Society.

On 16th June 1855, she married William Booth, a Methodist minister and Catherine became a preacher in the Methodist Church at a time when such things invited heavy censure. She was brilliant and gained a reputation for being an exceptional speaker.

When the couple moved to the East End of London, they founded a Christian Mission which, over time, developed into the Salvation Army. Within the Army, women enjoyed equal status with men, working together in the fight against poverty and injustice.

Catherine organised Food for the Millions shops, where the poor could buy a meal for sixpence; exposed the practice of sweatshop labour for women and children, campaigning for improved working conditions and wages, and spoke out against the use of yellow phospheros on match heads becuase of the illness it caused to those applying it.

She died on 4th October 1890 after losing her personal battle with cancer; survived by her husband, eight children and a growing church, which flourishes and continues its work amongst the poor to this day.


  1. I eem to remember that both William and Catherine lived in Brighouse for a time in, I think, the 1850s. Have a great 2011.

  2. I knew nothing about her.
    In my work I have a lot of contact with The Salvation Army - what an organization and what a lot of good it does.

  3. Formidable woman - the bust makes her look rather severe; I wonder if she was?

  4. I had no idea. The SA is a great organization over here too.