Catherine Booth (17 January 1829 – 4 October 1890) was the wife of The Salvation Army founder, William Booth. Because of her influence in the formation of The Salvation Army she was known as the ‘Army Mother’.
She was born Catherine Mumford in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England, the daughter of John Mumford and Sarah Milward. Her family later moved to Boston, Lincolnshire, and later lived in Brixton, London.
From an early age, Catherine was a serious and sensitive girl. She had a strong Christian upbringing, even going so far as to read her Bible through eight times before the age of 12.
At age 14, she was seriously ill and spent a great deal of time in bed. She kept herself busy, however, and was especially concerned about the problems of alcohol. She wrote articles for a temperance magazine, which encouraged people not to drink.
She met William Booth, a Methodist minister, when he came to preach at her church in 1852. They soon fell in love and became engaged. During their three-year engagement, Catherine constantly wrote letters of encouragement to William as he performed the tiring work of a preacher.
They were married on 16 June 1855 at Stockwell Green Congregational Church in London.
At that time in history, it was unheard of for women to speak in adult meetings. Yet, Catherine was convinced that women had an equal right to speak and when an opportunity was given for public testimony she would seize it. She also spoke to people in their homes, especially to alcoholics, whom she helped to make a new start in life. Often she held cottage meetings for converts.
The Booths had eight children. Two of their offspring, Bramwell and Evangeline, later became Generals of The Salvation Army.
Catherine and William began the work of The Christian Mission in 1865. William preached to the poor and ragged and Catherine spoke to the wealthy, gaining support for their financially demanding ministry.
When the name was changed in 1878 to The Salvation Army and William Booth became known as the General, Catherine became known as the Mother of the Army. She was behind many of the changes in the new organization, designing the flag and bonnets for the ladies, and contributed to the Army’s ideas on many important issues and matters of belief.
Catherine Booth died at age 61 in Clacton-on-Sea at Crossley house.