Born: Ju­ly 6, 1849, Ar­broath, Scot­land.

Died: Ju­ly 9, 1913, Co­logne, Ger­ma­ny.

Buried: Ab­ney Park Ce­me­te­ry, Lon­don, Eng­land.



George was the son of Me­tho­dist mis­sion­ar­ies Lan­ce­lot Rail­ton and Mar­ga­ret Scott.

He was first Com­mis­sion­er of the Sal­va­tion Ar­my (SA), and se­cond in com­mand to SA found­er Will­iam Booth.

George was ed­u­cat­ed at Wood­house Grove School in Leeds. Af­ter his par­ents died when he was 15, he found hims­elf home­less and job­less.

His old­er bro­ther, Laun­ce­lot, a Me­tho­dist min­is­ter, found him work in Lon­don with a ship­ping com­pa­ny, but not find­ing it to his lik­ing, George went to Mo­roc­co in 1869 as a mis­sion­a­ry

Being un­success­ful and find­ing him­self strand­ed in Mo­roc­co, he worked his pas­sage back to Bri­tain as a stew­ard.

In 1870, he be­gan to work in Stock­ton-on-Tees for an un­cle who owned a ship­ping bu­si­ness, but preached the Gos­pel at ev­ery op­por­tu­ni­ty.

The same year, Will­iam Booth met George’s bro­ther Laun­ce­lot, who told him of George’s at­tempt to con­vert the Mo­roc­cans, add­ing that George was just the sort of per­son that Booth’s Chris­tian Mis­sion was look­ing for

Two years lat­er, Booth re­ceived a let­ter from George, who had read the Chris­tian Mission’s How to Reach the Mass­es with the Gos­pel, and was so moved by it that he of­fered him­self to the cause.

In October 1872, Rail­ton tra­veled to London to be­gin his work for the Chris­tian Mission (re­named the Sal­va­tion Ar­my in 1878 at a meet­ing Rail­ton at­tend­ed), and for some years he lived in the Booth house­hold as Will­iam Booth’s sec­re­ta­ry.

He be­came act­ing ed­it­or of The Chris­tian Miss­ion Ma­ga­zine, and in Sep­tem­ber 1873 was ap­poin­ted Gen­er­al Sec­re­ta­ry to the Chris­tian Mis­sion.

By 1880, Booth’s son Bram­well had ma­tured and be­came his fa­ther’s sec­re­ta­ry. Rail­ton, who since his youth had want­ed to be a mis­sion­a­ry, per­suad­ed Booth to send him to New York to be­gin the SA’s work there.

He was well suit­ed to such work, be­ing a skilled lin­guist, de­di­cat­ed, and hard work­ing, and both he and his su­per­i­ors felt more com­fort­a­ble with him on the fron­tier than at head­quar­ters.

With male of­fi­cers be­ing few in num­ber, Rail­ton took Cap­tain Em­ma West­brook and six oth­er young wo­men with the in­ten­tion of train­ing them for the work on the voy­age to Am­er­i­ca.

On March 10, 1880, Rail­ton ar­rived at Cas­tle Gar­den, New York with his se­ven Hal­le­lu­jah Las­sies, and im­me­di­ate­ly set about preach­ing to New York­ers and join­ing with the un­of­fi­cial work al­rea­dy be­gun by the Shir­ley fa­mi­ly in Phi­la­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia.

He al­so be­gan the work in New­ark, New Jer­sey, leav­ing two young wo­men in charge there, while he set off for St. Lou­is, Miss­ou­ri, to be­gin preach­ing there, but there he was un­suc­cess­ful.

Meanwhile, in New York the work had gone so well that by May there were 16 of­fi­cers, 40 ca­dets, and 412 sol­diers. By the end of 1880, 1,500 had been con­vert­ed.

In Jan­u­a­ry 1881, Rail­ton re­ceived or­ders from Will­iam Booth to re­turn to Eng­land. Rail­ton pro­test­ed that he was need­ed in Am­er­i­ca, but Booth in­sist­ed he re­turn home.

On Jan­u­ary 1, 1885, Com­mis­sion­er and Mrs. Rail­ton set sail for Na­tal, South Af­ri­ca, ar­riv­ing there on March 8, with Rail­ton’s health de­clin­ing.

On May 6 they ar­rived at Pie­ter­mar­itz­burg, where the idea of the SA’s Red Shield Work for men in the forc­es came in­to be­ing. On August 19, 1885 the cou­ple set sail for Eng­land.

In 1886, Booth sent Rail­ton to Ger­ma­ny, where his preach­ing met with con­sid­er­a­ble hos­til­i­ty, and lit­tle pro­gress was made. How­ev­er. by 1890 Ger­ma­ny had a new Em­per­or, Wil­helm II, and Chan­cel­lor Bis­marck be­ing re­tired, it was thought the si­tu­a­tion would im­prove, and Rail­ton was of­fi­cial­ly ap­point­ed Ter­ri­tor­i­al Com­mand­er.

Later that year, he re­turned to Eng­land to con­duct the fun­er­al of Ca­ther­ine Booth, The Ar­my Mo­ther.

In 1893, as part of a tight­en­ing of re­strict­ions by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, Rail­ton was ex­pelled from the coun­try.

In 1894 Rail­ton was sent to Spain, where he re­mained un­til re­called to Eng­land in the sum­mer of 1895

Though by now his health was de­clin­ing, he was called on to as­sist Bram­well Booth for whom he tra­veled the world, in­spect­ing the work of the SA.

In 1899 Rail­ton set sail for South Af­ri­ca to ne­go­ti­ate with the po­lit­ic­al and mil­i­ta­ry lead­ers be­fore the launch­ing of the Red Shield work among the troops. Al­though this was ini­tial­ly dif­fi­cult, event­u­al­ly he ov­er­came all the prob­lems.

He re­turned to Eng­land at the end of the Boer War in De­cem­ber 1900, where he re­mained un­til be­ing sent to take charge of the work in France to­wards the end of 1901.

At the end of 1902, Rail­ton re­turned to work at SA head­quar­ters un­til 1903, when he left for West Af­ri­ca to launch the work of the SA there.

On his re­turn in De­cem­ber 1903, his health had de­ter­i­or­at­ed great­ly, and he was not seen in pub­lic again un­til the In­ter­na­tion­al Con­gress in June 1904.

In his lat­er years, Rail­ton con­tinued to tra­vel wide­ly, vi­sit­ing ma­ny coun­tries on be­half of the SA, in­clud­ing Ch­ina, Ja­pan and Rus­sia.

While tra­vel­ing to Le Locle, Swit­zer­land, he had to change trains at Co­logne, Ger­ma­ny. Hav­ing a long wait for his con­nect­ion he vi­sit­ed the quar­ters of the lo­cal SA of­fic­ers.

Delayed by their hos­pi­tal­i­ty and their pray­ers, he had lit­tle time to catch his train and ran up the stairs to the plat­form car­ry­ing his hea­vy bags. On reach­ing his seat, he col­lapsed and died of a heart at­tack.