International Heritage Centre blog

Guest blog: Honor Salthouse, 'The Oldest Soldier in the World'

Guest blog: Honor Salthouse, 'The Oldest Soldier in the World'

Chloe (Archive Assistant, IHC) and I decided to bring to life the Honor Salthouse (1848 – 1938) archive donated to the IHC in 2021. Our last Women’s History Month collaboration focused on female officers, but this project would look at a lay woman.

The archive, a series of documents, newspaper clippings and photographs, represents the life of a longstanding soldier of The Salvation Army. Some narrative gaps were filled in by the donor yet none the less some questions still existed, and these were answered using published works and census records. One of the inevitable challenges was a lack of an index in some books and correctly tracing Honor’s steps through various changes of name. Our research led to an exhibition held at William Booth College, in conjunction with Women’s History Month, March 2022. For those of you unable to attend here, in brief, is why Evangeline Booth said of her 'she will ever remain a part of the Armys wonderful story'.


1. Honor's relationship with The Salvation Army begins with her conversion under the ministry of William Booth (1866) at Professor Orson’s Dancing Academy, 23 New Road, Whitechapel.

Professor Orson's Dancing Academy
This photograph from the 1940s shows the site where Professor Orson's Dancing Academy once stood. The tallest building in the centre of the photograph was rebuilt on the site of the original academy.

2. After the death of her father Honor moved to the Booth household (1867) were she stayed until her first marriage, to Robert James Burrell (April 1869), working for the family and supporting their ministry.

Honor Fells
This studio portrait of Honor as a young woman came within the collection donated to the IHC in 2021.

3. Robert and Honor set up home at the Eastern Star, which had recently become The Christian Mission’s Whitechapel Mission Hall (1872). They conducted ministerial work here from the dining room until Robert’s death in 1876.

The Whitechapel Mission Hall, 1867
Illustration of the Whitechapel Mission Hall, 1867.

4. A widowed mother, in 1878 Honor was a Christian Mission evangelist in charge of a district. As such she attended the 8th Christian Mission Conference. An event which significantly reshaped the future of the movement. After a time in London, she went on to relocate to both Coventry and Rotherham, alongside Eliza Reynolds, before going to Manchester where she was so integral to setting up the corps in Ancoats that she was considered their first officer although she in fact was still an evangelist.

Christian Mission Conference Minutes, August 1878
Manuscript minutes from the Christian Mission's 8th conference in August 1878. Honor Burrell is listed on the left-hand page on the eighth line.

5. Honor married William Salthouse in 1879 and stepped down as an evangelist, although she remained a Salvation Army soldier at various corps in Manchester including the 'Poor Man's Palace', Openshaw. Over the next 15 years the couple had five children.

The Poor Man's Palace, The War Cry, 3 December 1884
The Poor Man's Palace, The War Cry, 3 December 1884

6. In 1914 Honor became active in The Salvation Army Home League in Manchester which was a women’s ministry providing practical and religious instruction to wives.

The Home League, pamphlet, 1914
A pamphlet advertising the services of The Salvation Army's Home League, 1914.

7. Widowed once more, 1921, Honor moved in with one of her daughters whilst continuing to be active in the Dyer Street Manchester corps. Even after 'active service ended' at age 80, Honor was visiting those in need.

Studio portrait of Honor Salthouse, 1930s
Studio portrait of Honor Salthouse, c.1930s

Those are the seven ages of Honor Salthouse, a woman who saw the young Evangeline Booth take her first footsteps into preaching, a woman who alongside Catherine Booth fed others, a woman deemed 'the oldest Soldier in the world' (The Daily Sketch, 21 January 1935).

Thinking about what we discovered one is struck, once more, by the way in which perceived expectations were overturned time and time again by women of the past.  This is not to deny the challenges and opposition they faced but to acknowledge that women wrote tracts, women preached, women travelled vast distances, women juggled family life and their sense of personal vocation. There is nothing new under the sun – we simply forget or fail to record what has been.

Thanks, must be given to Honor’s great great granddaughters, Louise Harrison and Catherine Longton, for donating their family collection to the IHC and enabling us to bring Honor’s inspiring service to life for future generations.

What next?

If you would like to find out more about female ministry within The Salvation Army, the International Heritage Centre has a ‘Women in Ministry’ subject guide for their collections.

If you would like to preserve documentation, or artefacts, relating to the service of a family member and share their story with us, please contact the IHC at


Winette, WBC Librarian
March 2022

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