William Booth, 1878-1912

Booth was an active Methodist preacher who became involved with East London mission work before co-founding (with his wife Catherine) what came to be known as The Christian Mission (1865-1878). This organisation evolved into The Salvation Army; the new name was formally adopted in 1878 and William Booth became its first leader and self-styled General. William and Catherine Booth are known as the Founders; they had eight children, all of whom became Salvation Army officers.

Bramwell Booth, 1912-1929

Bramwell Booth was the eldest child of William and Catherine; he served as Chief of the Staff (1878-1912) and was nominated by his father as successor to the leadership of The Salvation Army. By 1928 a number of prominent Salvation Army officers considered Booth to be no longer fit to serve as leader; in January 1929 a High Council (comprising a select group of high ranking Salvation Army officers) convened and decided to remove Booth on the grounds of ill health. This decision instituted the process of election of future Salvation Army leaders by a High Council.

Bramwell Booth laid the cornerstone for the William Booth (Memorial) Training College, the current site of the International Heritage Centre.

Edward Higgins, 1929-1934

Higgins served as Chief of the Staff (1919-1929) before becoming the first leader to be elected by a High Council vote. He oversaw the legislation of the Salvation Army Act of 1931 which limited the leader’s powers by providing for the future election of the General by High Council elections and transferring Salvation Army assets held in the name of the General to The Salvation Army Trustee Company.

Evangeline Booth, 1934-1939

‘Eva’ Booth was the first female leader of The Salvation Army and daughter of William and Catherine Booth; prior to her leadership she commanded The Salvation Army in the USA and in Canada. During 1928-1929 she played a determining role in changing the method of appointment for future Salvation Army leaders.

George Carpenter, 1939-1946

Carpenter was born in Australia and the first non-British leader of The Salvation Army; prior to leadership his appointments included Literary Secretary at International Headquarters and territorial leadership of South America East and Canada and Bermuda.

Albert Orsborn, 1946-1954

Orsborn established the Advisory Council to the General as a means of widening the administrative base of The Salvation Army’s leader; he also approved The Salvation Army’s decision to become a founding member of the World Council of Churches (1948) and presided over the London establishment of the International College for Officers (1950).

Wilfred Kitching, 1954-1963

Kitching served more than 30 years as a Salvation Army officer before becoming leader; during his leadership the present International Headquarters site was opened in London.

Frederick Coutts, 1963-1969

Prior to Salvation Army leadership Coutts served 18 years at the International Literary Department. During his leadership he introduced Salvation Army advisory boards to the British territory and launched the ‘For God’s Sake Care’ campaign (1967) to meet British social-welfare needs. Coutts presided over The Salvation Army’s centenary year celebrations in 1965, including an international gathering of thousands of Salvationists in London.

William Booth became its first leader and self-styled General.

Erik Wickberg, 1969-1974

Wickberg was born to Swedish parents in Switzerland; he was the first Swiss leader of The Salvation Army. His previous appointments included territorial command of Germany and Chief of the Staff (1961-1969). As leader Wickberg encouraged the appointment of national officers to senior appointments, breaking from the standard of appointing British officers to lead Salvation Army territories.

Clarence Wiseman, 1974-1977

Wiseman’s previous appointments included leadership of the Canada and Bermuda Territory, the East Africa Kenya Territory and Principal of the International College for Officers.

Arnold Brown, 1977-1981

Brown encouraged facilitations with international donor and development agencies and established the International Planning and Development Department (1978); he also led The Salvation Army’s resignation from the World Council of Churches (1981).

Jarl Wahlström, 1981-1986

Wahlström was the first Finnish leader; during his tenure The Salvation Army held an International Leaders’ Conference in Berlin (1984), a Holy Land Congress (1985) and an International Youth Congress in Macomb, Illinois (1985). The International Youth Congress was the first Salvation Army international congress to be held outside the United Kingdom.

Eva Burrows, 1986-1993

Prior to leadership Burrows’ appointments included 17 years educational work in Zimbabwe, leadership of the International College for Officers, leader of Women’s Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland and territorial command of Sri Lanka, Scotland and Australia South.

Burrows presided over the restructuring of International Headquarters (IHQ) and its relation with the British Territory administration; as a result IHQ established a clearer administrative relation to all territories and the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland was formed (1990). Burrows established a Moral and Social Issues Council (1986) to address ethical concerns and produce Salvation Army positional statements; she also presided over the establishment of Salvation Army Leadership Training and convened an International Congress (1990).

The High Council voted to extend Burrows’ term by almost two years, an unprecedented length for a Salvation Army leader.

Bramwell Tillsley, 1993-1994

Tillsley served as territorial commander of Australia South and for two years as Chief of the Staff prior to leadership; he served as leader for ten months before The Salvation Army announced his retirement due to health reasons.

Paul Rader, 1994-1999

Rader was the first American born Salvation Army leader; he initiated progressive plans to achieve gender equality within officers’ ministry, including the promotion of all married women officers to hold their own ranks. This qualified married women commissioners to serve the High Council. Rader also established an International Spiritual Life Commission (1996) to review the methods of worship and spiritual life of Salvationists.

John Gowans, 1999-2002

Prior to leadership of The Salvation Army Gowans’ appointments included territorial command of France, Australia East and Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland. Gowans was a keen lyricist and composer and known for his musical collaborations with John Larsson.

John Larsson, 2002-2006

Larsson assisted in the preparation for the administrative split between International Headquarters and the British Territory (1988-1990). He served as territorial commander for the newly formed United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland and subsequently New Zealand, Fiji & Tonga Territory and Sweden & Latvia Territory. Larsson served as Chief of the Staff (1999-2002) for General John Gowans; the two men are also known for their musical collaborations.

Shaw Clifton, 2006-2011

Clifton is a qualified lawyer and Ph.D graduate; his previous Salvation Army appointments included territorial leadership of Pakistan Territory and New Zealand, Fiji & Tonga Territory.

Linda Bond, 2011-2013

Bond is Canadian and was the third female leader of The Salvation Army; her previous appointments included territorial leadership of USA West and Australia East.

André Cox, 2013-2018

Cox was born in Zimbabwe to English and Swiss parents. Cox is the current leader of The Salvation Army. His previous appointments included territorial leadership of Finland and Estonia, Southern Africa and the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland.

Brian Peddle, 2018-

Commissioned and ordained as a Salvation Army officer in 1977 as a member of the Companions of Christ Session, General Brian Peddle has served in partnership with his wife, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, since their marriage in 1978. Initial service in his home territory of Canada and Bermuda, included corps, divisional and training college appointments.

Florence Booth

Her women's ministry led to social work centres across the country

William Booth

William Booth was born in Nottingham on 10 April 1829, the son of Samuel Booth and his second wife Mary.

People and symbols

Learn more about founders and symbols that define The Salvation Army.

International Heritage Centre

Telling the story of The Salvation Army from its origins in the 1860s to today.