William and Catherine Booth's Home - Gateshead (1858)

The Booths lived here from 1858 to 1861.

In 1858 William was posted to the Gateshead Circuit, with a promise that he could go back to evangelising after a year. After only a few weeks the numbers on Sunday went from 120 to 2,000 – it became known as the Converting Shop. During that year their third child was born.

The Booths were careful to treat their children equally and they dressed them very plainly as they did not want vanity to creep in. They were very intent on bringing their children up according to biblical principles. Their love for one another grew and after four years of marriage, Catherine was able to write that they were more in love than ever. 

Although she received invitations to preach and her husband believed she should speak to large audiences, Catherine could not overcome her timidity. 

One day she was on the way to church and looking forward to seeing some people saved when Holy Spirit suggested that her time might be better spent visiting some of the houses on the way to encourage people to go to church. She knew this was from God and immediately began this new work. She stopped to speak to a group of women sitting on a doorstep. Never having done such a thing before it took a lot of effort on her part to overcome her shyness. Some of the women agreed to go, as did some of the next group, which made her understand that this work was of the Lord. A couple in the next house agreed to go to the services and then Holy Spirit prompted her to speak to a woman standing on a doorstep. She allowed her to speak to her drunken husband inside and really feeling the power of God with her, Catherine went in and confronted the drunken man and after a long talk, got him to sign a temperance pledge. She then spent two evenings a week going from house to house and within a few weeks she persuaded 10 drunkards to sign the pledge and attend a weekly Bible class. Catherine clearly had an evangelistic gift, but one has to remember that this was 1859, the beginning of the greatest revival the UK has ever known, so Holy Spirit was hovering over the whole nation and people were much more open to hearing the Gospel message.

At the end of 1859 the Palmers, who were American evangelists, were ministering in nearby Newcastle and a local minister sent out a pamphlet, criticising women preachers, as he was offended by Mrs Palmer’s preaching. Catherine did not like this attack on women and this pamphlet became the nudge for her to begin her preaching ministry. To begin with, she published a 32 page pamphlet in response to that of the minister.

From my biography of Catherine Booth on this website.


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